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OGD At 67: The Man Beyond Politics By Seun Oloketuyi (Mr BON)

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In the game of politics, power and excellence do not usually mix because as they say, power corrupts. This is why politicians all around the world endure harsh scrutiny irrespective of their use of power, achievements and general actions in and out of the political space.

A close look at the man Nigerians have come to know as OGD may reveal why he faces even harsher scrutiny. This is because he defies all available stereotypes of career politicians.

A brilliant engineer with proven and visible results over the years, OGD seemed to have always been marked for success.

Long before the beginning of his political sojourn, Otunba Gbenga Daniel (OGD) had made a name as the owner of Kresta Laurel, an electro-mechanical engineering company, which he started in 1990. The company eventually grew to become one of the biggest companies in Nigeria, and by age 40, he was already rated one of the richest men in Nigeria by Newswatch.

In his early years as an undergraduate, he had won several scholarships and was so much of a prodigious student that during his year as a National Youth Service Corp member at the School of Engineering of the Lagos State Polytechnic, he supervised the construction of the Engineering complex and also conducted the semester examinations for the School of Engineering. An unrivalled feat for one at his level, he swiftly followed up with a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Lagos. In later years, he crowned his business studies with an executive programme in 1990 at the Lagos Business School.

While growing a reputable career, all of which prepared him for the rigours of politics, OGD worked at Metal Construction (W/Africa) Limited as the Assistant Commercial Manager. In 1983, he joined the then multinational company, H.F.SCHROEDER West Africa Limited, Lagos and as a result of his diligence, rose to the position of deputy managing director at Schroeder, becoming the first African to hold such a position in the company’s history.

Kresta Laurel, his brainchild that specialised in elevators, overhead travelling cranes and hoists was a consolidation of his abilities and vision as an engineer.

As a man who loved to craft, build or bridge gaps, OGD had always operated at the fringes of Nigerian politics, always doing his bit for his country.

After graduation and his consolidation as a business-minded engineer, OGD joined the Yoruba social-cultural group Afenifere under the then leadership of Pa Abraham Adesanya. During the struggle against the military juntas and campaign for the reinstatement of the annulled June 12 election, Gbenga Daniel became one of the financiers of the National Democratic Coalition (Nigeria) NADECO providing support to members who were fleeing the country to seek asylum abroad.

In 2003, he finally threw his hat into the political ring to vie for the office of the governor of Ogun State. His campaign strategy at the time of meeting with every stakeholder of every street and area in the state to sell his ideas redefined campaign trends in Nigeria. It was therefore not much of a surprise when in a landslide manner, he defeated the incumbent Governor Olusegun Osoba with the widest margin ever at the time in the Ogun State governorship race.

As governor, his unique insight saw him run an open government that allowed the people access to their leaders and this became the yardstick for subsequent officeholders. This, among other things, secured his return for a second term, which secured his win against a new opponent.

Since he left the number one seat of the Ogun State government, he has sustained his relevance in the business and political world with impressive grace.

In 2016, he was elected president of, the Nigerian-Finnish Business Council, which was established to foster business relations between Nigerian companies and their counterparts in Finland to encourage trade and investment. Never one to rest on laurels, he started KLL Construction Limited in 2017 to present a new kind of construction company culture in Nigeria.

In addition to relevance, despite all political persecution, the enigmatic founder of Conference Hotels was one of the only office holders not prosecuted by the EFCC despite repeated scrutiny and is as a result headed back to the Senate as a free man to serve his people once again.

Beyond politics, OGD is a tried and tested leader, with a proven interest in growth with or without the backing of political power. As he begins his sojourn into the Nigerian Senate, his antecedent proves that not only is he the right fit for the people of Ogun and all patriotic Nigerians, he is a man to be honoured, emulated and celebrated as he clocks 67.

BIG STORY

President Tinubu Shrugs Off Slip, Says I “Dobale” For Democracy Because It’s Worth Falling For

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Nigeria’s President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has reacted to the trending video of him tripping at Eagle Square in Abuja on Wednesday, saying democracy is worth falling for.

