Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, who will be sworn in for a second term, clocks 63 years today (May 29) recently declared that renewal of his mandate in the March 18, 2023 gubernatorial poll in the state is “further proof that no man can play God or stop what God has ordained.”
Truly, as a sitting governor of the Gateway State, Abiodun had to fight the political battle of his life to stave off the onslaught of powerful and stupendously rich forces from within and outside the Gateway State, defeat his opponents in the race seen by analysts as a three-horse contest between the All Progressives Congress, APC, his party; former Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s sponsored – African Democratic Congress (ADC); and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
As it turned out, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC declared Abiodun the winner of the hard-fought battle having polled 276,298 votes as against his closest rival Ladi Adebutu, governorship candidate of the PDP, who garnered 262,383 votes (a difference of 13,915) while Biyi Otegbeye of the ADC came a distant third with 94,754 votes.
This is against 241,670 votes the governor polled in 2019 to beat his closest rival, Adekunle Akinlade, of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), also fully backed by Senator Amosun, who scored 222,153 votes (a margin of 19,517), while the governorship flag bearer of the ADC, Gboyega Isiaka ADC) got 110,422 votes to place third according to results declared by the electoral umpire.
Significantly, Abiodun may not forget for a while his unpleasant encounter with the new President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who as Presidential candidate and national leader of the APC during consultations with Ogun delegates ahead of the party’s primary in Abuja, apparently threw caution to the wind, pointedly and addressing the governor, as “eleyi”(this one), when courtesy demands that he calls him Mr or His Excellency which the Jagaban accorded Abiodun’s counterparts in other states when he visited.
Recall too, that it was during that controversial interaction that Tinubu made the famous “Emilokan” (it is my turn) declaration where he similarly tackled outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari. While addressing his audience in Yoruba he said, “This one (referring to the governor) sitting behind me here, could he have become governor without me? “We were at the stadium, they tore all his posters. Even the party flag, they didn’t want to hand it over to him; I was the one who brought it. If he wants to meet God at the right place, he must know that without God and me, he would not have become governor”, an angry Jagaban roared.
But soaking the rebuke with philosophical calmness, the vintage governor in his response said, “Our leader, our people have listened to you very well. I am sure they have digested everything you said. Rest assured that we will do the right thing. We shall do the right thing.
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You have stated clearly as to why power must come not just to the South but to the Southwest. Our leader may God grant you the desire of your heart.
Not done yet, and as a further reaction through a Twitter post, he said, “I am not an emperor by any chance and this is not my family inheritance. I am holding this position in trust for all the people of this state, and I have vowed to be fair, just, and equitable and this is the solemn agreement I made between the Almighty God and myself.”
Curiously however, Abiodun alleged sin was a perceived betrayal of the Jagaban for reportedly supporting the outgoing Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, an indigene of Ogun, who at the time was also a presidential aspirant under the banner of the APC. Before then, both politicians were close allies of the two-time former Lagos state governor, who at that crucial moment seemed oblivious of the notable quote of the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, that “There is nothing permanent except change” in life even politics.
Indeed, Osinbajo served as Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice under Tinubu. In other words, the Ogun governor was not only justified when upon his re-election in March while appreciating the electorate, publicly attributed the renewal of his mandate for another term of four years to God Almighty because “all power belongs to God”, according to the scriptures.
Abiodun, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, explained then that though the gubernatorial election was keenly contested, his renewed mandate came as a sign of good faith and a vote of confidence in his administration by the people, assuring that his second term would usher in more dividends of democracy, a further challenge to deliver on the manifesto of the APC and continue with the government of inclusiveness that has been the hallmark of his administration in the last four years.
Adedapo Oluseun Abiodun MFR was born into the royal family of Dr. Emmanuel and Mrs. Victoria Abiodun (both teachers) of Iperu-Remo in Ikenne Local Government Area of Ogun State on Sunday, 29th May 1960. Since assumption of office as the 5th elected Governor of Ogun State on his 59th birthday, he has diligently and robustly applied himself to his avowed vision of “Building our Future Together”, unlike many of his peers, who usually assume office largely unprepared, was prepared for the onerous task ahead of him, to deliver good governance in critical sectors and pursue his vision and mission anchored on a mantra with the acronym, ISEYA, I stands for Infrastructure; S for Social Welfare and Wellbeing; E for Education; Y for Youth Development and A for Agriculture and Food Security).
Specifically, also, the vision which summarises the kernel of the administration’s agenda is to “give Ogun State focused and qualitative governance and to create the enabling environment for a public-private sector partnership, which is fundamental to the creation of an enduring economic development and individual prosperity of the people of Ogun”, while the governor’s greatest asset has been his ability to “not use force or coercion for political gain but by diplomatically wooing dissidents and opposition elements to his side through his inclusive approach to governance”.
Consequently, it is a testament to his leadership qualities that the majority of forces opposed to his emergence as Governor in 2019, including those who contested against him are now with him politically.
Instructively too, Abiodun’s governance roadmap has seen all sectors brimming with visible and invaluable development and interventions. Besides, his policies are reasonably well thought out, deliberate and methodical.
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Amongst his notable achievements in four years, are the construction and rehabilitation of over 400 kilometres of roads, the upgrading of 100 primary healthcare centres; the provision of more than 50 ambulances, the inauguration of a state-wide multi-modal Transportation Masterplan with air-conditioned and wifi enabled buses, a one-stop-shop for business promotion, while his digital economy infrastructure policies with Tech Hub led to the 5000-kilometer fibre optic cables across the state.
It is no surprise therefore that his people-oriented policies and programmed, have earned him recognition across all sectors including Media Houses including Champion Newspapers which recently bestowed on him, the 2022 Most Outstanding Investment Friendly Governor of the Year at a colorful ceremony held at the Eko Hotels and Suites Victoria Island, Lagos; Governor of the Year in Digital Economy by New Telegraph Newspaper; Most Improved State on Agriculture and Economic Empowerment 2020 by BusinessDay Newspaper and Governor of the Year in Education by the National Body of the Parents-Teachers Association of Nigeria. By and large, this writer joins teeming Nigerians in wishing the executive governor a happy birthday and congratulations on the occasion of his swearing-in for a second term.