Dapo Abiodun: Boardroom guru as a political tactician

By John Ajayi

“He is the best leader who most fully understands the nature of things, so that his plans are not doomed to ultimate failure; who possesses an active, far-ranging imagination which can see many possibilities; who has a sense of values, so that among possibilities he is able to choose the most excellent; who has a sense of order, to give form, design and program to the values and purposes he selects; who has practical sense and judgement, and so uses the most feasible means to accomplish his ends, and who has the energy and enthusiasm to carry his plans persistently toward fruition.” Says Arthur E. Morgan

Without any equivocation, the above famous quote by Arthur Ernest Morgan, a civil engineer and one time seasoned administrator in United States of America best illustrates the unfolding politics of governance in Ogun State under the leadership of His Excellency Prince Dapo Abiodun.

Before the 2019 general elections where he emerged winner as the executive governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun had hitherto been seen and perceived by the uninitiated as a political under-dog and a “novice” in the highly combustible Nigerian political eco-system. This perception subsists largely amongst the political hawks in the state who advertently or inadvertently felt they had the control of the political future of Ogun State firmly within their megalomaniacal grips. Not only that, the fact the HE Dapo Abiodun, a renowned boardroom guru and accomplished entrepreneur who has made his marks in the Nigerian Corporate Community has style that is uniquely his has helped to some extent bolster the wrong perception. However, whatever any doubts the naysayers may have, the way and manner Prince Dapo Abiodun emerged as the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and also ultimately won the election against all odds and roadblocks mounted on his way by the then sitting governor Senator Ibikunle Amosun, speaks volumes of the political sagacity and intellectual prowess of this humble and humane Iperu-Remo born politician and tactician.

For Dapo Abiodun, when others are losing their heads, he would rather keep his away, far away to be engaged in strategic thinking.

It is generally held that most successful businessmen may not necessarily make much impact in politics, even though politics and business are interrelated. Most successful businessmen even run away from politics, as only a few have the liver to dabble into the world of the unknown, of intrigues, of betrayal, as politics has come to represent.

Even among the few, only a fragment have made a success of their foray into politics, as evidenced in the poor state of infrastructure and human development indices in the country.

Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun is one boardroom operator who has scored a huge success in the public sector, deploying his business background. Abiodun became the governor of the Gateway State in 2019. In less than two years, his impact has been felt far and near and is being felt.

He has traversed the whole gamut of the business sector, playing at the highest level. He was a guru in the security, oil and the aviation sectors of the economy. He was also the board chairman of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) at a time.

It all started in the 1990s with the establishment of a company called Innovation, dealing in wrought iron. This company had clients mainly in the banking sector, with its tentacles spread across the country, but mostly in Lagos and Abuja. It was responsible for the designing of many security apparatuses for banks and other major companies, including security gates, strong rooms as well as bullet proof vehicles.

When armed robbers held Lagos by the jugular, operating at will in the mid-1990s, Abiodun partnered with the then newly appointed Lagos State Administrator, Mohammed Buba Marwa with his company, Alarm Net. Alarm Net provided the then newly reinvigorated ‘Operation Sweep’ with modern communication gadgets, including vehicle tracking system and home alert, which greatly checkmated the free reign of hoodlums in the state.

One area the governor has been well known is the oil sector, where he has been making waves with Heyden Oil. It started with the importation of diesel and PMS (petrol) and has grown to the level of Tank Farm in Apapa, crude tanker and retail outlets across the country.

Also unknown to many, Dapo Abiodun is a player in the aviation sector with a fleet of planes for charter.

Governor Dapo Abiodun has proved cynics wrong by engaging innovative thinking in his administration’s programmes and policy execution. One of these unique ways of guaranteeing infrastructural renewal in Ogun State under his watch is leveraging on Companies Tax Credit Scheme to fund major infrastructural development.

Only recently, the debonair, soft spoken and suave politician disclosed that Globacom Nigeria would deploy its Tax Credit Scheme to fix Nigeria-Republic of Benin International road starting from Sango-Otta to the Idi-Iroko International border area.

