He made what some people have described as a political comeback having gotten back into the national limelight in recent weeks, but Doyin Okupe will certainly not like the attention he is attracting currently. He may be quite vibrant as the honcho of a presidential campaign, but his current circumstances mean that he is not boisterous as a politician should be.
So, who is Doyin Okupe, the physician-cum-politician who was hounded by the military before Nigeria’s return to democracy, and who in a constitutional government is having a run-in with the law, despite his influential status?
Doyin Okupe Biography
Adedoyin “Doyin” Ajibike Okupe was born on March 22, 1952, in Iperu, present-day Ogun State, to the family of Chief Matthew Adekoya Okupe. He is one of the seven children of his father.
Okupe enrolled at St. Jude’s School in Ebute Metta, Lagos State, for his primary education. He then proceeded to Igbobi College in Yaba, Lagos, for his secondary school education. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Ibadan.
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Okupe’s career has seen him work in several hospitals, both public and private-owned. He once worked as a doctor at St. Nicholas Hospital in Lagos before he set up his structure.
Alongside Dr Seyi Roberts and Dr Ladi Okuboyejo, Okupe established the Royal Cross Medical Centre (also known as Royal Cross Hospital) in the Obalende area of Lagos. The Ogun-born physician oversaw operations at Royal Cross Medical Center at its inception stage as the Managing Director.
He also had a health publication published by him, entitled: Life Mirror.
Okupe transitioned into politics when ran for the House of Representatives in the 1983 general elections under the platform of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN)
He was appointed National Publicity Secretary of the National Republican Convention in the Third Republic (NRC). He was one of the NRC agents present at the headquarters of the now-defunct National Electoral Commission (NEC) when the results of the 1993 presidential election in Nigeria were being collated.
On October 3, 1996, Okupe was imprisoned by the military administration of General Sani Abacha. Then, in March 1998, during Abacha’s botched transition plan, he was among the politicians barred from participating in the primary elections of the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP).
Upon Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, the doctor-cum-politician joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He was subsequently appointed as the Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity by President Olusegun Obasanjo. In 2002, he contested the Ogun State PDP governorship primary but did not get the party’s ticket.
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He made a return to the Presidency in 2012 as President Goodluck Jonathan appointed him as his Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs. Asides from presidents Obasanjo and Jonathan, Okupe has served as a publicist, at various times, to other top-ranking politicians for their political campaigns such as Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president; and Bukola Saraki, a former Senate president.
The renowned political publicist toyed with the idea of leaving the PDP and announced he was joining the Accord Party in July 2017 but rescinded his decision. The Accord Party subsequently expelled him in September 2018
When he returned to the PDP, he took up the role of spokesperson for Atiku Abubakar, the PDP’s presidential contender in Nigeria’s 2019 presidential election.
He is currently a member of the Labour Party (LP).
Bid to contest the 2023 election and appointment as Labour Party’s Presidential Campaign Director
Okupe announced in early 2022 his bid to contest the 2023 presidential election under the platform of the PDP. However, following his realisation of the political realities and seeing that he was unlikely to get the ticket of the party, he stepped down from the race.
He subsequently announced his support for the bid of Peter Obi, a former Anambra State governor, who was an aspirant for the race under the PDP platform. Obi, just like Okupe, left the PDP about a week before the party’s presidential primary, citing irreconcilable differences.
The former Anambra governor then moved to the Labour Party to realise his ambition and Okupe followed him. The Ogun-born politician became a close confidante of Obi and was initially listed as the vice presidential candidate of the Labour Party until the party’s approved running mate was made known, a concept in Nigerian politics known as “placeholder”. Following the announcement of Datti Ahmed as the LP’s vice presidential candidate, Okupe was subsequently named as the Director-General of the Obi Presidential Campaign Organisation.
He resigned from his position as the DG of the Obi Presidential Campaign Organisation on December 20, 2022, after he was convicted of money laundering charges.
According to a report from August 2012, Okupe and his businesses were under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly failing to carry out road construction contracts given to them by Benue State in 2004 and Imo State in 2005. Imo State eventually struck a settlement, while the dispute with Benue State was settled through arbitration.
In 2016, Okupe was linked by the EFCC to the $702 million that was allegedly embezzled from the $2 billion arms deal by the office of the National Security Adviser headed by Colonel Sambo Dasuki (retd.) He was charged with 59 counts bordering on alleged money laundering and diversion of funds to the tune of ₦702 million by the EFCC before a Federal High Court in Abuja on January 14, 2019.
In its judgment delivered on December 19, 2022, the court found Okupe guilty of contravening sections 16(1) and (2) of the Money Laundering Act and accepting cash above N5 million, the stipulated cash limit for individuals to hold physically. He was found guilty of receiving over N200 million cash from Dasuki and was sentenced on 26 out of the 59 charges preferred against him by the EFCC.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu sentenced the former presidential spokesperson to two years imprisonment, with an option of N500, 000 fine on each of the 26-count charges he was found guilty of. The Director-General of the LP Presidential Campaign Council paid the fine, which totalled N13 million.
Okupe is estimated to be worth between $2-$5 million.
He is married to Aduralere Okupe. The couple has two children, named Ditan and Bolu.
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