Dapo Abiodun: A Date With Destiny

Dapo Abiodun
By Kayode Akinmade
Destiny, says former US Secretary of State William Bryan, is no matter of chance; it is not a thing to be waited for but a thing to be achieved. For Prince Dapo Abiodun, the Ogun State governor-elect, nothing can be truer: not only will he on May 29 be sworn-in as the fifth Executive Governor of the Ogun state, he will, with friends, family and well wishers, in fact be rolling out the drums to mark his 59th birthday.
And so while in other climes, May 29 would mean just a change of guards at the government houses, in Ogun it will be a day of double celebration and multiple thanksgiving, and rightly so.
But there is a thrilling story behind that story and the facts of history, not least the anguish of memory, will have at least a mention, for not even the most perceptive of seers could have imagined that the road chosen and taken over 20 years ago would be paved with so many tears and thorns for a man whose only desire was, and still is, to be a blessing to all and sundry.
Dapo Abiodun’s political voyage  has indeed been long and bumpy but not as an aimless wandering in the desert. In all of that, he remained focus on the goal.
Today he is being handsomely  rewarded for his doggedness and persistence. The tears of yesterday has dissolved into smiles of  triumph. Destiny, as Bryan notes in his famous polemic, has at last been now achieved after years of hard work. After all, do not our elders say that hard work does not kill but it is in fact the refusal to be hard-working that does?
The dream was nurtured during the General Sani Abacha botched transition programme where he contested under the UNCP as a senator, but the death of Abacha meant it was not to be. It was there in 1999 when he contested for a senatorial seat under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun East, losing out to Chief Biyi Durojaiye of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and congratulating him as a good sportsman. It was there when he, along with a few others, built up PDP in Ogun State as one of its major financiers and most committed members. Of course when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo emerged president, his supporters believed that he was the candidate for the Ogun ministerial slot, but he was of a different view, arguing that the leader of the party in the state, Chief Jubril Martins-Kuye, should not be relegated in the scheme of things and ignoring all entreaties to use his influence within the party to get a ministerial slot over and above Martins-Kuye. Martins-Kuye strolled into the portfolio of Minister of State for Finance and then the political maneuvering in Ogun started, as devious characters affronted by the rising profile of Dapo Abiodun went to town with fake news, proudly intent on his political decimation. The corollary: his name was conspicuously absent when nominees were announced for board appointments and it took his personal relationship with Obasanjo for him to be made chairman of the Nigerian Telecommunication barely a year to the end of Obasanjo’s first term.
But Abiodun would not let go of his dream: he took all this with calm and equanimity and went all out to contest the governorship primary of PDP in Ogun State, backed by friends who hosted him to a banquet at his 43rd birthday in Ikoyi, Lagos. The roll call: Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Mr. Femi Otedola, Chief Jimoh Ibrahim,  Mr. Tunde Odubela, Chief Niyi Aebayo, Ms. Modupe Ozolua, Ach. Biodun Faari, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Chief Tokunbo Afikuyomi, Chief Musiliu Obanikoro, Kashim Imam, the late Muhammed Waziri,  Chief Mike Adenuga and a host of others. And when he lost the primary through the intricacies within the PDP in Ogun State to Otunba Gbenga Daniel, a man who between 1999 and 2001 was affiliated to Afenifere and the AD, Dapo Abiodun did not bother or dither: he invited Daniel to a breakfast meeting at his Maryland, Ikeja home, collapsed his campaign structure into Daniel’s and changed the posters in all his campaign offices across the state to Daniel’s. He mobilised funds and logistics for Daniel and also campaigned with him throughout the state. He knew the day would come when he too would sing a victory song.
 That day of course did not come in 2007, he also supported Daniel’s election for a second term of office. Nor did it come in 2011, for he was involved in a domestic accident which took him off the political radar for a while, with God’s help surviving the accident that could have claimed his life. Nor was Abiodun among the victory party in 2015 when he contested against Buruji Kashamu for a senate seat but lost in questionable circumstances.
Looking at the political situation in the country and holding firm to his resolve to preside at Oke Mosan, he pitched his tent with APC in Ogun State, then fully backed the second term emergence of the now outgoing Governor Ibikunle Amosun. Then came 2019, the year of reward. Overcoming the antics and roadblocks mounted against him by the incumbent government led by Amosun, his bosom friend (his posters, billboards were removed while the state machinery was stacked against him), he won the APC primary and went ahead to win the election proper. Welcome to the fifth executive governor of Ogun State.
 Unlike some with no proverbial second address, Dapo Abiodun joined politics with a rich resume. He attained good success in business and contributed immensely to national development. As the Chief Executive Officer of Ornamental Forge, a firm that specializes in metal fabrication and design, between 1994 and 1999, Prince. Abiodun served as Federal Government Contractor, supplying almost all security and bulletproof cars and doors. Most of the major industrial estates in Lagos and Abuja had his input. He was in fact so versatile and famous as a security merchant that when in Lagos between 1995 and 1997 there was an upsurge in crime and banditry, when car snatchers presumably from neigbouring Republic of Benin were holding sway in the Centre of Excellence, the then Military Administrator of Lagos State , Col. Mohamed Buba Marwa had to call on him to deploy his security expertise to combat the menace. Dapo Abiodun was able to initiate two major interventions, one was the Vehicle Tracking System. This was a device which people subscribed to and installed in their cars, such that whenever they had any issues with intruders wanting to make away with their vehicles, they would seemingly yield the vehicles to the usually armed criminals and thereby safeguard their lives, then strike fast, and very hard. They would contact Abiodun’s company, INNOVATION, through a dedicated line and the vehicle would be demobilized within seconds.
But that was not all: Dapo Abiodun was the brain behind Alarm Network. There was Alarmnet, a security device that keeps intruder at bay. All that is required is a touch of button, the company and the police would be alerted immediately. In a matter of minutes, security operatives would have surrounded the house and ensured the arrest of the intruders. This initiative was what led to the Operation Sweep project by the Lagos State government. Officials of the Operation Sweep were under the office of Dapo Abiodun and immediately it received a distress call, his office, through ICT tools, would connect the occupants of a threatened house with OPS operatives who were domiciled on the first floor of Alarmnet office beside the State Secretariat in Alausa. Within minutes, information would have got to the squad patrol nearest the people in distress. The OPS  were divided into zones: the patrol would move in and within the spate of five minutes, the area would have been cordoned off, pronto, no escape for assailants.  But for politics, Abiodun’s initiatives would have achieved far more successes than it did in Lagos. Significantly, this man of destiny is also an oil magnate, the CEO of Hyden Petroleum. In the oil industry he is one of the biggest players. As he begins the task of taking Ogun to greater heights tomorrow, May 29, the next chapter of his appointment with destiny  may have just began.
*Akinmade, a two-term Commissioner of Information in Ondo State, contributes this piece from Abuja.