By Yemisi Bamgbose.
Today marks one year in office of His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun as the Executive Governor of Ogun State.
If not for the ravaging COVID-19, Abeokuta the Ogun capital would have by now received mass of people from far and near.
This day, Friday 29th May, 2020, being the 1st of it’s kind in the history of the current administration would have recorded all sorts of displays. MKO Abiola stadium will by now be playing host to the new leaders that emerged through the 2019 elections and those who came into the corridors of power by appointments. From the new SSG to the new Chief of Staff, the new Commissioners to many S A this and SA that, Consultants in various categories both with appointment letters and some who are self appointed.
This is the day that brooms sellers would have made brisk business .Both registered members of APC and and many unregistered members would have bought brooms to show they are the ones in power. Covid-19 has not been kind at all.
Success have many parents, failure is an orphan. If not for Corona virus, many Graphic Artists would have been counting their blessings on the production of APC flag and other memorabilia. What of different types of banners with meaningful and those with meaningless messages.
If not for Corona virus, Ogun State would have hosted again nearly all our past Governors including those imposed by power of gun or by the will of the people.
This day majority of our royal fathers would have come out in their traditional regalia accompanied by the Oloris to show love with their sons and daughters who have emerged as new leaders.
School Children, primary and secondary schools from all the 20 local governments would have displayed the “modern systems”of march past inculcated in them by their teachers who had recently or long ago obtained military drills during youth corps services.
This day would have witnessed display of various headgear from our mothers and sisters. Women in politics, friends and classmates of the Deputy Governor, friends and classmates of the wife of His Excellency.
The many uninvited guests would have by now been struggling with security men to gain entrance to the stadium. What a day today would have been, judging from past experiences.
This day my colleagues in the media would have arrived the stadium before 5 am. The leadership of the State owned media OGTV and OGBC would have mounted their Outside Broadcast Vans with all accessories to transmit the event live. The General Managers and all other management staff of the state broadcast outfits who may currently be in relaxed mood would have been restless until after the speech of Mr Governor.
This day would have been another special day for camera men with their headcan on their ears receiving instructions and “commandments” from the “almighty” Directors. The current General Manager of OGTV,Festus Kehinde and Lanre Davies on my mind. They were good on special occasions like this.
Today I remember the likes of late Demola Odusanya,Mrs Bola Olafimihan calling the shots. I recalled with joy the movement up and down of former chief Executive officers of OGTV and OGBC. The likes of Otunba Yomi Onabolu and Basorun Elegbede with his transistor radio. The duo are resting in the bosom of the Lord. Elder Jare Dada(Jarus) would have been given instructions with his left hand while Engr Kehinde Elesin would have been “holding” the transmitter not to trip. Prince Segun Olaleye, Engr Akin Majiyagbe and Engr Tunde Awolana would have had their blood pressure high by now.
Diji Akinhanmi would have been moving round the state box to get in touch with who is who that can feature on Hot seat and Democratic path. Adieu my baritone voice and ever bubbling and ever smiling Diji Akinhanmi.
By now our Distinguished commentators from OGBC and OGBC would have been keeping the masses at home informed of those spectacular things happening at the big event centre. Reporters and producers from Broadcast Stations such as NTA,TVC,AIT,Channels,Galaxy etc would also have arrived early to position themselves.
This day,the name of the Governor,Prince (Dr)Dapo Abiodun,MFR,would have been called more than hundred times by carefully selected state MCs announcing the “pre-arrival” and arrival of His Excellency.
Today, I remember with nostalgia my Ogas and mentors such as Alhaji Ayodele Sulaiman and Mrs Kemi Sangokunle, reputable and outstanding State MCs that trained many of us. Thank God they are alive.God bless you wherever you are.
I equally remembered this day my boss, Mr Funso Fakeye, my friend and brother, Chief Toba Opaleye of blessed memories who were super at the microphone with deep knowledge of words.
Thank God for my Oga in the protocols and ceremonial department who was then the Director of protocols and later Head of Service Chief Dipo Odulate and also Alhaji Abass Olanigan who later became a PS. They always insisted on well trained and versatile Masters of ceremony to handle sensitive occasions like today’s event the did not hold. They and others too numerous to mention are alive today and must be reflecting on what could have been on a day like this.
I pay glowing tributes to my colleagues that God has continued to spare our lives. The likes of Yemi Sodimu, Busayo Olaifa,Biodun Ogundipe,Toyin Sogbesan, Adebayo Agbabiaka, Bunmi Ayelaagbe, Gbenga Adebayo (Imalian boy), Kemi Ewedairo-Yusuf,Tomori Oluwunmi, Gbenga Adeaga and Jendele Hungbo.They would have been describing the performance of His Excellency in metaphorical and superlative adjectives.
This day the likes of Toyin Sogbesan and Fola Adesina Green and Kitan Oyesiku among others would have reported to the Director of protocols to be acquainted with the programme of the day.
