Ogun Ex-Gov., His Excellency Otunba Gbenga Daniel, OGD
By: Segun Showunmi
There is no doubt that Otunba Justus Olugbenga Daniel is an enigma. Too many signs and evidence abound that makes it crystal clear. The ones we learnt from a consistent narrative of his early days as a brilliant student in Baptist Boys High School, Abeokuta, to the Awojobi Scholar Fellowship in the University of Lagos, to the youthful member of the Obafemi Awolowo think-tank, recalling the speedy rise in engineering career, necessitating many traditional garland, the high point being the Yoruba ancestral title from the cradle in ile-ife decades ago. Reflecting your role in many a pan-Yoruba leadership organization from Afenifere, to the inspiration behind the Yoruba Council of Elders, there is ample evidence of why one can state without equivocation that indeed your are an enigma.
I recall with nostalgia the intention captured in your book “land of my dreams” a manual of what our shared heritage Ogun can become. I am mindful that historians would be better judges of how much of the intention was achieved while you held sway as governor of Ogun State. I will nevertheless say that you pioneered many an idea that is today taken for granted; traffic management at the subnational levels, huge efforts at human capital development, unparalleled response and connect to citizens, dramatic and stylized mobilization and campaigns, structured integration of the traditional councils in governance, uncanny ability to build teams and find fresh talents. Surely, history will do justice to your sojourn in politics which really to the discerning is truly the history of a people in the making.
Now that you have arrived at the ripe age of 65, having meandered the complicated and often not so straight forward terrain of our version of politics, I wish to say that you know you can take my love and respect for granted. Had you been of glass jaws, I am sure I won’t engage you as I do, I engage you the way I do, for I am clear eyed enough to know that you must carry a bigger burden than your peers as a result of the enablement and enduement from above.
It is normal for society to project both its fears and hope on its stars and without a doubt you are a generational star, and may the good lord never let you dim prematurely.
I would not be satisfied if I do not bring up a few contemporary issues in our beloved country. Four issues deserves our reflections with a view to finding some probably solutions.
1. National Cohesion is at such a low ebb, it threatens our very existence and shared brotherhood as people of African descent within the confines of Nigeria.
2. Our values as a people have fallen below acceptable levels that one gets a sense that massive national reorientation has become urgent, for a people who stand for nothing will sure fall for anything and everything.
3. We have unacceptable levels of unemployment, at the last check it is said to be the highest in the world. Although I do not readily accept the metrics, for I am mindful and suspicious of how the data was collected having spent time looking at research work titled factfulness which clearly indicates that we may not be where we wish but significant improvement has occurred in Africa. Nevertheless, we must accept that whatever the real numbers maybe, we have to rethink our models for making our people engage.
4. Insecurity: I left this most important agenda issue as the last for it deserves the most urgent attention, I posit that the first three issues contribute to the challenge of insecurity especially the tribalization and ethnicization of crime which makes managing insecurity in a country like ours all the more complex.
I charge you to lend your brilliant mind to some of these challenges, for nations must rely on its thinkers to think it out of situations.
I pray for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Admonishing you from the book of proverbs 10:27, that the “fear of the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be shortened”.
Many happy returns to the Otunba Obalofin Owelenkeri of Ijebu land. May you finish strong.