Abiodun Hits the Ground Running, Amosun Still Raising Dust

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SATURDAY POLITY 

Femi Ogbonnikan examines the composition of the Economic Transition Committee and Work Groups set up by incoming governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun and the dust raised by the outgoing governor of the state, Ibikunle Amosun, over the defeat of his candidate, Adekunle Akinlade, in the governorship election

Come May 29, this year, the outgoing Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, will formally handover the baton of the leadership of the state to his successor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, the governor-elect. Abiodun has hit the ground running. He has unveiled members of his Economic Transition Committee and “Transition Works Groups.” This is a demonstration of his commitment to inclusiveness.

The composition of the committees are broad-based and a rich blend of human resources, painstakingly selected from critical stakeholders, including politicians (both in the APC and other parties), experts, women, youth, organised private sector, people with special needs and non-indigenes, among others.

According to the spokesperson of Abiodun, Hon Remmy Hazzan, aside the Economic Transition Committee, headed by former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Tunde Lemo, “There are 10 work groups to focus not only on key items in our manifesto, but also on connected matters that strengthen institutions, and build capacity that will ensure that government agencies deliver on their mandates effectively and efficiently on a sustainable basis. Motivation of Ogun State work force is a very key objective in this regard.”

While inaugurating the Economic Transition Committee and Work Groups at TCC Resort, Abiodun pledged the readiness of the incoming administration to make a difference and provide quality leadership to the people of the state.

Despite the fact that the people of the state had become cynical of government and the political class in general, he said that he was conscious of the fact that the expectations from the incoming administration under his watch were high.

Abiodun stated that the task was not made easy by paucity of funds, “but notwithstanding, the incoming administration is determined to make a difference and provide leadership that earns the confidence of the people, a government that has character and can be trusted.”

Besides, the governor-elect pledged the commitment of his administration to continue the implementation of the ongoing projects that have a clear line of sight for the upliftment of Ogun State and benefits to the people.

“I am hopeful that the incumbent government will provide us with timely accurate information on all the ongoing projects in the state and the general state of affairs of our common patrimony,” he said. Abiodun said with the commitment to the central theme, “Building Our Future Together Agenda”, he had directed that a database be developed and continually updated on the abundant human resources of Ogun State extraction across the globe to enable his Administration to tap into from time to time.

But, still unrepentant and adamant, Amosun is mussing over the failed bid of Adekunle Akinlade, to succeed him.

At a recent world press conference to herald the fourth edition of the 2019 “African Drum Festival” held at MITROS residence, Oke-Ilewo, Abeokuta, precisely on Tuesday, April 16, the outgoing governor took a swipe at the governor-elect (Abiodun) and his “Lagos cabal” (political godfathers), during a question and answer session.  In his characteristic manner, Amosun who had at several public fora boasted of being in control of the political structure of the state and also, has the magic wand to make Akinlade governor, raised dust during the interview.

When asked why he has declined to inaugurate his transition committee that would provide for a smooth hand-over to the incoming administration, Amosun, in his riposte, said: “Did they send you to me? Were you sent to ask political questions? You should go back to those that sent you to come and ask such a question, because I know how to respond to such. They have not made any request for the inauguration of the transition committee. And if it is two weeks away to the May 29 hand-over date, if they reach out to me, then, I am ready.”

However, he promised to spill the beans concerning the true stories behind the Ogun State Governorship election when he vacates office.

“From May 29, I will be free to open up on political issues in the State. I have been asked to quit talking about the elections and politics, because I am still in office,” said the outgoing governor.

Amosun also explained why he labelled some people “no brain”, an abusive language, reportedly common in the state’s corridor of power.

Amosun hinted that he usually deploys the language each time anybody does things that defy “logical reasoning”.

The outgoing governor noted that “education does not mean reasonableness” and lampooned those criticising his administration’s programmes and policies.

“Government is a serious business. You must have brain to do the job. That is why I said, “no brain”. Yes, I will say ‘no brain’ when you are doing something that defies logical reasoning. How? You went to school, travel around the world, see the way things are being done, but it is difficult for you to replicate here,” he said.

The outgoing governor, however, reiterated his commitment to completing ongoing projects, by “working to the last second of my administration.”

Meanwhile, in his reaction to the 21 senior servants hurriedly elevated to the Permanent Secretary (PS) status in less than two months to the end of his office, former Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to ex-governor of the state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Mr. Wale Adedayo, blamed the outgoing governor over the unsavoury development, in a bid to court enmity for the incoming administration of Prince Dapo Abiodun.

