Buhari Should Emulate Obasanjo In His 2023 Succession Plan - APC Chieftain, Akinwande - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Thursday, February 27, 2020

Buhari Should Emulate Obasanjo In His 2023 Succession Plan - APC Chieftain, Akinwande

Engineer Gbenga Akinwande, a specialist in telecoms and IT management, coming from a family of Awoist orientation, is passionate about the unity of Ogun West and end to its stunted socioeconomic and political development as well as  quality governance in Ogun state and Nigeria. In this interview with The Daily Crucible, he bares his mind on all of those issues.   

- Urges  Olu of Ilaro and Olota of Ota to
build a synergy among the traditional rulers in old Egbado North, old Egbado South and the Aworiland to drive the unity required by Ogun West to make political gains in Ogun state

- Calls on Abiodun to commit N5b annually to compensate for the zone's pitiable neglect

               • Akinwande



You're so passionate about the unity and progress of Ogun West. What is the driving spirit and how can genuine unity for progress be achieved in the zone?


I am from Ogun West, precisely from Ayetoro in Yewa North Local Government. My driving spirit for Ogun West is my love for my community and my people. My struggle and passion about unity and progress of Ogun West started far back in 2002, when I led a group of students under the unmbrella body “Yewa Student’s Assembly (YESA)” to the Cathedral in Ilaro during the funeral service for Late (Senator) Jonathan Odebiyi to challenge the two Yewa leaders’s groups – the Professor Afonja led Yewa Think Thank and the General Olurin led Yewa Council of Elders on the need for both groups to resolve their differences and provided a united front for Yewa land.


The situation of things in Ogun West today are worrisome. Our people are poor due to lack of opportunities for wealth creation. Social and economic activities are paralysed due to lack of basic amenities. Our communities are under attack by killer’s herdsmen. Most of our graduates are jobless and many of our peasant farmers have given up and abandon farming due to activities of herders. At the moment, 98% of roads in Ogun West are not motor-able. Majority of our schools are surviving on PTA teachers, our communities lack electricity, hospitals, pipe borne water and most basic social infrastructure.



  You are also concerned about development in Ogun State, especially even development but Ogun West appeared not to be measuring up with others. What do you think is responsible?


My concern is not only limited to Ogun West, I am concerned generally about the states of our dear state – Ogun state, just that Ogun West seems to be worse than the two other senatorial districts in Ogun State. The problem we have in Ogun State is the choices our leaders make in their various social and economic policies. There have been failure in leadership for close to two decades now in Ogun State. Our political leaders have not really invested in what can create wealth for our people. Our strength is on our arable agricultural farm land, but we have failed to harness that potential into positive use. Remember that late Chief Obafemi Awolowo made fortunes for Yoruba nation through  money from cocoa production. Most of our previous governors in Ogun state did not invest wisely. Most of the projects that were embarked upon by some of the previous governments were white elephant projects that could not create wealth for our people.


It is not yet clear if you are a member of any political party but from time to time, you make valid political intervention on political issues as it affects Ogun West. Do you have any future political ambition?

I am a registered member of the APC, a community development advocate and a public affair commentator on local and international affairs as related to Ogun West, Ogun State and Nigeria as a whole. If you are referring to my position in the last gubernatorial election, yes I did try my best for Ogun West aspiration, but unfortunately we from Ogun West did not get our politics right and eventually we lost to Ogun East. We failed to see the bigger picture and allowed ourselves to be divided. There are pressure from different quarters for me to come and run, but I have not decided about that yet.



Why has it become difficult for Ogun West to produce a Governor since 1999. It is becoming obvious that the problem is with the zone and not with the two other zones. What is your take on this?


Our major problem in Ogun West is leadership. We don’t have leaders that can rally different groups together when it matters most. If we revisit last gubernatorial election for example, you will agree with me. I was one of the most vocal persons from Ogun West both in social and print media at that time echoing that we should not repeat the mistake of 2011 where we had two candidates from Ogun West, which eventually made us to lose to Ogun Central. I tried my best few days to that election to challenge the Paramount ruler of Yewa land and the Olota of Ota to call for urgent stakeholders meeting to tackle the issue. But, because we from Ogun West did not see the big picture, we folded our arms, here we are today lamenting the loss.


