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‘My father wouldn’t have died if he were abroad’ – Mohammed Fawehinmi, son

+ Why his burial is delayed

We commiserate with you and the entire family on the death of your dad, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN.

Thank you very much.

How does it feel losing him at this very crucial time in your life?

It is painful. There is a lot of vacuum, there is a lot of confusion. No one would have wanted him to die at this period, but God knows best. I believe he couldn’t have died of cancer, but we have a very useless health system and we have had successive useless health ministers. Nobody is coming out with a programme to save the lives in the hospital. I could still recollect when I had my car accident. I was admitted in Igbobi, we had to procure everything ourselves. My mum had to do that. A lot of nurses were not paid and so on. A lot of these institutions are still in a terrible state. It is a pity. I wish God would just grant me the opportunity to stand up. That is my wish for now so that I call deal directly with all these people. With all the allocations, the minister is hopeless, giving us all sorts of insinuation about swine flu, Lassa fever and all that. These are the diseases that are not peculiar to the African man. Our diseases are malaria, cholera, typhoid fever, which up till now, no health minister has been able to solve. Even Professor A. B. C. Nwosu bought fake drugs to cure his typhoid. He had to he admitted when he was still serving as a minister. A lot of them don’t really appreciate the problems. We need to go round all the local governments in the country and know what is happening. Each local government must have its medical center to be able to cater for at least 2,000 people. 

With the money we have in this country, there is no minister’s office that should not properly funded.

The amount of money we realize from oil in this country is enough for us to do everything. It is because of the failed health system, that is responsible for my being on a wheelchair. I am not the first person that had an accident, but because of the way the system is administered. There are people that had accident who are far more damaged than I am and they are walking today because anything like that has to be immediate, you don’t procrastinate.

As far as I am concerned, there are three portfolios that are empty: the health system, the education and the Niger Delta ministry. In the Niger Delta problem, the president has to step in because I don’t see what the minister of Niger Delta is doing. I don’t know why he is still in government, I don’t know what Rilwan Lukman is also doing in government. Let them go, they are all old. There are younger boys out there who can do this thing. If we don’t take a drastic measure now, we would suffer it. People like Gani, they did their own, they have gone.

Awolowo and others came, they did their own part, they have all gone. So, it is left to us to correct all these anomalies. And I don’t see any justification in Lamido Sanusi giving banks that can easily trace the assets of the people they gave loan and recover their loan N420 billion. In fact, it is rubbish. If they had pumped it into the educational system, all lecturers would be paid conveniently. Even the health system should have changed for the better.

You can imagine, the president himself is going out of the country. The president and I are in the same position now. For my own health problem, I also went abroad for my own operation and it was done immediately. That is why I am not dead. Here is my physiotherapist, he knows what I am saying. We have a lot of brains like this in Nigeria, but they have rotted away and when many see the opportunity to travel abroad, they have to go. So, our health system should be overhauled. One dirty minister should stop telling us about swine flu, Lassa fever, we don’t have any business with all these.

But the kind of cancer that killed your dad is a terminal disease, that it cannot be cured…

(Cuts in quickly) I disagree with you. It is curable. Let me tell you, if the health system in this country was substantially well and we had good policies on ground, such a thing will not be happening. It is unfortunate. People have worse cancer than what Gani had and they are alive.

But he was flown abroad for treatment, why wasn’t he…

(Cuts in again) He was taken abroad, you’re right. But by the time he discovered, it was already late.

The damage had been on for a while from successive incarcerations. He is the one that when he is receiving treatment and the government does something, he stops halfway and faces the government. I have accompanied him several times. You don’t need to wait for a guy like Gani to file action before you do the right thing. You’re given a portfolio and you have the money, you don’t need to spend our money on frivolities, including buying cars for girlfriends and so on. You can imagine a minister like Sam Egwu, he is not qualified to be a minister, left to me. Why is he a minister in this country? If he can he telling the people that provide other people with knowledge that he can’t pay them and you can spend about N120 million on a birthday. The only solution to restructure the educational system in this country is to sack him. Honestly, I don’t know what he is doing there. What kind of man is that? He should pay these lecturers. No matter how much you pay the teachers, it can never be enough. It is the teachers that produce people like Yar’Adua, Jonathan Goodluck, Gani Fawehinmi and Obafemi Awolowo. The president was once a lecturer. Can you imagine?

Let’s talk about the issue that concerns us at the moment: how would you describe life without Chief Gani Fawehinmi?

It is going to be difficult because I have so many extended brothers and sisters, apart from my biological siblings. I mean those kids he did not give birth to, but was taking care of. He has made a lot of provisions for them. We have those who are about finishing their university education, thank God for that. But we still have some other young ones too. It is a lot of responsibilities, but we believe all things are possible with God. We had a lot of cases like that, including paying school fees of even people that you don’t know before. An instance had happened like that when an Igbo boy had to come and ask of my dad. He came to collect school fees, but my dad had travelled. But I called him that a boy had come, he said he wanted to meet Chief, his name is Emeka. My father said, “Ha! The boy is from Anambra, they killed his father and I met his brother and all that.” He said we should provide the school fees. I told him we didn’t have enough money in the account, he said I should go to my own personal account and withdraw the money. I did and I took the boy back to the East. A lot like that.

Are you going to sustain all this?

Oh, his total guidance. You know the position of the father is different from that of the mother. The father stands, rich or poor. And there are things that if you want to do, you think twice, knowing full well that the old man is there.

How would you describe him when he was alive?

Fire, that would fit his best description.

What is going to happen to his legal empire, now that he is late?

We are still going to remain very vibrant. There are other brothers who are also lawyers, including Mr. Adindu, Mr. Ajao. We just have to inculcate a lot of new people coming in for the training. Happily, I can do that. The only thing is that because of this thing (his condition), I have not been able to go to court, which is a very passionate thing for me. But I hope I would transcend that because our profession is that, that you lead by example. There are some things that it is only when you are in court that the ideas of how to handle them will come.

What lesson would you say you have learnt from his life?

Be prepared. Be prepared and that anything is possible.

Gani was a devoted Muslim till death and many people are of the opinion that he should have been buried the same day he died, in accordance with Islamic injunction. Why is the burial being delayed?

Yes, he was a Muslim and I would tell you, the burial is not delayed. We are going to bury him in accordance with the instruction he left behind. If we are to do things strictly the way it is done in the desert, the origin of Islam, half of the Muslims in Nigeria will be dead. Be that as it may, with the level of modernity and advancement, things are changing.

And besides, man chooses his destiny. Having fulfilled that destiny to a certain point and he feels he wants to do more, but he is tired, he expects death. Before that death comes, he has the last order of choice. This is the way I want to be treated. Not that he doesn’t agree that there is a practice on ground, but he has a choice.

Is that exactly the reason?

Yes, there is no delay as such. I am aware of all the Islamic injunctions, I am also vast in Islamic knowledge. I learnt it under luxuries, not the kind of Islamic education my father had. I have gotten a lot of phone calls on that, but I keep telling them, this is the way the man wants it to be done.

We even learnt he said it before he died that he wouldn’t want his corpse to be rushed to the grave…

Thank you very much. At least, you heard that and you are not a member of the family.



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