Gani Fawehinmi's Crass Criticism

by Paul I. Adujie

According to the book of Ecclesiastes, there is a season and time for everything. So, there is a time to for joy, there is time for sadness, there is time to laugh and a time to cry.

These biblical maxims are apparently lost on Barrister Gani Fawehinmi, as he chose the most inauspicious time to engage in his beyond the pale commentary directed against President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria.

Barrister Fawehinmi ignored all precepts of decency as he engaged in his garrulous commentary at a time Nigeria mourned the death of 117 passengers and crew of the ill-fated Bellview Airlines flight 210. Gani was indecorous on this occasion.

I am personally disappointed at Gani’s lack of grace and class in his efforts in the name of criticisms of President Obasanjo’s public policies. Gani’s patriotism has never been in doubt to me and for that matter no Nigerian would doubt where Gani stands on Nigeria’s progress and advancement toward national greatness.

I must also confess that I studied law essentially because of Gani, who was celebrated by a student Union, when I was a boy, as he was held shoulder high upon winning a legal battle on the behalf of the Students’ Union, and I was sold on the idea of due process and the rule of law as a tool, an instrument and wonderful machinery of justice, the empowering lawyers to assist the powerless multitude, Gani therefore, was an inspiration and an impetus for my love of the legal profession. I have always respected and admired him as a lawyer and as Nigerian with the most astute political analyses and complete good sense.

But Gani has just overdone it! Gani has overplayed his hand and overplayed his role as ombudsman for good governance or battle worn critic.

It is completely unreasonable on Gani’s part, that he chose a very sorrowful moment for Nigeria, to engage in his belligerent preachment to President Obasanjo, who, apart from being the presiding officer, and president of Nigeria, a country in national mourning as a result of our collective loss in a plane crash, and the particularly personal loss suffered by the president and first family due to the sudden death of Mrs. Stella Obasanjo. Whatever anyone thinks or thought of Mrs. Obasanjo, she has died. Whatever anyone thinks of President Obasanjo, he is just bereaved.

Gani wrote agonizingly about his son, and yet, he glossed over the sorrow of President Obasanjo who is grieving over a very personal loss of his wife, a woman, who by all accounts, stood by our president through thick and thin, his near death experience under late General Abacha, and also through the thickset of his political travails in the current dispensation. Why did Gani choose this most inappropriate time to berate President Obasanjo? What was the point?

Contrast and compare the tastelessness of Gani’s commentary at this inauspicious time, with the general deference that all Americans of all political, economic, cultural and racial persuasions offered to President Bush after the events of September 11, 2001.

President Bush suffered no personal loss. Bush lost no family member.

President Bush’s presidency began on a very sour note. He came out of a fractious election that generated suspicions and extreme bitterness, of chad, pregnant chad and dimpled chad, as election results were held in abeyance, until the United States Supreme Court finally awarded the election to Mr. Bush. But for the terrorists attacks of 9/11/01 President Bush was walking a very tight political rope, from the unpopularity of his award by the US Supreme court, but the national tragedy of 9/11/01 changed everything.

Americans became patient and understanding with Bush’s every tentative learning steps, until he started to use and abuse the national deference to him, which arose out of a national tragedy.

General Buhari paid condolences and respects to the dead, so did Professor Soyinka, of these two, every Nigerian alive or dead, know where they stand on Nigeria’s national issues, whether we agree with Buhari and Soyinka or not. But for a moment, these two buried their hatchets! They acted with refinement, with deep reflection and circumspection.

No Holy Book, neither the Koran nor the Bible, and or, even common sense, in any culture or language would applaud Gani for his flippant commentaries at a time President Obasanjo and Nigeria were mourning the twin tragedies of October. What Gani did was distasteful. Gani indulged himself, it was bad judgment.

General Buhari and Professor Soyinka imbibed the maxim contained in the book of Ecclesiastes which clearly states that there is a time for everything. Nigeria mourned the passing of Mrs. Obasanjo and the 117 passengers and crew of Bellview Airlines flight 210

And so, quite unlike Mrs Yinka Oladapo who took Dr. Reuben Abati of The Guardian Newspapers to task for chastising Gani for attacking our president, a man who is mourning a very personal loss and a national loss, a president who is in private and public mourning! I am in full agreement with Dr. Abati. Gani’s tactless, tasteless and crass commentaries were ill-opportuned and Gani ought to apologize for his bad judgment on this occasion. Gani was not only un-African, he was inhuman! He acted without compassion and sympathy. Gani’s behavior did not engender good feelings, nor did it elevate public discourse, his commentary on this occasion, did not serve any public good.

