Thursday, January 12, 2023 2:30 pm
*As he flags off re-election campaign
By Funmi Branco
Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State flagged off his re-election campaign before an unprecedentedly massive crowd in Imeko-Afon Local Government Area of the state last week, with a promise not to relent on his developmental strides, watchers of Ogun politics could not but marvel. Accompanied on the campaign tour by chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led by a former governor of the state, Chief Olusegun Osoba, the governor and the campaign train traversed Afon, Ilara and Imeko communities, received by a mammoth crowed ready to make his second term dream a reality. The atmosphere was carnival-like with song and dance, and party faithful went home with various empowerment tools and household items after raffle draws.
Speaking on the occasion, Governor Abiodun vowed to continue fulfilling his electoral promises to the letter even as he solicited encouragement by way of votes. Addressing the challenges of bad roads within the local government area, he assured the people of his administration’s readiness to reconstruct the Abeokuta-Afon road and others even as he had already constructed many roads in Yewaland. He said: “I will commence the reconstruction before the end of the election to boost the socio-economic development of this area. We reconstructed Oke-Ola Road here within stipulated period. We have been doing our projects without making noise and we will not stop doing things that make our people happy. We have constructed at least one road per local government since we came into power. The last time we witnessed such was during the administration of Chief Olusegun Osoba. We will not relent in doing more for the people of the state. I urge you to collect your Permanent Voter’s Card (PVCs) to enable you participate in te elections. The deadline for collection is January 15th. Please encourage one another to participate actively in the electoral process for continuity.”
Osoba, on his part, enthused that his trip to Imeko-Afon was a homecoming, recalling that it was his administration that provided electricity in the region. “I am happy to be here again because I brought electricity to the entire region during my tenure. This is homecoming for me. I told Governor Abiodun to emulate me and he’s doing that. I am convinced that he’s capable, so let us vote for him and all APC candidates.”
Governor Abiodun starting his re-election campaign on such a glorious note and in Yewaland was not fortuitous. He has, in the last three and a half years plus, made a massive difference in the lives of the Ogun electorate, and the excitement couldn’t have been less infectious. Besides, Yewaland has always held a special place in Governor Abiodun’s heart as a key to the industrial and business climate that the governor has sought to foster in the state. In hearing Governor Abiodun and the candidates of other political parties campaigning in an atmosphere of peace and calm, though, you cannot help but wonder if it isn’t all a dream. Things have not always been this peaceful and rosy; there was a time when politics was a risky vocation commanded by warlords in the state, and a quick flashback to Prince Abiodun’s campaign four years ago will indeed show that power belongs to God. Four years ago, Abiodun’s interest in governing his state of origin was met with stiff opposition by the powers that be. His posters across The Gateway State were torn to shreds, his billboards removed and his supporters, marked out by their yellow shirts, viciously beaten and maimed.
Things were so bad that when President Muhammadu Buhari visited the state on a campaign tour, the event was disrupted and stones were hauled at him. The president and his entourage were embarrassed and left the podium at the MKO Abiola stadium, Abeokuta, in palpable discomfiture. It was a show of shame that will not be forgotten in a hurry. Today, the same Dapo Abiodun that was harassed to no end is moving to every part of the state unmolested, controlling the paraphernalia of office in the state. He is conducting his campaign without any molestation, unlike what happened during the last campaign season. As would have become clear by now, one of the hallmarks of his administration is not to take revenge but to use everything at his disposal to stabilize the body politic of Ogun State.
Before his emergence on the scene, Ogun was one of the political hotbeds in Nigeria. Election seasons were marked by violence, attacks and, worse still, even assassinations. State-sponsored political thugs reigned supreme, unleashing violence on the opposition and destroying everything in sight. Happily, all of these things have become a thing of the past. Governor Abiodun has been able to bring a new dimension into Ogun politics. He has sought to demonstrate that you can win election without killing and maiming, destroying the billboards of opponents and ensuring that other voices are not heard. The opposition parties are doing their campaigns without any form of molestation. And quite unsurprisingly, the peaceful atmosphere has brought a lot of development, from quality roads to airports. From the revived Olokola Free Trade Zone to the Agro-Allied Airport to the many industries springing up across the state, it has been a harvest of projects in the last three and a half years.
As Governor Abiodun moves around, he is telling the people what he has been able to achieve in his first term as a promise keeper. His projects across senatorial districts and his investment drive has earned him recognition from both local and international bodies, and the Federal Government, which recently honoured him for his strides in infrastructure, and which has commended his ICT drive to other governors across the country. The lesson, really, is that he has borne all the challenges that came his way with equanimity and focused squarely on delivering the dividends of democracy to the Ogun populace. His predecessor held rallied across the state, pouring invectives on him, but he refused to be drawn into the arena, pointing out that he was elected to better the lot of Ogun State, not to fight a war. He did not declare his predecessor persona non-grata, and surely our people should learn from this. To him, it is only God that gives power and adds no sorrow to it, and power should be utilized responsibly as a tool to make the people, including naysayers, happy. All lovers of peace will appreciate the tranquility in Ogun State.
Branco contributes this piece through [email protected]
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