In many states across the country, sitting Governors are hardly on talking terms with their predecessors, including those who facilitated their emergence in the first place. Quarrels usually break out when former governors forget they have left the saddle and would want to breathe down the necks of the new men, especially on issues to do with money and allocation of political offices.
It is a different story in Ogun State. In the past twelve years since he left office as Governor, Gbenga Daniel has squared up with his successor, Ibikunle Amosun and the present Governor Dapo Abiodun, mainly over issues to do with his personal interests and the open contempt for the government he once headed.
He picks unnecessary quarrels, alleges victimization where there is none and has generally not managed well, his relationships with Governors that came after him.
The brouhaha over the partial demolition of Datkem Plaza, a 5-storey shopping complex owned by his family arises from such lawlessness, a wrong sense of entitlement and a misplaced belief that being a former governor makes him above the law.
Although the government of Prince Dapo Abiodun has gone to great length to state the facts behind the demolition and how it is about law, order and public safety, the former wound rather trade unnecessary blames and cook up an allegation that he is a victim of political witch-hunt.
It all smacks of blackmail against Governor Abiodun who, in recent past, stuck out his neck to save the popular Conference Hotels, Abeokuta, which was marked for demolition by the immediate past government. The hotel which belongs to the former governor, is now a flourishing concern.
The demolition of Datkem Plaza which occurred penultimate Sunday, brings to the fore the recurring incidents of mismanaged relationship between the former governor who now represents Ogun Central in the Nigerian Senate, as leaders of his state. After he had a running battle with his successor in office, Ibikunle Amosun over a similar issue of unapproved construction, many consider his present confrontation with the present governor as one too many. Daniel may indeed be thinking of himself as one VIP that is above the law.
The allegation that Governor Abiodun - rather than acting to prevent an unsavoury development and save lives - is on a political witch-hunt, raises other issues of their own. may have forgotten that it was the same Dapo Abiodun who extricated him from a similar web involving Conference Hotel during the tenure of Governor Ibikunle Amosun.
On assumption of office in 2019 as Ogun State governor, Abiodun not only allowed Daniel to move back to site, he facilitated the completion of that project despite different court actions and EFCC charges hanging around the project. He would eventually go to commission the project alongside the former vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
It is anybody’s guess why a former governor and a serving Senator would always be found on the other side of the law, especially when his personal or family projects, like Datkem Plaza, are concerned. But to now accuse a governor who previously saved such a project from demolition of victimization and political vendetta is not only uncharitable, to say the least.
It is the height of impunity if indeed DATKEM had submitted an application for an office building in 2009 with registration number CB/05/299/2009 and had gone ahead to deviate from the stated parameters by construction instead, a building that did not conform with the plan granted. At a time the public is concerned about the frequent incidents of building collapse which have claimed hundreds of lives and caused incalculable damage over the years, the building was allegedly modified and enlarged with an additional storey building at the back, without authorization.
The question is: why does Distinguished Senator Gbenga Daniel believe he is above the law? Considering the frequent incidents of building collapse in the country, there is no excuse for the Ogun State government to turn a blind eye to a developer who chooses to ignore legitimate orders meant to safeguard the public.
No responsible government that accounts to its citizens will fold its arms and watch a developer treat its legitimate orders pertaining to building codes with contempt as Datkem has done. The Ogun State government must therefore be commended for the proactive action which is in line with the laws of the state.
It goes to no issue that Daniel, an engineer who should know better, prefers to be throwing baseless allegations about that he is a victim of political witch-hunt.
Barrister Alimi writes from Apapa, Lagos.