As Yoruba, we need unity for progress —Adesope
A lot has been said about the alleged cold relationship between the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC ), headed by the late Dr. Frederick Fasehun and later Otunba Gani Adams and the Oodua People’s Congress Reformed (OPC Reformed). In this interview, Dare Adesope, president of OPC Reformed speaks to YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE on the emergence of OPC Reformed, his relationship with the Alaafin of Oyo and other issues.
What people know is the OPC faction of Dr. Frederick Fasehun and Gani Adams, where does OPC Reformed come in, don’t you think this will cause crisis and disunity?
I can boldly say there is nothing like disunity. It is true that we have factions and it is normal to sometimes disagree on some issues but when the need to rise up to defend the Yoruba race arises, we shall all come together in unity to fight the battle. OPC Reformed is not here to cause crisis. I am proud to be a principal member of OPC, I used to be the national general secretary under the late Dr. Frederick Fasehun but as a result of certain issues that I wouldn’t want to talk about and coupled with the fact that OPC was already losing its acceptability among the Yoruba people then due to some bad attributes attached to them, there arose the need for reassessment and that was what brought about the OPC Reformed.
What exactly transpired between you and Dr. Fasehun?
Those are the issues I have put behind me and you know Fasehun is late; talking about it now will bring back bad memories
Memories like what?
Dr. Fasehun did not plan his postmortem well at all. His exit from this world would have been a glorified one had it been he did the needful. He promised to transfer the mantle of leadership to me on OPC’s 20th anniversary because he saw me as his best successor but he changed his mind after the election because I refused to work for who he presented.
And where did you get the courage to pull out?
If you are on an honest track, success is sure. OPC Reformed started with large members because I didn’t pull out alone. For the record, we started with twelve states with a large number of members. If we are not relevant, the Alaafin would not have come for my inauguration.
What is your relationship with the Alaafin of Oyo?
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, is a royal father that I cherish so much, it should be noted that kings are the custodians of culture, so anything OPC stands for is attached to them. But the Alaafin of Oyo is more than a father to me. I do go to him for advice and he is always ready to receive me. When I printed my inauguration invitation card and the Alaafin’s name appeared on it, people said it to my hearing that the Alaafin won’t come but they were surprised when he arrived at the venue even earlier before the event. I will forever be grateful to the Alaafin for presenting my staff of office to me and that was the first time he would attend an OPC function, to buttress the point for me. He also asked Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon to coordinate the oath for me and my executive. I think we all know what Chief Elebuibon stands for or need I say more?
What is your opinion about insecurity in the country?
Our government caused and encourage it
We all know how Boko Haram started and how our government took it with levity before it escalated and became a menace.
What do you think can curb crime in our society?
With the way our economy is being run, I think our system encourages crime; when a graduate leaves school without the hope of getting a job and even those that are earning salaries cannot even take care of their family. It only takes an esteemed human being which the Yoruba call Omoluabi to be calm and cautious despite being oppressed by their representatives in the angle of politics.
Still talking about insecurity, you did not talk about herdsmen, why?
I have told our people in several interviews that we should stand to defend ourselves; the government cannot cover every area as regards security that is very obvious and that is why we are facing the next level of insecurity. If anyone is not afraid to attack me, I will not be afraid to also defend myself come what may. And in a time like this, we the Yoruba have to unite to fight our common enemies irrespective of factions but it is obvious our SouthWest governors, except the Oyo State overnor, Seyi Makinde, are taking this with levity because of party issues. Let me bring it to their notice that their stay in office is limited but they will be among their people forever and whatever they do now will linger on.
Don’t you think the issue of factions can be a hindrance for OPC groups?
You see, when somebody like me talks on behalf of OPC ,many members listen irrespective of factions because we have been together from the roots. I passed through all stages before I became the national general secretary under Fasehun and I have a great and unique relationship with many of them, even till now. I can boldly say that I understand our members and their problems inside out because I started from being an ordinary member so I know what I am talking about, not all leaders can say this because immediately they took the leadership mantle they turned themselves into demigods that their members can’t even relate with again.
Why do you think people are afraid of OPC?
Hypocrisy is the word, we have many hypocrites among us especially in Yorubaland, what they condemn openly will be romanced with at night. Even in the Western world, they paint Africans black and not too good even if they want to give illustration of Satan they paint him in black form. Like I earlier said, we established the Reformed OPC because of some bad impressions people had about the earliest groups. I can assure you that we have more elite with us now and it is a totally reformed group.
People allowed themselves to be intimidated by the Western world because they are yet to identify with their roots, you know one thing I like about Saudi Arabia is the spirit of equity. No matter who you are from your country, when you go to Saudi for hajj, you are all equal before Allah. Let us cherish our culture and use it accordingly. Our culture is our strength.