Part of the problems we have in Ogun West is lack of viable social clubs dominated by educated elites such as the Abeokuta Sports Club and many of those viable social clubs in Ijebu land. And the reason we don’t have these social bodies is because many of our educated elites run away from home. In Egba and Ijebu lands, most socio-political decisions relating to those areas are made by members of those social clubs.


Infact, I will say the people of Ogun East and Central are very generous and have good humanitarian gestures, but we in the West are architect of our own misfortunes and have failed to recognize and take opportunities whenever opportunities come our way.


What steps should be taken now or in future to reverse or arrest the unfortunate political situation. And what roles do you think the traditional rulers and youths in your Senatorial district can play?


One thing our political leaders from Ogun West should shelve away from is their individual interest, but rather should think about the collective interests of our people and the entire Yewa-Awori land collectively. The behaviour we exhibited in the last gubernatorial election was another advertisement on who we are as a people in Yewaland concerning our inability to present a sole candidate and such attitude should never repeat itself if we are really ready to be competitive in Ogun State and Nigeria as a whole.


The absence of viable social clubs such as the Abeokuta Sports Club, where educated elite gather together coupled with the heterogeneous nature of Yewa land, pose a bigger challenge for political viability of Ogun West. The only leadership option we have is the traditional institution, this implies there must be synergy between traditional rulers in old Egbado North, old Egbado South and the Aworiland. Most particularly, the Olu of Ilaro - the Paramount Ruler of Yewa land and the Olota of Ota should provide the leadership required to bring unity among Obas and baales in Ogun West.


I think the youths in particular should be more concerned about the lacklustre posture and underdevelopment of Ogun West, and we should all begin to look at how we can redeem the situation. I in particular founded the Gbenga Akinwande Foundation as a way of contributing my own quota in solving some of the problems of our youths. Through the Gbenga Akinwande Foundation, we have provided scholarship to many undergraduates across across Ogun West. We have also sponsored various football competitions across Ogun West with the hope of facilitating unity among our communities. Currently, Gbenga Akinwande Foundation (GAF) is sponsoring three football competitions in Ogun West: Yewa-Awori Nations Cup, Yewa-Awori Unity Cup and Yewa Community Cup, with the hope bringing unity and enhance the socio-economic situations of our communities.




What is your assessment of the present administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun in Ogun State in the last eight months and in what ways do you think he can correct the alleged neglect of Ogun West by past administrations?


The governor has not done badly. My understanding is that Governor Dapo Abiodun has just used the last seven  months of 2019 to study the scale of magnitude of work left for him by the previous administration, which is normal. We all remember that President Buhari used the same approach in his first term. My understanding is that the Governor wanted to understand the civil service and civil servants. You know he is business man and a politician. Now that the Governor has constituted his cabinet, we should be expecting action. One critical area the Governor should look at is immediate recruitment of teachers because most of our schools in Ogun State are at 50-60 % capacity utilization, and this is a bad signal for educational development of our dear state. Secondly, the Governor should use our agriculture potentials as a basis of our economic development. The Government should come up with policies that will make farm machineries, single digit loans, lands, agric extension services and providing security against herdsmen attack. Government must also help to train many of our youths to set up agro-allied industries, poultry farming, fisheries and animal husbandry. Government must also come up with policies that can help grow some of our existing cottage industries to create jobs in many of our local communities.


With respect to Ogun West issue, I just wrote the Governor few weeks ago appealing to the Governor to send a bill to the Ogun State House of Assembly (OGSHA) for setting up OGUN WEST DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION (OGWDC). This commission should be funded five billion naira yearly per local government in Ogun West. This fund will help to compensate for years of neglect and deprivation of Ogun West by Ogun State Government. I copied all the Paramount Rulers in Ogun State and the past democratic governors of our dear state soliciting for the generosity and humanitarian gestures of both the Ijebu and Egba Nations for establishment of this commission. I made it known to the Governor that the grants and the activities of the commission should not have any effect on the usual normal yearly budgetary allocations to Ogun West in the state’s yearly budget.


