Buhari Should Correct Things That He Did Wrongly – Fasehun
Dr. Fredrick Fasehun is the founder of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and National Chairman, Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). In this interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he speaks on developments in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari’s return to the country, cabinet reshuffle and UPN’s preparations for the 2019 general elections. Excerpts:
You once said that President Buhari cannot resume work immediately upon his return from the United Kingdom because he will need to recuperate for months. Now that the Presidency has said the President will be working from home for three months, can you say you have been justified?
Of course! I have been proven right. I said that based on my background as a medical doctor. Even if you complain of malaria to your doctor and you are admitted to hospital, there is no way the hospital will discharge you and say ‘go and return to work’. They will ask the discharged patient to go home and rest properly before he resumes work. So, Buhari has done what is expected of him.
But, the excuse the Presidency gave was that they want renovate the office because rodents damaged some things while the president was on medical vacation. How true is that?
Nigerians are very anxious to see their President back at work. So, his aides will offer any excuse to allow him escape certain criticisms. Why didn’t they renovate the office all the period he was abroad? They have to give an excuse for his not coming to work.
What is your perspective of the President’s broadcast to Nigerians last Monday morning?
I have not listened to that speech. But, a lot of people who got across to me have been criticising the speech. On my part, I won’t criticise the speech until I have listened to it. Let me read the dailies first on what he said and I will give my opinion.
What he said in essence was that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable and that the National Assembly will look into agitations for restructuring. What is your take on that?
The president has been absent from Nigeria for close to three months. How much first-hand information does he have about Nigeria? The information he has about the country is hand-to-hand, not direct information. I don’t think he can maintain that for a long time. But now that he has returned, he will study the situation on the ground and probably change the speech, which he made hurriedly.
You once said assigning three ministries (Power, Works and Housing) to Babatunde Raji Fashola was overkill and that it has done us more damaged. Now that another Minister of State has been assigned to the ministry, do you think this challenge has been addressed?
As an experienced politician in a country like Nigeria, I think I have been proven right. I am not saying this so that people can hail me. But, that’s the after-effect of my experience in politics. Of course, politicians should guide the nation, whether you are partisan or non-partisan. If you are practising politics, your politics is to make sure that you expend your experience in guiding the nation. So, I am glad the Federal Government is listening to some of our constructive criticisms. We will always make our experience available to the nation.
It is less than two years to the end of this administration, are you impressed with the performance of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as Nigeria’s ruling party so far?
Far from it! That is why we have identified some wrongs in what government has done and whenever they do the right thing, we commend them. A lot needs to be done and that is why when the President was on sick leave, Nigerians were asking him to resume and do the work he was elected to do. Even Nigerians abroad were agitating that he should go home. Now, that he is back, he has to correct things that were initially done wrongly.
Do you think it is time for a cabinet reshuffle?
I think so. Even under normal circumstances, the cabinet is reshuffled. Some ministers have not proven themselves as expected by the nation. Some have done very well. But, even those who have performed well ought to be changed so that their experience is made available to the nation. Reshuffling the cabinet is not necessarily about poor performance. You may need to make use of a good performer in another ministry. That is what happens in good governments all over the world.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information recently said former President Goodluck Jonathan paid you whopping sums to secure the waterways and pipelines. How much were you paid?
Did he repeat that statement again? When he said that before the 2015 elections, we started calling him Lai, the liar, and he became popular as a liar. There are credible ministers and there are ministers that are not credible. We have just left court. We went to court with the government of this nation that we worked for them guarding the pipelines. We left the pipelines about two years ago and we were yet to be paid a kobo. We had to go to arbitration before they considered us for payment. Nobody has even benefited from that payment yet because it was paid into the bank through e-payment. So, where the ministers have the documentary evidence that we have been paid?
Is it this government that engaged you to guard the pipelines or the Jonathan administration?
The Jonathan administration did not give us any job. It was this current APC government led by President Muhammadu Buhari that gave us the job. I believe the Minister of Information should be well informed. But, I am surprised that the current Minister of Information has started telling lies all over the place. He said we were paid N2.8billion. In developing countries, Ministers of Information are propagandists; they are not true informers. True information is part of development. But here, our people don’t dish out true information to the people. They resort to propaganda to sustain the government. A good minister of information, as the spokesperson of the Federal Government, will tell the truth to the people at all times. If you don’t dish out the truth, of course, you are a liar and your government is a lying government.
Major Hamza Al- Mustapha, a former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the late Sani Abacha recently claimed that some Yoruba leaders took bribe from the military to cover up M.K.O. Abiola’s death. Do you think this allegation is true?
There is a lot of truth in what Al- Mustapha said because I saw some tapes and I don’t believe Nigerians have devised any technology to falsify tapes. When the time comes, Nigerians will be shown some of these tapes so as to change their perception about certain individuals. I am one of the beneficiaries of some of these tapes and that is what makes me stand for the truth, by the truth and behind the truth.
I am sure that when Nigerians are convinced, they too will change their perception of some of these individuals. I have written a book on the travails and triumphs of Al- Mustapha. It is about 1,500 pages. I don’t want to comment on issues that are still in the Supreme Court. So, we will wait for the Supreme Court to make any pronouncement on that particular matter. Then, Nigerians will rest their minds and they will change their perception of some individuals and even some judges in this country.
I believe in the truth and the Bible says: ‘Righteousness exalts a nation’. That means falsehood demeans a nation. So, let us wait and see. The structure of Nigeria now, I think some truth will come out. That accusation by Al- Mustapha that some Yoruba leaders took money after Abiola’s death is very true. These Yoruba leaders took billions hours after Abiola’s death. Some of the people we saw on the tapes are Yoruba people. Majority of them were Yoruba people. Al- Mustapha is probably the biggest intelligence brain Nigeria has. He recorded everything that transpired in Aso Rock while he was there and even while he was out of there. He is writing his memoirs and I am sure many Nigerians are waiting to read his account.
The question is: Why did they want him killed after serving 15 years in detention? The Nigerian constitution says when anybody has spent 12 years in detention, he earns his freedom. Al- Mustapha spent 15 years, yet they still wanted him dead. Who are those who want him killed after serving 15 years in detention? Is it because he is in possession of some nailing evidences some people are afraid of? Nigerians should ask themselves that question. Nobody wants to be exposed. There is nowhere in the world such an accused will earn death penalty. Why is Nigeria different?
You resuscitated the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), but the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is dealing with the Secretary of your party. Why is this so?
I don’t think we should put new wine in old wineskin. That is what INEC expected me to and I will not do it. I don’t want to be referred to as a past politician. I am a single-minded politician and I will do things that will sustain the credibility of Nigeria and democracy. INEC has it in its constitution that the party chairman is the supreme executive of the party and the Secretary is only to be seen and not to be heard. The secretary, when thinking of suggestion for meetings, must take instructions from the chairman. If the chairman says ‘no’, then it is ‘no’. But here we are, INEC has been listening to the Secretary of UPN for about two years now without even getting in touch with me, the national chairman. I have the certificate issued by the same INEC. We are in court in Kaduna with INEC. I don’t know why the case has not been called. But, don’t forget that this is Nigeria.
What are your preparations, especially now that we are inching closer to the 2019 general elections?
We are not doing it alone. We are doing it with people of like minds. The Green Party of Nigeria manifesto and constitution are similar to ours. We share the same sentiments about the people. So, if you share the vision with another person, why don’t you join the person and bring your brains together so that the nation may benefit much more than if you did it on your own?
So, that means you may merge with another party?
Yes. I like to believe that as the national chairman of Unity Party of Nigeria, wherever I am is where the UPN is.