“There is no doubt that the recently warped appointments by Amosun cannot stand as it has caused a lot of disaffection, low morale, as well as distrust among the ever brilliant civil service in the state.

“A review of the list indicates that favouritism was placed above merit, while only few were done on merit to cover the entire mess or how do one explain a situation where a state that produced a foremost civil servant in the entire country in person of late Simeon Adebo, propping a GL level 13 officer and elevating him as Permanent Secretary in the midst of highly qualified and brilliant Senior Directors in the Civil Service. This individual (name withheld) in the office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) was twice promoted in the last two years from grade level 13 to 15 and to now be elevated to a PS, sounded so ridiculous and highly insensitive.

“As if that is not enough, his paymaster, an Accountant in Governor’s office is presently on GL 14 and promoted to the post of PS at the expense of his more qualified seniors in the same ministry, while another officer in AG office on GL 15 (another Amosun boy) also sailed through in the Father Christmas bonus.

“Apart from laying a booby trap for the incoming regime as being done in virtually all areas of governance in the state, this singular act will not augur well for the service as it means inexperienced hands will now be at the helms of affairs. Amosun should have allowed the incoming administration to select the team, instead of hurriedly jumping the gun.

“Conclusively, there are seasoned professionals in every department of the service and to now sacrifice such on the altar of politics, rather than ethics, competence and experience should not stand the test of time,” averred Adedayo.

Unperturbed, the governor-elect, Abiodun has attributed his emergence to the benevolence of God.

He said: “Succinctly put, it was the most turbulent, most bumpy, most challenging, most difficult tale of a political heroism in which the incumbent did everything humanly possible to stop me. This is considering the fact that this incumbent has been a friend of mine for over 25 years.”  

Abiodun, in a testimony relayed to an audience at a Redeemed Church of God in London, said he practically went through hell in his bid to become the governor of his state. The most shocking aspect of his experience was the fact that those he thought he could trust with his two eyes closed were the ones beating the drum for his downfall and disgrace.

“I thought that God will not forgive me if I didn’t come forward to share a bit of my testimony and my ‘only God’ moment. I stand here as a testimony of the awesomeness of the Almighty God, and the fact that God is greater than man. God will be God and man will continue to be man, because if it were for men, I will not be the Governor-elect of Ogun state. I have been in the private sector, but I have always had a passion for politics. In 1997, I made my first show in politics; I ran for the senate. I became a senator-elect, and I was the youngest ever elected senator in Nigeria. I was so young that there was a controversy that I was probably too young to be sworn-in because the age limit then was forty and I was not quite forty. Fortunately or unfortunately, the Head of state then died and that republic came to an end. I tried again in 2015; I was persuaded to run for the senate, and I didn’t quite win. Well, I won, I was rigged out, and I went to court. I won at the tribunal and my opponent went and appealed and it was overturned.

“I was so unhappy. I thought to myself, ‘this is surely it, I am done with politics; I must just face my business and leave all these politicians alone. They are not trustworthy, they are not reliable, and it is just a waste of money and resources.’ As time went on, in 2017, I had an unfortunate incident. I lost my first son, and life could not have dealt me a worst blow. I withdrew into my shell. For over six months I could not function. I could not go to work, I didn’t see people; I became a complete recluse.

“Then, in 2018, someone came to me and said will I consider going back into politics. Of course, I said never. Then, it was that I should go to the senate, and I said I was not interested. I have done this twice, so I’m not interested; God definitely does not want me to be a senator. At some point in time, someone asked me: ‘would you consider being a governor?’ I said that I will consider, but I will first go to God and see what God has to say about it. To cut the long story short, I became convinced that God indeed wanted me to be Governor of Ogun state.

“I could not explain it. I sat down with the incumbent Governor and had a chat with him. Of course, he said ‘No, never; I will offer you senate.’ I said, ‘I don’t want senate’. Eventually, our Pastor Prof, the Vice President intervened. He now said: ‘May be, you should consider this senate.’ I said ‘okay. I will do it,’ only to find out that the incumbent governor that had indeed offered me this senate didn’t mean it. He actually was just leading me on. When that became clear, I went back to Pastor Prof and said, Pastor Prof, God is telling me something. I am going to be the governor of Ogun State.”