Ogun: When A Predecessor Declines To Concede Defeat
Politics is a game of numbers, it is either you win or you lose. In a developing democracy like ours, a loser concedes defeat and also displays the spirit of sportsmanship. Not peculiar in a political clime, with the attendant acrimonious rivalry, the events preceding the last governorship election in Ogun State, but which its aftermath has subsequently courted, is a threshold of a renewed open hostility.
For the umpteenth time, the governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, leaves no one in doubt in his commitments to enthrone a focused and qualitative governance in the state.
Recently, while recalling his harrowing memory before and during the last general elections, Abiodun believes the past experiences were great lessons enough to hone his inherent skills to bring to bear in governance.
“Because of the uniqueness of the political landscape in Ogun State and my emergence, to say the least, it hasn’t been a dull moment. There are many issues that we are faced with. And it is time to begin to deal with those issues one after the other. And the manners and ways with which we have dealt with them would speak for us.
“Before and during the last general elections, we operated in the most unfriendly circumstances. We had to contend with the most intolerant administration. It was indeed a very charged atmosphere that the Ogun State deserved the least. I am bold to give all the glory to God Almighty for our emergence, because it was an opportunity for God, again to affirm His supremacy over a man.
“That it shall be well with a man when God has made up His mind to do something over a million men. He must surely have His way. This again has reaffirmed my belief in God. At any point in time, from the beginning to the end, I don’t have any doubt in my mind that I was going to win the primary, because I wasn’t desperate to become the governor of Ogun State, but I was only desirous.
“I have had a relationship with the then, incumbent governor. We sat down and we discussed it and our point of departure was because I said I would like to take over from him and I didn’t think that required us to become enemies.
“There’s nothing wrong having an ambition. I was trying to share with him, that I believe that in the year that preceded 2015, I believe that I was well prepared and equipped. I tried to remind him of the fact that his emergence as governor in 2011 and the emergence of his predecessor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel. I know the roles that I have played through the grace of God.
That in Ogun politics I am well qualified. My predecessor was not going to listen. I must have faced the biggest battle of my life. I never doubted we were going to win. No matter how the chances look, I trust in God because I must continuously reaffirmed in Him. I was continuously assured. This hurdle before me find a means to overcome it. At times, the hurdles were like mountains before me. In the Book of Mark 11-33, it says to me that, ‘if you have faith in me I can overcome any mountain.’ If I am able to overcome this mountain, who else can challenge my creator?”
While speaking on his yet-to-be announced kitchen cabinet, the governor noted that he is taking his time to ensure that seasoned technocrats from across the 20 Local Government Areas (LGAs) are picked to represent their respective localities.
People have been asking me, “You have not announced Commissioners, why? What is he doing? We know what we are doing. We are on track of everything we are doing that our vision stands for, which is captured within. We will not be rail-roaded and arm-twisted into doing what we are not convinced about, you are deviating from our plans because we are being patient.
“Everybody wants appointment. But I have said this is not possible. How many appointments are we going to make into our various offices?
“If you give some appointments, you would find out they are not fitted. Some of us will get the appointments, but some of us will enjoy the benefits. Please, give me time; let us put the building blocks in place on which they can become the foundation for the programmes that we have put in place.”
However, upon his assumption of office, on May 29, the story is not the same. Abiodun is faced with heaps of challenges he inherited from his predecessor, Amosun.
The aftermath of the bad blood generated took its toll. To discernable minds, the latest onslaught of the war of attrition being waged, is a clear indication of a product of primordial bitterness of the casualty suffered in the last governorship election which they are yet to recover from. A fortnight ago, a close of Amosun and a former Commissioner for Housing, Mrs Abiodun Segun, took a swipe at the ongoing probe of the inherited incomplete “legacy projects” by the new administration in power.
But it is to be noted that the attack is, at best, a farcical attempt to justify an anomaly, and at worst, misplaced and diversionary.
The Abiodun administration inherited a series incomplete and poorly executed self-serving projects that were paid for, 100 percent, without completion certificates issued to the contractors. Ad for most of these projects, those who should know in the civil service and the office of the Attorney-General were edged out of the scope the so-called executed contracts, without justification .
Abiodun, an architect, in trying to explain the unusual way of conducting government business, should know that the government in which she served acted in bad faith and in a manner that smacked of dubious dealings rather than citing imaginary fears for likely abandonment of the inherited projects.
To correct the anomaly, the state government has set up a 15-man panel for the review of the contract projects and it has three months to submit its report. The committee is headed by Engr Adekunle Makuolu, President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE).
Also, a couple of days ago, an erstwhile Commissioner for Finance and a close associate of Amosun, Mr Adewale Oshinowo, at a press conference, in Abeokuta, the state capital, lambasted the governor over the inherited treasury.
According to Oshinowo, in a statement titled, “Gov Abiodun’s ‘Empty Treasury’ slogan: Setting The Records Straight”, said thus: “Our attention has been drawn to the widely circulated reports in the media that the Prince Dapo Abiodun-led administration in Ogun State inherited an ‘empty treasury’ and its only recourse was a bank loan of N7 billion in order to pay workers’ salaries in May, 2019. Nothing could be further from the truth!
“Contrary to the ‘empty treasury’ slogan, the Dapo Abiodun led government inherited over N8.218 billion, comprising N5.735 billion from the Federation Account (FAAC/ JAAC) and N2.483 billion from the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs). What is more, the N10.6 billion refund for Pay As You Earn (PAYE) due to Ogun State, which the Amosun government had labored for three years to obtain, and which was due to be paid in May 2019, should have been part of the amount inherited by the Dapo Abiodun led administration.
“Ironically, the then ‘incoming’ government did everything possible to frustrate its release and create an enabling platform for the futile ‘empty treasury’ campaign unveiled after taking over the reins of government. The N10.6 billion, which is the third highest amount refunded to some States among the country has since been released to the Gov. Abiodun-led administration.
“Therefore, the Amosun administration can validly assert that it effectively left N18.8 billion in the coffers of Ogun State Government.”
In its riposte, a socio–cultural and political body in the state, led by its coordinator, Gateway Media Organisation, Omo-Oba Damilare Oloyede, picked holes in the statement credited to the ex-finance Commissioner.
According to Oloyede, in a statement titled, “Re: N18.3 billion Treasury Balance: You Can’t Fool Us In Ogun State”, on Tuesday, described the report credited to Oshinowo “as an attempt to fool, not only the people of Ogun State, but undiscerning Nigerians.”
He said: “The fictitious claims only exist in the figments and delusional imaginations of the erstwhile Commissioner.
“What Oshinowo said is a glaring indictment against his principal. What do they take us for in Ogun State? Why will they sit down and come up with concocted lies targeted at discrediting the current government in Ogun State? We all know the kind of person Gov Amosun was particularly in his last days in office.
“If Ogun State had to have close to N10 billion in its coffers, Amosun government would have paid the May salary on the 28th May, or why was he unable to fraudulently complete the severance allowances of his aides that he started paying before the expiration of his tenure?”
Femi Ogbonnikan is Media Consultant to the Ogun State Governor, Prince (Dr) Dapo Abiodun, MFR