Biafrans Have A Right To Self-Determination – Fasehun | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Biafrans Have A Right To Self-Determination – Fasehun

Posted: Feb 24, 2016 at 12:12 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)
Founder of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Dr. Frederick Fasehun in this interview with Temidayo Akinsuyi, speaks on the renewed agitation for Biafra, anti-corruption fight and the facts behind the pipelines contract awarded to his group by the federal government last year. Excerpts:
What is your take on the renewed agitation for Biafra Republic by some youths in the country?
There is what we called agitation for self-determination. It is in our constitution. It is in the United Nations constitution. Now every Biafran on earth, as a matter of fact, everybody on earth has the right of agitation for self-determination. But what we should condemn is bloody agitation for human rights and self-determination. We all have the right. If not, why did Nigeria fight for independence? Was that not self-determination? Why did we shatter the country into states? Is not for self-determination? And we went to the national confab last year and various factors came to light and we agreed that if we are going to be democratic, self-determination should be a factor. We spent so much money, time on that confab and the document that evolved was unprecedented. So, why are we not implementing the recommendations of that confab? If every Nigerian trusts that the contents of that confab are going to be implemented, nobody is going to agitate for anything.
Looking at the state of the nation, can you really say that Nigerians are experiencing the change promised by President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC during the campaign of the 2015 general elections?
One has to define change. Is it change for the better or change for the worse? If it is change for the better, then it is true change. If it is change for the worse, it is also change.  I personally have not seen any positive change. Nigerians are still angry. They are still hungry.  They are still waiting for a positive change.  All they wake up in the morning to hear every day is the news about some leaders being picked up for corruption. When it started, we warned the nation against lopsidedness. Now, it seems all those in government have seen is that the sinners are found only in the opposition.  I believe those who have done so much damage to this country should be exposed, disgraced and should be downgraded. Corruption in any form is bad in any nation. But when corruption starts with the opposition, it is lopsidedness. When the head of state was singing the swansong that corruption will be dealt with, many of us jubilated. Those of us who have been agitating against corruption in this land greatly rejoiced that now the messiah has come. But much as we will like to continue jubilating and congratulating him, we are a bit worried because the fight against corruption has become a one-way affair.  It has become witch-hunting. It has become a vendetta and has become a political fight. If we are not careful, the fight against corruption in this country, if not well fought, will lose its glamour. What we see now is not governance. Nobody is saying looters should not be probed. They should face the music but in the process, governance must continue pari-passu. Now all we get now is people being picked for stealing billions of naira and there is no governance. We voted Buhari in to come and govern us and now he has lost track. He is no longer governing the state but witch-hunting looters. Nobody is congratulating the looters for looting the treasury and nobody is also congratulating Buhari for good governance. He should change for the better because we voted him in to come and procure good governance.
Shortly after the election, there was improvement in power supply which many attributed to the body language of president Buhari. Can you say the body language is still effective today?
I think Buhari’s body language is no longer working. He was lucky to have ruled this nation as a soldier and every Nigerian fears the military government. His own military government was particularly dictatorial so we thought maybe now as a civilian president he will bring in good governance and probably change. But some of us believe leopards don’t change their spots and this is what we are getting. The president has no constitutional rights to order arrests.  It is the security operatives that have constitutional rights to arrest.  The various arrests we have seen now look one-sided and it doesn’t smirk of justice. We thought that since he promised change during the election he will come in and exercise that change but see what is going on all around the place. No Nigerian leader is happy because Nigeria has been coming through the woods for a long time without somebody who had prescribed dictatorial governance will come in and give us good government. Afterall, Jerry Rawlings was a military man and Ghanaians are smiling. We thought Buhari will come in and make everybody smile. That was why Nigerians cheered him when he was coming in but now we are jeering.  Things have to change for the better. Nigerians must have food on their table, they must be able to pay their house rents. They will have stable electricity to illuminate their environments, school fees will be paid easily, minimum wage will be paid and so on. But tell me, which of these things I have mentioned have we experienced since Buhari came into office? It may sound like criticizing him but we are actually telling him that so far, not so good.  He still has more than three years to go so there is plenty of time for him to change. I am  happy that the leaders of this country that have spines are telling those in government that this is not what Nigerians expected. We all know things were bad. We didn’t expect things to be worse. Some Nigerians are jubilating because the dollar has appreciated to almost N300.  That clearly shows that there is no improvement in our situation. Daily, we hear that people are returning billions as a result of plea bargaining but Nigerians are not seeing the effect of that money. I believe he will do better if he shows us where this money is being paid and how the money is being spent.
 What is your view on the introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA)?
