National Coordinator of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and Founder of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Dr. Fredrick Fasheun, has come out to defend his support for the re-election bid of President Goodluck Jonathan, stating his belief that the President is a true Nigerian who knows the needs of the country.
Speaking in an interview with Chioma Gabriel and Anozie Egole of Vanguard, Fasheun described President Jonathan as a true democrat whose antecedence will speak for him come Saturday, March 28, 2015 when the presidential elections take place.
Fasheun also took time to speak on the UPN, OPC and other topical national issues.
What is your true stand on this election. I asked because recently, it was rumoured that your organization is in support of President Jonathan?
There are only two people to vote for in this election. So, every Nigerian has a chance to either take A or B. I don’t want one so, I am left with the other choice and that is why I chose to support Jonathan. I was not comparing Jonathan with anybody because, there is nobody, past or present to compare him with in performance, transformation, democracy. I find him an addict to democracy and that is the type of person we want now to lead Nigeria. And as an intellectual, I think he knows what Nigeria and Nigerians need. He has been working on education and he has founded about 14 universities in four years.
He has been building schools for Almajaris, he has improved on agriculture, he has improved on the economy. When he came in, the economy was nothing to write home about but he has transformed the economy of this nation under four years. Now, the nation’s economy is the first in Africa and he had done that in four years without jailing anybody for writing the truth.
East west road off the drawing board
We know people who say any journalist that writes the truth that embarrasses the government will be jailed but Jonathan has not done that. He is building roads, airports, railways and bridges for us. The Onitsha bridge has been in existence for a long time and he is building the second Niger bridge. I think that is an achievement.
The east-west road that has been on the drawing board for decades he has built it. He has also resuscitated our dilapidated railway system. He has not convicted anybody since he came in. He said his ambition would not be at the expense of a drop of a Nigerian’s blood while others said that theres is characterized by the mixture of the blood of dogs and baboons. Somebody who loves Nigerians and somebody who does not bother about Nigeria and the people, which one would you prefer? That is why I chose to support Jonathan.
People think that I chose to support him because I have collected money, at least you are aware that I don’t take money from anybody for anything. We became friends when people started alleging that I collected money from Obasanjo. And Obasanjo himself apologized to me for not deflecting that rumour. I have always challenged Nigerians, that if there is any Nigerian alive that I have taken money from, let him or her come out and tell the Nigerian people and nobody has done that.
But in a situation where your organization, the OPC is against your support, what will you do?
The OPC is not against my support for Jonathan. So there was no such story of OPC protesting against my decision to support Jonathan.
There is rumour that you collected a multi-million Naira contract from Jonathan and that is why you are supporting him?
That is a very ugly rumour. If I’m asked to watch over the life and property along a hundred kilometer worth of pipeline, would it be me, Dr Fasheun that would be physically present at the place to supervise that or would it be some other Nigerians? And if these other Nigerians are youths, don’t they qualify to accept contract from Nigerian government? And that contract was awarded about two weeks ago.
That contract is supposed to have been awarded 3-4 years ago. And as I am talking to you now, there are over three thousand youths along the pipeline. And for the first time, today is the third day they have worked there, there have been no sign of vandalisation since they started work as was in the past when NNPC was losing N7billion every month to vandalisation.
We applied to be given that contract in October 26th, 2010 and politicians were making campaigns of calamity against it and I kept my cool. But NNPC must have realized that it is now becoming unbearable losing N7billion every month.
Are you saying the contract has no link with Jonathan but from NNPC?
No, it is not a direct contract from Jonathan, it is an NNPC contract. The story came from politicians who don’t want anything good for the youth of this country. I am not going to work on the pipelines, it is the youths who are there. Three thousand of them are there already some days ago and they must have increased in number now. Mind you, that number leaves a dent on unemployment statistics.
It causes a ripple effect on the citizenry because each of those working on the pipeline has family to take care of. I champion the cause of Nigerian youths and I am tired of seeing hungry people, I am tired of seeing unemployed graduates, I thank NNPC for granting the contract not to Dr Fasehun as a person but to the Nigerian youth as a group.
You registered UPN, what is the role of the party now in the coming election. Who is contesting, which candidates do you have now?
Other political parties started 10-15 years ago, and UPN as a political party was registered a few months ago. There is no way we will have the capability to flex muscle with those who have been in the business for a decade or more. We are cutting our coat according to our cloth. Now, we are not contesting presidential election, it is a heavy and expensive position.
We must not go for every level of the election. So, where we think we can fit into, we will go for like in the local governments and state level, not at the gubernatorial level, and the presidency. We are looking at 2019 and in that year, the country will feel the impact of the presence of our party UPN. We are also taking part in the national assembly.
The way I know the Southwest, they are always united when it comes to pursing a common agenda. I am surprised at what is happening now. We see Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as somebody stepping into the shoes of Awolowo..
I don’t believe that story. Because I know there are many respectable Yoruba leaders in existence. The likes of Ayo Adebanjo and many of them. Yoruba leadership is never purchased, it is never for sale. And the Yoruba people know their leaders.
Do you think there will still be peace in the country after the election?
The election will come peacefully and go peacefully. The wrong thing we always do is that we anticipate fear.
It is alleged that some of the insurgents being driven out from the Northeast are coming Lagos. Are you concerned?
It is their desire or their ambition to come to the South-west but the South-westerners have contained their ambition. And they have continued to contain their ambition. Nobody is going to enter one inch into our own territory by the grace of God.