Of Ogun and compassion in governance

In any part of Africa, character and family virtues have been integrally linked for generations. Particularly among the Yoruba, when anyone is born in a good home, such a person has been configured to radiate good virtues from childhood to adulthood, and even until death. Perhaps, this thought lends credence to the belief that compassion does not necessarily come with position of power: Charity and compassion for people is a function of good home training, which is why our elders say that good breeding cannot be purchased with money. But then, they also subordinate good breeding to personal self-development or personal rebirth. Governor Dapo Abiodun, in demystifying public office and shelving the vendetta characteristic of modern day Nigerian politicians, clearly exemplifies both good breeding and self-rebirth, judging by the manner in which he has steered the affairs of Ogun State. The good people of Ogun cannot be blamed for expressing the firm conviction that their darling state is in safe hands till May 29, 2023.

To say the least, Abiodun has shown leadership across the length and breadth of Ogun, without the media fanfare associated with politicians in this clime. My strong belief in the Iperu prince›s Midas touch is hinged on his typically swift response to folks that need attention. He never looks down on anyone; he is ever ready to receive the downtrodden even into the innermost chamber of his plum mansion in Iperu. I have never minced words about his generosity in any of my writings or commentaries in mainstream or social media.

For instance, he readily absorbed the over 1,000 graduates and 18 permanent secretaries who were appointed in the eleventh hour of the administration of his predecessor, Ibikunle Amosun. And despite the controversies surrounding the appointments, Abiodun ensured that the appointees kept their jobs.

His words: «Despite some flaws noted in the appointments and recruitments, my government has decided to be magnanimous as a people-centred administration, and not vindictive.”

There were reports that the 1,000 recruits, 18 permanent secretaries and 5,000 personnel -promoted on the eve of the Amosun government›s exit from power had started looking for jobs elsewhere because of the fear that Abiodun would show them the exit door, in order to spite Amosun, perceived by the majority as his worst political foe. But the business tycoon toed the path of compassion, arguing that the workers had dependants. In 2019, the man with the longest cap in Nigerian politics had played a game he couldn›t tolerate in 2011 when he came into office. Could it be a bait to make the state unmanageable for the incoming governor of Ogun State? The account of a living witness, who identified himself as Balogun, is mindboggling.

“On July 13, 2011, at around 11 in the morning, the then Governor Ibikunle Amosun announced the disengagement of 2000 newly-recruited civil servants from service. The 2000 workers were employed by the government of his predecessor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel. The reason for their sack by the Owu man was simply because they were employed by Daniel few months to the end of his tenure. We did all we could to make him reason along with us that we were duly and properly employed. We obtained forms, paid for interviews and were screened by a panel made up of 16 persons. We went to the Alake of Egbaland, Osile of Oke Ona, Agura of Gbagura, Olowu of Owu and Awujale of Ijebuland to appeal to him, but he refused our pleas.

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“Many of us are still unemployed till date. I know of some people who just relocated from Lagos to Abeokuta after the employment. But today, we have a listening governor, an easy-going person who wants the best for himself. Abiodun does not only absorb those legally and illegally employed by Amosun, he will also pay them in arrears,” he said.

Another indigene of Ogun said “I will never forget February 11, 2019, a day that coincided with the 40th birthday celebration of my younger sister. A day of terror when political intolerance reached its nadir! Many were brutalised on this fateful day when the then government supervised the removal of banners, posters and billboards of Abiodun, then candidate of APC, at the MKO stadium. The day terror was terribly unleashed on innocent party members. The day gangsters were unleashed. If our Abiodun was to behave like Amosun, perhaps those boys in ACOMORAN, AMORAN, and the butchers’ association would have been sent out of the state by now. But he will never do such.”

Indeed, Mr. Razak Ojetola, one of freshly-sworn-in permanent secretaries, said he never believed that his promotion to the pinnacle of his career would be ratified by the Abiodun government. Ojetola called himself “a son of nobody who knows nobody at the top.”

He added: “I am the first in my native town, Imasai, in Yewa North Local Government, to become a permanent secretary.”

In yet another departure from the norm, he has so far not made any of his relatives a commissioner, adviser or an assistant. Rather, the Iperu-born oil mogul scouted for successful technocrats from home and abroad, invited and engaged them to deploy their rich reservoir of experience, without giving attention to political affiliation. At the inception of his administration, he extended the hands of fellowship to fellow contestants in the opposition parties in the 2019 gubernatorial poll. They, in turn, sent congratulatory messages. He has since included opposition party members in some committees.

Recently, stalwarts of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and African Democratic Congress (ADC) led thousands of their followers to join the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun. This is not unconnected with the all-inclusive approach of this government. Abiodun did not stop at embracing and welcoming them in their large numbers, he went on to call on those willing to return to the party to rejoin through the front door. He is a man that never discriminates, but is ever-ready to work in collaboration with anyone willing to join in the effort to restore Ogun’s glory. This has given credence to the slogan of his administration: Igbega Ipinle Ogun, Ajose gbogbo Wa Ni. Truly, he is working in this direction of collectiveness. And when we thought we had seen it all, Prince Abiodun, during the swearing-in ceremony of local government caretaker committees, announced the widow of late Ipokia Local Government caretaker chairman-nominee as the secretary of the newly inaugurated caretaker committee. Or what else could compensate for such a great loss?

Prince Abiodun, indeed, reaffirmed that his administration would continue to be just, equitable, and fair to all manner of people.

“We are not an administration here to witch-hunt anybody. My agreement is with God, myself and all the people of Ogun State who voted me into office. Anything I do, I do it with a clean conscience. I just want to charge all of you that now that we have given you this opportunity, please, make sure that you justify it, do not do anything that will give us cause to regret the day we decided to absorb you. We expect that you will be role models in all the areas where you will be serving,” he admonished.

Lawal is Special Assistant to Governor Abiodun on Youth and Sports.



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