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Opinion: 60 years Of God’s Grace: The Amazing Story Of Gov. Dapo Abiodun-Lanre Alfred



By Lanre Alfred
Among friends and associates in the exclusive circle of Prince Dapo Abiodun, Governor of Ogun State, the word ‘O sele’ needs no explanation except you don’t fall into either category. Those who know – know that it is a favourite slogan of Prince Abiodun (before he became governor), which means ‘It happened.’ Every accomplishment or acquisition was heralded with a gleeful ‘O Sele’.
So, to God be the glory, May 29th, 2019, happened. For over five decades, however, the date held a different kind of significance for him. It is his birth date.
 This year’s May 29th is even more symbolic because Prince Dapo Abiodun turns 60 on the same day he would be celebrating his first anniversary as the Governor of Ogun State.
Indeed, he could not have got a greater and more befitting 59th birthday gift in 2019 than his inauguration as the democratically elected governor of the Gateway State – a fitting denouement to an episodic political journey which began about three decades ago. Governor Abiodun’s life offers interminable lessons on the beauty and benefits of resolve, compassion, unpretentious generousity and family values. I know.
“A man is nothing without his virtues”, he argues. Thus, he endeavours to do good. But his deeds are done not as an apology or extenuation of his fortune and citizenship of the world. While many a rich man propagates virtues as penances for the inactions of the world’s privileged divide, he imbibes and perpetuates the culture of goodness not out of a frantic zeal to apologize or expiate the perceived frailties of his rich, privileged divide; he does his thing because it is an intrinsic part of his humanity.
Since I made his acquaintance about 12 years ago, our relationship has blossomed into a bond emblematic of the best form of filial devotion and affection. I met him first through a senior colleague and later, more intimately through a mutual friend. I would discover that beneath the glitz and glamour of being a successful businessman with all the accoutrements of fame and fortune at his beck and call, he is humane and humble. He is imbued with nonpareil intelligence, a clear-thinking, analytical mind, quick wit and sheer oratorical skills. Governor Abiodun is one of the very few people I know that can never be blindsided or fazed by any eventuality. His calmness and infinite optimism even in the face of life’s greatest odds are inspiring and worthy of the respect and aspiration of coming generations.
As a young businessman, DA, as he is fondly called, was elected a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the platform of the defunct United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP) in 1993. He was just 33years old. However, the military incursion of that year led by the despotic General Sani Abacha truncated that democratic process. The Iperu Remo Prince never gave up. While succeeding in business, he never abdicated politics. Circa 1998, he joined other like-minded Nigerians to start the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State. In 2002, he lost the governorship primary of the PDP to his bosom friend, Otunba Gbenga Daniel who went on to govern for two terms. Prince Dapo bade his time.
When he contested to represent Ogun East Senatorial District in 2015, I worked closely with him and came to the conclusion that but for passion and genuine humaneness, he didn’t have any business in the dog-eat-dog game of politics. He lost the election but never lost the passion to make life better for humanity.
Some years after, when he told me that he would be contesting for the governorship, I did not hesitate to buy into his clear-cut vision to make Ogun State a primus inter pares and build a better future for its people and posterity.
 I formed a group called the Dapo Abiodun Alliance Group, DAAG, with some brilliant young minds who also share his vision. We combed the nook and cranny of Ogun State, propagating the ideals of Prince Dapo Abiodun. Even when it became too hot for us, we were motivated by a shared belief in his mission. It was quite an experience. Thankfully, he won the election!
That relentless spirit has, indeed, paid off. It is the same spirit that has guided him through the bittersweet, cut-throat world of global commerce until he emerged unscathed and undaunted in spirit and resolve like a champion. His story is indeed worth telling and retelling for posterity. And I am honoured for the rare privilege to pen this timeless tribute to a man of substance and immeasurable worth.
Unlike other billionaires that one met in the course of life’s peregrination, the very sociable and likeable Prince never treats anyone as a minion or stranger hence, his friendly disposition to everyone, which makes people feel very comfortable in his company. I have travelled with him within and outside Nigeria; enjoyed his hospitality and bonhomie, and benefitted immensely from his well of wisdom. I felt welcomed in his company at all times in those early days of our acquaintanceship. Apart from giving you a sense of true belonging whenever and wherever your path crosses with his, he never shies away from introducing you to his high profile contacts. And he always has good words to say about one.
