‘There Would Have Been Post-Election Violence If Polls Were Not Shifted’
Founder, Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Dr Fredrick Fasheun spoke with DEBO OLADIMEJI on the contract recently awarded by the Federal Government to his company, New Age Global Business Nigeria Limited to protect the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC’s) pipelines from Mosinmi in Lagos State to Oyo State.
Is it true that the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) has been awarded a contract by the Federal Government to protect pipelines?
Yes, but to my company, New Age Global Business Nigeria Limited, that will make use of the OPC group.
What is the cost of the project?
Well, no figure has been put on it. But as of now, it is not a permanent contract. It depends on the performance of the company in the first three months of the year.
Which area does the contract cover?
The part given to my group is from Mosinmi, Lagos State to Oyo State, the whole of Oyo State.
How old is the company?
The company is about eight years old. And we applied for the contract on October 29, 2011. It is not a new thing, it is just that our detractors think they can make political gain out of it.
Is the contract similar to the one given to the militants in the Niger Delta?
I don’t know the nature of the contract given to the militants in the Niger Delta. Ours is to protect the pipelines and make sure that vandalisation is minimized. You wouldn’t believe it. The NNPC loses about N7 billion every month through vandalisation of the pipelines.
But why is the government now awarding the contract during the political season?
Why not now? Our application to NNPC for the contract is dated since 2011. Well, if the problem is now optimal why shouldn’t NNPC take action to correct the situation?
What was the major goal of your company from inception?
Security. We were not trading in commodities or any other thing but security.
Do you support calls that Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega should be sacked?
Those saying that properly have a reason for asking for Jega’s resignation. It is not that Jega has not done well. I wish I could say that for his subordinates. I have interaction with his subordinates and they are the most unreliable subordinate staff anybody could have. Jega is a decent person. But his subordinates are saboteurs.
I don’t even know the hierarchical structure. But I have had dealings with some of them. When I applied for the registration of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), the registration fee was a N100,000. When I submitted my application, they said hold on, we are thinking of increasing the registration fee. I said you are still thinking, but my registration is here why should I wait? They refused to listen. I waited. By the time I returned to the place a few days later, they had jacked it up to N1 million. In order words, they didn’t want to register the UPN. Of course, you don’t take me on that cheaply, I paid another N1 million. And they had another reason to put a stumbling block on my way.
They said certain things were wrong with our constitution. Then, I said they should point out the clauses they don’t want to see. And they said: ‘Awoist.’ We have said that UPN was Awoist. They then asked me to pay another N1 million. And I paid another N1 million. And they started looking for various other reasons. And a day to the expiration of the registration exercise, they wrote to say sorry they could not carry on processing my application. They asked me to pay another N1 million. Instead of N100,000 I paid N3 million.
And when I paid the third million, they knew that Dr Fasheun was up to something. Of course, I wasn’t going to pay a fourth million. I will prefer to go to court. They later handed over my certificate of registration to me. And I congratulated them.
What is your response to those people saying that you are supporting the government to win the contracts?
I have an OPC group comprising six million strong Nigerians. Don’t we qualify for taking contracts from the Nigerian government? It isn’t a one man affair. At least six million Nigerians will benefit. Do you know the ripple effects that contract will have on this country? Let us say about 40,000 people are earning salaries every month due to the contract. Does that not going to have effect on unemployment statistics? So I have no apology to make to those who are criticizing the contract awards. The application came in before Jonathan. Just that people were making a mountain out of a molehill. As a matter of fact, the molehill doesn’t even exist.
Do you foresee post-election violence?
The way it was going, there would have been post election violence. If some of us didn’t stand up at the INEC meeting to say no, let us shift the elections. It was like the animal had been slaughtered, it had been cut into pieces and was just about to be shared, when some of us who thought Nigeria should remain a country got up.
Why were we in a hurry? What the constitution recommends is that there should be at least 30 days between the end of the election and the swearing-in.
Why did we want to hold the election in February and wait till May to do the swearing-in when we know that the country will get into trouble? If some of us did not speak up, history will not forgive us.
I know what to do in any situation. I was offered a seat for the National Confab, I said no. There is nothing that I am going to do at the National
Confab which I have not said outside it. Let younger people go. The decision of the confab is now here. If anybody went against holding a national confab and that person now came to control our national life and he has the decision of the national confab in front of him, what do you think he will do with the report? He will throw it into the dustbin.
Why are so critical of All Progressive Congress presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari (retired)?
Because I do not want to commit suicide. I remember the political history of this country. That is why I wrote in The Guardian sometimes on February 4. I placed a two-page advertorial titled: “Nigerians, Lest We Forget.” Have we forgotten people sentenced to 30 years imprisonment for being politicians? Have we forgotten people such as Baba Ajasin at the age of 74 being sentenced to 30 years imprisonment? Have we forgotten that somebody, after committing a terrible offence against democracy, came out and announced to this country that politicians should go to the nearest police station to submit themselves?
And some of those politicians didn’t come back to our polity with vision. Many of them went blind. Have you forgotten Ambrose Ali came back almost blind and died soon afterwards? For God’s sake, and somebody is turning the truth upside down and telling us this is the best material we have in this country!
Even sometime ago, he was still defending his position on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The BBC man said: “If journalists publish the truth, will you still deal with them?” He said that yes, anybody that publishes the truth that embarrasses government will go to jail. I was surprised that the newspapers were not crying foul the following day. What is the duty of the press? He must now go back to the college of journalism and start learning how to tell the untruth. Truth may be embarrassing but truth is truth. Would you be a democrat without believing in the truth? I don’t have anything against Buhari in person but he misruled us.
Are you saying that he cannot mend his ways?
He wouldn’t have answered the British interviewer on BBC that he will not accept the truth that is embarrassing to the government.
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