Recall that Tinubu missed a step while climbing the vehicle for a parade at Eagle Square in Abuja during an event for the 2024 Democracy Day. But he quickly regained his balance and continued with the activities for the day.

When speaking about the incident during a day to mark the day, Tinubu joked about the incident and said that he had only “dobale” – paid homage to democracy in the Yoruba style.

According to him, while celebrating Democracy, “I ‘dobale’ for democracy,” (meaning I bowed for Democracy).

President Tinubu also used the dinner event to call for the unity of Nigeria irrespective of tribe, religion, or political affiliations.

He said the unity of Nigeria cannot be traded.

Reactions have continued to pour in from several Nigerians including members of the opposition since the incident.

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NDIC Puts Heritage Bank’s Head Office, Vehicles, Other Assets On Sale

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In its capacity as the bank’s liquidator, the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has put the collapsed Heritage Bank’s head office in Lagos and its branches around the nation up for sale.

In an editorial published on Thursday, NDIC announced the sale of 48 bank premises as well as its chattel, which includes automobiles, office equipment, plant, and machinery in 62 other locations across the nation.

“The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation in the exercise of its right as Liquidator of failed Deposit Money Banks hereby invites interested members of the general public to buy the assets (landed property and chattels) of defunct Heritage Banks through public competitive bidding,” part of the advertorial read.

The head office of the bank and its annex located at 143 Ahmadu Bello Way and 130 Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos was listed for sale (buildings, chattels, generator, and motor vehicle). Also listed for sale were six other branches in Lagos, four branches in Abuja, four in Rivers States, and the others spread across the country.

Interested parties are invited to come for an inspection and subsequently put in bids on the assets to be submitted to the NDIC office in Lagos.

Bids are expected to come in with 10 per cent of the bid amount in Certified Bank Draft. Successful bidders will be required to pay the balance of the bid price within two weeks of notification.

Earlier, the corporation announced the commencement of the verification and payment of the depositors of the bank with N5m or less in their accounts. This category of customers makes up about 99 per cent of the bank customers.

The Managing Director of the NDIC, Bello Hassan, at a media briefing on the liquidation of Heritage Bank in Abuja last Wednesday, put the total depositors at Heritage Bank at 2.3 million.

Hassan noted that the total bank deposits at Heritage Bank stood at N650bn while its loan portfolio was about N700bn.

In announcing the revocation of the licence of Heritage Bank, the apex bank in a statement signed by the Acting Director of Corporate Communication, Sidi Ali, said, “This action has become necessary due to the bank’s breach of Section 12 (1) of BOFIA, 2020. The board and management of the bank have not been able to improve the bank’s financial performance, a situation which constitutes a threat to financial stability.

“This follows a period during which the CBN engaged with the bank and prescribed various supervisory steps intended to stem the decline. Regrettably, the bank has continued to suffer and has no reasonable prospects of recovery, thereby, making the revocation of the licence the next necessary step.”

Stakeholders in the sector have gone on to express confidence in the decision of the CBN in the overall interest of the sector.

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Minimum Wage: Mass Sacking Imminent, FG Warns As Labour Disowns Agreement

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The Federal Government on Wednesday chastised organised labour to consider the broader economic implications of its push for an unrealistic higher national minimum wage.

The admonition was delivered by Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation. Idris warned that the N250,000 minimum salary proposed by labour may damage the economy, cause a mass layoff of workers, and endanger the wellbeing of Nigerians.

The labour unions, on the other hand, denied President Bola Tinubu’s assertions that a deal had been reached on the new national minimum wage during his Democracy Day speech on Wednesday.

Acting President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Prince Adewale Adeyanju, said as of the time negotiations ended on June 7, no agreement had been reached by the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage.

Adeyanju is acting on behalf of the NLC president, Joe Ajaero,  who is attending an International Labour Organisation conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

Tinubu drew the ire of the unions after stating that his administration would soon submit an executive bill to the National Assembly to codify the agreements reached in the minimum wage negotiations between Labour, the private sector, the states and the Federal Government.

