Wednesday, 29 July 2020

How Adams Oshiomhole Betrayed Gani Fawehinmi,Chima Ubani....Richard Akinnola




The former governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, kneeling before Enigies, asking for their support in the September 2020 governorship election

May the soul of Aunty Remi Oyo rest in peace. The late Aunty Remi was President Olusegun Obasanjo’s spokesperson. She had no iota of respect for Adams Oshiomhole as a Labour leader because of his Jekyll and Hyde predilection.

As the Number One Labour leader, Oshiomhole would huff and puff, mobilising us, the Labour and civil society for one strike and protest or the other. With his oratory, he would make the necessary noise for sound bites. We would go out to mobilise to shut down the country. We didn’t know he was playing to the gallery and this is where Aunty Remi comes in.

 Aunty Remi would tell some of us: “Nothing would happen tomorrow. Adams just left the Villa. ‘Eyin kon se aluta lo, a ti pari ise pelu oga yin.’ (You people are just doing Aluta. We have sorted out everything with your leader).

Just as Aunty Remi said, the next thing we would hear the next morning was that the strike and protest had been suspended. Aunty Remi knew what usually transpired at the Villa’s nocturnal meetings. Reason she had no respect for Adams till she passed on.

So, since Adams is in the mood of apologia as he did the other day in Benin, kneeling, purportedly apologising to Benin chiefs for bringing Godwin Obaseki as Governor of Edo State instead of Osagie Ize-Iyamu, when is he going to apologise to us for goading us for strikes and protests, only to back out at the dying minutes?

When is he going to apologise to the widows of Chima Ubani and Tunji Oyeleru, who both died on the Maiduguri-Potiskum Road in Adams official land cruiser SUV number “NLC 1”?

Chima was the Executive Director of Civil Liberties Organisation, while Tunji was the Photo Editor of Vanguard. They had accompanied Adams in a mobilisation tour of the northern parts of the country in September 2005. When they were through in Maiduguri, they boarded a Chachangi plane en route Lagos. Adams entered the aircraft last but he had no seat. Chima offered his seat and chose to go by road with Tunji. They died in an auto accident on September 23, 2005.

 Chima died Adams’ death and despite this, Adams abandoned the widows of Chima and Tunji. He did not even have the decency to attend their burials. When is he going to apologise to their widows, and not just to Benin chiefs for cheap political capital?

 Thank God for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. He paid a condolence visit to Chima’s widow and was shocked that that was where the activist lived. He immediately asked Dele Alake to arrange for a generator for the house. He followed this up by giving a house to Chima’s widow and scholarship to two out of the four children. God bless Asiwaju. Adams was nowhere to be found.

 While Adams was governor and had every opportunity to assist them, he didn’t. After much pressure, he reluctantly released N1m to the family, after Mrs Comfort Jiti- Ogunye accompanied Ochuwa, Chima’s widow to Adams in Benin. The widow waited for about three days before Adams sent an aide to go and give the money to her, which was less than what he used to spend on frivolities as governor. He didn’t even have the courage or courtesy to see the woman. He sent an aide.

 I knew at a critical time I had to cough up N100,000 for the family, when Adams was in a position to give the widow a lifeline to assist her. When is he going to apologise to her?

 When Chief Gani Fawehinmi was very sick and came back into the country, only a very few of us knew he was around. I reached out to those close to the then Governor Oshiomhole to come and visit the ailing Gani. He didn’t, till the man died. On the day the Lagos State Government was holding a special tribute for Gani at the Police College, Ikeja, the late Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde, Adams PA called Mrs Fawehinmi, stating that his principal wanted Gani’s body to be brought to Benin for a special tribute. Mrs Fawehinmi asked Olaitan to liaise with me. He did and I asked him to ask his boss to call me. Adams did and I told him pointblank that that wasn’t in the itinerary of the burial committee and that we won’t bring the body to Benin, despite his entreaties, saying that he was ready to pay for a chartered plane for that purpose. I reminded him that when Gani was sick and I asked him to come and see him, he didn’t. Now, he wanted to show off.

Eventually, as a compromise, Madam Fawehinmi asked me and some other comrades to accompany two of the children to the Benin tribute session. When is Adams going to apologise for refusing to see the ailing Gani when I pleaded with him?

 So, Adams’ political apologia to Benin chiefs was deceptive, hypocritical and self-serving. Assuming Ize-Iyamu wins the next election and they fall out, as they are bound to, is Adams also going to gather the Benin chiefs again to apologise? Adams’ hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Richard Akinnola, is a human rights lawyer and veteran journalist

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