Former Military President of Nigeria, Ibrahim Babangida, has openly discussed his unsuccessful attempts to establish a friendship with the late human rights lawyer and activist, Gani Fawehinmi.

Fawehinmi—a social critic, human and civil rights lawyer, and the Lamofin of Ondo— died in the early hours of 5 September 2009 after a prolonged battle with lung cancer. He was 71 years old.

In an interview on Channels Television’s “Inside Sources With Laolu Akande,” Babangida acknowledged Fawehinmi’s robust criticism of his military regime and conceded to attempting “all possible means” to establish a friendship with him.

Babangida described Fawehinmi as a “good critic” and claimed he valued his perspectives. He revealed attempting to connect with Fawehinmi directly and through mutual acquaintances, including former minister Alex Akinyele.

However, despite IBB’s efforts, Fawehinmi, known for his unwavering principles and public perception of Babangida as an “evil genius,” remained distant.

The former military leader went on to say that Fawehinmi’s critical voice even influenced his policy decisions. “If we came up with a policy, my first question to my staff was: What would Gani Fawehinmi say?” he shared.

He said, “He (Fawehinmi) is a good critic and he doesn’t want to be seen with someone that people already perceived as ‘an evil genius’.”

“I like listening to him. I made it a point to become his friend. He was very friendly with one of my former ministers, the late Alex Akinyele; they were very good friends, and he tried to make us very good friends.

“If we come up with a policy, my first question to my staff was: What would Gani Fawehinmi say?”

Babangida attributed his pursuit of Fawehinmi’s friendship to his appreciation for “bright minds” and his belief that prominent figures joining his administration served the national interest.

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