Dr Frederic Fasheun is the National Chairman of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). In this interview with AJIBOLA ABAYOMI, the politician who doubles as the founder of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) x-rays the political development in the nation and the impacts of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration on Nigerians so far.
Your party was more involved in political activities before the 2015 poll, but now you people appear to have taken the back seat, why?
The role the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and some agencies that don’t have the interest of the nation at heart played concerning the UPN were quite funny, with some characters within the party laying claim to the leadership of the party. I know INEC being a responsible body will not want to issue two certificates of registration to two different groups at the same time. I am the authentic leader of the party, because I have the registration certificate with me. I have taken the INEC to the court on the matter but due to court’s bureaucracy, we are yet to get justice. I have not given up the leadership of UPN, because there was reason why I should do that. I still preside over the meetings of the executive of the party. The situation at hand is what has slowed down our activities but we are still very much active as a party. UPN doesn’t make noise usually. We reckon that it is only a mad dog that barks all the time.
Lagos council poll has been fixed for April, but there is no sign that the UPN is participating…
We are going to participate. At the appropriate time our candidates will file out. We don’t have to make noise, like it as I have said. What we did during the last election is still fresh in the memory of the people. The two members of House of Assembly in my area and the person voted into the House of Representatives got there through the effort of the UPN. Lagos State chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Henry Ajomale lives in my neighbourhood, yet we defeated his party. People went as far as saying I had pact with former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Don’t get me wrong we had no agreement with the PDP (the Peoples Democratic Party).
But going by your comment during the election it was clear that you had sympathy for former President Jonathan?
We did that when the people were denying Jonathan his democratic rights to the extent that he was blackmailed to surrender power. I have to speak out. Nobody surrenders power.
Are you in any way saying that he was not defeated during that election?
Was that an election? Ok Hilary Clinton was also defeated in America by Donald Trump.
The American election was counted and the loser conceded defeat same way Jonathan did in Nigeria in 2015?
Well may be one of us did not follow the sequence of that election in Nigeria. Well, I am asking you as journalist that was that 2015 poll a fair election. Please I need an answer.
You were quick to say sometimes ago that Nigerians should not bemoan the economic hardship under President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, are you saying the electorate have no right to complain?
Did I not warn Nigerians enough before the poll? Every word that came out of my mouth has vindicated me. I didn’t minced words that the change they were clamouring for will not do them any good. I went as far as saying that the Buhari they were about to vote for is like a leopard that would not change its skin. If I had made those comments during the military era, I would still be in jail by now. If Buhari got a rumour that I voted for him, he would deny it. I ask again, was that an election or an election bought and paid for? What we witnessed was just intimidation. I shifted focus to the American election the other time because you were not going to answer my question on Nigeria election.
How do you mean? Are you saying Jonathan who appointed the INEC chairman, had the nation’s security apparatus under his control and other clear advantages was intimidated out of office?
Certainly, one of us was mincing words.
Well, all is not well with the nation at the moment, what do you think is the way out?
The people in power should realise that they are there to represent the interest of the people with love and care. So they should serve well. However, what we are witnessing now is very embarrassing given the level of our education and exposure as nation. The people in charge are behaving like toddlers. A hungry man is an angry man. The masses had voted for the current government thinking that prices of food commodities like garri and rice would be cheaper but the reverse is the case. Naira is now a worthless currency. Recession is fast becoming depression in the nation. The peace in the land is not the type that usually follows any festive period. Three year ago, a bag of rice was N7,500 and now it is sold for N22,000 in a country where the minimum wage is N18,000. Things have degenerated under the APC government. They struggled to come in with all sorts of antics, yet they have nothing to offer.
What are the plans of your party ahead of 2019 elections? Are you likely to go into merger with other parties to seek power?
By the grace of God we shall participate, but our participation shall be based on honesty to usher in true democracy. If you achieve democracy through undemocratic means, you won’t perform. This present government spent the first nine months of its tenure arguing. There was disagreement between the executive and the legislators. You don’t commence serious governance the way APC did and expect a good result at the end of the day.
Talking about the future elections, I will direct the position of my party with honesty of purpose by galvanising the people in the right direction. I will let them (the electorate) known that they don’t have to sell their votes.
If Jonathan decides to re-contest, are you ready to support him?
I have not made up my mind on that. Leadership in Nigeria should be by screening. It should not be an exercise of all dick and harry. Nigerians should screen their leaders before election. A giant country like ours is still behaving like a toddler because of the excesses of our leaders. I have told you that I am not happy with the turn of events, given the level of our education and exposure. I will be 83 this year; I have never seen a democracy or government like the one in Nigeria at the moment. Every aspect of the economy is in crisis.
It is like you do not want to give the Buhari government some credits. Don’t you think they have done well in the area of anti-corruption and the fight against insurgency?
I am saying none of the plans of the government has had positive effect on the lives of the people. Nothing to show for their leadership, if you claim there was decay in Nigeria and you struggled to get into power, one would expect that you should repair the damage. That is not what is happening now. There was so much propaganda, deceit and intimidation before the APC took over but they have failed to deliver on their promises. People want to see positive developments and not broken promises. The people deserve far more than what they are getting now from the current government. Where is the war against corruption when you are using corruption to fight corruption? When you subvert the judiciary and think those who should be priest at the temple of justice should be persecuted, then what type of corruption are you fighting?
At least, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has been trying a lot of suspected looters and for the judges you mentioned, are you saying that they are above the law if they are found wanting?
Where are the people the EFCC is chasing? Where is Sambo Dasuki and others? Where is the money they claimed they have recovered from the so called looters? Can’t they use it to fund the budget? If they think Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government was corrupt, why have they not sanitised the system?
You said the government was fighting insurgency and they are killing people across the country, has the killings in Kaduna and other places stopped? What about bombing in many states?
So what is your advice to the government and the people on the way forward?
I think the electorate can see for themselves what the country has turned into in less than two years of Buhari’s government. The responsibility of government is to protect lives and property. In this regard, the government has failed woefully to deliver. The government should concentrate efforts on how to improve the lots of the citizens to guarantee peace and stability.