•Buhari, Afenifere, Tinubu, others mourn late Yoruba elder
Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja and Olaseni Durojaiye in Lagos
After battling diabetes for over 50 years, founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Dr. Frederick Fasehun, eventually gave up the fight in the early hours of yesterday. He was aged 83.
THISDAY learnt that upon taking ill on Wednesday, Fasehun was rushed to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) in the early hours of Saturday, where he eventually gave up the ghost.
A media aide to the famous medical doctor, Adeoye Jolaosho, who confirmed the news, said “We are all devastated.”
Meanwhile eminent Nigerians, among them President Muhammadu Buhari, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), National Coordinator of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Chief Gani Adams and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Stalwart, Chief Olabode George, have continued to mourn Fasehun’s demise even as they extolled his virtues while also praying for a peaceful repose of his soul.
In a condolence message, signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, President Buhari commiserated with the Yoruba nation over the passing of Fasehun and also condoled with his family, the government and people of Ondo State.
President Buhari, who recalled the role played by Fasehun as a leading member of the defunct National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), which campaigned against the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, prayed that the Almighty God would comfort all those mourning the octogenarian and grant his soul peace.
Reacting to his passing, the APC National Leader, Tinubu, described the late Fredrick “as a renowned pro-democracy and good governance activist, committed democrat, tested political player and Yoruba nationalist, who left behind fine legacies,” and charged his family and associates to keep his fine legacies alive.
Tinubu’s reactions were contained in a statement by his Media Office and signed by Tunde Rahman.
The APC National Leader, who campaigned against the annulment of the June 12 election with Fasehun, said “Dr. Fredrick 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 fervours. 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. Although trained as a medical doctor, he was very active politically. We were together in the forefront of the agitation for the de-annulment of June 12. He founded the Oodua Peoples’ Congress to actualize June 12 but espoused non-violence.
“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.
Afenifere, to which Fasehun was an active member until his death, also mourned the famous medical doctor.
Afenifere, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, described the famous medical doctor as a dogged fighter, who played active role in the agitation against the annulment of the June 12 elections as well as the emancipation of the human race.
Afenifere noted that the death of Fasehun came at a crucial time in the nation’s life, adding that it “is a big blow to the struggle he devoted most of his life to.
“The death of Dr. Fredrick Fasehun has come to Afenifere as a rude shock. The famous medical doctor and founder of OPC was a dogged fighter who played pivotal role particularly in the resistance to the annulment of June 12 elections and generally in all struggles for emancipation in his lifetime.
“As we cannot question God for taking him when it pleased Him, we pray that his soul will find a comforting resting place. We console with his immediate family, his fraternal family in OPC and the Yoruba Nation in general on the death of this great soul. It shall be well with all that he left behind,” Odumakin’s statement read.
In his reaction, Fasehun’s onetime closest comrade at arms and the National Coordinator of the OPC, Chief Gani Adams, described his death as a great loss to the Yoruba race, Nigeria and the world at large, adding that he left behind a worthy legacy.
Adams, who is the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, said he received the news of his death with “shock and disbelief,” even as he stated that the deceased made outstanding contributions to the progress of the nation in many capacities, and no doubt left behind a worthy legacy through his careers as a renowned medical doctor and politician among others.
“It was with shock that I received the sad news of the passing of our Papa and founding father of Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC), which occurred today, December 1, 2018. This, no doubt, is a moment of great grief for the entire family of OPC, Yoruba nation, Nigeria and the world at large,” he said.
He however added: “But it is also clear that the deep sense of loss over the demise of our beloved leader is shared by many like me. I hasten therefore to address this statement to commiserate with the immediate family over this painful bereavement.
“Baba deserves all respects, because he acquitted himself so diligently, and will also be remembered as a distinguished leader in all ramifications, and one that was greatly admired by the general public and his peers as a straight forward and complete gentleman.
“On behalf of my family and the entire Oodua Peoples’ Congress, I extend on our sincere condolences on the transition of our beloved leader and father to his family and pray that the Almighty God grants the bereaved family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace,” the statement read.
In the same breath, George also lamented the passage of the OPC founder and described him as an “embodiment of a true Yoruba man.”
George said Fasehun was a “quintessential embodiment of principled and unswerving advocate of the protector of the weak and the defender of the trampled.
“He was a Yoruba Elder with the complete attributes of the Omoluabi culture. But he was also a Nigerian patriot, who fought for justice, truth, fairness and the democratic ethos.
“He was a good man; effortlessly friendly, always calm and unruffled even amid the greatest provocations. He will be sorely missed wherever honesty is cherished, wherever honor, kindness and sincerity of purpose are treasured. May he find solace in the bosom of his Lord,” he prayed.
The late Fasehun was a China-trained acupuncturist. He was imprisoned for 19 months in December 1996 to June 1998 by the General Sani Abacha regime and participated actively when democracy eventually returned to the country, first as an Alliance for Democracy sympathizer between 1999 and 2003.
Though an Ondo State indigene, he spent a greater part of his life in Lagos State, where his medical practice and hospitality businesses are located.