If not for Covid-19, by this time,this day,many commercial vehicles would have blocked Kuto-Okemosan road and many praise singers will by now be welcoming gorgeously dressed guests to the event chatting their praises. Alas Covid-19 has deprived them of smiling back home.
This day would have revealed many people with new political ambitions and those who wanted to consolidate their elected positions through various branded T-Shirts and pictures of the politicians ,new and old.
This day many placards and banners would have read 4+4 =2027, some would have 2023,no vacancy at Okemosan while others would have read,Abuja straight and such catch phrases.
What a day of information and in depth analysis that will bring out correct interpretation. This day would have revealed intra party crises hitherto not known to the public. Series of well composed and spontaneous songs and reactions from sponsored supporters would have revealed the hidden bickering within the party.
The Labour Unions would have brought out their logos of identification displaying solidarity to the man of the moment.
Success indeed has many parents, failure is a deserted orphan. Many including the Civil Service will continue to hate Covid-19 pandemic for depriving them of the many opportunities and joy of a day like today.
Now to my 3 reasons of considering it necessary celebrate with His Excellency Prince Dapo Abiodun,MFR.
The first reason is the resilience that has been demonstrated by Mr Governor which has so far made him to refuse being pushed into unnecessary war with his predecessor. This singular display of wisdom made me to remember what the former Governor of Anambra State Mr. Peter Obi told me when he invited me to Awka for a discussion on a trade union matters. He said “People have been pressuring me to probe my predecessor (Dr Chris Ngige) and some others. But I have been telling them that if God had wanted me to look back he would have given me another eyes at the back of my head. Probing my predecessor will make me not to be focused and I will waste 4 years searching for records. At the end of the day,court may decide in his favour and through that he might receive public sympathy. Why wouldn’t I allow myself be focused in order to do what I promised people of Anambra State”.
Without knowing that Covid-19 will bring a greater distraction,Governor Abiodun did not allow those that will sooner or later abandoned him most especially when his tenure is about to expire to push him into unnecessary distractions. In Yoruba adage “Enikan kii yago fun elesin ana”. This aphorism is typical of Nigerian Politicans. How many of those that Chief Osoba, Otunba Daniel and Senator Amosu brought to the limelight are with them today? (Awon da? Won ti fondagbe as some people will say )
Thank God His Excellency did not yield to the admonitions that will distract him.
The second reason while I thought it necessary to celebrate Dr.Dapo Abiodun is because of his style of carrying out thorough investigations and taking decisions with compassion when the carrier and livelihood of people are concerned. The eventual upholding of the appointment of the last batch of Permanent Secretaries appointed by his predecessor is a major example. Let me state clearly here,that, that review would not have affected my appointment as a PS in anyway because the specified was February 2019.I left service since November 2018.
Many people for reasons which may be considered tenable or otherwise had advocated for the reversal of what they rightly or wrongly termed as lopsided and rushed appointments made by his predecessor. Some others advocated for caution and careful investigation.
Thank God,His Excellency, Governor Dapo Abiodun, displayed the God spirit in him. He carefully investigated and eventually did not humiliate anybody.
The absorption of the newly recruited 2000 workers into the state civil service which was made towards the end of administration preceding him is another wonderful example. Many people again rightly or wrongly advocated that the babies should be thrown away with bath water. Again many of us reminded those calling for entire cancellation that it will be dangerous and counter productive to the new Government to do that. To my delight and to the surprise of others Governor Dapo Abiodun did not only absolve the newly recruited who went through due process including payment of money for forms in the civil service but approved payments of arrears from the date of their appointment with many of them receiving millions as arrears of salaries.
What a kind hearted God. A Governor who has the capacity to think on his own. A Governor who does not listen to noise from the market. A Governor who is focused on the game he is playing not listening to all sorts of instructors. A Governor who has decided not to ridicule anybody. Governor Dapo Abiodun deserves appreciation and accolades for this.
Now to what I cannot understand.
I cannot understand why His Excellency have not been going out regularly to inspect on going projects and interacting more with the people. Is it a consequence of the physical distancing protocols dictated by COVID-19 or Mr Governor is deliberately introducing another style of governance?
I hold the opinion that constant inspections will probably lead to job quality. It will afford the Governor the opportunity to interact with the people of the area where such project is sited and listened to complaints if any with the aim of taking decisions or correct insinuations. I may be wrong, but that is my personal opinion.
Finally, Covid-19, by next year celebrations should have become a thing of the past and we shall all be alive to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun by the Grace of God. It will probably be a period to roll out the drums of celebration and an opportunity of honest assessment of PDA,s performance at mid-term.
Comrade Yemisi Bamgbose was a former Permanent Secretary in Ogun State and also a former National President of RATTAWU wrote from Abeokuta.