Otunba Gbenga Daniel, whose sobriquet OGD first caught major public attention in 2001 when he was angling to do the impossible by unseating the incumbent governor in Ogun State, has now fully come into his own as a dominant force in the scheme of things in the state and on the national arena. Of course when he was given the opportunity by the people of Ogun State to serve as their Governor between 2003 and 2011, he gave it his all and in the process unfurled a people-centred government where policies and programmes at all levels were deliberately engineered to favour the people and for the common good. Daniel sees politics as a means to an end, and that end is good governance which should engineer a better society is unrelenting in his quest for a better society. He translated this mantra into concrete reality in those eight years. He left the state better than he met it and cemented an unbroken cord with its people. At 65, after almost twenty years of service in the same political establishment, Daniel has now decided to change course and team up with people of like minds in a new political platform. Like it was where he was coming from, it will not be politics for politic’s sake in his new lair. It will remain a call to service, and a mission to maintain an unbroken connection with the people, seek the common good and add value to humanity.
Those who have followed Daniel’s public and private trajectory will not be worried by his transition from one party to another since they know that given his antecedent the common denominator for him will always be the pursuit of the common good and service to the people. Before politics, the accomplished University of Lagos trained Engineer, technocrat and businessman set up a non-governmental organisation, the Gateway Front Foundation (GFF), to formalise his determined desire to reach out to all and sundry and change the course of life of the ordinary people for the better. And after leaving office Gateway Front Foundation is still flourishing under the close watch of Daniel and his wife, Yeye Olufunke, carrying out its core mandate of reaching out to the less privileged in the society and contributing to the making of a better society especially at the grassroots. The Daniels have continued to use it as a vehicle for good for the society.
And the new platform cannot and will not vitiate Daniel’s imprimatur of good governance which remains clearly discernible and unassailable ten years after leaving the most important political office in the Gateway State. Indeed they are still building on some of his legacies while others have become barometers to measure good governance. It is, therefore, no surprise that the Agro-Cargo Airport conceptualised and kick-started by the Daniel administration is now being revisited by the Prince Dapo Abiodun administration. The Cargo airport is a testimony to the power of vision and foresight. Daniel, after doing the groundwork here in Nigeria through the Ogun State Economic Summit, led a team to Dubai and the United States to canvass international buy-in for the project. The general consensus at home and abroad was that it was a well thought out developmental project which should advance the economic base of Ogun State and become a major employment generator. But, debilitating and unconscionable politics stopped its programmed implementation after the exit of Daniel and his team. However, since a good idea can only be temporarily halted, the Agro Cargo Airport will yet come into its own to the advantage of the people of Ogun State and Nigeria.
And those who have now become Daniel’s new political associates would have to contend with his penchant of factoring the people into all policies, projects and programmes. This stood out in bold relief during the Dualisation of the Abeokuta –Siun –Sagamu Expressway in the course of his administration. Daniel insisted that work should only commence when the people whose houses stood in the right of way of the project had been properly resettled. The administration built brand new houses in place of their huts for the affected villagers, a gesture that further cemented his bond with the people.
They can also count on Daniel’s far-sightedness. Very early in 2003, at the beginning of his administration when the digital revolution had not fully come into its own, Daniel assembled a team to generate a blueprint on how Ogun could latch on to the then evolving digital revolution. The initiative led to the establishment of four ICT Polytechnics and the Human Capital Development Programme (HUCAP), whose main fulcrum was the training of requisite manpower to give the State the edge. The ICT Polytechnics have outlived the Daniel administration training the required manpower for the state and country. Some of the people who were trained abroad under the HUCAP initiative are now serving in very high offices in different parts of Ogun State and Nigeria. One of them is managing the digital configuration which the first University of Education in Nigeria-The Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu Ode, established by the Daniel administration, is deploying for ease of university administration.
Under Daniel’s watch, Ogun became the investment and sports destination of choice and raised the bar of human capital development. The legacies of Daniel’s eight years stewardship are still as solid as Olumo Rock and imperishable in the landscape of the State and the hearts of its people. He is seen as Mr. Equity because of his evenhanded distribution of projects across the three senatorial districts and four main divisions of the State. So, equity will also be one of the trump cards, Daniel will constantly throw into the mix in his new frontier.
It is obvious that he will also deploy his strong network of friends, associates and relationship with key leaders built over the years and which traverses the length and breadth of the country to the advantage of the new platform. OGD also has a large following in his base and across the states the Southwest, and this should be a great advantage. It is also expected that his organisational acuity and tenacity of purpose and painstaking pursuit of excellence will also come into play. For OGD, whether in business or politics, mediocrity is an anathema. He does not believe in half measures. He gives his all and always ensures that things are done properly and excellently with the right Intellectual underpinning. This Daniel is not an autocrat; he listens and aligns with superior argument.
And the most important part of the OGD persona is his orientation that politics is only meaningful when programmes and policies benefit the people and the polity and advance the cause of humanity. On this, he does not shift ground and none can persuade him to do otherwise. He will always ensure, as he did in Ogun State, that the people are factored into the process all the way. The new platform to which Daniel freely subscribes to will also be gaining a product that is believable, a product that knows his onions and that will add meaningful value to the ongoing process of building a better country.
And as Otunba Gbenga Daniel (OGD), reaches the milestone age of 65 on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, let’s celebrate this accomplished engineer, astute businessman, professional in politics, humanist, technocrat and one of the major contributors to the development of Ogun State and Nigeria.
We also wish him all the best as he begins the navigation of a new frontier in politics.
- Adebanjo served as Senior Special Assistant, Public Communications and later as Chief Press Secretary in the administration of Otunba Gbenga Daniel