Home / Politics / Being text of a press conference by Dr Frederick Fasheun, the National Chairman of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and President of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC, which held at the Century Hotel, Okota, Lagos, on Tuesday, April 25.

Being text of a press conference by Dr Frederick Fasheun, the National Chairman of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and President of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC, which held at the Century Hotel, Okota, Lagos, on Tuesday, April 25.

Fasehun
Fasehun

This is a special moment in the life of the Nation, as Nigeria has just undertaken, for the first time in its 55-year history, an inter-party, civilian-to-civilian, transition at the national level.
First of all, let me congratulate Nigerians on the successful and peaceful conduct of the just-concluded elections. I congratulate both President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari for displaying qualities of true sportsmen and statesmen through the conduct and the aftermath of an epochal Presidential Election. I especially congratulate President Goodluck Jonathan for not only running two electoral exercises back-to-back with astounding success, I congratulate His Excellency for putting national interest above self by immediately extending solidarity to the new President-Elect. Truly, Nigeria is the beneficiary from President Goodluck Jonathan’s politics of accommodation.
On behalf of UPN, let me express profound gratitude to the Press for doing your best to present a balanced reflection of the elections so far.
But before we go into the nitty-gritty of this conference, we must dwell on one sobering matter.
THE XENOPHOBIA IN SOUTH AFRICA
It is becoming a bad habit for South Africa to explode in an orgy of violence, with natives going on a killing spree of foreigners. Nigerians have been made victims in this unprovoked attack. This latest round of killings began after Zulu King Godwill Zwelithi on March 23rd, demanded that the government sack foreigners, whom he accused of usurping employment and business opportunities that should have been reserved for South Africans. This unguarded statement was the trigger natives needed to go on the killing spree. Profile of victims cuts across Africans as well as Asians and Europeans. It mattered little to the assailants that these foreigners and expatriates have contributed immensely to the development of South Africa and the sustenance of her economy.
These attacks are a mark of ingratitude against Nigeria, which is estimated to have spent over $60 billion on the South Africans’ struggle to break the chains of Apartheid and secure independence.
While the Nigerian government and the rest of the world seek a diplomatic solution to this season of madness, the OPC hereby warns that South Africa must end this rash of xenophobia within 48 hours. These ill-advised attacks are capable of bringing out the beast in the best of men. And we will not watch as fellow Nigerians are wantonly killed in cold blood.
Enough is enough. Our South Africans must know that nobody has a monopoly of violence. They must halt the killings, the maiming and the lootng of foreigners in their country. These incidents of xenophobia will provoke reprisal attacks against South Africans and their interests in other lands. Thus, beginning with the belligerent Zulu King, all South Africans involved in these attacks should be arrested immediately and prosecuted for crimes against humanity.
THE MATTER OF CARD READERS
One challenge that cropped up at the polls had to do with the Permanent Voter Card (PVC) Reading Machines. Our thinking has always been that the Federal elections, especially the presidential and the governorship, were too important to be used for experimentation and as Guinea Pigs. Just as well-meaning Nigerians warned prior to the polls, the card-readers did not only malfunction, they were compromised and aided in the large-scale rigging that characterised the elections. The initial thinking was that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ought to have adopted the commonsense approach of introducing and perfecting this innovation in less crucial elections. And these scepticisms have been vindicated.
Suffice to say that there was undue politicisation of the card-reader matter, and those in its support failed to consider public interest. And this is sad. That we operate in different parties does not mean we should not see eye-to-eye on glaring matters of national interest. Everyone knew that deploying card readers at this time amounted to gambling with the highly crucial elections. But the moment the party in power raised this objective observation, the opposition felt it duty-bound to oppose whatever reservations PDP expressed. Our chief concern has always been that INEC should deliver free, fair and credible elections. INEC failed in this regard. It looked the other way as under-aged voters lined up and abused the electoral franchise up North.
APC AND THE CHRONICLE OF PERFIDY IN LAGOS STATE
Lagos inexorably suffered her own share of electoral perfidy. It is no longer news that the All Progressives Congress (APC) executed a technical and scientific rigging of ALL the elections in Lagos State, as it did in most states where INEC awarded it victory. The ruling party in Lagos, APC, used the five elections, held on March 28 and April 11, to demonstrate its lack of respect for democracy and democratic principles. This party is simply not interested in free, fair and credible elections. APC subscribes to do-or-die politics and shows no tendency towards respecting the wishes of the people as expressed through the ballot box. In the build-up to and during the process of this election, APC perpetrated all sorts of illegalities. APC thugs wreaked violence in several places before and after the elections. Area boys and thugs, armed with canes and weapons, unleashed violence against voters on queue. We condemn this affront on the constitutionally-guaranteed right of Nigerians to freedom of association. And we demand that the police and other security agencies should immediately arrest and bring these APC thugs to face the law.
