Bukola Olopade, the longest serving Commissioner of Sports and Youth Development in Ogun State, is one die-hard follower of former governor of the state, Gbenga Daniel. Olopade, whose time in government was dogged with controversies, spoke on his past actions, in this interview with Daily Independent Senior Reporter, Anthonia Soyingbe. Excerpts:
Many years back, you said Gbenga Daniel’s enemies were your enemies; three years after you left government, is this still your stance?
Despite the more mature posture that I have today, politically, Otunba Gbenga Daniel (OGD) still remains my leader, and any of his political friends are still my friends and his political adversaries are automatically my adversaries. There is no gainsaying that I am a loyal boy to OGD and I will forever be. When people raise issues that concern my political family under the leadership of OGD, the onus is on people like me to react, because of the negative impression being created by our political adversaries. Ogun State politics took a new turn seven years ago when everything that had to do with politics had to do with lies. Unfortunately, the present government is ruling based on those lies which brought them into government and they have not stopped telling lies. Senators of the country recently wrote to SSS that their lives were being threatened by the governor and his thugs.
You were accused of so many things while in government.
(Cuts in) Like what?
That you had a killer squad, and that you were grooming cultists in the state.
These are the questions people ask me often. It was true that I was responsible for taking cultists off the streets, including children of important people in Ogun State. Some of the people in power today, including the Local Government Chairman and a lawmaker are some of the young boys I took off the street. We dined with the cultists because it was a very successful sophisticated strategy we used in curbing the killings of young people by young people on our campuses. We succeeded in stopping the killings and this remains my proudest achievement. Many people who were rebellious in the past were made to become responsible and successful people through our strategy. We now know the truth: because some of the people who lied that I was the head of the killer squad are now in the same party with me. Some of them are seeking my support for elective office. Some of the people who Amosun and Kaka called electoral fraudsters and killers are today members of APC. Three years after we left office, there is not a single financial misappropriation case against me and not a single prosecution on killing against me. They even had a truth commission in which I was alleged to have slapped someone I never met before. We ran a very good government that was criticized and faulted by very bad people. The current government in Ogun has seen how difficult it is to accept criticism and how difficult it is to govern. Ibikunle Amosun and his people are always violent even on social media whenever there is a critique on any of their politics, and you see them calling people names. This governor remains the governor that has received the worst criticism in the shortest time. Abeokua South Local Government was dissolved over a bloody crash that happened between Amosun’s faction and Osoba’s faction. This came almost two weeks after Sen. Gbenga Obadara was almost killed in Ewekoro. During Amosun’s campaign, he said pure water was more expensive than guns and bullets in Shagamu; he was faced with the same challenges recently, and will it be right for us now to throw that back at him? Over the last three weeks, not less than 21 persons have been killed in Sagamu in cult clashes. We are community builders and I still got in touch with Hon. Mafe who is from Sagamu and I offered to help him proffer solutions to the crisis whenever he needs one. We are doing everything possible to support the government of Ogun State for the people of Ogun State. We don’t, we have never, and we will never attack the present government either physically or spiritually. People seem to have forgotten how Amosun started criticizing OGD when he was barely three months as the governor. It was an unending battle and even when he became governor, he was still vindictive of OGD. We are running a civilized opposition and we are criticizing this government based on some of their senseless policies. Houses are not being built and roads that are built are senseless. Nobody is against development; as a true Egba man, I am not against the beautification of my town.
But you just agreed that Abeokuta is more beautiful than it was when your principal was at the helm of affairs?
