By Wale Adedayo
Yorubaland has lost another titan in the struggle for self-determination. The passage of Dr. Frederick Fasehun is a monumental loss, given his contributions to ensuring that the Yorubas are allowed to develop at their own pace with unfettered access to our God-given resources. He was very passionate about anything Yoruba and the role that we ought to be playing in the comity of nations.
Naturally, Baba Fasehun, as we called him, had his flaws. It was the reason a number of us supported Gani Adams in the early days, believing, naively, that the old man was just after money and fame. Of course, it is a full circle today, with loads of regret among us. But son of man learnt enough lessons with the benefit of security and other reports while serving in Ogun State.
The lessons culminated in the historic ‘settlement’ of the factional war among Fasehun and Adams’ loyalists at the time. A soulmate in ‘settling’ that war is self-effacing Engr. Bayo Banjo, who risked life and limbs with son of man to stop the regular killings among members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) aligned with the different factions. We used the authority of former Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, to seal a peace deal, which some myopic partisans almost derailed on the premises of LTV8 in Lagos.
There are three things I’ll never forget about Fasehun. The first time we met at the Government House in Abeokuta, he was more than shocked. Of course, we’ve always spoken on the phone, when I was with The PUNCH newspapers. We also had occasions to meet, when I needed his response to a story. But not once during those periods did he actually link me directly with supporting Adams’ against him.
We were just four in the room, when OGD introduced me. “So, iwo ni Wale Adedayo ti o ba temi je? (So, you are the Wale Adedayo who messed up my leadership of the OPC?,” Fasehun intoned. His face was drawn in anger. And for the few seconds he fixed his gaze on me without uttering a word, OGD responded immediately as a quality Yoruba son, going on Idobale and asking for forgiveness on my behalf, despite being a sitting Governor. Banjo followed suit, half-way. Of course, I had already followed OGD’s lead.
He later smiled with loads of efforts, pledging that he’ll leave the past behind and ensure that our work on reconciling the major self-determination group in Yorubaland did not fail. He kept his words till the very end, despite serious opposition from his Field Commanders, who naively accused him of taking bribe from OGD to effect the settlement. They never knew it was not OGD’s initiative!
The second event I’ll not forget came up towards drafting the terms of settlement. He agreed to be addressed as the Founding Father/Spiritual Leader of OPC with Adams as National Coordinator. His insistence on being addressed as the Founder of OPC took almost three days before he backed down, as we had facts to show he was the most senior and visible among the nine who founded the organisation. But he earned my respect henceforth. He declared that an ordinary title should not be a stumbling block to our peace efforts.
Finally, shortly after he was picked up and detained along with Adams for the violence, which led to some deaths around Iyana Ipaja/Ipaja axis of Lagos State, I saw a man who cherished his immediate family. During a visit to him and Adams at Kirikiri Prison in Lagos, he was firm that a monthly logistics meant for side be made available to the wife.
Before his pronouncement, he had looked up and around the room and paused for a while. Reading his pained mien at the time, it was clear the fate of his family was being considered. And, in his usual soft-spoken voice, he directed where I should be taking it to regularly.
On his ‘flaws’, I saw late Major Adewale Ademoyega in Fasehun. But the late OPC leader was an improved version of Ademoyega, whose PTSD lead to an embrace of Pentecostal Christianity in its total colonial form! Fasehun absorbed the blows of failures by deploying the many intelligence about the Yoruba society and Nigeria into embracing persons and organisations that would have been taboos for him before then.
Baba had quality Intelligence, which he could not share with others at his disposal. Meanwhile, the younger cadres around him never had the opportunity to gain an insight into these processed information, which to me influenced his course of action in life till he died. Like Ademoyega before him, Fasehun knew about Yoruba leaders who support self-determination during the day, only to become boys of the Oligarchy at night, all in a bid to make money.
Fasehun started out as a pan-Nigerian activist. But he became a Yoruba self-determination activist along the way. Following his ‘enlightenment’, when he discovered the Ko se eku, ko se eye among the topmost leadership of the Yoruba race, and also discovered that the other sections of the country were also suffering the same fate as his own, he became a born again pan-Nigerian activist. Unfortunately, old age had caught up with him. Worse, he could not seriously confide in his cadres, as majority of them always see the false Yoruba Messiahs as heroes.
May your soul rest in peace Baba! May Alhaji Oluwatoyin Jimoh and Kosija resume duties by your side on the other side!!!