Being the governor of a State like Ogun has further shown and convinced me that he is a very focused and driven leader and that those personal attributes are inherent, not superficial. He can be described as a ‘good headache’ because he will push and drive you while bringing out the best in you. I would come to understand that what Governor Abiodun envisions for Ogun State drives his pursuits while his yearning for progress pits him against the odds that he inherited. Therefore, he is focused on making the remaining years of his stewardship the best for the people of the state. To actualise his goals, the governor is exploring every avenue to attract growth and progress for Ogun State; and, he has been hands-on and virtually omnipresent in all areas of the state’s life with laudable schemes and visible projects dotting the landscape of the state.
Born in Sagamu, Ogun State, he started his early education in the rustic township. His parents were teachers who taught in the same community. As a kid, he learnt a lot from his parents. From his father, Elder Abiodun, he learnt humility, sacrifice, tact, wisdom and patience. Whatever he learnt from his father was reinforced by his mother. Both parents schooled and fed him on a diet of tough love and inexorable compassion. They taught him to value every human life and relationship.
Even now, he relives the sparks of magic and tufts of grace wrought in his psyche by his exceedingly principled and loving parents. His life as a child was brilliant with sunshine. As the sun emblazons the sky in beams of gold and brightens the earth with brilliant spokes, his parents’ love radiated all over him and imbued him with something of the fabled beauty of Eden and the charm of Neverland. But His parents had no trust fund to bequeath to him. The only fortune he inherited from them was character.
One star-spangled night many years ago, in his baronial Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos home, he recalled, “I must tell you that I come from a very humble background and my parents are still living. My parents were teachers and I did not inherit any money from anybody. My story is such that let me say, if I can be where I am today, anybody can be here, I mean, anybody. And it goes a long way to show that you don’t have to have been born by a rich father or mother to be successful in life. My grandfather never believed that he would have a grandson who would be where I am today. “Where I am today is just by the special grace of God. God just wanted to change the situation of my family and I think that is why he has raised me to be a blessing to my home.”
In the pursuit of glory, Prince Dapo learnt to thrive like a lily in unimaginable valleys. Like white rose growing on concrete slabs or the daring mushroom that pierces the motionless eternity of earth, pushing clearly but obstinately, through faint form, till the hour of fertility strikes, he sought to flourish where many had cowed to defeat. He knew quite early in life that his humble roots should inspire him to success rather than become a burden and impediment to his spirited strides to success. He understood that to learn even the quarter of a breeze, he must hold up a wet finger. Hence, he pursued knowledge to his advantage.
However, his ascent on the steep slope of entrepreneurial success and acclaim didn’t lie out in flat miles. It was replete with rigours and daunting challenges. But he towered above all odds to become a successful magnate with vested interests in the global oil and real estate sectors. His success is attributable to hard, valuable lessons from his parents. Among other things, he learnt that there was no wisdom in waiting to see asters bloom on barren land. He understood that foresight in moving out of his comfort zone in search of greener pasture. Guided by the priceless wisdom of the aged, he left home to seek his fortune elsewhere – he knew perfectly well that only an oyster remains forever at the old homestead. He proceeded to establish himself and started Heyden Petroleum Limited (HPL) with a vision to become a leading global energy and services company. He also sought to create an effective corporate structure to consolidate on growth and his core interest in energy, power and construction.
Revered at home and recognised abroad for his protean productivity and impeccable business foresight, spotting goldmine where many see land mines, he also understands that politics is far too precious and fundamental to be left to the wiles and exploits of villainous characters. Thus, his belief that the doctrine of altruism and love must be preached as a counteraction to the doctrine of hate and greed that has overtime become the norm in political circuits. Virtues, according to him, should be in the popular estimate, the rule guiding human conduct in business, social and political circuits rather than the exception.
At a time when it is generally believed that one has to be a lowbrow, an incorrigible liar and a bit of a murderer, to be a politician, he ventured into politics to improve lives yet unwilling to see people sacrificed and slaughtered for the sake of his ambition. In the estimation of many friends and associates, he is cut out for greater roles in the affairs of the country but rather than get high on the wings of the lofty hopes about him, he has chosen to begin his humble ascent in the corridors of power by connecting with his people from the grassroots.
Many people have benefitted in no small measure from the benevolence of his heart and sipped from the fountain of his experience, it is only expedient to extol the virtues of this great man without any recourse to sophistry or gratuitous ornamentation.
In politics, Governor Abiodun has been a roaring success and the people of Ogun State can attest to this. In the business world, you cannot question his place in the clan of Nigeria’s successful business tycoons. And his domestic felicity will continue to make younger people run to him for tips.
Happy birthday, The Special One!

