Exclusive Interview: My Mission Is To Change ‘Change’ In Ogun – Otunba Gbenga Daniel

Exclusive Interview: My Mission Is To Change ‘Change’ In Ogun – Otunba Gbenga Daniel


Former Governor of Ogun State and chieftain of the Labour Party Otunba Gbenga Daniel Popularly called OGD granted a no-holds-barred interview with selected print and online journalist at his residence in Maryland Lagos. The former governor gave insider account of major events and allegations that rocked his tenure saying he never took a dime of Ogun state’s money and that, the only goal of the Amosun’s administration is to erase or surpass OGD’s record. The Paradigm’s Ileowo Kikiowo who covered the event, filled in his report.

 

Enjoy!

 

Introductions

The journalists who had gathered at the former governor’s house began by introducing themselves including yours truly. “Ileowo Kikiowo from The Paradigm”, I said. More journalists joined the conversation as we began the 3 hours discussion.

Dressed in a blue white striped Shirt, tucked on black suit trouser, you could smell the affluence two-sits away where I sat gently. He was on his way to a friend’s 60th birthday before he was reminded his office sent out invites for a chat with journalists. Journalist began by asking straightforward questions…

Question: What is your next political move.

Otunba Gbenga Daniel: Well, as a respected personality in Ogun, people are blaming me for the failures of the Amosun administration, so I must be at the forefront of finding the formular to change the change in Ogun.

Question: Can you give us a background of your trials by the EFCC

Otunba Gbenga Daniel: Of course, we all know that once a case is in court, you cannot comment on the issues. But at least, let me pass phrases that will not in any way jeopardize the matter in court. All the charges against me emanate from Tunde Oladungoye, the Ijebu East local government chairman during my administration.

It happened that a high ranking police officer was murdered and burnt in Tunde’s hometown. Thereafter, a massive crisis ensued, houses were burnt and a lot of people were injured in the fracas that followed. The police felt angered and were ready to level the grounds of Ijebu Ife but I pleaded with them. I still have all the pictures and reports of the incidents on my ipad.

I immediately setup an investigative enquiry into that incident, and the commission of inquiry indicted the then chairman. I had no choice but to remove him and since them, he became a willing tool in the hands of my traducers.

First of all, he wrote a petition against me that I stole $3million and another N8billion from the state’s local government funds. Now, we need to understand that as at the point of my arrest, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had no evidence against me. So they were under pressure, do they started looking for evidence.

I was pressured for three days to confess to crimes I didn’t commit. At the end I was told to declare my asset and I told them I couldn’t remember everything. Don’t forget I was the only governor who publicly declared his asset and sincerely I had numerous properties before I came into government. I can confidently tell you I didn’t steal a dime of Ogun state’s money throughout my tenure as governor.

However, I had to call my commissioner of finance to find out if he knows anything about the so-called ‘looted’ funds. Of course, he told me there were two times I gave him the permission to convert some foreign exchange. The first was a million dollars and the second was two million dollars which we used to pay Ogun state worker’s salaries because monthly allocation was delayed by the federal government. And that was what Tunde was capitalizing on.

In fact, I challenged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate me to my security vote. It was never more that N5million a month. Of course, there were three months in which the vote increased to N10million, N15million and N20million respectively because we had issues in Ado-Odo Ota.

Question: What is your reaction to the allegations of violence and murder during your tenure as governor?

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Otunba Gbenga Daniel during the media parley. Credit: Kikiowo Ileowo

Otunba Gbenga Daniel: Nobody should associate me with violence. An online news published a PR material where allegations of the violence allegedly perpetuated by me were written by someone using a pseudonym. In the write up, there was no mention of the people killed, yet you have a sitting governor who said on his day of inauguration that fifty six people have been killed in his struggle to become the governor of Ogun State. Well, that is the most hostile take-over in history. The attorney general of the state, police commissioner and every other instrument of state are at his disposal, yet he has not been able to file a charge against me. More than 3 years after I lost my immunity.

And of course when he set up the truth commission, it was the opportunity for them to reveal the violence and killings allegedly perpetuated during my tenure. But when the final report was released, the only thing they said was that Mrs. Daniel slapped somebody. Then I wrote a tragiccomedy and challenged them, but two years after, they have not given me any response to the three tragicomedy that I wrote.

The so-called ‘Ozogula’ who is suppose to be the head of my ‘killer’ squad is still working free the street of Abeokuta, why don’t they arrest him?

I think their propaganda should have limit.

Question: Is there collaboration between Labour Party and the Peoples Democratic Party in Ogun state and towards 2015?

Otunba Gbenga Daniel: Well, you need to understand that I am working for President Goodluck Jonathan because he is the best president Nigeria has ever had and he is working for the sake of this country.

Production of oil that was around 30% is now up. We need to be pragmatic here. People should not bring up quarrel where there is none. I will work with whoever I can work with even in Ogun PDP just to change the change in Ogun.

