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Reviewing Otunba Gbenga Daniel political sagacity so far By Victor Ojelabi

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Otunba Gbenga Daniel, APC senatorial candidate, Ogun East District

The media once went into frenzy with the news of the defection of one of the former Ogun State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s chieftains, Otunba Gbenga Daniel (OGD), to the ruling side All Progressives Congress (APC) in what has openly kick-started the political permutation ahead of 2023.

The media further reported that OGD took part in the ruling party’s registration and revalidation exercise which officially validated his defection and membership of the party.

In a reaction to the development, the PDP in the South-West came out to say that Otunba Daniel had long defected to APC, adding that it was obvious that the APC has become so embarrassed with the refusal of well-meaning Nigerians to openly associate with the party in its membership registration and was then making up defections for public perception. In fact, the opposition party claimed that by the action of Otunba Gbenga Daniel few hours after the results of the 2019 presidential election was declared, it was obvious that he was among the double-agents who sold the PDP out during the election.

Parts of the media report on OGD at best can be termed misleading as Ogidi Omo, as he was fondly referred, did not technically defect from the PDP to the APC as he stepped aside from politics months ago. OGD had been retired from partisan politics before his recent re-emergence to the call of duty. The assertion by the PDP therefore holds little or nothing to this effect.

Recall that in March 2019, he had sent a letter to the PDP leadership which read, “This is to inform you of my intention to resign from active and partisan politics with effect from today, the 14th day of March 2019.”

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He had explained that his move from politics was personal and that the move will allow him to devote more time to charity and resuscitate his non-partisan political leadership academy, which he established a few years ago.

He had gone ahead to explain some reasons for his actions which were termed anti-party by the party:

“Whereas the national leadership of our party, recognised one candidate for the 2019 election, by court pronouncements another candidate, and in compliance with those court orders, which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recognised was on the INEC list.

“The candidate recognised by INEC was not acceptable to the national leadership of the party. Our situation was then compounded because the candidate which the court and INEC recognised and accepted as valid has also been expelled by the party.”

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That situation made him respond to “the yearnings of our people and joined others in emplacing an administration that we believe will better serve the interests of our people than what currently exists.”

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This support berthed the Dapo Abiodun administration.

Perhaps before joining issues with any entity, some things need to be put in retrospect.

OGD had joined the PDP in Ogun State in September, 2001 at an event which was described as one of the most ceremonial political rallies in recent political history in the South Western part of Nigeria. He had gone ahead to create a highly robust and effective political campaign machinery which resulted in an electoral victory for the People’s Democratic Party in Ogun State in 2003; a victory whose dominoes’ effect reverberated through the politics of the South-West region positively with a victory in five states for the then ruling party.

Having served as governor of Ogun state for eight years, his administration till today remains a point of reference in terms of physical, social, economic, educational and human capital development since the state was created in 1976. Notwithstanding these widely acclaimed achievements however, PDP in Ogun State ran into trouble waters towards the end of his administration (about the year 2009) which led to the sad loss in the election of 2011, and regrettably ten (10) years after the party has been unable to resolve those internal disputes and challenges.

Unlike OGD, no politician in Nigeria today will willingly resign from a political party for more than a year before pitching tent with the next available option. Out of respect and the vestige of loyalty he had for the PDP-a party he joined over two decades ago, and of course, the love for his teeming apostles, OGD waited for the best moment to press play on his paused political career.

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The most extraordinary characteristic of Daniel is his ability to endure and renew. No politician has faced down greater existential challenges or perfected the technique of quiet adjustment to shifting realities with greater skill than OGD. Perhaps. When he left office in 2011, he made efforts to remain relevant in the scheme of things in the state. In line with his desire, he tried to keep the structure of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the state intact. But this only lasted a short while, as he had to fight many battles in the process.

Remarkably, OGD operates what can best be termed the politics of the people. Not only is he loved and cherished by the people of Ogun state, he ensures that his political moves are in tandem with the desires of his people. That was why he had to leave the PDP to join the Labour Party. His reason for joining Labour Party was to build a platform that will serve as a proper check mate for irregularities in governance of the state. Though people in the PDP frowned at this but the masses joined him to follow the party. Labour Party became the most dominant opposition party in the state taking over from the PDP. While skeptic analysis said it was an act of desperation for him to have left PDP for Labour Party but majority of the people of Ogun State didn’t care, they started declaring their support for him. He became the voice of the masses speaking against unhealthy antics of the state government.

