On September 13, 1919 was born a great man of letters, a consummate and dedicated Administrator, a dye in the wood progressive, a versatile Islamic Scholar and an encyclopedia of Lagos history and one of the founding fathers of modern Lagos. His name is Hassan Adisa Babatunde Fasinro, popularly called HAB.
To many, it was like a part of the sky above the city of Lagos had collapsed when on the evening of Sunday, 31st of March, 2019, it was announced that like all mortals, HAB had answered the supreme call in deference to his Creator.
Though the physical demise was expected, the passing away of Pa Fasinro was shocking. Senator Fasinro was one of the few men this nation has produced who are giants, men who stand tall and magnificent, above pettiness, self-centeredness and bigotry of the elite in today’s Nigeria.
The late Alhaji Fasinro attended Methodist Boys High School Lagos before proceeding to study Law in London in 1942. He was called to the Bar and admitted into the Lincoln Inn in 1951. He returned to Nigeria and became a Crown Counsel in the old Western Region where he became a Queens Counsel ( the equivalent of the present day Senior Advocate of Nigeria) from where he was appointed as the Town Clerk of the then Lagos City Council, succeeding late Barrister Mayaki.
His tenure as Town Clerk was very remarkable and eventful. With him as Town Clerk under the Chairmanship of late Alhaji Ganiyu Dawodu and other notable Lagosians including late Raufu Williams, Taorid Lawal-Akapo, T.B.Lawal, Ojekunle Pereira, Prince Tajudeen Olusi as Councillors, he ensured the laying of the foundation Stone of the Lagos City Hall in 1965 and interestingly, HAB supervised its completion and commissioning in 1968.
It is worthy of note that Alhaji Fasinro received the new administration of then Major Mobolaji Johnson following the creation of Lagos State in 1967. His nine year tenure as the Lagos Town Clerk of the then Lagos City Council not only raised the bar of Local Government Administration in the country, but also elevated the status of Lagos to an enviable level.
At the most concrete level, late HAB had an ineradicable impact on politics in Nigeria. He was elected as the Second Assistant General Secretary of the Action Group in 1953 under the leadership of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Well loved and respected by the party hierarchy, Fasinro contested the 1954 bye-election to the Lagos City Council. Other Councilors also elected at the time were M. Animashaun, K.B. Shomade, N.A. Taiwo, Mrs. E. Femi Pearse and S.I. Martin. Of the lot, H.A.B. Fashinro was the only University graduate. He served as an elected Councilor in 1954 as well as in 1976-1979. It is remarkable that Alhaji Fasinro donated all his allowances as Councilor to charitable organisations.
The Lagos Town Council was first and foremost distinguished by the caliber of men that ran it. They were mostly highly trained lawyers, engineers, medical doctors, accountant, town planners, and environmental officers. Apart from training its own staff locally, it was training sanitary inspectors for Ghana, Sierra-Leone, Liberia, Gambia, among others. The famous Health Personnel Training Institute at Harvey Road, Yaba, which today trains Sanitary Inspectors Nurses for the nation was established and owned by the Council before it was taken
He contested for the Senate in 1983 under the banner of the UPN under the leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and defeated the late Dr. Wahab Dosunmu of the NPN. He was in the Senate with other prominent Nigerians such as the late Dr. Olushola Saraki, Senators Jonathan Odebiyi, Abraham Adesanya and a host of others.
HAB was no less distinguished in religion, sports, writing and other pursuits. He led the secular and spiritual segments of the society simultaneously and creditably. Alhaji Fasinro was a front line member and leader of the Anwar-Ul-Islam Movement of Nigeria. He was elected President of the movement in 1988. It is instructive to note that he was in the forefront of the establishment of the foremost Ahmadiya now Anwar- Ul- Islam group of Primary and Secondary Schools. Alhaji Fasinro was also elected President of the Nigerian Muslim Council in 1992 in recognition of his contributions to the development of Islam in the country and was also an Executive member of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs.
Although born during the reign of Eshugbayi Eleko, H.A.B Fasinro lived to witness the reigns of Oba Ibikunle Akintoye (1925-1928) and Oba Sanusi Olusi (1928 – 1931) and the second tenure of Eshugbayi Eleko (1931-1932). It is also on record that he knew Oba Falolu (1932-1949) clearly as a young charming Prince when he was resident at Eletu Iwashe Street, a place where Akobo House now stands. His recollection of him was that of a man of style, character, and of good and princely disposition. And by the time, Prince Musendiku Buraimoh Adeniji Adele was formally installed as the Oba of Lagos on October 1, 1949; he was then 30 years old, already pursuing a degree in Law.
And when Oba Adeyinka Oyekan was installed on February 15, 1965, H.A.B Fasinro was serving as the Town Clerk of the Lagos City Council. On May 24, 2003 when Oba Rilwan Babatunde Akiolu I was installed as the 20th Oba of Lagos, H.A.B Fasinro had joined the rank of Octogenarian Lagosians. From Eshugbayi Eleko to Akiolu I, H.A.B Fasinro was quite knowledgeable about the politics and intrigues of the Lagos monarchy and had, in fact, become a philosopher and historian of sorts. His works, Ahmadiyya (as I See It); Achievements and Conflicts (1994); and Political and Cultural Perspectives of Lagos (2004), are major contributions to historical knowledge. Pa S.L. Edu described H.A.B Fasinro as a “highly knowledgeable and historically minded man.”
Although, it was not clear whether elaborate plans are in place to mark his 100 years in September, there are, however, insinuations that Lagos State Government would ordinarily have honoured him and also recognised his contributions to the development of the state, if he had lived up to 100 years.
While Pa Fasinro lived a life of humility, commitment and unparalleled public service example for the generation behind to emulate, unfortunately death pulled him out of the race among those Nigerians that are currently edging towards 100 years. It would be recalled that late Chief Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo, wife of the founder of Action Group (AG), Chief Obafemi Awolowo, died few days away from attaining 100 years.
HAB paid his dues and has left his footprints on the sands of time. He received several national and international awards including the National Award of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (OFR) in 2001. Lagos will always remember and honour him for all he did for the State.
May his soul Rest in Peace.
Musbau is of the Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja