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A nurse by training, being married to a medical doctor was a thing she promised herself not to do. Her reasons? She didnít like them, and the fact that men will always be men...
A nurse by training, being married to a medical doctor was a thing she promised herself not to do. Her reasons? She didnít like them, and the fact that men will always be men. But when a doctor working in Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital where she was undergoing nursing training came her way, she saw it as the Lordís doing. But whenever he was on night duty, she would not be bothered about any other woman, because of her unshaken faith in God. In this interview with Sunday Vanguard, she talks about her life, brief career, marriage to Dr. Frederick Fasheun as well as the numerous persecutions of the OPC founder. Excerpts:
MAY we meet you?
I am Iyabo Faseun, I got married in 1972, I am a Lagosian. I am the daughter of Alhaji and Alhaja Giwa, now late.
You are a nurse, your husband, doctor, did you meet in the course of the job?
So where did it all start? ABU. He was working there, I was a student, it all started there. That was 1972 because we had a short courtship. He was there since 1971 but the whole thing manifested in 1972.
Why was it that short?
I will not say it was that short. Immediately he got there, you know we ladies, let me speak for myself, when I say no, I mean no, when I say yes, I mean yes. I didnít give him attention When he noticed me, so there was no way of saying no or yes but it was the Lord that worked everything out. That is the best way to put it because the whole thing just happened and we got married.
You said you are different from other ladies?
Yes, you know men usually think if a lady says no, she will change her mind later and I am a lady, the opposite sex knew me for that, if I said no, it was no, if I said yes, it was yes, and with that I would not be able to say yes or not. But instead because I was looking forward to something, I didnít say yes, I didnít say no. I just left everything for the Lord to take total control. And I was buying time to get the thing that I wanted then I could tell anybody off, but without it, I cannot just say anything because it could obstruct the thing I wanted.
But the late MKO once said when a lady says no, she means may be and when she says may be, she means yes, do you agree with that?
I canít say yes because I am not like that. During my time, if I say no, it is no and there is nothing that can change it. When my husband noticed me and I think he was afraid to hear the word no from me and he had to go through some people he knew I respected.
Was he one of your lecturers?
No, he was a doctor in the hospital.
What was the attraction then?
He was smart, gentle, quiet and I think he loves the Lord.
How many months was the courtship before you went to the altar?
The fire brand activist that later manifested later in life in him, were the traits there when you met?
Yes, they were there because there was a case at ABU he had to fight against and that was why he had to leave the place. He is that type of person that cannot stand cheating. He does not like the pulling down syndrome. When we were in ABU, the British people had a upper hand there, he was trained in Britain too so, he knew how things worked there but when he saw the attitude of the whites towards the local staff here, he saw the treatment as second class, he voiced it out but the management ignored his action, he then relocated to Lagos where he was working in LUTH, shortly after, there was a scholarship abroad for him, that was how he left the hospital for abroad.
When you found yourself with that kind of person, what was your initial reaction?
There was nothing wrong with that because he was someone who wanted good for the country, he is a trustworthy person and some of these traits were some of the qualities that endeared me to him. When he was dating me, the matron of the hospital and the principal of the School of Nursing, told him that this one was not one of those, if you are really interested in her, go after her but if you know you just want to have fun, forget about it.
What qualities did matron see in you that made them to give him the advice?
I think my career was a great part of me. When you are looking for a nurse, I am a born nurse. I have it in my blood because I am interested in everything about my patient. I was very very hardworking, may be that is one of the reasons.
Did it ever cross your mind that you will get married to a doctor?
Never. I didnít even like them.
Men being men. And you know doctors. That was one of the reasons why I didnít like them. And I promised myself that I was not going to marry a doctor.
Which profession would you have loved to marry its member?
I donít know. I just left everything to God.
Didnít the thought came back to you when eventually you found yourself in his house as his wife?
There is something I want you to realise and that is destiny. When you talk about destiny, there is nothing you can do about it. When the Lord has His hands in one thing, you can not turn it back, there is nothing you can do. By the time He manifest himself, you will not have any other alternative than to comply. You cannot help doing any other thing other than which the Lord has ordained for you except you are not truly in the Lord. But if you are in the Lord, He is living in you and He is working on you, once He has ordained it, you just find yourself doing it.
In other words, when he came your way, you saw it as the Lordís doing?
I didnít say yes, you know I said I was looking for something and if I dare say no at that particular time, something might happen there that could obstruct what I was looking for, so I had to play my card well and that was what I did then , thinking that once I got what I wanted, then, I can call anybodyís bluff. But at the end of the day, one thing led to the other.
You felt obtaining your qualification and get out of the place was that thing that was paramount, not any relationship?
Well, Iíd say it was part of it, and one of my lecturers was one of his friends, so he came through him, so, you have now gotten it.
The thinking that Ďmen being mení was it not there when he would tell you he was going on night duty?
I thank God that I am not of the world. I have given my life to Christ a long time ago. Though I was from a muslim background but I attended Catholic school all through, so, it was not strange that I had to continue in my christian way even when I got to the university. I thank God that the spirit of the Lord is in me and as I said then that whatever the Lord has His hands on, no one can change it. He knows what will happen to every one tomorrow. So, in my own case, when it happened like that, I knew it was the Lordís doing. I had no fear of any kind when I got married because I had left everything in the hands of the Lord because the Lord said we should hand over everything to Him and that has being me till date. I have no fear, no matter where he is, no matter what is happening around him, it does not affect me.
Even if he had concubines then?
I was not bothered because we all came to this world, we found it in this world, even in the Holy books, it is there. David had many concubines, at the end of the day, didnít he do away with them? He did. So, nothing bothers me when it comes to that.
But you ought to be bothered particularly as a mother and wife?
Yes, you are right, as a woman, particularly when it comes to issues like this, you will be jealous, you cannot be calm, it can be painful especially if you love the man but if you have the Lord, then you will not feel the pain no matter what is going on there, you will know that the Lord is in control. So, it will come and go. Though you will feel the pain, I didnít say you will not feel the pain if you know about it but if you have Christ, it will stabilize you, you will have peace and give you joy.
How as the working career being taking into consideration the home front?
I only worked for some few years before and shortly after we got married particularly after we returned from Liverpool because immediately I finished at ABU, I joined him there because he had gone before me and we were there together till 1974 but I stopped working and I concentrated on the home front.
We had hospital and this was a person who said she was a born nurse, one would have expected me to be in the hospital, yes it is true, I really love to be there because my whole body and soul was there but according to the word of the Lord that you wife submit totally to your husband, so, I had to go by the word of the Lord.
How did you feel then?
I would not say I didnít act, of course I did. I told him I could not just sit down in the house that it would be better if I find something doing and then I had a pharmaceutical shop that I was running but during the late Abacha period when my husband was in detention and by the time everything was over, my shop had gone with the time because I was not the one managing it, apart from the people managing it, the local council staff would come with all sorts of bill, the Pharmaceutical Board must be paid and then the pharmacists were demanding that you must have a pharmacist in the shop, besides some of these payment would be made in Abuja and more importantly, the area where I was, was not a business area so when my husband said I should stop, I saw wisdom in what he said. I then opened a super market.
Why do you think he said you should not work?
I donít know because I didnít ask but seeing all that we went through then with the government, I didnít want him to get through any problems with the government either through me or through any other means. So, I try as much as possible to go by whatever he says.
You mean you didnít practise your profession?
I did for a while, for about two years. I worked with a private hospital, I was to work with LUTH but my husband said I should not work there.
He was working there too.
He did not want a repeat of what happened in ABU?
Not only a repeat of ABU. You know when you are in a place and you see something happening to your wife or your husband, you will not be happy about it. It might be somebody insulting your wife or your husband, you will not feel happy. To avoid that, having confrontation with one person or another, I had to leave that and work with Saraki, Ikomi hospital.
Coming from a staunch Muslim background, was there any opposition that you wanted to marry a Christian?
I thank God. Thatís why I said whatever is going to happen to any human being, if you are of the world, then the will of the Lord will not manifest until you surrender yourself to God. In my own time, I went to a Catholic school all through, so I wasnít practising my religion the way I should, rather I was practising the Christian religion. Though when I got home, I wasnít going to church. My parent knew that I was not a practising Muslim, but I used to do my own prayer, and being in Catholic school I was covered. There was a time I thought I was smart, that was in my Form III. I went to my mother and said I wanted to be baptized. I never knew I was looking for fire and I got it. So, I had to mellow down and I didnít do anything that would affect that side anymore until I got married.
Earlier you mentioned when you came back from Liverpool. At what point did that happen in your marriage?
Immediately I finished from ABU, my husband left for Liverpool, so I had to join him and we were there together until 1974.
At what point in time did this activism manifested fully in his life?
That was during the Babangida era because he was one of the presidential aspirants then.
How did you feel when he said he was going into politics?
He didnít tell me directly. I had the information through the media because he knew I would not agree with him, so he didnít tell me. So, when I asked him the question that I had a rumour that you are going into politics, all he said was you will know.
What was your reaction?
What can I do? He was already fully into it.Did you give him your support?
Do I have option? Because remember we are one, that is the word of the bible.
Would you want to reflect on the Abacha peroid particularly the most tortuous period?