Question: There were allegations of that people had to swear an oath-of-allegiance to you before taking any public office during your tenure and other ritual allegations.

Otunba Gbenga Daniel: That is balderdash. So they swore an oath of allegiance to me, yet they could break it?

Journalist cuts in: Maybe the jazz didn’t work

Otunba Gbenga Daniel: That story was fabricated. The man who swore an oath was widely published on the pages of Newspaper. He didn’t swear an oath of allegiance to me; neither did I tell anyone to swear any oath to me.

My aides told me then that no one will believe the lies since people know me. But it’s unfortunate because we were doing the job while people were believing the lies.

Question: What is your relationship with former President Olusegun Obasanjo?

Otunba Gbenga Daniel: Former President Obasanjo is our baba. We might disagree on principle and politics, but he remains our baba in Ogun.

Question: People said you used funds from Ogun State Government to establish Compass Newspaper?

Otunba Gbenga Daniel: Like I said, I have never stolen a dime of government money in my life. I was a successful business man before going into office. Two weeks ago, the manufacturers of the lift my company sells came to honour and award me as the overall world best distributor.

I established Compass Newspapers not to compete with anyone, but to uplift the living standards of Journalists. I found out journalists were not been paid or treated well. So I got cars for our editors and before you knew it, the people working there thought it was another source to filter away government money and so they wrecked it.

 

Question: What are the issues you have with Governor Ibikunle Amosun?

Otunba Gbenga Daniel: Governor Amosun is rubbishing all the good works I did during my tenure. In fact it got to a point I didn’t award contract to anyone who is not from Ogun. But what do you have today? The governor is awarding contracts to foreigners. Amosun has not built a single road since the beginning of his tenure. He has only being expanding the existing ones. The Amosun administration has incurred debt to the tune of N300bn in less than four years.

Due to the incompetence of the All Progressives Congress-led administration, Ogun State has lost the proposed N9billion Dangote Refinery which should have been built by billionaire businessman, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, in Ode-Omi, in the Waterside; as well as a deep-seaport which we had laid the groundwork for.

He has spent over N270bn on road expansion, not brand new roads. Since the advent of this administration, I am not aware of a brand new road that they have opened up, they have expanded existing roads.

Yet the people keep blaming me, so that is why I have taken it as a responsibility to change the change in Ogun

He his building bridges that people are not using. I parked at the bridge in my hometown the other day and for 20 minutes, not a single car passed the place. He is not prioritizing.

Question: Can you rate Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s administration?

Otunba Gbenga Daniel:  I wouldn’t say he hasn’t tried his best, only if he can divert some of his energy somewhere else.

The truth is, in his almost 4yrs tenure, he has scored below average performance.

We Left a debt of N46bn after serving for 8yrs and right now Ogun State House of Assembly says the state currently owns about N300bn when he is yet to complete a 4year tenure.

If Only Amosun can apply his energy in the right direction, then he will become a better governor; but obviously, he’s done more roads than I did but what happens to other sectors. Will the people live and feed on the roads?

We returned missionary schools to the owners, but your governor took it back from them, imagine him trying to scrap Olabisi Onabanjo College of Engineering Ibogun?

He promised during his campaign that every pregnant woman during his tenure would be regarded as Amosun’s wife thereby getting free and qualitative health care service but none of this has been done, the health sector in Ogun State is dead….Check the record, I touched every aspect of Ogun State, I brought economic development to Ogun. I built new general hospitals and upgraded the existing ones.

Do you have a candidate for the 2015 governorship election in Ogun State?

No, I don’t have anyone for now. All the contenders come to meet me, everyone of them with no exception. But when the time comes, the stakeholders will decide on somebody and anybody they pick is who I will support. By the way, all the contenders we have at the moment without any exception, are better than the current governor.

Video excerpt: Don’t associate me with violence – Otunba Gbenga Daniel

Otunba Gbenga Daniel concludes the media parley:

In conclusion, the media should always asked questions and not take things hook, line and sinker when they begin to throw those unfounded allegations around. I submit myself to any question whatsoever, I am not a saint, but I went out of my way in Ogun State to do good and to do right.

In all my 8 years in Ogun state, I didn’t even ask a police man to go and harass anybody, talkless of killing anyone. Please and please don’t associate me with violence. Throughout my tenure, there was no political victimization whatsoever.

And there is no one in Ogun state who can say that as a result of his political conviction, he got victimized during my tenure. Nobody can say he lost his job because of his political leaning. I am challenging you to bring anyone who can disprove this.

My predecessor, Olusegun Osoba served about 2,500 sack letters a week before I took over as governor in 2003, but I absolved all of them back.  In fact when I took over as governor, I only picked one of my drivers from Lagos. I every driver and domestic staff that Osoba used were those who also served me for 8 years.

I just want to say in conclusion, the media in general have not been fair to me.

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Otunba Gbenga Daniel during the media parley. Credit: Kikiowo Ileowo

 

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