The founder of Odua People’s Congress (OPC) Dr Frederick Fasheun, has called on the Yoruba nation to be united and speak with one voice in their demands as the 2019 elections draw closer.
Fasheun noted that the volte-face made by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo against the candidacy of President Muhammadu Buhari ahead of next year’s election is an indication of the former president’s regret for throwing his weight behind him in 2015. He, therefore, urged the Yoruba leaders and the people to listen to the former president while advising President Buhari to resign since the people are no longer happy with him.
He also looked at issues affecting the Yoruba nation, insecurity in the country, the re-alignment going on in the country, among other issues.
The 2019 election is around the corner, what do you think should be the major concern of the Yoruba nation?
The concern of the Yoruba nation for the election ought to be unity of purpose. The Yoruba people must speak with one voice; they should express what they want profoundly. What they don’t want they should tell the government in an unequivocal language. For instance, the violence that preceded the election in Ekiti should not have been allowed to mature. The Yoruba should be able to speak with one voice because violence in one part of the Yoruba land is violence in the entire Yoruba land. And violence has a tendency in Yoruba land because once it starts it replicates in other areas and we don’t want violence in Yoruba land now; what we want is democracy, peaceful co-existence, peaceful elections and so on and so forth. Real democracy is what we want; nobody desires looming violence.
The agitation for restructuring continues to reverberate throughout the country. What is your view about this agitation, do you consider it the panacea to the problems confronting the nation?
It should be. We have been agitating for it since the end of the last constitutional conference and that demand has not been met. If our demand for that conference has not been met I don’t think we should stop agitating. If agitation is what will touch the Federal Government let us go on agitating.
What is your assessment of the performance of President Buhari so far?
The assessment of the president is reflected in the people’s comments. People are saying that they are jobless, they are angry, there is insecurity and so on and so forth. Public perception is a reflection of the performance of a government. If those at the helm of leadership have done well, people will say it. Those who were cheering when Buhari was preparing to come in are the same set of people that are now jeering because they say there is no food, no electricity, no job. Why have they suddenly changed their perception about him? So, the public perception of the president is reflected in people’s comments. The current leadership is in a turmoil generated by politicians. Politicians are ganging up for the election. It lacks meaning. People want to gather to foment trouble so as to justify their violent preparation for the election. People are warning themselves all over the place because of election. Nobody is immune to violence. If you cut anybody’s throat he bleeds, so avoid cutting throats.
Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, who of course was one of those who campaigned for the president’s election, has been at the forefront of the campaign for Nigeria to change the current leadership. What do you make of his attempt to mobilize Nigerians against returning President Buhari in 2019?
Obasanjo is an elder statesman, a former dictator and former democrat. So, he is qualified to warn Nigerians about the looming problem and warning us to steer clear of such problem. I think he has done well.
You mean he is right with his current position considering the fact that he campaigned for the election of President Buhari?
Nothing says he should not express his regrets. If he has expressed his regrets because he has seen what is now happening, please let him feel sorry for past misdeeds and let him be the statesman he has always been. Obasanjo is one leader that has not precipitated crisis. So, let us listen to him. Any leader that comes out to warn us against looming violence is a good leader.
But the body language of Yoruba leaders seems to point to the fact that Obasanjo could be on his own. What do you think?
Yoruba leaders have never listened well to Obasanjo because they think his warning is belated, but warning against violence is never belated. So, let us listen to him and call ourselves to order. I think Obasanjo is in a good position to warn us. Obasanjo has seen both sides of governance; military, democracy, so he is in the best position to warn Nigeria. So, let us listen to him.
The herdsmen menace is a major challenge the country is grappling with now. What do you think is the way out?
It is not a recent thing; it’s a disease Nigeria has been suffering from for a long time. What is new is the approach. Government is not attempting to douse the tension, the tension has been there. People have been killing for months without the Federal Government intervening to say, don’t kill. People have been doing various things to undermine democracy. Foreign leaders that have visited the country even went out of diplomatic method to warn the nation to be careful. People have warned the leadership to stop the killings. So, it has taken foreign leaders to come to Nigeria to warn us that we should be careful and stop killing.
The French leader, Macron said stopping the killings is up to our leaders. The killings have become more pronounced than it was in the past. What is wrong with our democracy? Is our democracy failing? If it is failing, let our leaders tell us and have the courage to resign their positions rather than precipitating us into chaos and crisis, they should have the courage to say no, this is too much for us, so here is our resignation letter. Don’t precipitate us into unimaginable crisis. People should not kill anticipatory to election. It is dangerous. Killing should not precede democratic elections. Therefore, let us do everything to encourage participatory democracy and non-violence. In decent societies, democracy is never preceded by violence. In civilized society, democratic elections are preceded by jollity, drinking, dancing and so on and so forth, not anticipatory violence like we have now.
Are you saying that the insecurity in the country has political undertone?
What we have been practising is not democracy, it is violence. Why on earth, for example, should a governor attempt to prevent the leader of the Federal Government from visiting? That is not democracy. He is the leader of the nation and he should not be deprived of his own rights. He has the right to visit any state. Democracy does not say he should prevent the leader of the country from visiting. No! That announces chaos and confusion.
What would you say is the solution to the problem, as it appears that the Federal Government is helpless?
The Federal Government should assume responsibility. If they think the violence we have been anticipating is becoming real it is the responsibility of the government to prevent insecurity by all means. If you have to postpone the election, please postpone so that instead of chaos and crisis and undemocratic election, let us have peace and tranquility. What we need now is not violence. Everybody is on edge because of the killings in the country.
If you were asked to advise the president now, what would be your advice?
I would tell him to resign. When cheering has become jeering, then it is time to resign.
What is your assessment of the Chief Gani Adams as the Aare Ona Kakaafo?
I think the fact that there has been no violence in a domain influenced by the presence of the Aare Ona Kakaafo, we should give him kudos that he has performed well. Everybody thought violence is a virtue of Aare Ona Kakanfo’s domain, but he has proved us wrong.
What do you make of the moves by ethnic nationalities in the country to forge a common front ahead of next year’s election?
It is a good thing, it means unity and the ethnic nationalities in the country must be united to be able to face the failure of any government.