People who wrote Tinubu off now gallivanting around him – Gbenga Daniel



A former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, has given an insight into some of the interplay leading to the emergence of  President Bola Tinubu in the 2023 election.

Daniel, who currently represents Ogun East in the Senate, said some of those now seeking to worm themselves into the heart of the President had scoffed at his chances in the run-up to the polls.

He told The Nation that he finds it amusing seeing such people now seeking the President’s attention.

“I am usually amused when I see people who told us Asiwaju had no chance and we should stop wasting time now gallivanting around the President.

“I guess that is Politics Nigeriana,” he said ahead of the May 29 first anniversary of the President’s assumption of office.

The former governor also spoke on how he and some others who believed in Tinubu’s ability to win and perform in office went round the country, particularly the Southwest, to galvanise support for him.

He also assessed the performance of the President so far, saying “things have started easing off and confidence is being built back into the economy by the investing world.”

He was confident that “it can only get better.”

Recalling some of the behind-the-scene activities ahead of the elections, Daniel said: “Yes, the fact of the case is that at some point in time when I was in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), I ran the Atiku Abubakar’s presidential campaign.

“But I’ve also told people who cared to listen that when I was running an Atiku campaign, Bola Tinubu was not contesting.

“Two Fulani men were in the race as leading candidates and I happened to be in PDP and so I took control of the Atiku campaign, not against Bola Tinubu.

“But I’ve told people that once Bola Tinubu is on the ballot, it’s a completely different ball game.

“And the funny thing is that the people in the PDP also know that I can’t do any other thing. So they know. So the funny thing is that people in the PDP know that, ah, OGD, that’s a Jagaban’s person, whatever you do.

“So once Jagaban was coming in, in fact, people do not know that a few of us came together and we were going round the entire Southwest and beyond trying to dissuade all the people who wanted to run to forget it.

“We formed a committee. And Bola Tinubu did not send us.  We felt that of all of them, he was the most experienced, he was the most qualified, and he was the most senior.

“It’s not as if some people didn’t also come to me and say, look, OGD, it is you we want to use. And I said ah, no, no, no. Tinubu is running o (laughs) No, forget it! But some of us fell into that kind of temptation.

“There’s none of them I didn’t go to see. We went to Ekiti, we saw Kayode Fayemi. I went and saw Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. I said ‘Ogbeni, what’s wrong with you? Ah! Kilo nsele (what’s going on)?

“Look at me; we both know how…What’s going on? Don’t allow yourself to be used, and all of that.

“So we did what we had to do without any prompting or grandstanding from any quarters.

“We went to Aketi (the late former Governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu), may God bless his soul. We said, look, you are the chairman of the Southwest Governor’s Forum. What has to be done has to be done.

“We went round. We went to Baba Akande in Ila, and I said Baba, you can’t be passive. You are probably the oldest former governor in the Southwest and you are very close to Asiwaju. So you cannot but be active.

“We went round even though we were not putting loudspeakers in what we were doing. We went round quietly. We went round and we spoke to all the self-determination groups. I said no, it’s a different ball game.

“I am usually amused when I see people who told us Asiwaju had no chance and we should stop wasting time now gallivanting around the President. I guess that is Politics Nigeriana.

“So we thank God that all is well that ended well. But having said that, it is part of the politics that we people talk about. They insinuate and we live with it.”

Daniel said while the country’s socio-economic status is not what it should be, there is hope that the situation is improving than hitherto.

His words: “One year ago, hope was nearly lost in the outgoing administration. Security was at its lowest ebb. The economy was virtually comatose. There was a high degree of uncertainty in the air and then, of course, the election went fortuitously I will say.

“Luckily for our country, Bola Tinubu won that election. We were also quite concerned as to how he could turn around what one can consider the battered economy.

“We were told that a lot of our resources had been traded in advance.  A large amount of the quota of the main source of revenue, that is oil, had been traded.

“A large amount of loans, unprecedented in the country’s history, have been incurred. At a stage it looked like whatever accruing revenue had to be used to service the existing loan. So it was a period of despair.

“But thank God, Bola Tinubu became president and pronto, he went into action.

“Of course, to make an omelet, we had to break eggs as our people usually say. Some of his immediate actions, which we all considered necessary, have created some difficulties and challenges, especially to the economy.

“But we thank God that things have started easing off and confidence is being built back into the economy by the investing world, and we have very strong belief that it can only get better.

“The security situation has started abating; matters of kidnapping for ransom appear to have been reduced. I think to a large extent, security challenges like the Boko Haram phenomenon appear to be under control.

“And so, I have no doubt in my mind that as we celebrate one year of this civilian administration, we look forward to a much better country.

“We have a good team in place. A large number of the ministers are quite knowledgeable and efficient, and the economy appears to be in capable hands.

“We have, in my own opinion, a good economic team. We have also a dynamic minister, for instance, who is running the Works Ministry; a hands-on person and capable engineer.

“Quite a number of the cabinet members have given a good account of themselves. So, clearly, I think we are in good stead. That’s my evaluation of where we are.

“That is not to say however that we do not have challenges. Of course, it’s part of life.”

Asked about his not too cozy relationship with the incumbent governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, especially following the demolition of a property belonging to his wife by the state government, Daniel said as an elder statesman, he has decided not to pass any comment on the governor, “and I am still not going to pass any comment.”

His words: “Well, you know, after I left as governor, Ibikunle Amosun became Governor. For eight years, he was there and finally, Dapo Abiodun is governor.

“So which means that I had been governor eight clear years before Dapo became governor. So I think I can describe myself as an elder statesman, and that is why I have not passed any comment and I am still not going to pass any comment.

“All I know is that part of what has destroyed our polity is when people personalise issues. If you look at my trajectory, I have never spoken about personal issues because I think that there are bigger problems that need to be solved and the expectations of the society, when they put us there, are more than talking about personal issues.

“It is unfortunate that the plaza that was destroyed belongs to my wife and a number of us felt that even if there are disagreements, we should not extend it to our children or our family, because at the end of the day, it’s a tenured position and people who find themselves in different angles may reunite tomorrow.

“I have had this personal experience in my political life and like people say, when you want to dig a pit for a political enemy, don’t dig it too deep, because you may be the one who will finally fall into it (laughs).

“I think the way I normally describe when all this shenanigans go on is what we read in the Bible: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. That really is my summary.”




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