Speaking at a virtual town hall meeting in preparation of 2022 Ogun State budget in Abeokuta at recently, Governor Abiodun noted that some strategic roads had been penciled down for reconstruction under the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme as the duo of Globacom Nigeria and Dangote Industries Limited are already taking over some roads for construction.

He said, “Otunba Micheal Adenuga is using his tax (Glo tax credit) to construct road from Sango to Ido-Iroko. Aliko Dangote is using his tax (Dangote Group tax credit) to construct roads from Ilaro to Papalanto and Sagamu Inter change.

“I believe you can see what we are doing at the Interchange, the City Gate. Dangote is also using tax credits to construct road from Ijebu-Ode, Omu-Ijebu to Itokin (in Lagos State). We are promoting tax credit to fix road infrastructure in our state.

Meanwhile, a close look at the state’s three-year budget on Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTFF) earlier prepared by the state government, coupled with projections of massive roads construction in 2022 and other capital projects, show that the state may vote between 55 percent and 65 percent for capital expenditure in year 2022 fiscal estimates.

On the day he was sworn in, the governor who cherishes calling himself “the son of a Teacher made a covenant with his people. Feeling happy and fulfilled to have emerged governor despite all the odds, Prince Dapo Abiodun said: “When I signed the Oath of Allegiance and an Oath of Office a while ago, I solemnly did so beyond being a requirement for formal assumption of office. It was much more than that. I hold it as a tripartite covenant between me and God, on one part, to serve Him and reciprocate His faithfulness through the journey so far by being a tool to bring the greatest good to the greatest number of Ogun State people, regardless of creed, gender and political affiliation.

“On the other part, it is also a covenant with the good people of Ogun State. You will always find in me conduct of Omoluabi expected of Omo Teacher; I will govern with character; I will serve you diligently and sincerely; I will make your interests the core of governance; I will neither personalise nor abuse the mandate; and I will not betray your trust!”

Abiodun has no doubt brought his private sector experience to bear in the governance of the state. This is reflected in the characteristic style of his governance. He has been deliberate in his policies and programmes and their implementation. His penchant for quality has been reflected in the many appointments he has made since his assumption of office as well as the quality of the infrastructure being provided in the Gateway State. For instance, unlike his predecessor who was mouthing ‘Ogun Road Specification’ with very poor and dismal quality, road construction in the administration of Dapo Abiodun has been second to none in terms of quality.

Apart from the provision of good network of roads as an enabler to boost the local economy, the government has been more committed in opening up the state for economic development. Taking advantage of its contiguity to Lagos, the nation’s commercial capital, Governor Abiodun has been opening up the border towns with good quality roads, which, in essence, is expected to attract investment development.

Abiodun, being a big player in the economy, believes that Ogun State should rely less on allocation from Abuja, hence his commitment to making the state a business hub with innovative policies to attract investors. One of such is tax relief for both the formal and informal sectors of the economy.

He has also made land acquisition for companies and the accompanying Certificate of Occupancy much easier. In the same vein, the administration is continuing with the execution of the Cargo Airport project which was started by his predecessor.

Above all, the Iperu-Remo Prince has been an inclusive and a political team player. He has through tact and diplomacy being able to bring about unity and harmony amongst major political gladiators in the state hitherto renowned for some political violence and bickering of immense proportions.

His major “Coup” against those who had earlier under-rated him was his ability to endear himself to strong opposition politicians in other political parties different from his own party. He has gone ahead to ensure the coming into the APC fold powerful political personalities, like the former Governor of the State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former PDP Governorship candidate, Otunba Gboyega Nasir Lawal GNI and a host of others.

Being a humble politician, he knows how to manage the ego of all he has come across since he assumed the mantle. This dynamic leadership style has further weakened the resolve of those who were initially against him and are now consistently battling to regain relevance.

He has also been able to show the naysayers that he too is made of a sterner stuff but with Beauty, Brain and Love.

The aggregation of these and many other heroic archetypal traits make Governor Dapo Abiodun perfectly fits into the Arthur E. Morgan’s famous quote. He is a boardroom guru who has turned full circle as a political tactician.

John Ajayi is a Lagos based Journalist and Public Affairs Commentator


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