Biographer extraordinaire, Dr. Lanre Alfred has done it again. The peerless word lyricist has woven truths whose magnitude defy description but which cannot be kept silent. That is part of the beauty of his recent literature.
You discover that your longings and appreciation of genius are neither reclusive nor isolated to you, as you read Alfred’s record of Ogun Governor Dapo Abiodun’s exploits; you would find in his words, the stirrings of a kindred spirit.
There is no surer foundation for such a beautiful fellowship than a mutual eye for in excellence in public governance and its expression in elevated literature.
Alfred, a prose stylist remarkable for the splendid force and ornate vigour of his words painstakingly details in his new coffee table book titled, ‘ DAPO ABIODUN:THE STATE HOUSE AS HIS PULPIT – The extraordinary achievements of Governor Abiodun since he took charge of the administration of Ogun State.
The book offers an interesting take on the challenges Abiodun has had to face and conquer in the last four years. In 2019, when he first emerged as Ogun governor, he did so against all odds. His predecessor fought him to a standstill and he couldn’t campaign freely across the state. His campaign posters were torn and anyone who dared appear in the yellow vest associated with his supporters, was promptly pounced upon and lynched by thugs. Although Abiodun won the election, the vehicle used during his inauguration on May 29, 2019, was borrowed from a neighbouring state. Such was the onslaught against the Iperu-born prince and business mogul. Post electoral victory, the battle he faced from the tribunal to the appellate court and then the apex court was nothing short of titanic.
As it was in 2019, so it was in 2023, when in a fitting testimony to his life-changing projects, the people rewarded him with another term of office. The year presented memories that will linger. As he crisscrossed local governments in the state campaigning vigorously for re-election, adversaries within and without mounted fierce opposition. His predecessor, Ibikunle Amosun, who had failed to install a crony in 2019, and who had mounted vigorous campaigns of calumny across the state for the four years of his (Abiodun’s) administration, anointed yet another failure in the build-up to the 2023 polls even while remaining in the All Progressives Congress (APC). As Amosun conducted his onslaughts, taking advantage of a climate of peace impossible in his own day, the main opposition party, PDP, perfected its own act, banking on vote buying. In order to manipulate the electoral process, the PDP candidate, according to the charges filed against him and his co-travellers by the Federal Government, allegedly printed over 200,000 ATM-like cards and suborned POS agents to carry out electoral fraud. And, what is more, dissidents within APC, including ex-leaders who collected millions to work against their own party, mounted roadblocks on his way. However, the people determinedly stood by their governor.
And then came the court cases and the hate campaigns. The opposition, united by lust for power, called him every evil name under the sun. They robed him in the garb of a villain, spurned his people-oriented schemes as a gimmick, and sponsored write-ups by hack writers to distract him, with intent to abort the peaceful clime in the state. Indeed, they did not even spare members of his cabinet, some of whom they wrote salacious stories about as a way of derailing his government.
The governor could not believe the audacity. He said: “I don’t know what moral standing a Ladi Adebutu would have to call my mandate freely given to me by the good people of Ogun State, a stolen mandate. Someone who did everything to buy the election, someone who went ahead and printed cards and was distributing them; someone who is facing criminal case, someone who has been arraigned!”
Displaying nonpareil creativity, Alfred’s writing births brilliant themes as he effortlessly imbues the otherwise bland pages with motif and melody of Governor Abiodun’s remarkable exploits in public governance.
Alfred’s literature substantiates in justifiable terms, why Governor Abiodun is addressed by his exclusive circle of friends and associates as ‘O Sele’ (It has happened). Those in the know – are aware that it is a favourite slogan of Prince Abiodun (before he became governor), which means ‘It happened.’ Thus at his ascent to the governorship seat, every accomplishment or acquisition by Abiodun is gleefully chanted ‘O Sele.’
From its introductory chapter to its conclusion, the book highlights the significance of every feat and facet of achievement by Dapo Abiodun. It addresses, for instance, why the date: May 29, remains significant in the life of the Ogun governor. And how he contested for the governorship election eight different times and won eight different times.
For over five decades, according to Alfred, the date has held a different kind of significance for Abiodun. First, it is his birth date. And it couldn’t have held greater significance than it did on May 29, 2019, when Abiodun was sworn in as Ogun State governor as he clocked 59.
Indeed, he could not have got a greater and more befitting 59th birthday gift in 2019 than his inauguration as the democratically elected governor of the Gateway State – a fitting denouement to an episodic political journey which began about three decades ago. Governor Abiodun’s life offers interminable lessons on the beauty and benefits of resolve, compassion, unpretentious generosity and family values, notes Alfred.
In well-articulated themes and chapters, Alfred analyses why Abiodun deeds are done not as an apology or extenuation of his fortune and citizenship of the world. “While many a rich man propagates virtues as penances for the inactions of the world’s privileged divide, he imbibes and perpetuates the culture of goodness not out of a frantic zeal to apologize or expiate the perceived frailties of his rich, privileged divide; he does his thing because it is an intrinsic part of his humanity.”
According to Alfred, “When he (Governor Abiodun) vied to represent Ogun East Senatorial District in 2015, I worked closely with him and came to the conclusion that but for passion and genuine humaneness, he didn’t have any business in the dog-eat-dog game of politics. He lost the election but never lost the passion to make life better for humanity. Thus, I wasn’t surprised when he emerged victorious at the 2019 and 2023 gubernatorial polls.”
Watching Abiodun preside as the Governor of a State like Ogun has convinced Alfred “that he is a very focused and driven leader whose personal attributes are inherent, not superficial. He can be described as a ‘good headache’ because he will push and drive you while bringing out the best in you. I would come to understand that what Governor Abiodun envisions for Ogun State drives his pursuits while his yearning for progress pits him against the odds that he inherited. Therefore, he is focused on making the remaining years of his stewardship the best for the people of the state. To actualise his goals, the governor is exploring every avenue to attract growth and progress for Ogun State; and, he has been hands-on and virtually omnipresent in all areas of the state’s life with laudable schemes and visible projects dotting the landscape of the state.”
Thus, Alfred endeavours to project in the most glowing and explicit terms, the experience of being Dapo Abiodun.
Nobody forgets the first time they read a book by Alfred; everyone wishes for an encore. His words resonate profoundly, offering each reader a personalised experience even as he inspires all to journey with him, and savour the lyrical continuum and clarity of his thoughts.
Thus the grandeur of his artistry and the deserved acclaim trailing his works. At the heel of his seventh book, Alfred has produced yet another inspiring literature on the incumbent Governor of Ogun State – a broad narrative of the exploits and monumental achievements of the extraordinary statesman and patriot.
The all-colour, all-gloss 250-page coffee table book, which has been widely hailed by several stakeholders in Ogun politics and many prominent Nigerians as a worthwhile educative and historical work, is published by Alfred’s OldEnglish Partners.