The parties had engaged in prolonged talks for weeks with the unions insisting on N250,000 minimum wage while the Federal Government and the Organised Private Sector offered N62,000.

However, the state governors said they would not be able to sustain any minimum wage higher than N60,000.

Dismissing the offers made by the Federal Government and the OPS, the labour unions said they would not negotiate what they described as ‘starvation wage.’

  • N62,000 not acceptable

The Assistant General Secretary of the NLC, Chris Onyeka, said Labour would not accept the latest offer of N62,000 and the N100,000 proposal made by some individuals and economists.

This was as the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, said the unionists were waiting on the President to consider Labour’s proposal.

But speaking at the opening of the 2024 Synod of the Charismatic Bishops Conference of Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday, the information minister emphasised the imperative of a realistic wage system that safeguards against mass retrenchment while addressing workers’ needs.

Idris restated the government’s dedication to reassessing the minimum wage but cautioned against demands that could disrupt the economy.

He stated, “As I have repeatedly said, the Federal Government is not opposed to the increase of wages for Nigerian workers but we keep on advocating for a realistic and sustainable wage system for the workers – a wage system that will not undermine the economy, lead to mass retrenchment of workers and jeopardise the welfare of about 200 million Nigerians.

“We want the labour unions to understand that the relief that Nigerians are expecting, and that they fully deserve, will not come only in the form of an increase in wages.”

He highlighted the ongoing efforts to alleviate the cost of living, citing initiatives like the Presidential Compressed Natural Gas programme aimed at reducing transportation expenses by 50 per cent.

While advocating wage increases, Idris stressed the importance of holistic relief measures beyond salary adjustments, urging Labour to recognise the significance of programmes like the CNG initiative in enhancing citizens’ purchasing power.

“It will also come as an effort to reduce the cost of living and to ensure that more money stays in the pockets of Nigerians. And this is where programmes like the Presidential CNG initiative come in.

“By replacing or complementing petrol usage with CNG, that programme alone will cut transportation costs by as much as 50 per cent,” he claimed.

The minister called on religious leaders to assist in raising public awareness about government initiatives and efforts.

  • Religious leaders

He stressed the crucial role of the clergy in disseminating information about available opportunities and the government’s ongoing efforts.

“As a government, we need your support, advice, and feedback,” Idris stated.

“Very importantly, we need you to be aware of the efforts being made and the challenges being faced so that you can help us communicate these to your congregations and the general public,” he added.

The minister highlighted the influential platforms of religious leaders, noting their potential to enlighten Nigerians on their rights, responsibilities, and the economic opportunities provided by the policies under the President’s Renewed Hope Agenda.

The agenda, he noted, aimed to promote economic rebirth, strengthen national security, boost agriculture and food security, and transform infrastructure and transportation.

“Information and awareness are critical, and this is where our religious leaders come in. You have very influential platforms that can enlighten Nigerians on their rights, responsibilities, and the abundance of economic opportunities being thrown up by the policies and programmes being implemented under the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Tinubu,” he explained.

In his remarks, the National President of the Charismatic Bishop Conference, Archbishop Leonard Kawas, reaffirmed the organisation’s unwavering support for Tinubu’s administration, emphasising their commitment to collaborative efforts to realise the nation’s collective aspirations.

  • ‘No agreement yet’

In their reaction to the President’s national broadcast, Adeyanju disagreed with Tinubu’s statement that his administration negotiated in good faith and with open arms with Organised Labour on the new national minimum wage.

Tinubu during his broadcast stated, “In this spirit, we have negotiated in good faith and with open arms with organised Labour on a new national minimum wage. We shall soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less.

“In the face of labour’s call for a national strike, we did not seek to oppress or crack down on the workers as a dictatorial government would have done. We chose the path of cooperation over conflict.

“No one was arrested or threatened. Instead, the labour leadership was invited to break bread and negotiate toward a good-faith resolution.

“Reasoned discussion and principled compromise are hallmarks of democracy. These themes shall continue to animate my policies and interaction with the constituent parts of our political economy.”