Don’t get me wrong; if my people are made to be dying because of wanton demolition of their properties and the local destruction of the local economy, then there is a big problem. A sensible civil engineer recently told me that what Amosun is doing is ridiculous because everywhere in the world they don’t expand road overnight, it is a gradual process. You just don’t go and demolish thousands of houses without making provision for relocation of these poor people. You don’t rule for posterity alone, you rule for today. He has totally forgotten those who voted him into power. You don’t build bridges when you don’t need bridges and you don’t build bridges when the number of cars is ridiculously lower compared to the density expected to ply the road. They built for fraudulent and political reasons and that has defeated the purpose of proper urban renewal, human capital development and an economy that is stable and is very much in tune with the peculiarities of our people. The indebtedness of the road scares me a lot and even the governor has confessed many times that he doesn’t know where to get money to complete the roads, which means he has eaten more than he can chew. This shows that we are in trouble with regards to those roads that were built. You can’t build roads for the sake of it; you must also consider some social aspect before you go into it. The roads are ridiculously massive. Every road requires a perennial maintenance. Considering the over N200 billion they said they spent in constructing roads across the state, how much will they need to maintain these roads? I am not an accountant like Governor Amosu, neither am I an engineer like OGD, but from my rough calculations, Ogun State will require N10 to N12 billion to maintain those roads and bridges bi-annually. Did they fashion out these into their debate in his cabinet when they were planning road constructions? Cumulatively, in my final analysis, it is a senseless vision. He could have done five roads in different senatorial districts and still be hailed as a performing governor. Anytime this government is criticized, they tell you they are doing urban renewal and infrastural development, where are the infrastructures? I went to MKO Abiola Stadium and the seats were torn and tattered and messed up. I complained to the Commissioner who was at the stadium that particular day, I told him that the seats we did ought to be re-wrapped. He promised they will look into it. Healthcare in Ogun State is suffering and dying and even the Commissioner for Health has whispered quietly at different times of his inability. The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) recently called the governor on the pages of newspapers a liar and nobody addressed that issue. Education is also in trouble in Ogun State. I had a bet with my friend, Segun Bankole, when this government started initiative on model schools. He bet with me that the Model Schools would be ready before the end of 2012 and I insisted that the schools won’t be ready until Amosun is ready to leave government in 2015, because he will not win a second term in Ogun State, by the grace of God. I said to Segun, I will go to Ake podium to campaign for Amosun if at least one of those model schools is ready before January 2014. Not one of those schools has been roofed with the huge amount that has been spent. Ogun State is now faced with a government that is full of telling lies, a government that is recognized with so much violence, they have no clue as to how to move Ogun State forward, and they have not built the capacity of young people. Human Capital development in the state is suffering and they have destroyed the legacy that I fought for in the sports sector. I took Ogun State to the world map of sport, today the state is at the doldrums of sport. They have turned our civil servants to fence-jumping workers, thereby killing the morale of civil servants in the state.
News went round town sometime back that you went to Governor Amosun seeking to be part of his government.
That can never be true, because Governor Amosun knows full well that I am loyal to OGD. He will even tell you that I am too proud and too loyal to OGD for me to come to him. I have been told that he often uses me as example to members of his cabinet. This is just a wishful thinking by his people because they want me to come and join them and rather than coming to approach me, they are spreading lies. I have never been to him for anything; rather, I have sent messages to him criticizing him and telling him that his government is rubbish. Senator Kaka on TV said this is the government that has practiced the highest level of nepotism. Over 80% of Governor Amosun’s appointees are directly his relatives and close allies. This to me is very ridiculous. This is not how to run a government as there are too many capable hands in Ogun State. We on OGD side have strategically kept quiet for years because we want him to work, but rather than work he is fighting everywhere. He is a wrong choice for the governor of Ogun State. We will deploy all our capacities to ensure Labour Party wins in the next general elections. Amosun won a free and fair election and I was among the first people to congratulate him. Don’t forget that the behavior of government anywhere in the world is always determined by the opposition. Amosun will tell you that the opposition he is faced with in Ogun State today is civil and respectful and not disruptive to the policies of government. He was popular when he won election but as at today, he is the least popular governor Ogun State has ever produced and the most criticized governor Ogun State has ever seen in a short time.
* Culled from Daily Independent: http://dailyindependentnig.com/2014/03/violence-back-in-ogun-olopade/