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After much deliberations and reconciliation meetings orchestrated by the National Leadership of PDP, Gbenga Daniel returned to PDP in October 2014. He returned back to PDP with massive supporters from the Labour Party which became a big boost for the PDP. But as the years rolled by, the internal wrangling and power tussles within the party took on greater dimensions, en route the last general elections. Things looked as if they couldn’t get worse, but they did, as the PDP lost the elections to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Politically, the PDP had lost its teeth within the political schemes in Ogun state. No longer was it the formidable party of yester years; this is notwithstanding OGD’s large followership in the state. Political pundits and analysts have for years posited that a move for the political gladiator away from the PDP and its many problems will be the best move for OGD’s political life as well as a win for the people that have come to love and trust him.

It, therefore, came as cheery news when he announced his return to politics on a formidable platform like the APC. OGD’s return to politics and the pitching of his tent with the APC marks something of a comeback for the Ijebu political titan, whose political exploits appeared irretrievably tainted by the internal wrangling and power tussle that afflicted the People’s Democratic Party.

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Onboard APC, OGD relevance, political clout, prowess, etc, go beyond Ogun State to the national level for the greater good of the Nigerian people. This can be envisaged from his programme on Public Private Partnership which attracted several businesses into the state during his tenure. And why not? From education to health, sports, economy, agriculture, urban renewal and rural development, power, infrastructure, human development, housing, industrialisation, tourism and employment generation, OGD’s imprints in the state were phenomenal!

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As at the last count, about 70 companies berthed in Ogun State from 2003 to 2011 with over 250,000 jobs provided through various employment generation schemes of the State government. In his eight years, the OGD Administration did more roads than all the administrations before it and most of these were done through direct labour with the Ministry of Works and the Ogun State Road Management Agency OGROMA. By utilising this method, costs were significantly saved while the confidence of indigenous engineers was reinstated in the people. The Olumo Rock resort was refurbished meeting international tourism standard, the MKO International Stadium Abeokuta was renovated and three other stadiums in other geo-political zones of the state were constructed to FIFA specifications.

The NYSC orientation camp in Sagamu is reputed to be the best in the country while the Tai Solarin College of Education was upgraded to University status making it the first in Nigeria and second in Africa. It was adjudged the best University of Education In Africa in 2011. The construction of a modern secretariat for civil servants in the state at a cost which beat the imagination of late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua who commissioned it remains a landmark.

The construction of the six-lane Lalubu Road – the commercial nerve centre of Abeokuta – without a single demolition of existing building was to become a standard in road constructions in Ogun State today.

For OGD, the governorship was a 24-hour job. The last project he commissioned, the OPIC PLAZA remains, till date, is the tallest structure in Ogun State.

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Perhaps it is not immodest to say that the incredible performance of Otunba Gbenga Daniel is now a benchmark to measure the performance of future leaders of the gateway state. In the words of the Nobel Laureate himself, Professor Wole Soyinka, “The various projects embarked upon by Governor Daniel are laudable and practical”.

If his decisions have gained him so much love and respect from his teeming apostles and the good people of Ogun State in the past, then who dares question why a lion decided to roar again?

Ogidi Omo has once again thrown his hat into the ring. He is the APC senatorial candidate for Ogun East and given his antecedents, there is no gainsaying that the good people of his senatorial district are in for the best available representation at the national assembly.

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Excitement as court reinstates Bwacha, Binani as APC guber candidates for Taraba, Adamawa

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The Appeal Court sitting in Yola, the capital of Adamawa State has set aside the judgement of a Federal High Court, that earlier nullified the victories of the All Progressives Congress (APC) guber candidates for both Adamawa and Taraba States.

The candidates Aishatu Binani and Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, it would be recalled were recently warned by the Federal High Courts in both states to desist from parading themselves as the party’s governorship flag bearers for their respective states.

While that of Bwacha was necessitated by the suit filed by one of the aggrieved aspirants, David Sabo Kente, that of Binani, as noticed by TheHeute , was instituted by the former boss of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu.

In the ruling, the presiding judge, was observed to have also ruled out the request by Malam Nuhu Ribadu for the conduct of another fresh primary in Adamawa.

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Wondering why the appellate court had earlier nullified Binani’s victory, the judge immediately directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to as a matter of urgency recognize Binani, as the gubernatorial candidate of APC in Adamawa State.

The same ruling was observed to have been implied to Bwacha, who is the incumbent Senator representing Taraba South.

