Ola Olateju, an honorary lecturer at the Department of Political and Cultural Studies, Swansea University, United Kingdom, in this brief encounter told Andrew Oyafemi that Oodua People’s Congress founder, Dr. Frederick Fasheun, hijacked the idea of reviving Unity Party of Nigeria ( UPN) from him.
Mr. Ola Olateju an honorary lecturer at the Department of Political and Cultural Studies, Swansea University, United Kingdom, has accused Dr. Fredrick Fasheun of hijacking his idea of reviving the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN).
In an encounter with The Nation in Lagos, Olateju said, “I initiated the idea of Unity Party of Nigeria. Early this year, after looking into the political terrain, I found out that virtually all the political parties dominating the political landscape of Nigeria are not different from each other. Ideologically, they are barren, programme wise, they are not different, and when it comes to party ownership I found out that virtually all the political parties are owned by individuals or group of leaders and not by the people.
By the time I looked at all these scenario, I felt that something must be done, and I felt that if we don’t know where we are going to, we should know where we are coming from. So, I invited few Nigerians, who are either doing their PhD or working in UK, we all agreed to go back to Nigeria with some benefit for the people. I don’t believe it is until you buy cars or lots of materials that they say you have brought something back to the people. Why don’t you go back with ideas for the people. We have been there, we have seen how their system works, we have seen our political parties operate, why don’t we now learn from this and take it back home. Virtually everybody agreed that we should go back and get something done, but then where do we start from? That was the fundamental question we put across that day and then we looked at various political parties. We found out that if we go to any of them, we will end up being swallowed, because the parties won’t belong to the people. So, I sowed the idea of going back to Unity Party of Nigeria. We agreed there is no law in Nigeria that says an old party cannot be resuscitated. I don’t see why people are trying to cut off with the past, trying to start something fresh. Why can’t they go back to say NPN, PRP GNPP, UPN, go back and start from where they stopped and move the political terrain forward?
We know that Balarabe Musa did it in the north by bringing in PRP, even though PRP had been deregistered because of lack of resources to win election or mobilize people. I am also aware that NAP was resuscitated by Tunji Braitwait. So, if those two can do that, what has made those of us that call ourselves Awoists to abandon our Awoism? That is why I said let us go back to Unity Party of Nigeria.
On how OPC leader, Dr. Frederick Fasheun came into the picture, Olateju said, “Some of us were saddled with the responsibility to come to Nigeria to talk to people here and there, to sensitise people about the project and when we got good feelers, they asked me to move on. I was made the National Coordinator from the beginning because I initiated the idea, and because I still have my PhD programme in the UK, I felt we should have some elders, especially the old Awoists, so that they can come and continue while we provide the foot work for them and source resources here and there. It was on that basis that I went to Dr. Fredrick Fasheun, even though I knew he was never an Awoist. He was never a member of UPN and even if he was, he must have been an ordinary supporter or voter. But because of my love and respect for him as a person, out of the three names suggested, I picked Fasheun. I went to him.
I went with Barry Salau and others to acknowledge his leadership. I also wrote a letter to Mama Awolowo, informing her that we were about to resuscitate UPN, and I told her that our leader, Dr Fasheun, Publicity Secretary, Barry Salau, with the others and I will be coming to visit her very soon.
“So, Fasheun accepted to be leader, but we did not know he accepted the offer to take away the party from us and personalise it.
When we fixed the EXCOs, they met in his hotel on May 19 of this year and the EXCOs were ratified and they all signed the INEC registration form and gave it to the secretary, Abubakar Sokoto, now the Ag National Chairman and I travelled back to the UK, without knowing that my leader and comrade, Dr. Fasheun had another intention.
“The moment I left, he retrieved the INEC form from the secretary, and then went to make fresh copies of the INEC forms. Then, he handed others over to a contractor who only saw the advert of UPN, now picked him as the national coordinator, handed over the forms to him and two other guys and asked them to start looking for fresh people that can be presented to INEC as the officers of the party.
So, Fasheun sidelined all of us who put together the party and chose fresh hands to be registered but INEC disappointed him by not registering the party. On that basis, we quickly put in place a new set of EXCOs and set Abubakar Sokoto as the Ag National Chairman of the party