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Fuel Subsidy Removal: FG, Labour Meeting Ends in Deadlock




Talks between the Federal Government and organised labour over the removal of fuel subsidy ended in a deadlock on Wednesday as they failed to reach a consensus following the hike in petrol pump prices to over N700 from N195 per litre by oil marketers.

The hours-long meeting which was held at the Presidential Villa was to, among other things, prevent a labour crisis following the recent increase in the petrol pump price occasioned by the discontinuance of petroleum subsidy.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited said it had adjusted the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit to reflect the market realities. The agency, however, failed to state the new prices of petrol.

However, several retails outlets sold the product between 600 and N800 in Lagos, Abuja , Ogun and some other states.

The National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, pointed out that the hike in the cost of PMS would trigger galloping inflation in the country, stressing that some outlets in the South-East were currently dispensing the product at N1,200/l.

Ukadike stated, “Once NNPCL retail stations have adjusted their pumps to reflect the new price, there is nothing you can do about it; that is the new price. As I speak with you, all of them are now selling at the new prices. The situation is so bad, that somewhere in Ebonyi State our members informed us that it is now N1,200/litre.

“We thought the President would remove the subsidy through a seamless means because the source of this petrol is the NNPCL. They are the ones subsidising petroleum products, they are the people who use their revenue to subsidise this product.’’

The IPMAN spokesperson expressed worry over the rate of increase in inflation and hardship that would come as a result of the latest hike in petrol price.

“This hike in petrol price will definitely lead to galloping inflation and will worsen the hardship already being faced by the Nigerian masses. It is not something to cheer about. It came as a surprise and in the coming days, we will see the very harsh ripple effects,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Ukadike has called on the Federal Government and the NNPCL to give other marketers the opportunity to start importing petrol in order to create competition in the sector.

“The NNPCL is importing and has not given people the opportunity to join them in importing so as to see whether private sector operators can import the product cheaper or not. So there is no competition. In a deregulated regime, there must be competition, everyone with capacity should be allowed to import,” the IPMAN official stated.

When asked whether other marketers could resume imports since the government had finally deregulated petrol prices, Ukadike replied, “Marketers can import, but let me tell you some of the factors militating against this. The first is that there won’t be availability of dollars.

“You will source your dollar from the parallel market and if you are not careful in doing this, and you go into the importation of petroleum products, you might not ‘come out of it alive’ at the end of the day.

“So what we are saying is that those advantages that NNPCL has, should be shared with other major importers of petroleum products. If it is through crude buy-back, they should let us know so that independent players such as IPMAN members can come together and be able to use it in the buy-back model.’’

He added, “For independent marketers, the most important thing is that there should be availability of petroleum products, and the government should open up the space for importers and investors to come in.”

NNPCL, the sole importer of petrol into Nigeria for several years running, confirmed the hike in petrol price in a statement and a new pricing template released to marketers nationwide.

But the move has sparked a groundswell of anger across the nation with the Nigeria Labour Congress demanding an immediate reversal of the decision.

The union also said it would hold an emergency meeting on Friday on the fuel price increase which had triggered hoarding and scarcity across the country with attendant rise in transport fares, goods and services.

The fuel price hike by the oil firm is coming 72 hours after President Bola Tinubu declared in his inaugural address on Monday that the subsidy regime had ended.

To pacify the growing anger over the situation, the FG hastily summoned some labour leaders to a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday evening.

The meeting had in attendance the NLC President, Joe Ajaero and his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Festus Osifo, former NLC President and immediate past governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPCL, Mele Kyari, and others, however, ended in a deadlock as the labour and government teams failed to reach a consensus.

Speaking at the end of the meeting, Joe Ajaero, said “As far as labour is concerned, we didn’t have a consensus in this meeting.”

He faulted the NNPCL over an official release published hours earlier reviewing the petrol pump price in its filling stations nationwide.

He said the move puts the labour unions in a difficult position on the negational table.

“That’s the principle of negotiation. You don’t put the partner, ask them to negotiate under gunpoint. The prayer of the NLC is that we go back to the status quo, negotiate, think of alternatives and all the effects and how to manage the effects this action is going to have on the people. If it is an action that must take off.

“The subsidy provision has been made up to the end of June. And before then, conscious people, labour management, and the government should be able to think of what will happen at the end of June. You don’t start it before the time,” Ajaero said.

The Punch

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Breaking: Founder, DAAR Communications, Raymond Dokpesi is Dead




By Eric Elezuo

The Founder of DAAR Communications, owners of the foremost radio and television stations in Nigeria, Raypower and African Independent Television (AIT), High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, is dead.

Reliable sources said the High Chief died while exercising on a treadmill on Monday afternoon.

The source said Dopkesi suffered a stroke some weeks ago.

Details soon…

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I Stand on Rule of Law, with Our Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, PDP, Says Dele Momodu




By Eric Elezuo

Frontline journalist and Director of Strategic Communications of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Council in the just concluded Presidential election, Chief Dele Momodu, had said that he remains a loyal member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and will always stand on the side of rule of law, and with the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Momodu made the revelations in a statement he signed himself, noting that the last election, which brought Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to power, was savagely manipulated by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

He praised the steps Atiku, and the presidential candidate of the Labour candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, have taken in seeking legal redress.

The statement in details:


My position on the state of our country NIGERIA is simple and straightforward. I’m a loyal member of PDP who owes absolute allegiance to Nigeria and its Rule of Law. My political party PDP and others passionately hold the view that the last Presidential election was savagely manipulated by the ruling party APC and the cases are already in courts. Nothing will make me abandon my party on the altar of convenience and profit. Win or lose, I will continue to stand on this principle without any malice or prejudice against those who think otherwise. Democracy is a game of choice and I’m resolutely standing by our candidate, the former Vice President ALHAJI ATIKU ABUBAKAR (GCON) who has taken the honorable and peaceful step of going to court to seek redress. This is the only way we can deepen our hard earned Democracy. Sacrifice is not always convenient but painful.

I salute and respect The Wazirin Adamawa and others like my dear friend and Brother, former Governor Peter Obi, the Labor Party Presidential candidate, for promoting the best tenets of Democracy in Nigeria and I’m willing to encourage them rather than discourage their onerous quests…


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