But Adeyanju in a statement dismissed the President’s assertion, insisting that he might have been misled by his advisers, noting that two figures- N250,000 from Organised Labour and N62,000 from the government and the OPS- were arrived at and ought to have been submitted to Tinubu.

According to the NLC official, anything to the contrary is not only doctored but won’t be accepted by Labour.

The congress maintained its stance on the N250,000 minimum wage, rejecting the government’s offer of N62,000 as grossly inadequate.

The statement read in part, “The NLC would have expected that the advisers of the President would have told him that we neither reached any agreement with the Federal Government and the employers on the base figure for a National Minimum Wage nor on its other components.

“Our demand still remains N250,000 only and we have not been given any compelling reasons to change this position which we consider a great concession by Nigerian workers during the tripartite negotiation process.

“We are therefore surprised at the submission of Mr President over a supposed agreement. We believe that he may have been misled into believing that there was an agreement with the NLC and TUC.

“There was none and it is important that we let the President, Nigerians and other national stakeholders understand this immediately to avoid a mix-up in the ongoing conversation around the national minimum wage.”

Adeyanju alleged that the labour leaders were intimidated by security agencies during the minimum wage talks.

“Fully armed soldiers surrounded us while we were in a negotiation with the government and despite denials; recent statements by senior officials of the government reaffirmed our fears contrary to the assurances by the government.

“However, we remain assured that the President’s democratic credentials will come to the fore in favour of Nigerian workers and masses,’’ he expressed optimism.

According to the union, the Democracy Day celebration was an opportunity for the President to demonstrate his love for Nigerian workers and the masses by shunning the advice that may be coming from ‘’those whose intentions were continuously focused on hurting Nigeria’s poor and struggling workers.’’

He appealed,  “Mr President should not allow these individuals and groups to sabotage his promise of lifting Nigerian workers out of poverty.

“The President’s advisers obviously did not tell him the truth that the leaders of the trade unions were intimidated and harassed. It is therefore important that Mr President understands that we were threatened severally by his operatives perhaps without his consent.

“Series of media propaganda calculated to intimidate and harass us were, and, are still being waged against the trade unions by senior officials of this government. “

The NLC noted that there was no agreement as regards the duration of the Minimum Wage Act.

“It is also important that Mr President should know that most of his officers are working round-the-clock to set up the leadership of congress and the trade unions.

“We never agreed on a five-year duration of the Minimum Wage Act, though we acknowledge that the President mentioned five years or less.

“We also agreed that inflation should be pegged at a level for a certain amount to be agreed as minimum wage. This is to bring clarity to what the report should contain.

“Once again, we reiterate that it will be extremely difficult for Nigerian workers to accept any national minimum wage figure that approximates a starvation wage. We cannot be working and yet remain in abject poverty.

“We seek justice, equity, and fairness for all Nigerians, and this we hope would also drive the actions of Mr President who promised a Living Wage to Nigerian workers. This is an opportunity to show that he listens to Nigerians as he promised,” the labour movement said.

  • OPS speaks

Also commenting on the presidential broadcast, the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture, stated that no consensus had been reached on the national minimum wage.

The NACCIMA President, Dele Oye, who is part of the 37-member tripartite committee, said the panel was still in the middle of negotiation, faulting the contradictory statements being made on the talks.

“No agreement has been reached with Labour; however, it is wrong to make a press statement in the middle of negotiations apart from appealing to all parties involved to work harder to resolve outstanding issues, as the impasse is already creating uncertainty in the ability of businesses to make decisions,” he admonished.

In January, the government inaugurated the tripartite committee on the national minimum wage.

The committee was tasked with the responsibility of recommending a new national minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

Over the past few months, the federal and state governments, organised labour, and representatives of the private sector have been deliberating on a new minimum wage for workers.

However, the demand by organised labour regarding the minimum wage has yet to be met.

On June 3, the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress embarked on an indefinite nationwide strike to protest against the government’s inability to meet their minimum wage demand.

Twenty-four hours later, the labour unions “relaxed” the strike by one week.

 

Credit: The Punch

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