When reached via a telephone, the elated Bwacha told our state correspondent that the court ruling is a victory for all Tarabans who have been yearning for a change in the state.

Describing the judiciary as the last hope of the common man, he beckoned to all the aggrieved members of the party to put their personal interests aside for the growth of the party.

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Also speaking, Bawacha’s campaign Director General of Media and Publicity, Aaron Artimas, said with the court ruling, the party’s guber candidate is now at liberty to flag off his campaign.

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Lauding the sense of maturity displaced by the teaming supporters of Bwacha and the party at large, he urged them to close ranks and work as a family for the party’s victory in the forthcoming elections.

Supporters of the party from both states who also bared their minds to DAILY POST through a telephone interview, thanked the judge whom they described as a courageous judge.

At the time of filing this report, it is not yet clear whether Nuhu Ribadu and David Sabo Kente, would proceed to the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling.

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Osun: Don’t betray youths -Adeyanju writes Ademola Adeleke

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A socio-political activist, Deji Adeyanju, has cautioned the Osun State governor-elect, Ademola Adeleke, ahead of his inauguration on Saturday.

Adeyanju cautioned Adeleke against betraying youths and the people of the state in the running of his government.

He reminded Adeleke that youths and people of the state used their platforms to resist the attempt to thwart his emergence “through rigging which led to your eventual emergence.”

The Abuja-based lawyer described the governor-elect as a “man in touch with the realities of the time and one committed to doing right by his people and state.”

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He stressed that Adeleke can “build a transcendental legacy, train the leaders of tomorrow and sustain the trust of the young demographic who are now driving political portends and conversations more than at any other time in our political history.”

The activist maintained that no government bereaved of quality youth representation can be taken seriously.

Adeyanju stated this in an open letter to Adeleke titled: “Open letter to Governor Elect Adeleke as history beckons on him.”

Read the full letter below…

Dear Governor Adeleke,

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Mr. Governor-Elect, in a few days time, a moment in history will be made with your swearing-in ceremony as you officially transit from a Governor-Elect to the sitting and serving Governor of Osun state. I must extend my congratulations once again to you for the uncommon feat of unseating an incumbent even as your emergence epitomizes a victory for democracy and a reflection of the preference of the good people of Osun State.

This is a testament of your grit, resilience, forward planning and clinical execution over the uninspiring leadership of the outgoing governor. The people of Osun state spoke in one resounding voice and rewarded your resilience with the highest stewardship in the land. It now behoves on you to reciprocate the support of the people by justifying their choice at the poll through people-driven governance, accountability and accessibility by those who have invested their trust and confidence in you.

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The task before you is one of great enormity but not impossible with the right team and political will. It will exert on you the usual temptation of the glitz of public office that overwhelms those with a simple mind and those given to the hubris of their whims. But it is, however my belief, one shared by the overwhelming number of the people of Osun state who gave their votes to you, that you are a man of focus who will not betray the aggregate hopes of those who have put their confidence in you and that you will not renege on your campaign promises nor stray from the noble path.

In particular, the young men and women of Osun state were at the forefront of your campaign and emergence, overcoming the pecuniary temptations of the opposition to hand you a resounding victory. The measured metric of any government is largely how it carries its young populace along not just in tokenized gestures but in entrusted positions of authority as parts and parcel of government. I will strongly advise that you make young people the cornerstone of your government.

This is how to build a transcendental legacy, train the leaders of tomorrow and sustain the trust of the young demographic who are now driving political portends and conversations more than at any other time in our political history. Indeed, no government bereaved of quality youth representation can be taken seriously in these times.

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One can vouchsafe that Osun state is blessed with youths of uncommon competence who have proven themselves in public or private service. It is your job to discover them and give them roles to rebuild the state. The choice of such youths must not be made lightly, and much must be taken into consideration, such as ideology, personal competence, popular acceptance, and capacity and integrity. It is to these ones that the overwhelming young men and women of Osun state will look up to in a measure of their relevance to you and your government. I have no doubt that you will act right by them as this is at the heart of the support you enjoy amongst many of us in the civil society space.

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To betray the people of Osun state, particularly the youth population would be to betray the trust of people like us who have used their platforms to resist the attempt to thwart your emergence through rigging which led to your eventual emergence and one which will regrettably catalyse a reversal of that wide trust and support. We, however, stay avowed to your government as we share the conviction that you are a man in touch with the realities of the time and one committed to doing right by his people and state.

