2023 Presidential Elections: Abiodun Worked Against Me for Supporting Tinubu- Daniel

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The Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District, Otunba Gbenga Daniel popularly known as OGD, has revealed in an interview with THISDAY that the Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun has been at loggerheads with him over his decision to back Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the 2023 presidential election.

According to Daniel, while he decided to support Tinubu, who he called their “overall” boss, for the ticket of the All Progressives Congress, Abiodun, also a member of APC, had a different view. Though he did not categorically mention that the incumbent Ogun State Governor backed the then Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), who also sought the APC flag for the presidential election, the renowned businessman told THISDAY that there was another contender for the presidency who was the Attorney General of Tinubu when he was two term Governor of Lagos State.

It will be recalled that Osinbajo served as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice for eight years when Tinubu was Lagos State Governor. Daniel told THISDAY that another presidential contender was Asiwaju’s attorney general for eight years who also happens to be his good friend and brother.

“I share a bias that if there is anything between you and your boss, let the boss have it. For me, it is difficult not to support Asiwaju’s presidency because he is our overall boss. That is different from the position of my governor. But I understand where he was coming from, he was not really one of us at the beginning of the transition in 1998/1999.The contest did not go the way my governor wanted.”, Daniel noted.

Daniel said his campaign for Tinubu started three years before the APC presidential primaries. He said this was why he left the Peoples Democratic Party, where he served as the Director General of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Council for the 2019 polls.

He told THISADY: “We have been on it for quite a long time. In fact, the first meeting I held about Asiwaju’s presidential aspiration was three years ago. I invited a good number of Yoruba intelligentsia for that meeting. One of the invitees was my friend, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, now of blessed memory. There was another man called Mogaji in Ibadan who was also in that meeting.

“I told them that we needed to think of what else to do. I also told them that it seemed APC had an unwritten understanding that after President (Muhammadu) Buhari, the presidency would come to the South West. If you look at all presidential aspirants from the South West, Asiwaju towers above them all. I told them that my position was to think about how we could support Asiwaju for the presidency. I remember Odumakin was very angry at me and really abused me at the meeting. Unfortunately, he is no longer alive. I have always known what I wanted to do from the beginning. When it was time to run for the Senate, we did what we had to do”, Daniel said

Dapo Abiodun sponsored another prominent Ijebu son against OGD with the backing of Osinbajo. However, Otunba Daniel won the primaries by a landslide.

While he polled 450 votes, the then incumbent, Senator Lekan Mustapha, scored 29 votes, former Deputy Governor Segun Adesegun had 13 votes and Osinbajo and Abiodun-backed Oduntan came fourth having garnered 12 votes. Daniel said the opposition to his senatorial ambition was his support for Tinubu ahead of the primaries.

He told THISDAY: “If what you are saying is correct, I think the genesis is connected to my unflinching for Asiwaju’s presidency.

“A lot of people do not know and continue to make statements without understanding the genesis. At that time, my governor had a different view. At the primary, my governor had his team.

“As God would have it, a good number of his people are firmly with us. We sat in Abuja and decided that we would all vote for Asiwaju. For me, it was difficult not to support Asiwaju because we can call Asiwaju our overall boss.

“When we won elections in 1999, I served him in the Transition Committee. I was the Chairman of the sub-committee on infrastructure. We can therefore say that Asiwaju is our overall boss. Another presidential contender was Asiwaju’s attorney general for eight years. He also happened to be my good friend and brother. I share a bias that if there is anything between you and your boss, let the boss have it.

“For me, it is difficult not to support Asiwaju’s presidency because he is our overall boss. That is different from the position of my governor. But I understand where he was coming from, he was not really one of us at the beginning of the transition in 1998/1999.

Daniel’s support for Tinubu also reflected in the votes garnered by the former Lagos State Governor in the APC presidential primaries as the delegates from the Ogun State were with him instead of Osinbajo. Tinubu won the primaries with a landslide.

Asked why the party recorded a landslide in the presidential election but struggled in the governorship poll where Abiodun was the candidate of the APC, Daniel told THISDAY: “A lot of people did not really understand that we had difficulty starting the campaign of my governor. First, the 2019 election was not an overwhelming victory for the governor. He won with only 19,000 votes.

“When I compared that with when I contested the governorship election 20 years ago, my margin of victory was over 200,000. With a win of 19,000, it was not an overwhelming victory. It simply means there was a hot contest somewhere.

“The last election was a bit different. Virtually all the contending parties agreed to support Asiwaju in the presidential election. In my own senatorial election, virtually all the contending parties agreed to work for me. When we had the first elections, everybody went the same way. But the governorship election was different.

“If my governor will go beyond what some people whispered to him, he should be able to see what went wrong. His election was keenly contested between him and his kinsman in Iperu. Both of them are in the same ward, town and Federal Constituency.

“There was indeed a contest. Some people must find excuses for what happened. The party was not doing well. His victory in other locations was marginal. We all know why the party was not doing well.

“First, the rating of former President Muhammadu Buhari has gone low because he failed to tackle insecurity as people expected. People also expected that he would have brought inflation down. But that did not happen. People are unhappy with the collapse of Naira.

“All people expected under former President Buhari did not happen. Aside, Buhari was no longer a factor during that election. The people of Ogun State were also complaining. I am in a position to know because I have my network across the state. I know a lot of people were not particularly excited about his election.

“Civil servants have the issue of unpaid allowances. Teachers too have their own issues with him. Pensioners have issues with the governor. To make the matter worse, my governor had to contest with his brother. As a result, Remo Nation was divided into two. That was what happened in the Ogun East.

“I thought that the governor should have taken those issues more seriously. Building on the euphoria of the first election, we had an overwhelming victory.

“But people’s perception about the presidential election was different.People were warning us as we were going from place to place. People kept telling us that they would support Asiwaju. But they said we should leave them to take their decision during the governorship elections.

“The governor cannot tell me that he was not aware of the sentiment in the street and most unfortunately he relied more on sycophants and the fabricated stories they fed him with.”

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