 If it is TSA, we have nothing against it. We like it but will it finance road construction, electricity, health, education and other critical sectors?  So, where shall we turn? TSA is a double-edged sword. We like it but we should have practical things on which funds in TSA are being spent. I believe things could be better. Buhari had a good fortune that he ruled this country as a dictator in the past. Now that he has come in as a seeming democrat, he will leave his name in gold if he comes in to improve on the lives of people. But as we speak, the lives of Nigerians are not improving.
 Were you surprised when the name of Chief Olu Falae was mentioned in the $2.1b arms scandal?
I know Olu Falae will not commit that atrocity. I can vouch for him that he will not. When we were in detention together, I used to call him ‘pastor’.  He is one of the cleanest men to come out of Africa. I know he didn’t commit that offence. I don’t mind being proved wrong but I know I am ninety percent right.  Falae will not take money that doesn’t belong to him by right.  He is not part of this $2.1b mess.  He admitted that his party collected the money but that he did not handle the money. Look, I am appealing to those in power not to dig into some of this reported scams because it may unearth situations the government itself may not wish to unearth.  The way they are going, national leaders are being involved and a country boasts of its national leaders. By the time you downgrade every national leader, you disgrace and embarrass them, and there will be no country to think of. I understand plea bargaining is going on, that is good enough.  Government is focusing too much on fighting corruption. I can tell you that by the time he has fought corruption for too long, he will be fighting corruption with corruption and he will not achieve anything meaningful. This is Nigeria. There are many sinners in Nigeria and government must understand that. Government should avoid sacrificing the leadership of the country to the whims and caprices of looking for corrupt people.
 You urged Nigerians to vote for former President Goodluck Jonathan in the last election. With the recent revelations, are you not worried given the way he mismanaged the nations’ wealth through former NSA, Sambo Dasuki?
I have never met Dasuki. I don’t even know what he looks like. But as the national security adviser of the country, how will government finance certain things? Isn’t it through the national security adviser? How does America finance FBI, CIA? How does Great Britain finance MI5?  How does Russia finance KGB?  It is through their national security advisers.  These are the people who spent the money and there are some of the spending that should not be exposed for national interest. And national interest is higher than any other interest.  All countries do clandestine spending through the national security adviser.  All these talk about president Jonathan spent this and that, who saw him giving out money? Every country does it. No head of state spends money directly. If you can remember, a particular head of state was borrowing six shillings in the past in this country.  He didn’t have money in his pocket and he wanted to give money to somebody. So, he turned to the security officers with him and borrowed six shillings. No president spends money directly and there is no nation that is not involved in clandestine spending. We are making too much noise about it and we are becoming an object of ridicule to outside countries.  We are just exposing everything to the world all in the name of fighting corruption.  It is a national embarrassment. Look at a national leader like Olisa Metuh in handcuffs. I have been in handcuffs and leg shackles though I know I shouldn’t be in handcuffs. But the police officer was so enthusiastic to downgrade me. Now, must we downgrade all our leaders? Nothing stops the federal government from calling those indicted to come and explain themselves if anything untoward is found with them. Once the federal government has concluded its investigations, it doesn’t have to go to the media.  What we have now is media trial and the process we downgrade people like Dokpesi, Metuh and those Nigerians should be proud of.  How could I have planned a coup with somebody who is in detention?  They took me to their office and I told them that I will not answer verbal questions.   
 The Federal Government contracted you to secure its assets before the 2015 general elections. There were reports that you were heavily paid by the then Jonathan administration. How much exactly were you paid?
It was Lai Mohammed told these lies to Nigerians four years ago. He said I have been paid N2.5b for a contract that has not even been awarded at that time. That is why I nicknamed him ‘Lai the liar’.  Now that he is in government, he would have realised now that he told a dirty lie. Why he has not come out openly to disclaim what he said then is up to him. I believe it is because he doesn’t have the courage to do so. If I told a lie, I will face the nation squarely and say  I am sorry.  It takes a man to own up to his mistakes.  We were given this contract in March 2015. The contract said we should make use of 4,000 people to secure the pipelines. I believe very much in security of lives and property.  We applied for that job in 2010 and the contract was awarded in 2015. The contract aside saying we should make use of 4,000 personnel also specified how much NNPC will pay per head monthly.
Without giving us a kobo for mobilisation, I persuaded my boys and they took over the pipelines.  For three months, all we got was commendation because NNPC never lose a drop of oil. During these three months, we were not paid a dime. When we completed the job, NNPC called our attention to the end of the contract and we withdrew. But we demanded for our money for the three months we worked.  They keep saying they will pay. Even as we speak, NNPC has not given us a kobo.