EXCERPTS FROM GANI FAWEHINMI’S OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBASANJO:
“We must examine what happened in both events and proffer advice on how to prevent future occurrence in each case. We have heard mountains of hyperbolic rhetoric in the last one week and tons of sentiments and emotions had been shed. The time to take an analytical and sober look at the two events has come. Sentiment must not be allowed to replace reality and emotion must not be a substitute for the truth. Otherwise, we will go back to groping in the dark and repeating the same act of commission or omission in both tragic events.”I do not know what the post-mortem report reads, but as the husband, you told the whole world in a broadcast on Tuesday, 25th October, 2005 that your wife went to Spain on a holiday without a visible sign of illness. However, reports nationally and internationally have revealed the following:
*That your wife was admitted into Molding Clinic, Banus Port near Malaga, Spain for cosmetic surgery for purpose of beautification.
*That either during or after the cosmetic surgery, she developed complications which finally resulted in her death in Spain.”
“If these were the circumstances of her death, Nigerians are entitled to answers of the following questions, queries and apprehensive observations:
*Why did our Head of State allow his wife to leave Nigeria for cosmetic surgery so that she could look more beautiful? By the way, I personally attest to her beauty as a woman…Whether it is called cosmetic or plastic surgery, I do not see how that could not be dealt with or handled in Nigeria if your government had lifted the health care facilities of this country from the doldrums since you assumed power”.
“Mr. President, you are not the only one to suffer from this tragedy of the incompetence of your government to provide the Nigerian people with modern medical facilities and care, when you swore on 29th May, 1999 to advance the welfare of the Nigerian people. I too am a victim. My son, Barrister Mohammed Fawehinmi, a graduate of Business Administration of the University of Lagos, and of Law of the Buckingham University, England and of the Nigerian Law School, who qualified in 1998, had a motor accident on 23rd September, 2003 and broke his spinal cord. He was taken to National Orthopaedic Hospital Igbobi, Lagos”.
“Mr. President, in that hospital (National Orthopaedic Hospital Igbobi, Lagos) they had no Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), to detect the location and extent of the spinal cord injury. No C.T.Scan. They had only an ancient X-Ray machine. When his condition was growing worse, I was advised to take him abroad at a heavy financial cost, which was more than a fortune. He was in various hospitals in England for seven (7) months. The hospital where he was operated upon had more than ten (10) Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to detect the state and extent of the spinal cord injury”.
“Mr. President, as at 23rd September, 2003, there was no MRI in the whole of Lagos State. The one under your nose at the National Hospital, Abuja was as dead as dodo. There was none in University College Hospital, Ibadan. There was none in University of Benin Teaching Hospital. There was none in Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, etc. Four years after you came into the saddle as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, our health care delivery remains primitive and totally unbecoming of an oil-rich nation-state”.
“In a period of six (6) years, you have virtually traversed the entire world visiting most of the countries of the world. One would have expected that not less than sixty (60) Heads of State and their wives would either have graced the occasion of the burial of your wife or sent their wives to represent them at such burial. From my reading of the newspapers in Nigeria and I buy all the newspapers published daily in this country, neither myself nor the Director of my Library (Barrister Adindu Ugwuzor) and his librarians could find any reports or news item of the presence of any Head of State or Head of Government (and/or their wives) from any of the European, American and Asian countries at the lying in state or burial of your wife Stella despite several times (more than one and a half years in total) that you slept out of Nigeria visiting foreign countries in Europe, Asia and America”.
“Mr. President, is that not a hard lesson? Even for a Chairman of the Commonwealth and Chairman of African Union (AU), is the lesson not obvious? You must now realise that it is what you do at home to promote the welfare of your people that sells your image abroad”.
“In spite of all I have written above, I sincerely sympathise with you on the death of a woman who became a human rights activist of note, fighting tooth and nail for your release from incarceration. A woman who initiated a programme for the children who are physically disadvantaged. Such a woman will be remembered from my own stand point not for being the wife of a president who is anti-masses but who was herself fighting the cause of the physically challenged”.
“You should not be deceived by the presence of men and women of
Nigeria’s “timber and calibre” (apologies to Late K.O. Mbadiwe). They dominated and populated the crowd at the lying in state and at the burial of Stella. Do not be deceived by their presence. Yes, they shed tears for different reasons. There were genuine tears. There were also Ministerial tears, Contract tears, Rotten-head tears, 2007 tears, Teasing tear, Oil block tears, GMG tears (Ghana Must Go Bag tears), Immunity tears, Pardon me tears, Face-showing tears, Business tears, Brixton Prison tears, amongst others”.
“The first twelve (12) hours after the crash, your government at the highest level and also through your aviation agencies did not know the site of the crash. The world was told by your government that it was at Kishi in Oyo State that the Bellview plane crash-landed. Your Minister of Information, Mr. Frank Nweke Jnr told the world on Sunday, 23rd October, 2005 that the nation’s President was directing rescue operation in Kishi. The Minister of Aviation, Professor Babalola Borishade confirmed that the crash site was Kishi. Even your Minister of Health said that he had made all arrangements in a government hospital in Ilorin where possible survivors of the crash at Kishi will be admitted and treated”.
“The world’s attention was misdirected to Kishi by the incompetent compass of your regime. On television, it was Kishi. On radio, it was Kishi. Even the almighty CNN echoed government’s misdirection – it was Kishi. When finally the African Independent Television (AIT) located the site at your backyard in Ogun State at Lisa in Ifo and broadcast the new site, instead of an accolade to AIT, your government shut it down for telling the truth, only to be reopened the second day without an apology”.
“The rescue operation at Lisa in Ifo was disastrously shabby, as it was impudently shoddy. The site was not secured by the security agencies of your government. All sorts of people and all manners of men and women were allowed to roam about picking anything as souvenir without regards to the security importance of such materials. There was nothing to show that the officials of government at the site had any prior inkling of rescue training. Seven days after the crash, a substantial part of the aircraft remained buried inside the ground, spewing out fire from time to time. To add insult to injury, memorial prayer session was held on
Thursday, the 27th October, 2005 , and the President laid wreaths when no conscious effort has been made by your government to excavate the substantial part of the plane buried in the ground”.
“In essence, there was no appreciable rescue operation. And the inability of your government so to do exposed the rescue incapacity of your administration in such a situation. Your no-holds-barred privatisation policy came to naught at Lisa when no private company could singularly undertake the excavation of the entombed aircraft”.
*The government policy on the type of planes we use in our aviation industry, the age of the planes and their airworthiness should be revisited immediately;
*Our runways and the need to ensure that the runways light never go off; and
*Our control towers should be manned by trained and retrained personnel using modern equipment”.
“We are happy that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are in the country because a United States major died in the crash. With American involvement, I believe the lackadaisical attitude of your government in such matters will be checked if not prevented from tainting such inquiry”.
“The events of Saturday and Sunday the 22nd and 23rd October, 2005 which have thrown the country into mourning should never be allowed to repeat themselves. We do not want another plane crash and if you bring in another wife before you constitutionally quit office on 29th May, 2007, please do not allow her to go for a cosmetic surgery for beautification again. We cannot afford another death of the President’s wife in Aso Rock”.