+ Why The World Celebrates Him @ 61
If Governor Adedapo Oluwaseun Abiodun were a lab scientist, he would have reordered groups in organic chemistry and calculated the anti-derivatives of functions that he will effectively deploy in real life – all with a modest amount of energy.
Notwithstanding his depth as an incumbent governor, philanthropist and citizen of humanity, Abiodun covets no vanities unlike other politicians and he demands no free verses, heroic couplets or ornamental rhymes to glorify his personage as a man. He is hardly given to such infectious vanities.
The Ogun Governor wears his gubernatorial strength and savvy like a badge of honour, on his chest; shining it with sweat as true virtuous men do. He stands tall, wading through odds with the courage of a knight and the confidence of a champion. Unlike the proverbial warrior who lives to sing the song of his own deeds and derring-do, Abiodun remains impressively humble and immune to conceit, treading a rare path to acclaim thus, attracting honour in torrents, from home and abroad.
However, his unyielding commitment to building a more prosperous, equitable and sustainable society has separated him from the pack as he quickens his pace and doubles his efforts in all areas of the state’s life. From infrastructure to social welfare, agriculture and education, Governor Abiodun has raised the bar within two years.
Interestingly however, to God be the glory, May 29, 2019, happened. For over five decades, however, the date had held a different kind of significance for Abiodun. It is his birth date. This year’s May 29 is even more symbolic because Prince Dapo Abiodun turns 61 on the same day he would be celebrating his second year anniversary as the Governor of Ogun State.
Indeed, he could not have got a greater and more befitting 59th birthday gift in 2019 than his inauguration as the sixth 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 generousity and family values. I know.
“A man is nothing without his virtues”, he argues. Thus, he endeavours to do good. But his 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.
Since I made his acquaintance about 11 years ago, our friendship has blossomed into a bond emblematic of the best form of filial devotion and affection. I met him through a mutual friend. I would discover that beneath the glitz and glamour of being a successful businessman and a billionaire of note with all the accoutrements of fame and fortune at his beck and call, he is humane and humble. He is imbued with nonpareil intelligence, a clear-thinking, analytical mind, quick wit and sheer oratorical skills. Governor Abiodun is one of the very few people I know that can never be blindsided or fazed by any eventuality. His calmness and infinite optimism even in the face of life’s greatest odds are inspiring and worthy of the respect and aspiration of coming generations.
As a young businessman, DA, as he is fondly called, was elected a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the platform of the defunct United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP) in 1993. He was just 33years old. However, the military incursion of that year led by the despotic General Sani Abacha truncated that democratic process. The IperuRemo Prince never gave up. While succeeding in business, he never abdicated politics. Circa 1998, he joined other like-minded Nigerians to start the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State. In 2002, he lost the governorship primary of the PDP to his bosom friend, Otunba Gbenga Daniel who went on to govern for two terms. Prince Dapo bade his time.
When he contested 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.
Some years after, when he told me that he would be contesting for the governorship, I did not hesitate to buy into his clear-cut vision to make Ogun State a primus inter pares and build a better future for its people and posterity. I formed a group called the Dapo Abiodun Alliance Group, DAAG, with some brilliant young minds who also share his vision. We combed the nook and cranny of Ogun State, propagating the ideals of Prince Dapo Abiodun. Even when it became too hot for us, we were motivated by a shared belief in his mission. It was quite an experience. Thankfully, he won the election!
That relentless spirit has, indeed, paid off. It is the same spirit that has guided him through the bittersweet, cut-throat world of global commerce until he emerged unscathed and undaunted in spirit and resolve like a champion. His story is indeed worth telling and retelling for posterity. And I am honoured for the rare privilege to pen this timeless tribute to a man of substance and immeasurable worth.
Unlike other billionaires that one met in the course of life’s peregrination, the very sociable and likeable Prince never treats anyone as a minion or stranger hence, his friendly disposition to everyone, which makes people feel very comfortable in his company. I have travelled with him within and outside Nigeria; enjoyed his hospitality and bonhomie, and benefitted immensely from his contacts.
I felt welcomed in his company at all times in those early days of our acquaintanceship. Apart from giving you a sense of true belonging whenever and wherever your path crosses with his, he never shies away from introducing you to his contacts, some of who have now become good friends to me. And he always has good words to say about one. Then, I used to wonder whether I was the same person he was introducing because he would make you feel at par with those who one saw as larger-than-life in politics and business.
Yes, That’s DA for you!
Working even more closely with him in the last couple of months has further shown and convinced me that he is a very focused and driven leader and that those 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.
