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By Tunde Salako
Since the conduct of the presidential and governorship elections, the media has been inundated by reports of organized protests by the opposition parties and their candidates calling for the cancellation of results of the polls that have been adjudged to be free, fair, and credible. In point of fact, at no time in our recent past had the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) been so much vilified for no other reason other than the unfounded allegations of irregularities that they claimed characterized the conduct of these elections. Some of the mob supporters of the candidates behind these shenanigans have even gone to the extreme of making sly innuendo against the Chairman of the electoral commission, Prof Mahmood Yakub, for refusing to succumb to their intimidation, allusive and disparaging remarks.
Already, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State has joined the fray, claiming manipulation of the electoral process in favour of Governor Abiodun. The good thing here is that the public is fully aware of the fact that the PDP candidate, Oladipupo Adebutu, engaged in vote-buying through the inducement of voters with secret disbursement of N10,000 credit cards on the day of the election. Yet, they are out there pouring on the streets crying blue murder. All of these will be sorted out at the law court at the appropriate time. By then, all those who are hiding behind the needle to cause disaffection in the state will bury their faces in shame.
The most intriguing thing in the Ogun State scenario is the direct connivance of some big shots within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state with these subversive elements within the PDP who are hell bent on pulling down the roof because they didn’t win. For instance, Steve Oliyide, a former soft-sell journalist and now an aide to former governor Gbenga Daniel, has consistently maintained visible media presence, giving all manners of reasons why his boss emerged as the most popular candidate for his senatorial district on the platform of the APC. Among his recent published articles against the victorious governor was the one he titled: “Why Dapo Abiodun did not win Ogun State elections”.
First, by making such an irresponsible and illogical statement in his write-up, he has confirmed the well known fact that Gbenga Daniel actually worked for the PDP against Governor Dapo Abiodun and still is acting behind the scene to stoke the ember of disunity in the state through the sponsorship of protests against the INEC results. By giving his tacit support for all the attacks on Abiodun, Daniel has also confirmed an earlier unconfirmed report that he collected hundreds of millions of naira from Chief Adebutu Kessington in exchange for a deal to ensure the victory of the PDP in the March 18, 2023 governorship poll. This is with a view to giving his son, Ladi Adebutu, a smooth ride to the Okemosan, Abeokuta Governor’s Office. But the plot failed and fell like a pack of cards.
Daniel actually profiteered from the elections. He collected money from Sir Adebiyi Kessington, Prince Dapo Abiodun, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Chief Segun Osoba and from the APC national headquarters.
The truth of the matter is that right from the onset, Daniel has been a mole in the APC working for the PDP but Governor Abiodun appears to be too trusting and unsuspecting of his sinister motive.
From the time he joined the APC, there has been a game plan to use the machinery of the party to work for the PDP, while also pursuing his Ogun East senatorial ambition. Indeed, information from the reliable sources revealed how in the build-up to the governorship poll, Daniel convened several nocturnal meetings with his old allies who are currently occupying key positions in Abiodun’s administration to work for Ladi Adebutu. But some of those present at the meeting was said to have turned down the request based on their allegiance and loyalty to Governor Abiodun as well as their commitment to his re-election bid.
In all of this scheming, Daniel was projecting toward a return to the senate in 2027. Part of the deal is to defect back to PDP in the event that Adebutu wins the governorship election. But he got the sums wrong. If Adebutu did win and he cannot win at the tribunal either because the evidence of his rigging and vote-buying is too overwhelming to upturn the results declared by the INEC. This, of course, is without prejudice to whatever may be the outcome of the petition filed before the judiciary.
Today, Senator Lekan Mustapha must be ruing the day he succumbed to the pressure to step down for Daniel during the primaries of the APC because he has betrayed the trust reposed in him by the leadership of the party. That is a lesson for another day. In the same way, Governor Abiodun would also wish he had not untied some of the traps his predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, set before him. A good case in point is the Conference hotel located along Ibrahim Babangida Boulevard, Okemosan, owned by Daniel. The hotel was sealed by EFCC on charges of misappropriation of public funds and embezzlement and Daniel was dragged to court by the EGCC.
In defiance of the court proceedings, Daniel unlawfully took over the possession of the premises of the Conference Hotel, did the necessary work, and re-launched business operations. On the day of the commissioning attended by the Vice President through the influence of the Governor, the public did not know that EFCC operatives actually stormed the venue to arrest Otunba Gbenga Daniel. It took the intervention of the governor to persuade the EFCC to vacate the premises so that the Vice President and other dignitaries present will not be embarrassed.
Not only that, OGD was declared ‘persona non-grata’ who could not walk free on the roads of the state capital, Abeokuta, for eight years. His investments across the state were shut down. Not spared was the partial demolition of the “Abraham Tabernacle” structure located along Oba Erinwole Road, Sagamu under the guise of road expansion by the previous administration whose helms man the same Daniel is now hobnobbing clandestinely with. Without prejudice, Abiodun, recently took up the responsibility and reconstructed the abandoned Oba Erinwole road which also leads to “Asoludero Court”, home of OGD, to ease the flow of traffic and also serves as an alternative route linking Ikorodu (Lagos State).
As they say, the rest is history.
For there to be betrayal, there would have been trust first. In rehabilitating Otunba Gbenga Daniel with the APC senatorial ticket, Governor Abiodun gave his trust. But all he gets in return for the gesture is back-stabbing and outright betrayal. There is always another day.
Salako, a social commentator, wrote from Imeko, Ogun State.