THE concept of a hero is complex and intriguing, varying significantly from clan to clan and culture to culture. Despite the pluralism of cultural idealism surrounding heroes, what distinguishes them from common folks is the uncommon desire to sacrifice their lives for something greater than themselves. In simple terms, a hero possesses outstanding achievements and noble qualities, being willing to put others before oneself. Tanya Thompson, a prominent member of the elite Russian Red Army, aptly describes a hero as “the birth of a legend is the death of a hero. A hero’s death is glorious.”
ALMOST 57 years after his gruesome murder by mutinous soldiers in Ibadan, the capital of the defunct Western Region on July 29, 1966, the memory of the late first Military Governor of the Western Region, Colonel Francis Adekunle Fajuyi, continues to linger. Reports suggest that the ebullient soldier, a Yoruba, was killed while saving the life of visiting Head of State, General Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi, an Igbo from the present Abia State. Military snippets from the coupists claim that Fajuyi, not their target, got killed when he resisted an attempt to assassinate the visiting Igbo Head of State in Yoruba land.
TO our dismay, five decades after this dastardly murder, Nigeria has not only provocatively ignored the gallantry and heroic deed of Fajuyi but has also refused to acknowledge the weighty sacrifice made to prevent the country from descending into ethnic conflagration. In a recent interview with a national newspaper, Fajuyi’s eldest son, Donald Fajuyi, expressed the frustrations of the statesman’s family regarding compensation and the need to immortalize him for his bravery and gallantry. He confirmed that his personal house project, which he stopped when he became governor as part of his sacrifice for the office, lay moribund until a few years ago when president Bola Tinubu in his private capacity assisted the family to complete the project.
THE HOPE calls on relevant authorities to compensate Fajuyi and his dynasty for the irreparable loss and rare sacrifice he made to avert deep-seated ethnic animosity between the Yoruba and Igbo nationalities during the unfortunate incident. The prolonged and cold silence by the Federal Government to honor him is nauseating and constitutes grave injustice to a man who laid down his life to cement the unity of the country.
WE implore President Tinubu, who in his private capacity has intervened to bring succor to the Fajuyi family, to do the official needful quickly by immortalizing the heroic deed of Fajuyi. The Hope believes that there is no justification for the continuous rebuff faced by Fajuyi and his family, as other officers who lost their loved ones in similar putsches have been compensated and appropriately immortalized. Without delay or further hesitation, we demand that a worthy and gallant former Military Governor of the Western Region, Colonel Francis Adekunle Fajuyi, be honored. We also implore the six western states which the late Fajuyi governed to come together to honour him individually and collectively.
BESIDES being honored and celebrated, the efforts and contributions of our past heroes should be chronicled and taught as a subject in primary and secondary schools in the country. Unless this is done, the heroic and selfless efforts of individuals like Fajuyi, Brigadier Samuel Ademulegun, Lt. Akintunde Akinsehinwa, Pa Michael Imoudu, M.K.O. Abiola, Dr. Adadevoh, and many others who laid down their lives for the survival of our great country will soon fade into oblivion.
THE disdain and callous indifference being shown to patriots by the nation do not encourage the virtue of selflessness but promote greed, thievery, and avarice by public personalities who believe that nobody cares for them outside public service. Today, only a few people know about the grave sacrifice made by Fajuyi for the country, and the apathy with which he has been treated must be corrected for posterity and to promote heroic values.
IN other climes, individuals like Fajuyi would be treated as national avatars, their names resonating with valor, knighthood, chevalier, and courage. It is not too late to do that. We echo the popular demand that Fajuyi deserves a national honor and immortalization, and so be it if gallantry still has a space in our honors gallery.