Gbenga Daniel’s accomplished contract with Ogun
When Justus Olugbenga Daniel, popularly called OGD (Otunba Gbenga Daniel) took the driver’s seat as the third democratically elected Governor of Ogun State, he armed himself with a blueprint titled “My Contract with the people of Ogun State.” With this, he got cracking on the dualisation of the Abeokuta-Kobape-Siun-Sagamu highway, turning it into a 37.5 -kilometre express road. That was once upon a time, but the positive effect is everlasting on the people of Orile Imo along Abeokuta to Sagamu road in Ogun State; hitherto a somewhat somnolent settlement. The few houses in that village were typically rural, built of mud (mostly dilapidated) with thatched roofs. Apart from the inhabitant farmers and petty traders, indigenes of this community rarely passed the night when they visited, as there was no electricity too. The story changed in the year 2003.
A mechanical engineer, Olugbenga Daniel saw from the feasibility studies, that the mud houses along this road had to be dismantled to give way for innovation. The usual practice in government was to mark out such houses, demolish, get the job on course and pay some compensation to the affected landlords who have original documents to prove ownership. The then governor decided to jettison the old system, and instead showed his design to his Special Adviser on Works and Infrastructure, Kehinde Osikoya, who doubled as Chief Executive Officer of Ogun Road Management Agency (OGROMA), a new agency made up engineers and other technical experts in the public service of Ogun State.
His directive was that the residents of Orile Imo and other adjoining settlements whose mud houses will be affected should first be provided with newly built interlock red brick bungalows with modern toilets, complete with electrification of their homes and after being resettled, the mud houses can then be demolished and road construction should then commence.
This simple directive in 2003 turned around the fortune of Orile Imo, turning it into a bubbling village with modern facilities. Their Lagos and Ibadan based relatives, including those in the Diaspora, began returning home to erect additional new houses while some residents of Orile Imo whose mud houses were far from the road and were not marked for demolition were trooping to the Governor’s Office, lobbying that their shanties should be demolished and replaced with this new luck OGD bonanza houses. It is a classic example of solving the problems of the general public with a human face.
This 13th Executive Governor of Ogun State who turns 60 today Wednesday, April 6, 2016 did not only dualise Abeokuta-Sagamu road, Lalubu road and a host of others, but commenced an aggressive road construction and rehabilitation exercise in the 236 wards of Ogun State. Electrification of roads in major cities was part of his programmes and he succeeded in persuading the Federal Government to erect the first flyover bridge in Ogun State at Sango.
With his business unusual approach, he penetrated the private sector to partner with the government to industrialise the state and provide jobs for thousands of people. Nestle Foods, Dangote Cement at Ibese, Multirex Cocoa Industry, Coleman Wire & Cable and several other investments were attracted to Ogun State by his administration. He embarked on Agri Cargo airport to a point, brought in a lot of Chinese Investors, commenced the Olokola deep seaport project as well as Ogun Guadong.
The zeal at which he drove the national sporting event, Gateway Games in 2006 remains unparalleled in the history of National Sports in Nigeria. What is of more importance to the people of Ogun State, especially in Abeokuta was that it enhanced commerce to an unprecedented level. His eight years administration featured the building of new stadia at Ijebu-Ode, Sagamu and Ilaro; and he transformed the existing MKO Abiola Stadium in Abeokuta.
That Ogun State has the record of having the first University of Education in Nigeria is to the credit of his administration. Under his administration the area boys and girls became “good boys and girls” earning monthly salaries as painters under the Ogun Employment Generating Programme (OGEGEP). University graduates scouting for job were given allowances and were engaged by the government to work on certain days while searching for job. He ensured employment of thousands of school leavers and graduates by the Public Service of Ogun State during his tenure. Artisans benefitted immensely from his administration as they were freely provided with sewing machines, hair dressers, generators, etc to enhance their trade.
Housing programme under Daniel’s administration changed entirely the face of Abeokuta and other major cities. The Olusegun Obasanjo Hilltop Estate, the OGD workers estate (which made 1000 civil servants of all grades including drivers and messengers to become landlord and landladies), the new phases of the state secretariat and other estates that were public/private ventures were part of the package.
In the area of tourism, he transformed Olumo Rock, turning it into a money-spinning machine with the introduction of an elevator to take tourists to the top of the rock which a lot of people dread to get to manually. Bilikisu Sugbon shrine at Oke Eri in Ijebu also got a facelift and adire dresses were aggressively promoted. During his tenure, three former Presidents of Nigeria, namely, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Late Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan came to commission monumental projects.
A brilliant and charismatic personality with his trademark smile, and black cap, Daniel is in love with debates and strategy sessions. This favourite student of Late Professor Ayodele Awojobi brought in an appreciable number of technocrats to complement politicians in moving the state forward.
Born on April 6, 1956 to Late Bishop Adebola Daniel and Late Princess Esther Olaitan Daniel, he is married to Yeye Olufunke Daniel (a study in human relations) and is blessed with children. He attended Baptist Boys High School, Abeokuta and University of Lagos where he bagged a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s in Business Administration.
As a politician, Otunba Daniel is principled, a go-getter, dynamic leader and a gentleman.
• Ogunbambo, a journalist and public affairs analyst was a member of Ogun State extended State Executive Council in Daniel’s administration.