Ogun State may be comparatively small in the Nigerian community of states, but it is a superpower in terms of human capital development. It is not an accident that many of the most prominent Yoruba personages in various fields of endeavour were produced by this tiny state: Obafemi Awolowo, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Olusegun Obasanjo, Ernest Shonekan, Moshood Abiola, Yemi Osinbajo, Bayo Ogunlesi, Akinwumi Adesina, Simeon Adebo, Adebayo Adedeji, Subomi Balogun, Mike Adenuga, Segun Odegbami, Anthony Joshua, Israel Adesanya, Tobi Amusan et al.
Ogun routinely punches above its weight in the community of states. That is why the state is celebrated for many positive reasons. And that is also the reason why it cannot escape censure when it hugs the klieg lights for the wrong reasons.
Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State used to make headlines with a cocktail of alleged personal scandals of his own. Now that he has graduated to using state machinery, literally and figuratively, to smash the investments of perceived opponents, many critics are wondering why the governor has decided to start his second term with cultivating more enemies.
Many Nigerians were still reeling in shock at the mindless illogic that underpinned the spate of demolitions in Kano State when Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State unleashed his own demolition hurricane to the consternation of even his supporters who had defied the elements to cast their ballot heralding his second term.
The victim this time is Olufunke Daniel, wife of the former governor of the state, Gbenga Daniel. Her one billion Naira edifice nearing completion was demolished by the state government on a Sunday morning on account of not having adequate parking space and “inadequate airspace”.
As usual, brickbats have been flying from both sides. The state government insists that there is absolutely no political motive behind its action. Perhaps, it is only a coincidence that Gbenga Daniel and Dapo Abiodun are presently not in the same political caucus within the ruling All Progressives Congress. It appears, though, that only the state governor and his followers believe the government’s fib. The people feel gutted at the level of pettiness behind the action.
Hell hath no fury like a politician scorned! Tenants of power sniff the hypnotic fumes of executive rulership and fancy themselves as pioneer climbers atop the palm tree. They view humanity with studied disdain from the tree top forgetting that, as far as the palm tree goes, the way you climb is also the same route you will descend. A perceptive climber will not do anything to compromise a safe descent.
Another issue that has exposed Governor Abiodun’s roughneck style is the way he has handled his quarrel with the now impeached Chairman of Ijebu East Local Government, Wale Adedayo. Let me state that, in fairness, Governor Abiodun is not alone in this kind of imperial attitude. Nigerian governors generally think that local governments are their financial ‘boys’ quarters’. They install and depose chairmen and councillors at will. And, since most of the appointees so installed have no day job, they cannot criticise the godfather, lest they are cast out to the wilderness of joblessness whence they came.
Wale Adedayo dared to be different. A journalist who had worked as Assistant Editor (Politics) in the PUNCH newspaper, Foreign Affairs and later Science reporter at The Guardian, and Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Guardian Chapel, among other achievements, Adedayo holds a B.Sc (Zoology) and MA (Journalism Studies). He is an unlikely candidate for the role of a somnolent lapdog.
By the way, some of his colleagues candidly see him as a stormy petrel of sorts who can hold his own in any political turf. He is by no means a spring chicken. His self-assuredness could make his political bosses feel threatened, some say. His supporters, however, think the world of his forthrightness, rootsy politics and unbridled courage which make him stay the course once he’s convinced of a chosen direction.
Adedayo’s problem started when he authored a complaint to a former governor of the state who is also a leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Olusegun Osoba, accusing Governor Dapo Abiodun of withholding statutory allocations from the federation accounts to local governments in the state since May 2019.
“Since we (Ogun State Local Government Chairmen) got on board in 2021, it has been ZERO Federal Allocation to each local government. The 10% of the state’s Internally Generated Revenue, which the Constitution also stipulated should go to the local governments has not been given since Abiodun got into office”, Adedayo alleged.
He also listed a number of intervention funds released by the federal government which ought to have been used by the local governments to make life better for the people but which were cornered by the state government. He disclosed that local government funds were being directly managed by the governor because none of the local government officials was a signatory to the Council accounts.
At the onset, it appeared that other local government chairmen supported Adedayo. If his campaign succeeded, they would all reap the benefits. However, when the backlash started coming in the form of Hurricane DA with political thugs and armed policemen on the prowl, many of the chairmen recoiled into their shells and quietly trooped to the Government House to prostrate to the governor and dissociate themselves from Adedayo’s ‘recalcitrance’. That is how debased the Nigerian local government administration has become.
No one was surprised when the councillors of Ijebu East Local Government impeached Adedayo in spite of the fact that they couldn’t prove any of the trumped-up allegations against him as required by law.
Cat With Nine Lives
Perceptive analysts who have studied the Nigerian situation don’t expect anything to affect Abiodun’s perch on the gubernatorial seat. He has survived worse accusations.
In 2018, The Cable accused him of certificate forgery. He had claimed in the 2015 senatorial election form for Ogun East to have graduated from Obafemi Awolowo University, but in the 2019 governorship form, he claimed to possess only secondary school WASC. Later, in a TV interview, he confessed to have only been a student of the institution but that he didn’t graduate. And when the Premium Times, following the Pandora Papers leaks, exposed the governor’s involvement in two offshore companies as sole director of both Marlowes Trading Corporation and Heyden Petroleum Limited in apparent violation of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, the governor wriggled out, leaving his defence to third parties.
I hope that someday, the governor will sue Sahara Reporters for claiming that he was jailed in the US in 1986 (Inmate No. 8600B9436) for credit card fraud, petty theft, check forgery and fighting and injuring a police officer in an attempt to resist arrest in Miami Dade Florida, USA under the pseudonym “Shawn Michael Davids”.
If Adedayo doesn’t know that in these climes, governors are infallible, unassailable, unconquerable and indestructible, Governor Abiodun surely does. Oh, how I wish that the sole purpose of power is the common good!