By Chioma Ugboma
Lagos – The Founder of the O’odua Peoples Congress (OPC), Dr Frederick Fasehun, on Sunday warned against unguarded talks ahead of the 2019 general elections, saying such might have dire consequences for Nigeria.
The cctogenarian and National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) Chieftain, who will turn 85 years on Sept. 21, gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
Fasehun said that the most important task before every Nigerian now was to ensure that the unity and peace of the country was preserved as an entity.
“At my age and looking back at the battles we fought to enshrine democracy in Nigeria through NADECO, I cannot sit and watch Nigeria disintegrate.
“Elections are not a door die affair. Leaders come and go which is why we have tenure in Nigeria. It is not a life position but the country will always remain for new leaders.
“I am most pained that some of the elder statesman are on the sidelines, and doing nothing to call their people to order.
“It is not a situation restricted to any part of the country, it cuts across. This is the time for statesmen to rise and speak with one voice against violence and incitement that may negate what we stand for as a nation,” Fasehun said.
He said that there was need for Nigerians to go beyond ethnicity and party leanings in selecting their leaders.
“2019 is not about the Presidency alone. Attention must be given to those who represent the people in the National Assembly. The governors and their state assemblies are not left out of it.
“The centre cannot work properly if we continue to vote in persons whose only intention are to embezzle.
“How do we begin to justify the inability of state governors to pay workers’ salaries. There are so many issues that have become so worrisome and at my age, I fear it may end up becoming a norm to owe salaries in Nigeria.
“The buck stops with the people. It is their decision to make. Whatever choices they make are what they will live with.
“Voting is not for God to do. It is for humans. In doing this, our conscience must be our guide. The future of our generations must remain the priority as we go to the polls,” he said.
He urged civil society groups to take up the task of educating Nigerians, especially the youth against being used during elections to spill blood or disrupt the electoral process.
“My thinking is that henceforth, the security apparatus should move to pick up anyone, groups or persons who make inciting comments ahead of the polls as a deterrent.
“We once fought a civil war, we cannot afford war in Nigeria again because at this stage of our development, war will affect every part of the nation. It will crumble the nation completely and make us all refugees, including the rich and the poor.
“When I go, I would love to go happy, knowing that things are working right and that we did not fight in vain.
“I want a Nigeria that will make us all proud and take it’s pride of place among the comity of nations in all aspects,” Fsehun said.
On who becomes the next President in Nigeria, Fasehun, said, “My preference does not matter. I am an elder statesman now. My blessing goes to all and I pray that the best man will be chosen by the people in a violence-free election.”
He restated the need for Nigeria to be restructured in accordance with agitations from the various entities making up the country.
NAN reports that Fasehun was born in 1938 and hails from Ondo City in the current Ondo State.
A medical doctor, he studied science at Blackburn College and furthered his education at Aberdeen University College of Medicine.
He also studied at the Liverpool Postgraduate School after which he had a Fellowship at the Royal College of Surgeons.
In 1976, he studied acupuncture in China under a joint World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Development Scholarship Programme.
In 1977, he set up an Acupuncture Unit at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).
Fasehun resigned in 1978 and immediately set up the Besthope Hospital and Acupuncture Centre in Lagos. The Acupuncture Centre once earned a reputation as Africa’s first for the Chinese medical practice.
The OPC he founded is a Yoruba-based organisation formed to actualise the annulled mandate of Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, a Yoruba who purportedly won the presidential election of June 12, 1993 but was barred from office.
Fasehun was imprisoned for 19 months from December 1996 to June 1998 during the military rule of Sani Abacha, only ending 18 days after Abacha’s death.