By Ismaila Chafe and Lucy Osuizigbo
President Muhammadu Buhari and All P[rogressives Congress National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, have on Saturday lamented the passage of the founder of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Dr Frederick Fasehun and commiserated with the Yoruba nation.
The President, in a condolence message by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Saturday, also condoled with the family of the medical practitioner and the government and people of Ondo State.
Buhari recalled the prominent role Fasehun played as a member of the defunct National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) which campaigned against military rule in the country. The President prayed that almighty God would comfort all those who mourned the octogenarian and grant peace to his soul.
On his part, Tinubu described the Fasehun as a renowned pro-democracy and good governance activist who left behind fine legacies.
In a statement issued by his Media Officer, Mr Tunde Rahman in Lagos, Tinubu said that Fasehun was a committed democrat, tested political player and Yoruba nationalist. He charged the Fasehun family and other associates of the late leader not to allow his fine legacies to die.
”Dr Fasehun was a renowned pro-democracy and good governance activist, committed democrat, tested political player and Yoruba nationalist. I say all of that because I knew him well. We related very closely.He was known for his Yoruba nationalistic fervor. Like an Afenifere chieftain that he was, he fought stridently for the Yoruba cause.
”He canvassed true federalism and political restructuring. He fought as well for the cause of the Nigerian nation. The good thing about Baba is there was never a time that he sat on the fence,” he said.
Tinubu said that though the late Fasehun was a trained medical doctor, he was very active politically.
”He founded the Oodua Peoples Congress to actualise June 12, but espoused non-violence. Nonetheless, he remained a thorn in the flesh of the military. It was therefore no surprise that Dr Fasehun was imprisoned for 19 months from December 1996 to June 1998 by the Gen. Sani Abacha regime,” Tinubu said.
The APC Leader said that late Fasehun participated actively in politics when democracy fully returned to the country.
”From being an Alliance for Democracy sympathiser in 1999 to 2003, he moved to the front stage. Perhaps, one of his last political acts was an attempt at reviving the Unity Party of Nigeria formed by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, by giving the same name to the party he later formed.
“There was also something remarkable about Baba: his love for Lagos. Though born in Ondo in Ondo State, he spent the most part of his life in Lagos. It was here that he situated his medical hospital, the Besthope Hospital and Acupuncture Centre, and his hotel business – the Century Hotel,” he said.
Tinubu said that Fasehun would be greatly missed.
”He was an extremely humble and modest man. I will miss him dearly. The Southwest, particularly Lagos and Ondo states, will miss him. Nigeria will miss him also. I commiserate with the government and people of Ondo State. My sympathy and condolences particularly go to the Fasehun family at this moment.
”I hope and pray that God Almighty imbue them with the courage and strength to carry on. I enjoin them to continue with the fine legacies left behind by Baba. May Almighty grant Baba eternal rest,” Tinubu said.
Fasehun, aged 83, died at about 1a.m, Saturday at the intensive care unit of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital Ikeja (LASUTH). Late Fasehun, who was born in Ondo on Sept. 25, 1938 in Ondo, Ondo State, was an active member of NADECO.
He began his education late, entering primary school at the age of 13 at Saint Matthews Roman Catholic School, Ondo. He later moved to Saint Peter’s Teacher’s Training College, Akure, also in Ondo state. But he was expelled from school, because of his non-conformity with Catholicism.
Fasehun was then admitted to Ondo Boys High School, where he completed his secondary education in less than three years, with a Grade One distinction. His brother offered him a scholarship to study science at Blackburn College in the UK. He furthered his education at Aberdeen University College of Medicine.
He also studied at the Liverpool Postgraduate School after which he had a Fellowship at the Royal College of Surgeons. In 1976, he studied acupuncture in China under a joint World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Development Scholarship Programme.
On his return in 1977, he set up an Acupuncture Unit at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). He resigned in 1978 and immediately set up the Best Hope Hospital and Acupuncture Centre in Lagos.
His Acupuncture Centre once earned a reputation as Africa’s first for the Chinese medical practice.