Congratulations once again, Your Excellency, the In-Coming Governor of the Great State of Osun, may God’s wisdom and knowledge guide your path.

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Stalemate: Aggrieved PDP govs weigh fresh options

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The five aggrieved Peoples Democratic Party governors on Sunday met with other party heavyweights where they discussed fresh options as the hopes of reconciling with the camp of the PDP Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, seems to be fading.

This is happening as the camps of the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi, expressed willingness to seek the support of the governors to actualise their aspirations.

However, speaking after their closed-door meeting in Lagos, the governors said the window of reconciliation with Atiku was still open.

At the meeting were governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Seyi Makinde (Oyo); Samuel Ortom (Benue); Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); former deputy national chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George; former governors Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti); Donald Duke (Cross River), Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo), and Jonah Jang (Plateau).

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Also present were a former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke; Deputy National Chairman, South of the PDP, Taofeek Arapaja; Senator Nasif Suleiman; Senator Sandy Onor and Senator Sam Ohabunwa.

The meeting was held days after the governors unveiled the PDP governorship candidate in Rivers State, Siminalayi Fubara.

They had earlier held meetings in Enugu, Benue and outside the country.

The governors are at loggerheads with Atiku over the refusal of the PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, to resign.

Speaking at the meeting, Makinde said though he and his colleagues were the face of their struggle, it had the backing of the leaders and elders of the party who were present.

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He stated, “We are here this morning to hold a meeting of the Integrity Group within our party, the PDP. We have been of the G5 – that is, the five PDP governors. The G5 is all about the Integrity Group.

 “You can see us, five serving governors, as the face of this struggle, both the leaders and elders of the party that you see here are the people behind those faces. We are in the South-West to review the situation within our party, to review where we are and to also look at what is going to happen in the coming elections.’’

Shortly after the closed-door meeting, Jang reiterated that they were still maintaining the stand they took at their last meeting in Port Harcourt.

 “After a careful review of developments in our party, we have decided to stand on the decisions we took in our Port Harcourt meeting. And we hereby reiterate that the window for reconciliation in our great party, PDP, remains open,” he said.

The governors then proceeded to George’s house in Ikoyi where Wike addressed the party faithful with promises of support for the candidates in the coming election.

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Our correspondent gathered that the Integrity Group would soon take a decision on the presidential candidate they intended to support if the expected truce with Atiku fails. Already, sources at the meeting said the group had reached a point where a major decision would be taken

Tinubu, Obi camps

Meanwhile, the Chief Spokesman of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo, has said hat Tinubu is focused on consolidating his stronghold but will not mind exploiting the festering crisis in the PDP.

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This is even as Emeka Obasi, the media aide to the LP candidate says there is a chance that his principal could work with the PDP Integrity Group.

Keyamo and Obasi spoke in separate interviews with The PUNCH.

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Keyamo said, “I don’t know of any talks between APC and the G-5. At least, not to my knowledge. However, despite their quarrel with the PDP, as of today, they are still members of the party.

“Let me repeat it for the umpteenth time. For us, we are proceeding from the position of calculating our strength, without thinking of the quarrel or weakness of the PDP. We are not depending on it

“If after calculating our strength and the implosion continues in the PDP by the end of the day, we can then consider it as an added advantage, but not a factor to tilt the scale to our victory. It may make victory easier if they come through the door we have opened for them. Anything can happen. But we are not looking out for that possibility. We are just saying in politics, anything can happen.”

In the same vein, Obasi told The PUNCH that there is a chance Obi may be willing to work with the PDP governors if it will benefit the Nigerian people.

He noted, “There is nothing stopping that. It is a possibility. They can work together only if they are willing to work for the Nigerian people. But if it is not for the benefit of the Nigerian people, you will see him not aligning with it.

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“It is still three months to the election for anybody who wants to support him to do so. It is a democratic process. Nothing stops somebody from jumping camps any time anywhere. So they are free.

“There are things we don’t force. If somebody will support you, he is going to support you wholeheartedly. These are not anyhow politicians. They are governors who have their say, they are not people you force to support you. That is something that ought to be done wholeheartedly in line with their conscience.’’

“If you know my principal, he is somebody who likes to be open. He won’t promise you skyscrapers when he already knows what he can offer. For him, he can only offer what is good for the Nigerian people.

“Whoever wants to join him based on that principle is free. But to go and start doing political lobbying for somebody to him is a promise he can’t fulfil. It is not his style,” he maintained.

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