I will also appeal to Governor Dapo Abiodun to as a matter of priority to address the herdsmen situation in Yewa land because these killers’ herdsmen have penetrated the whole Yewa land particularly Yewa North and Imeko-Afon LGAs. Thus, I would recommend to the Governor to immediately deploy about 1000 Amotekun’s police to Yewa hinterlands to curb the activities of these killers’ herdsmen to enable our people return back to their farms.



How can the citizens help enthrone quality governance, transparency, responsiveness and accountability in government?


One of the biggest challenge of our democratic experiments since 1999 is followership. One reason, we have been unable to have good leadership is because the followers have not been able to engage the leaders with societal challenges and demand for solutions to those problems. Many of us see our leaders as gods and will never tell them the truths because of the crumbs we get from them. We most often even refused to engage them with challenges of our communities and think about our own selfish interests.


In order to enthrone quality governance, transparency, responsiveness and accountability in Ogun state (and Nigeria), we need to begin to implement the concept of e-governance, whereby we use technology to track the performance, transparency and accountability of the government.



 And if you have the opportunity to meet President Muhammadu Buhari one - on - one, what would you tell him?


First, I will say to the President that the border closure policy of this administration is wrongly implemented. To every policy in any democratic government, the first consideration is the people. If such policy is going to cause harm for the people, such policy is most often dropped or refined. This border closure policy has caused inflation, sky rocketed increases in the prices of commodities and economic recession in border communities in Ogun West and many border communities in the south. 

Can you substantiate that?

Before the border closure, imported rice were being sold for around #12,000.00 naira per bag, but with border closure, local rice is sold for #19,000.00 per bag. From that analysis, it is obvious the policy make no much sense.


Secondly, I will tell President Buhari to safe guard the collapse of the APC by ensuring he manages his succession properly. Infact, I will recommend to President Buhari to emulate former President Olusegun Obasanjo that ensure that on leaving the Presidency in 2007, he ensured that a Northerner in the person of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua  succeeded him as the President of our nation. Such gesture from President Obasanjo did help North/South harmony of our great country.  Thus, President Buhari should emulate such gesture if really he wants to be an heroic icon of our nation even after his death.

Thirdly, I will tell the President to declare a state of emergency on security, change the service chiefs and challenge the newly appointed chiefs that within one year Boko haram, herdsmen attacks and kidnapping should be issues of the past in Nigeria. I will let the President know that his presidency risks being tagged the worst in the history of our nation, if these security issues are not issues of the past by December 2020.


You have a foundation that promotes unity in Ogun West through sports, scouting and nurturing sports talents in youths as well as offering scholarship to Students. How did you come about it?


The whole idea of GBENGA AKINWANDE FOUNDATION (GAF) started in 2015 from my experience with some frustrated angry youths in Ayetoro. I had gone to my alma mater, Comprehensive High School, Ayetoro to play football during my usual Xmas/End of the year holiday to Nigeria in December 2015. But when I got to the field, instead of seeing people playing football, what I saw was a group of eighteen (18) young boys sitting down on the field, all looking frustrated. I approached them to understand what was going on, but what they told me was that the came to play football but there was no ball for them to play. The response from those boys was strange to me because I never had such experience when I was growing up and during my school days in Ayetoro. Fortunately for those boys, I had two balls in my car that I brought from England, we all played together on that day, and I saw how happy and joyful they were. My further enquiries later revealed football and other sporting activities were dead in schools and even at communities levels. Since sports is part of education, I said to myself how can I use sports and education to influence the socio-economic development of my communities, particularly the lives of the youths. The above story is what led to the founding of GBENGA AKINWANDE FOUNDATION (GAF). The Foundation is sponsoring various football competitions in schools and at communities levels across Ogun West and providing scholarship for indigents’ students across Ogun West. Presently, I am thinking of a football club/academy in Ayetoro, but some challenges are holding us back. But, by the special grace of God, we will overcome these problems.