Born in Sagamu, Ogun State, he started his early education in the rustic township. His parents were teachers who taught in the same community. As a kid, he learnt a lot from his parents. From his father, Dr. Emmanuel Abiodun, he learnt humility, sacrifice, tact, wisdom and patience. Whatever he learnt from his father was reinforced by his mother. Both parents schooled and fed him on a diet of tough love and inexorable compassion. They taught him to value every human life and relationship.
Growing up in the Abiodun household, he made me understand, was like evolving in a brilliant world of dazzling mirrors. Even now, he relives the sparks of magic and tufts of grace wrought in his psyche by his exceedingly principled and loving parents. His life as a child was brilliant with sunshine.
As the sun emblazons the sky in beams of gold and brightens the earth with brilliant spokes, his parents’ love radiated all over him and imbued him with something of the fabled beauty of Eden and the charm of Neverland.
One star-spangled night as we sat over drinks and banters in his baronial Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos home, he recalled, “I must tell you that I come from a very humble background and my parents are still living. To God be the glory. My parents were teachers and I did not inherit any money from anybody. My story is such that let me say, if I can be where I am today, anybody can be here, I mean, anybody. And it goes a long way to show that you don’t have to have been born by a rich father or mother to be successful in life. My grandfather never believed that he would have a grandson who would be where I am today.”
In the pursuit of glory, Prince Dapo learnt to thrive like a lily in unimaginable valleys. Like white rose growing on concrete slabs or the daring mushroom that pierces the motionless eternity of earth, pushing clearly but obstinately, through faint form, till the hour of fertility strikes, he sought to flourish where many had cowed to defeat. He knew quite early in life that his humble roots should inspire him to success rather than become a burden and impediment to his spirited strides to success. He understood that to learn even the quarter of a breeze, he must hold up a wet finger. Hence, he pursued knowledge to his advantage.
On completion of his secondary school education, Prince Dapo proceeded to the University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife, Osun State. Afterwards, he attended the Kenneasaw State University in Atlanta, Georgia, where he obtained a degree in Accounting. At the end of his academic programme in the United States of America (USA), he worked with a US-based company as an accountant for about a year. Afterwards, he returned to Nigeria to establish his own enterprise which was into electronic security and safety devices. “So, I will say that for the most part of my life I have worked for myself. My employment history is, mostly, as an entrepreneur. My employment was very short in terms of working for people,” he said.
And that employment history of his, no doubt, attests to his relentless and highly independent spirit. Prince Dapo could not bear to serve another man for too long. According to him, he knew very early in his life that he was not cut out to play underling to any man or woman. Prince Dapo never believed in wasting his most productive years in building another man’s dreams. He sought to establish himself as a giant. This inexorable passion to stand out as a giant among men inspired him to seek his niche in the cutthroat world of global entrepreneurship.
However, his ascent on the steep slope of entrepreneurial success and acclaim didn’t lie out in flat miles. It was replete with rigours and daunting challenges. But he towered above all odds to become a successful magnate with vested interests in the global oil and real estate sectors. His success is attributable to hard, valuable lessons from his parents. Among other things, he learnt that there was no wisdom in waiting to see asters bloom on barren land.
He understood that foresight in moving out of his comfort zone in search of greener pasture. Guided by the priceless wisdom of the aged, he left home to seek his fortune elsewhere – he knew perfectly well that only an oyster remains forever at the old homestead. He proceeded to establish himself and started Heyden Petroleum Limited (HPL) with a vision to become a leading global energy and services company. He also sought to create an effective corporate structure to consolidate on growth and his core interest in energy, power and construction.
Revered at home and recognised abroad for his protean productivity and impeccable business foresight, spotting goldmine where many see landmines, he also understands that politics is far too precious and fundamental to be left to the wiles and exploits of villainous characters.
Thus, his belief that the doctrine of altruism and love must be preached as a counteraction to the doctrine of hate and greed that has overtime become the norm in political circuits. Virtues, according to him, should be in the popular estimate, the rule guiding human conduct in business, social and political circuits rather than the exception.
At a time when it is generally believed that one has to be a lowbrow, an incorrigible liar and a bit of a murderer, to be a politician, he ventured into politics to improve lives yet unwilling to see people sacrificed and slaughtered for the sake of his ambition.
In the estimation of many friends and associates, he is cut out for greater roles in the affairs of the country but rather than get high on the wings of the lofty hopes about him, he has chosen to begin his humble ascent in the corridors of power by connecting with his people from the grassroots.
Many people have benefitted in no small measure from the benevolence of his heart and sipped from the fountain of his experience, it is only expedient to extol the virtues of this great man without any recourse to sophistry or gratuitous ornamentation.
In politics, Governor Abiodun has been a roaring success and the people of Ogun State can attest to this. In the business world, you cannot question his place in the clan of Nigeria’s successful business magnates.
Happy birthday, The Special One!