You may also like


Anonymous April 1, 2006 - 7:12 am

well, you made a good point concerning Gani's ill- timed comment;however,i would rightly say that owing to the dilapidated social ,political and econiomic situations in nigeria today,it couldn;t be said that Gani 's statement was inhuman;Remember he is just being humane to the cause of the masses whom he speaks on their behalf.Hunger,poverty kill people in their thousands here in nigeria as i write this comment, so why make some death appear superior than the others?

Anonymous February 25, 2006 - 8:30 pm

Free country!Freedom of speech! If a number of us agree with the contents of Gani Fawehinmi's letter, why then the question of timing? A good time for one person, may be a bad time for another. But such is life. Was it such a good time for the Nigerian populace, when the fuel prices were hicked up, despite wide spread poverty? In spite of the national jubilation that followed the death of Abacha, was the timing right for his family? Inevitably, the issue of timing is relative. If Gani felt the need to express himself at that point, so be it. Its a 'FREE' country.

Anonymous December 20, 2005 - 4:37 pm

The article is stupid and opportunitstic. I beleive that Gani acts are in order. The president himself came out to tell people to small the visits when Gani came out with his open letter. I endorsed Gani's position

Anonymous December 19, 2005 - 2:55 pm

I completely share Paul Ajudie's submission on this matter. For once , i honestly feel Chief Gani's comments were rather untimely, even though his concern and commitment to good governace has never been in doubt.

However, let it not suprice you that Gani's submission in the open letter he wrote to president Obasanjo was consistent with the mindset of so many nigerian that reacted to the letter. Perhaps, if Paul Adujie resides in nigeria, he could have thought differently.

niyi aina

Anonymous November 22, 2005 - 4:31 pm

Comment #5 said it all! While Gani is not in anyway perfect, I would love to have him in my corner than any of those selfish and heartless "leaders" who have shamelessly contributed to the plight of Nigeria. Go get them Gani!!

eazy9ja November 19, 2005 - 9:39 pm

We need to get certain things clear, i believe the author did not in any way question the motives behind Gani's letter but what he was overtly opposed to, was the timing of that letter. If i am right, then the author did not know Gani too well.To me, the likes of Gani have gone beyond the hypocritical symapthies that were publicly displayed at the burial of Stella by none less than Abuja contractors & other people that wants their names to be on the condolence list for reciprocative favours from the president.

Dr. Reuben Abati of The Guardian Newspapers said he had asked himself why Nigerains were so human all of a sudden by the death of 117 passengers and crew of the ill-fated Bellview Airlines flight 210. But the answer is not far fetched….important dignitaries" were involved & the closeness of that tragedy to the death of Mrs Stella Obasanjo. According to Reuben, more persons have been slaughtered in the Ife-Modakeke clash, and in Uguleri & Umuleri & in Port Harcourt & the Niger Delta fracas but who cares, including the government.

Let's face reality, Gani could not have chosen a better time to hit the nail on the head than that time, it does not show that he was inhuman because as humans we seems to be more sensitive to the plights of others only when we are faced with adversities ourselves. Do you know how many husbands who had lost their wivies due to inability to afford medical bills. So why are we calling for Gani's head because he made the President realise that if there were discipline, prudence, accountability & concern for the lives of fellow Nigerians in abject poverty, his wife wouldn't have gone to waste Nigeria money on the surgery that took her life.

Anonymous November 14, 2005 - 7:13 pm

I think what Gani did was not in any way wrong Obasanjo had started his gradual transformation to what i would call "Abachahood".Perhaps this was the only time he would heed such an advise.I cannot comment on the content of the letter because i did not see it however think there was nothing wrong in writing our commander-in-chief a letter at this point in time.The only thing is that he was supposed to be very cautious with his selection of words.

Anonymous November 14, 2005 - 4:32 pm

Comment #1 is wrong. Gani Fawehinmi spoke for himself. He had no business critisising those who mourn, if he was rejoicing. This is a free country. There is room enough to accommodates essentrics like Gani and his lackeys like Commentator #1. Paul Adujie got it right.

Anonymous November 14, 2005 - 1:39 pm

While I am not in complete agreement with every analysis in this article I agree with the spirit behind it. And to segun the commentator above, why don't you just shove it! Who are u to speak for Nigerians in America Most of you on this NIA are just plain incapabale to analyze situations as the author has done objectively, you rather plant your insults and name calling coneveniently labelling anyone that has something positive to say a self serving crony of the administration. If you have an opinion and you know it is worth the trouble, why don't you just pen it down and send it to the websmaster of this page If you have the courage and clarity of thought why don't you open up and take the author to task in a simple article that is fit for public readership. People like you are sickening and detractors of the national project and I have no respect for your Segun Akinyode..God bless you Barrister Adujie.

Reply November 13, 2005 - 1:32 pm

You are very wrong.Nigerians living in Nigeria have said it loud and clear:Gani had spoken for us.You and the likes of Akinyele are bootlickers.He who feels it knows it


Leave a Comment