You are an engineer and with so many engineers the nation's tertiary institutions have produced over the decades, how come we have failed roads both at the state and national levels all round the year?


The states of Nigeria road are very worrisome and it is a shame for a country like ours, with about 60 years of political independence from our colonial masters that our roads today are worse than what they were about 60 years ago. As a patriotic Nigerian and a good ambassador of our great country, I wrote President Buhari an open letter published by a national Newspaper on 5th December 2019 about the states of Nigeria State, where I urged the President to declare a state of emergency on this sector and also to grant the request of the Governors to dabble into federal roads.   The issue of bad roads in Nigeria is multifaceted. It is not an Engineering issue, infact, a properly registered Engineer by Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and COREN will never comprise professional standards. Most of the problems with our bad roads or failed roads are mostly political and due to unpatriotic citizens that do not love this country and who are visionless.  Political leaders have been using road projects to loot this nation, and I don’t think this is coming to an end soon.


Why has this basic socioeconomic infrastructure remained a huge problem to address since Independence? In what ways can Nigerians in diaspora contribute their expertise, experience and exposure towards having good roads and stable electricity in the country?


The problems of socio-economic infrastructure decadence in our country is basically due to poor leadership. When I say poor leadership, I mean incompetent, incapable and bad leaders. These leaders are the problems of this country and the Nigerian people. You see our problems in Nigeria are in two folds. The first is bad leadership, the other is poor followership. These two complement each other in reason that led to the current state of our nation’s infrastructure today. If we can have what I called “engaged followership” or “patriotic citizenry”, whereby leaders are held accountable or asked questions for their stewardship, most of these socio-economic infrastructure will become a thing of the past.


The decision that can lead to good roads and stable electricity in Nigeria is basically political because they are issues that require legislation and approval from local, state and federal authorities. What Nigerians in diaspora can do is basically advisory to the appropriate authority. But, if you give advice and the advice is not accepted or used, you become helpless. Nigerians in diaspora can come with the best idea or technological solutions to many of our problems, but the political will to implement those ideas and solutions is the problem. Some few individuals are responsible and benefiting from the current state of infrastructure failure in the country. What we need is political will and strong institution that will curb the activities of saboteurs in the system



And finally, can we have insight into your background? -Your growing up -Your philosophy of life - Your relationship with the opposite sex -How you met your wife and eventually proposed - Your attitude to success and failure


 I have a very humble background. I lost my father very early in life and was raised by my brothers. My father was a very respected and influential man in the old Egbado North (Now Yewa North and Imeko/Afon) LGAs. Though, he was a farmer, but very industrious with the biggest cocoa plantation in the old Egbado North LGA. He was an astute politician and a two-time councillor of Chief Obafemi Awolowo led Action Group in Western Nigeria during the first republic. I was born and grew up in Ayetoro, Yewa North, Ogun State where I had my primary and secondary education. Thereafter, I proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where I graduated with Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electrical Engineering in 2002. I did my NYSC in Cross River State and worked for about three years in Nigeria after my NYSC before traveling to Sweden for my postgraduate education. I bagged double masters’ degrees in Electrical Engineering with specialization in Telecommunication and Internet Systems at Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden. I also hold an MBA degree and another MSc in IT Project Management.


I came from a family where modesty is the watchword in whatever you do and this has helped me greatly in the course of my life. I believe in life’s philosophy that says “together we stand, divided we fall”. Team co-operation, ideas sharing and philanthropic gestures are my great qualities. I have great respect and regards for females. I treat them with courtesy and hold them in high esteemed. I don’t womanize and I am a social drinker. I met my wife when I went to see a cousin of mine in his school. Though, I pursued her for four years before she finally agreed to say yes to my proposal. My attitude to success and failure is that when you failed, never give up, and when you record success, do not be over complacent; but keeping on striving hard for the success to be permanent.

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