20th January, 2014
Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former governor of Ogun State, speaks on his time in office and his new relationship with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu
You are a leader of PDP, but you have been romancing the Labour Party, LP, which already has three governorship aspirants. How do you intend to ensure that the selection of the party’s governorship candidate does not result in acrimony?
When a party has many candidates, it means the party is getting increasingly popular. So, it is actually a positive development. But each one of these people is eminently qualified to govern the state. No decision has been taken on what the process of emergence will be and I am not in a position to unilaterally say anything about that. Let me assure you that in the next few weeks, we will be getting a lot more about the activities about the Labour Party in Ogun State.
What is your view of the unsavoury developments in the PDP?
All the political parties in the country are facing major challenges. The PDP has a lot of challenges, but make no mistake about it, APC also has a lot of challenges. Probably most of APC’s challenges are not being reported in the media. But if you do a little bit of investigation, you will find out that they also have a lot of challenges. Let’s put it this way: Once upon a time, a military president introduced a two-party system and maybe what you are looking at now is a slow but gradual migration towards that direction. In any case, some people feel that the number of political parties in our country is beyond what we can handle. It may just not be a totally a bad thing that many parties are coming together. We may end up with two or three strong parties, which I think is what is good for our country.
If you look at the history of Nigeria, in the First Republic, there were three major parties: NCNC, NPC and the Action Group.
You claim to be in Labour Party and yet, you are saying your loyalty is to President Goodluck Jonathan, a member of your presumed former party, PDP. How is this working out?
I am still repeating that I stand solidly behind President Goodluck Jonathan and I remain consistent about that. If you ask me a hundred times, you will get the same answer, which you can interpret the way you like.
In recent times, you have been fraternising former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Have you resolved your differences with him or are you planning to move to APC?
As you are aware, we had a good relationship in the past. I think what happened was in the realm of politics. We were operating under the same banner and I thought it was in national interest that we should play national politics. I left to join the PDP and probably the aftermath of that political game was what you saw play out. But beyond that, we have always been very good friends. Our friendship goes back a long way. If we both wake up one day and say enough of all these fights, are you not happy about it? I think that is what has happened. We all are not getting younger and we felt that the time has come for us to stop you journalists from coming in between us. This is precisely what happened.
You’ve bee flitting from one party to another, apparently because you want to go to the Senate…
I don’t know why everybody is so much in that. I think the important thing for us is to build the party. Let us build the party without any colour, without undue ambition and once the party is well built, I can assure you that anybody that is fielded for any post will be voted for by the people.
How would you assess the administration of Governor Ibikunle Amosun?
Let me say that we are not here to evaluate the administration of Governor Ibikunle Amosun. If you remember accurately, after the election in 2011, I declared that the election had been fought, won and lost and the people of Ogun State should support the new administration. That, for me, is how it should be. So far, you have seen that we have not evaluated the administration. We are taking down notes. By the time they are three years in office, we’d be able to bring out the figures in black and white and the evaluation would be properly done.
What do you have to say about your prosecution for alleged corruption while in office?
The matter is in court and as you are aware, when a case is in court, it becomes subjudice for anybody to make comments about it.
During your time as the governor, you were accused of running a killer squad, which made your successor set up a commission to look into all the human rights violations of that era. What is your reaction to this?
I want to plead with you not to talk about killings in Ogun State because there were no killings. But if you say there were killings, I expect you to give me the names of those killed and we will now begin to answer. In all of my eight years, I am not aware of any single political killing in Ogun State. I have not seen the report of the inquiry. What I have been hearing is that Yeye OIufunke slapped somebody. I don’t know how slapping somebody is the same as killing and I also don’t know how a woman surrounded by policemen and SSS officers would slap somebody. To the best of my knowledge, there was no single killing in Ogun State. There was no need to kill because we didn’t come to Ogun State to kill. But we are not unaware that in the course of my administration, all manner of things happened; all manner of lies were told and they used some people in the media. We have moved on because a number of people found out that it is not true.
.Published by TheNEWS magazine