Echoes of Nigeria’s struggle for democracy under the dictatorship of late military head of state, General Sani Abacha championed by the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, reverberated once again Thursday, December 9 at the auditorium of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, NIIA, Victoria Island, Lagos, venue of the 60th anniversary Distinguished Lecture series of the Institute delivered by Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, where former Foreign Affairs Minister, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, disclosed how Fayemi put his life on the line to set up Kudirat Radio through which NADECO disseminated its messages.
Governor Fayemi, who spoke on the topic: Fixing Nigeria For A Better World, was inducted with a Fellowship of the NIIA. Performing the formal exercise, Prof. Akinyemi, one-time Director-General of the NIIA, and chairman of the occasion, took participants down memory lane, recalling the exploits of Fayemi, whom he referred to as an “activist governor”, during their NADECO days.
Akinyemi said “This is a country where people forget things so easily. The governor was the anchor, the motivator, the promoter of what became Kudirat Radio International. At that time, we had a lot of sleepless nights. As you know, we were broadcasting from one of the Scandinavian countries. This was a dangerous mission because you know how they (Abacha junta) went on this spree of assassinations of those that they felt were threats to the regime. But what you didn’t know was that the first radio freedom that was used in this country, he (Fayemi) brought in that radio to Cotonou, Benin Republic. He could have been arrested at the airport if they had searched his bag and had found transmitters. And how he would have explained his way out of that, we thought of it, but he took the risk.
“Well, General Akinriade and I were on the ground there biting our nails as that plane landed and wondering what would happen, but he brought in the equipment. I’m not going to tell you how we got the equipment into Lagos but they broadcast from Lagos for months while he was then setting up the permanent one. So, that was the risk that he took”. According to the former NADECO chieftain, “Being in exile was not Easter or Christmas for those who were actively involved. And at least, he risked it. We could say he deserves the reward of being a governor because he earned it”.
Announcing the induction, Prof. Eghosa Osaghae, Director General of NIIA, said from Governor Fayemi’s presentation, “It is evident that His Excellency is a scholar of international relations; never mind that he specializes in the arts and sciences of warfare which is good for him and good for our country. But today, just to acknowledge and to say to him that he is a worthy student who has represented all of us well, and as one who’s going to continue to represent us, wearing the cap of wisdom, and authoritatively speaking to issues of international affairs and foreign policy, I am very pleased to announce that all of the governing bodies of NIIA have gotten together and decided to induct His Excellency with the fellowship of NIIA”. Osaghae told Fayemi that “Following this induction, you are to be referred to, and known as a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs”.
The event was attended by a former NIIA DG, Prof. Bola Akinterinwa; Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, Chairman of The Nation Editorial Board, Sam Omatseye, members of NIIA board, fellows of the Institute, erudite scholars, and members of the diplomatic community. Ovation publisher, Dele Momodu, James Ibori, former Delta State governor, among numerous others joined via Zoom.