It was tough but the Lord saw us through. Yes, it was during Abacha period. The first time he was taken away, I didnít know where he was taken to, I had to be running here and there looking for where he was detained because at that time the government was really wicked because you are not wanted, it was ready to kill you. So I was looking for him but at the end of the day, I located him at Inter-Centre , Awolowo road, Lagos. I would take his food to him even though I was not allowed to see him, I would just bring the food to his captors, I would be asked to taste it and that was it. That was another torture on its own because you donít know what would happen to the food, I just handed over everything over to God, that was how it was going on until they brought him out and took him to Alagbon. If not for the hand of the Lord that has being on our family, he would have died there. There was a friend of his, Tony. They were together in incarceration, he was ill at a point and when they came to take him to the hospital, he was telling them to take care of him and that they should not let him die but unfortunately he died.
Surrendering life to Christ
At Inter-Centre where nobody sees you, the only person that sees you was the security man in charge of the place and the interrogators. At a point, he was very ill to the point of death but to God be the glory, the Lord touched the security man there, he called the doctor, he did all he could to save his life but not without him being punished. That was why I said that so long as you surrender your life to Christ, He would always be there for you because it was the man there that God used to save my husbandís life.
When he was released, how did you feel and what advice did you give him?
No, he never committed the offence for which he was arrested. They claimed he was throwing bombs around which of course everybody knew was not true.
The OPC, how did he come about it?
It is the Lord's doing because at a point, I was trying to go against it but the Lord showed me that it is His doing, that is why I said it is the Lord's doing. It is the Lord that has given it to him, it is a vision given to him. And whatever he did as regards the OPC, he never did them alone, all the Obas in Yoruba land knew about it, he consulted all of them before it became manifested.
How do you reconcile these two angles, the christian belief and the traditional one which OPC stands for?
When it comes to OPC thing, I am sure you know we all have different beliefs and that is why I am saying, when the Lord wants to use you for something, you cannot really say how. I believe in Jesus Christ and I know that nothing can compromise that and the same thing with my husband. A place like Nigeria where you bring people from different background, social and religions, you donít force them to believe in your religion, you cannot say because all of you are in the same organization, you all practice the same religion, you have to respect their religion and I can tell you that some of the members who hitherto were not christians have converted to becoming one, you cannot force them to toe your line, the only way you can do that successfully is by laying good example. We are practical christians in our house, if you come there, you cannot see anything that does not edify God, all you see are palm fronts which I made into cross, I threw them all around the house.
Do you have any regret based on the kind of persecutions you went through with him?
No regret, knowing that all that they have been persecuting for, he has been innocent and that ,at the end of the day, the Lord vindicated him. Had it been he was found guilty of one offence or the other, I would have said I have regret.
In other words, you support him carrying on in what he has been doing?
Yes, I support him doing the will of the Lord. If it is the Lords wish that he should do it, let the will of the Lord be done because I cannot stop it.
Do you think the OPC is the will of the Lord?
How would sum up life with Dr. Fredrick Faseun?
I thank God for everything. Life with my husband, I will say is wonderful. Though we have gone through thick and thin together but all through, I am happy for one thing that the joy of the Lord sustained us. Because if not for the joy of the Lord, we would not be here today, the hospital will not be there, this one will not be there.
What do you love most in him?
I love him for his truthfulness to his fellow human beings and to God.
What is it that you donít like about him?
I have not seen any.
Would you settle for him again if you were to come back to this world?
If the Lord puts us together, so long we are in the Lord and the Lord is with us, I have no option, I will go for him.
Advise to mothers and wives?
At the stage Nigeria is, we women should be very prayerful, we should hold on to Christ. If you are a christian, hold on to Jesus Christ, surrender your self to the Lord and if you are muslim, the same applies to you, pray for your husband, pray for the protection of your family and in doing that, violence cannot cure violence.
Praying for husband
If your husband is activists, try to always control those working with your husband, donít allow them to take laws into their hands. Pray that the Lord will touch the lives of all those concerned to bring the peace of the Lord because that is what we are lacking in Nigeria now and we need to pray for that and this concerns women a lot because at the end of the day, it falls back to we women, we are the oneís that suffer most with our children because if the men are not there, what can we do? We have to pray for our husbands and country so that there will be unity.
Have you met with Gani Adams wife and what was her response towards you?
I will not say I have not seen her but we have not talked one on one.
You mean you have not made attempt to reach out to her?
I cannot just like that reach out to her, if she comes to me, I know what to do as a mother. I know and have seen Gani Adams and I know how I related to him as a mother.
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This is a great piece of history, which is dear to our hearts as people and very much appreciated.
Many thanks to the people who worked hard in the past and those who are still making efforts to keep the institution.
The labour is obviouly worth it. We are proud of you all.
A lot still to be done, with the motivation of the champions of this course, others will follow as well to maintain the institution
May God continue to keep the edifice for development of future generations to the glory of God and the benefits of our fatherland.