By DAPO AKINREFON
OTUNBA Gani Adams is the National Coordinator of the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC. In this interview, he says should the founder of the OPC, Dr Fredrick Fasehun, venture into politics, he should renounce the OPC struggle. He also bares his mind on the court judgement that freed Major Hamza Al-Mustapha after 14 years of incarceration. Excerpts:
How do you feel about the court judgment that freed Major Hamza Al Mustapha?
With our experience on June 12, I am not happy with the judgment. Perhaps people have forgotten that it was not only Kudirat Abiola that died as a result of the struggle; what of people like Pa Alfred Rewane, Sola Omotehinwa? They were killed. Alex Ibru was shot and he didn’t really get out of the effect of the shooting before he died. In the process also, Pa Abraham Adesanya was shot.. Later, the symbol of the struggle, Chief Moshood Abiola, died in mysterious circumstances.
It was tragic enough that both husband and wife died in the struggle. The judge said that there was no strong evidence to link Al Mustapha with Kudirat’s murder; so the question remains: Who killed Kudirat Abiola? She was gunned down in broad daylight and Sergeant Rogers confessed that he shot her on the orders from above.
That was during the regime of General Sani Abacha and Al-Mustapha was a very powerful figure in that government. Supposing MKO died but his wife Kudirat survived, do you think his business empire would have gone down just like that? That is why it is so painful that the family was left empty handed without justice. I am sure that Chief Gani Fawehinmi would have filed a case immediately Al Mustapha was set free if he was still alive.
Unfortunately, those who benefitted from June 12, apart from Dr. Fasehun, kept quiet, they didn’t condemn the judgment. I condemned the judgment immediately even though I don’t have any issue personally with Al Mustapha. I was made by June 12 because, if not for it, there wouldn’t be anything like Oodua Peoples Congress.
The election was annulled in 1993 and OPC was formed in 1994. Fasehun was one of the beneficiaries of June 12. How many people knew about Fasehun as a figure in Yoruba land before the annulment of the June 12 election?
But the OPC was there shepherding Al Mustapha about when he was discharged.
It’s not correct to say OPC was accompanying him. It was Dr. Fasehun that you saw. We have two different organisations under two different leaders. Fasehun runs his own organisation in Century Hotel while our own secretariat is at Palmgrove. Both of us are not operating on the same principle. Normally OPC could have been one but the old man never allowed it.
What is he looking for? Mustapha said he paid a visit to Prophet T B Joshua after he was released, did the prophet follow him to Kano? He said he visited some Yoruba leaders in Ibadan, did he mention their names? You cannot compare me with Dr. Fasehun. I have never done anything against the wish of the Yoruba race since we started this struggle in 1993. I have never compromised the interest of the race even when things were very rough.
Even when Fasehun was in detention, I refused to compromise; a lot of people wanted to hijack OPC, but I did not allow them. It’s so unfortunate that Dr Fasehun is behaving the way he is doing now. What does he want? I don’t know why he turned himself to Al Mustapha’s bodyguard.
Fasehun is floating a political party, the Unity Party of Nigeria. Maybe he hopes to use Al-Mustapha on the party project.
If that is so, he is making a mistake. A typical Hausa/Fulani would not join a core Yoruba party. We have tribal sentiment with us in Nigeria and we should stop deceiving ourselves. Why did the northerners refuse to join the Action Congress of Nigeria until they called for merger? He is deceiving himself if he thinks he can use Al-Mustapha’s release to sell his UPN. If you watched the event in Kano very well, the crowd was not cheering him but their son, Al-Mustapha. Maybe Mustapha has promised to help him in politics but I know that there is more to it.
Dr. Fasehun is saying Yoruba should forgive and forget; if it was his wife that was murdered, will he easily forget that? Mind you, he has been doing something like this in the past. During the 10th anniversary of the death of Sani Abacha, he was in the same Kano where he said Abacha could have been the best Nigerian leader if he did not die. This is Abacha that has been adjudged the most corrupt Nigerian leader.
This is the same Abacha that gave instruction that everybody that proclaimed anything about June 12 should be shot or detained. I was lucky to interact with the late Kudirat Abiola; she remained the pillar of the struggle when her husband was detained. She was the one sponsoring the struggle and Fasehun cannot come out to say he did not benefit. The woman was the one coordinating the struggle and that was the reason she became the target and was killed. Why should Fasehun, who benefitted from the woman, now work against her?
People think OPC may dissolve into UPN because the leader of the organisation founded it.
It is Dr. Fasehun’s group, not me and my followers. If you go to Century Hotel now, there is no structure of OPC there anymore. The only people you see with him are the UPN people, and he still claims he is the founder of OPC. You call yourself the founder of OPC, yet you are the chairman of UPN, how will you run the two together? If he wants to go into politics, let him renounce the struggle.
You can’t be portraying yourself as leader of OPC and working against the interest of Oodua. Kudirat and her husband MKO were descendants of Oodua. What Fasehun is doing negates the struggle in every way. A friend spoke to me a lot about Al Mustapha and I told him I would not work against my race even with trillions of naira. Another prominent football coach equally approached me about Al Mustapha and I told him to leave me out of it.
Yoruba will not forget those who are against them; they have not forgotten the issue of Awolowo and Akintola or those who worked against them during June 12. Supposing God did not use me to keep up the struggle, where will OPC be today?
Perhaps Fasehun is doing this because of the pipeline security contract
What does becoming the bodyguard to Al Mustapha have to do with the pipeline contract? How much would they pay him for the pipeline security? Most of the young boys who got contracts worth billions of naira have not compromised the demands of their race. Why would Dr Fasehun do so and this is a contract that has not even been awarded. How much of the money can he spend before he dies? This is a man close to 80 years.
I don’t pray for his death but he is an old man and should borrow a leaf from his contemporaries like Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Ajayi Olanihun and Chief Fasoranti. Yoruba value what people think about them more than money. The children of Obafemi Awolowo are benefiting from the legacy of their father today.