INEC compromised with APC from the polling booths, through the collation centres at the ward, local government and state levels. In many places, INEC representatives and materials arrived late at their duty posts. And we have cases where INEC ad hoc and permanent staffers colluded with APC to falsify results. Severally, counting was illegally delayed and deferred from the polling centres to council headquarters and police stations, to the exclusion of opposing parties’ agents, with the results doctored to suit the highest bidder. Card-carrying APC members showed up as INEC staff. One INEC staffer, who had been responsible for withholding the PVCs of non-indigenes, showed up to conduct the elections, and of course she compromised with APC.
In one instance, as collation went on at the Alimosho Centre on March 28, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State drove into the place in the thick of night. This was in clear violation of electoral rules and guidelines. The Governor clearly had no business being in a collation centre. Aregbesola’s presence at the Alimosho collation centre, where he met with INEC officials is suspicious, as the result in that place was surprisingly announced in favour of APC, contrary to figures from the field.
At the end of the day, figures that were returned at the polling booths and collated at ward and local government collation centres were different from those that finally surfaced at the Birrel Avenue headquarters of INEC Lagos State.
THE IDEOLOGICAL DROUGHT
The events of the recent past in the political landscape of Nigeria have shown in no unmistakable terms that Nigerian politics is bereft of ideology and integrity. You will recall that prior to the elections, an “Animal Farm” spectacle began to play out in the country’s political scene. The ideological lines suddenly collapsed and disappeared, and politicians, behaving in the manner of harassed insects, scrambled across party divides in a most unfortunate fashion. The parties quickly became a hobnobbing of strange bed fellow. Politicians embraced parties they used to vilify and abuse in the past. APC folks joined PDP, and PDP jumped into APC. It was a most Machiavellian and mercantile moment in Nigeria’s political history.
It demonstrated in no small way that our politicians lacked any ideological anchor, which was why they found it convenient to dance to all winds of doctrine and ideology. They were neither Rightist nor Leftist, neither Progressives nor Conservatives, neither Communists nor Socialists, neither Democrats nor Labourites.
Ideologically speaking, our politicians stand for nothing. They could stand for anything and fall for everything. No wonder selfishness and corruption ravage the country.
It raises the question, what is the motivation for volunteering for politics? Why do people offer themselves for service? What makes a man throw himself into the arena of political and public service? In Nigeria, it appears the main motivation is for pecuniary rather than nationalistic or patriotic causes.
UPN REBRANDING
Against such a background, we have come to the conclusion that the country cannot continue to walk this evil road. Time has come for UPN to rise above the pack. We must define and proclaim for the party its ideological bent.
If nothing else, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who founded UPN, taught his disciples respect for party supremacy, personal discipline and integrity. Unfortunately, these virtues are today missing from Nigeria’s political space.
This informs why we find it germane today to restore UPN to the glorious paths originally laid by its founding fathers. The party established its foundation on the ideological pillars of foresight, vision, selflessness, integrity, service and honesty. These were the attributes upon which the foundation of the First and Second Republic were laid. It became a template for performance. For this reason, East, West, North or South, that generation of politicians recorded astounding achievements in the fields of medicine, transportation, education, sports and so on. Who can deny that Nigeria became the first country in Africa to acquire television technology, even ahead of Western and civilised nations like France and Japan? Those great minds, those ideological disciples of the Action Group and later the Unity Party of Nigeria built the first skyscraper in Nigeria and so many other trail-blazing infrastructures and programmes, including Free Education.
More than ever before, today this country needs such a socio-political revolution.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, one of the reasons we have invited you here today is to open up to you our plans to recharge, rebrand and revitalise our great party, UPN.
As we recall, the registration of the party came late, followed by an internecine intra-party crisis. UPN thus found it a herculean task presenting a full array of candidates for the elections. It thus became necessary to enter into alliances with other parties, especially PDP.
Now the elections are behind us and time has come to move the party forward.
The world has always known the 4 CARDINAL PROGRAMMES of the Unity Party of Nigeria, epitomised by:
1. Free and Qualitative Education at All Levels
2. Gainful Employment for All
3. Free Medical Services and
4. Integrated Rural Development.
In addition to these, UPN and its teeming members will begin to subscribe to a definite ideology. Henceforth, UPN will operate on the ideology of social-welfarism.
By this philosophy of Social-Welfarism, UPN stands for Egalitarianism.
By this philosophy of Social-Welfarism, UPN exists to bring the greatest good to the greatest majority.
By this philosophy, UPN stands against corruption.
By this philosophy, UPN stands for honesty, discipline and integrity.
By this philosophy, UPN will entrench and uphold party supremacy.
By this philosophy, UPN will formulate programmes having the citizen as focus and centrepiece.
Every UPN member will subscribe to this ideology.
This is the good news UPN brings to the disillusioned people of Nigeria. Henceforth, UPN offers political service based on principles and ideology, as the

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