90-year-old wins 2022 Gani Fawehinmi Impact, Integrity Awards

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By Peter Ejiofor
Lagos, Dec.12, 2022 – A nonagenarian, Pa Muibi Shonubi, has emerged the winner of the 2022 Gani Fawehinmi Outstanding Integrity Award (OIA) from among the three persons nominated in that category of the awards staged annually by Lagos-based Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) Resource Centre..

The other nominees in the Integrity category are Ibadan-based Victoria A. Samson and Ebun-Olu Adegoruwa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who were also honoured with certificates at the event in Lagos on Saturday.

The awards are organised in collaboration with MacArthur Foundation annually in three categories of Outstanding Integrity Award (OIA), Outstanding Impact Award (OIA) and Valuable Whistle-Blower (VWA) since 2018.

 The other winners are Inibehe Effiong, a Human Rights Lawyer in the Outstanding Impact Award with Dr. Cido Onumah and Rafiu Tolani, also a lawyer, while Richard Oghenerhoro who was nominated with John Ibhaluobe Ebosele and Comrade Ibrahim Ali won the Whistle-Bower category.

The Executive Secretary of HEDA, Sulaimon Arigbabu, said that the awards were to celebrate those who, in spite of odds and other societal negatives had “stand up for what is right if it means standing alone’’ according to Suzy Kassem.

He expressed happiness that the recipients in the past, including Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), who is a pioneer winner of the Integrity Award, have distinguished themselves as icons of integrity.

Arigbabu said that the goal of the Gani Fawehinmia Awards was to encourage Nigerians to strive for integrity and patriotic commitment to honesty, justice, truth and fairness in the quest of stamping out corruption in both private and public spheres.

He said that the process of selecting the winners started in July with 481 nominations before it was pruned to the nine persons that were honoured.

The Chairman of the event, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, in his remarks, extolled the virtues of the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, describing him as a person who used his legal aid foundation and his material wealth to fight for human rights.

He said that Fawehinmi’s antecedents, especially in human rights agitations, could not be easily quantified, urging Nigerians to do good at all times as no one could be able to quantify the benefits of one’s goodness to humanity.

Shonubi, according to his citation, was born in the 1930s in Ijebu Igbo in present day Ogun State, but became a taxi driver in Ibadan after dropping out of school in his home town due to financial inadequacies.

In the course of his driving, “on a fateful day in 1971, he conveyed three Hausa men from the park to `Ewesi Obi, Shasha, and eventually to Moniyain Ibadan.

“Upon his arrival at the park to drop the car for the afternoon shift, he discovered a bag full of money in his boot and headed straight to Iyaganku Police Station where he handed over the money.

“Following his return, announcements were made in the media and the money eventually returned to the owner intact,’’ the citation read.

It continued: “The incident gave Baba the nickname `Muibi Arowomagbe’’, with his colleagues castigating him for his honesty and calling him foolish.

“The level of discrimination and name calling forced him out of the garage to Iyana Liberty. But facing the same backlash in the new park and neighbourhood, he was forced to leave Ibadan to a remote village in Ijebu Igbo with his family where he returned to his farming business.

“Today given the level of moral decadence and poor value system in our society, the name is regrettably almost synonymous to foolishness, as against honesty that it ought to represent.’’

Shonubi, reacting to the honour, thanked HEDA Resource Centre for the honour, saying he never thought that someone would recognise and appreciate what he did after 51 years.

He advised the younger generations to shun “get-reach-quick’’ attitude that had bred decadence in the society and cling to steps that would earn them integrity as it has earned him for an act done in 1971.

Other eminent persons and associates of Gani Fawehinmi who attended the awards included legal luminary, Mr Femi Falana, Prof. Sylvester Odion Akhaine, who delivered that awards lecture on, “The Only Game In Town: Politics And Accumulation in Nigeria’’. (GBN)

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