|Birth||6 April 1956, Ibadan|
Gbenga Daniel (born 6 April 1956) is a Nigerian politician,and Governor of Ogun State of Nigeria from 29 May 2003 to 29 May 2011, making him the longest-serving governor of the state. He is a member of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He is the owner of the Nigerian Compass, a daily newspaper. and also Kresta Laurel, a company he started in 1990.
As governor, he has attracted heavy criticisms and commendations as well. He constructed the new government secretariat at Oke Mosan which brought all the state ministries together in one administrative complex. His program on Public Private Partnership attracted several businesses into the State during his tenure. His administration was accused of several irregularities some of which he is still standing trial for. However, he is well commended by majority of the people of Ogun State who believe his government was people friendly.
Daniel was born on 6 April 1956 in the old City of Ibadan of the then Western Region. He attended the Baptist Boys High School, Abeokuta from 1969 to 1973, followed by studies at The Polytechnic, Ibadan, and the School of Engineering of the University of Lagos.
His decision to study engineering was influenced by the brilliant engineer and teacher Ayodele Awojobi. Daniel spent much time with Awojobi, and was a winner and champion several times over, on his television quiz show “Mastermind”.
Professional and business career
Daniel became a fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers. He taught briefly as a lecturer in the School of Engineering of Lagos State Polytechnic. In 1983, he obtained a job with Schroeder (W.A.) Limited, Lagos, rising to Deputy managing director becoming the first African to hold that position in the history of the company. He left Schroeder to start his own business. In 1990 he founded Kresta Laurel, an engineering firm specialising in elevators, overhead travelling cranes and hoists.
Campaign for governor
Gbenga Daniel’s campaign for the seat of the governor has been described by political analyst as “electric” considering the fact that as a business man, he defeated a sitting governor. His campaign was a revolution in the state in 2003 as he visited all the 236 wards of Ogun State, meeting with every stakeholder of every streets and area in the state to sell his ideas. Some faulted his campaign strategy as being desperate while other schools of thoughts strongly opined that it is the ideal thing for politicians to get close to the people.
Governor of Ogun State
Daniel was elected governor of Ogun State in April 2003, running on the PDP platform beating the incumbent with 217, 353 votes. His victory remains the biggest electoral victory in Ogun state. He scored 449,335 votes against the sitting governor who scored 231,982 votes recording the widest margin ever in Ogun state governorship race.
He acquired the chiefly title Otunba of the Egba and Ijebu clans of the state during the course of his first term. He was re-elected in April 2007. His April 2007 election was disputed by rival candidate Ibikunle Amosun of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), but in August 2009 the Ogun State Election Petitions Tribunal dismissed the petition.
In August 2006, the website Elundu Reports published what it claimed to be evidence that Daniel had obtained two houses in London after being sworn in as governor.
In June 2009 he drew criticism for his proposal to float a N60bn bond for commercial developmental projects in the state, which was said to be contrary to his stated principles about the Public – Private Partnership (PPP). In December 2008, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, daughter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, wrote a letter to Inspector-General of Police, Mike Okiro saying that Gbenga Daniel was after her life and calling for police action.
In July 2009, a scandal blew up with the publication in the Nigerian Compass of a photograph that allegedly showed Wale Alausa, a member of the state House of Assembly, taking a blood oath which the paper said was to ensure secrecy and unity of purpose in a bid to impeach Daniel. The Nigerian Compass is owned by Gbenga Daniel. Alausa said the pictures were real, but the blood oath was an oath of allegiance to Daniel, which he had taken at the governor’s insistence.
He promoted entrepreneurship amongst young people through voracious youth development programmes. The Nigerian Youth Council of the state was massively empowered to help youths all over the state and many young people were appointed into notable political positions. Some of his other achievements while in office include building roads, recreational centres and stadiums in the three senatorial districts of the state, and setting up a University of Education. The Gateway International Stadium was a site of the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup which was held in Nigeria.
In February 2009, Daniel authorised reduction of fees at the State-owned Moshood Abiola Polytechnic to ₦7,000. This followed negotiations with the National Association of Nigerian Students after parents and students had protested recent increases to fees.
Allegations and trial after handing over
On Wednesday, 12 October 2011, Gbenga Daniel was first arraigned by the EFCC (The nation’s anti graft agency) on a 13 count charges claiming that 58 billion naira was involved. Justice Olarenwaju Mabekoje stroked out the charges and released Daniel on technical basis saying that the charges were not supported with factual documents. The Justice however advised that they should reapply after they must have done their home work well.
The EFCC claimed that they would not relent on their effort to get him tried and that he was not discharged but released on technical basis since their findings were not deeply rooted with facts. By the time EFCC finished their re application for trial process, the count charges had increased but the huge 58 billion naira had been reduced to 200 million naira.
After EFCC reapplied, Daniel was again arraigned on Monday 16 April 2012 by the EFCC on a 38 count charge which borders on misappropriation of fund amounting to over N200 million, criminal breach of trust and abuse of office while he held sway as governor of Ogun State. He was however granted bail and the trial has since commenced.
The trial is still on in the court of Law with Gbenga Daniel having the upper hand as most of the allegations have not been backed with credible and strong facts and documents. The trial has experienced several adjournments with people getting tired of where it is leading to.
Life post-handing over
Gbenga Daniel went back to his company Krestal Laurel and has since continued funding youth development initiatives within Ogun State. He founded The Political Academy; an Academy he has used to train thousands of youth teaching them about the history of the country and political process. As a result, many youths in Ogun State have become highly politically aware and interested in politics.
He has been enjoying massive support from the youths of the state. Many of which are clamouring that his trial be dropped. In a recent development, some youths came together and formed a network of young historians of Nigeria to set the right records about important historical happenings in Nigeria. The project was given the name Project Correct. They have been clamouring for the right stories to be told about Gbenga Daniel claiming that he is a good political leader who deserves honour and not trial.
Recent political activities
Gbenga Daniel returned to active politics, leaving the PDP and joined the Labour Party. His reason for joining Labour Party was to build a platform that will serve as a proper check mate for any irregularities in governance of the State. Many people in the PDP frowned at this but the masses joined him to follow the Party. Labour Party became the most dominant opposition party in the state taking over from the PDP. Series of community visits started as Daniel led campaign rallies to various towns in Ogun State towards the 2015 election.
Within months, Labour Party had become the party to beat in the state and it was believed that Gbenga Daniel was back to political prominence. The political atmosphere in Ogun State went ecstatic as every political party sat up. Series of politicking started all over the state, Ogun State politics became the talk of the whole nation. Everywhere he went for rally, mammoth crowd always gather to declare their support. It was becoming glaring that Labour Party might win the election for 2015. While skeptic analysis said it was an act of desperation for him to have left PDP for Labour Party but majority of the people of Ogun State didn’t care, they started declaring their support for him. He became the voice of the masses speaking against unhealthy projects of the state government.
It became a national news when the capital city of Ogun State known as Abeokuta was full of many thousands of people to attend the commissioning of the Party Secreatariat, a building donated to the Party by Gbenga Daniel.
Return to PDP
After much deliberations and reconciliation meetings orchestrated by the National Leadership of PDP, Gbenga Daniel returned to PDP in October, 2014. He also declared his intention to run for the Senate which became a heavy news all over the State. He came back to PDP with massive supporters from the Labour Party which became a big boost for the PDP.