The ‘eleyi’ of Ogun defying all odds
Dapo Abiodun first came to the consciousness of the majority of Nigerians in the 2019 political season when he challenged Ibikunle Amosun, the-then Governor of Ogun State, and triumphed against all the odds. His victory was stunning, considering the level of connection that the former governor enjoyed and possessed.
His tenure as Governor of one of the main industrial states in Nigeria is not what has brought the public attention, rather a comment by Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is what has catapulted Abiodun to notability this time around. A comment that will remain golden in the annals of Nigerian politics.
So, who is Dapo Abiodun, the ‘eleyi’ of Ogun State, who seems to be defying the political storms thundering him from all sides?
Dapo Abiodun biography
Adedapo “Dapo” Oluseun Abiodun was welcomed into the world on May 29, 1960, in Iperu Remo, Ogun State, by the family of Emmanuel and Victoria Abiodun.
He began his secondary school education at Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, in 1972. He later moved to St. Joseph’s College, Ondo, in 1977, and Ondo High School, where he completed his schooling in 1978.
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Abiodun’s higher institution status in Nigeria remains a mystery to date. He was involved in a certificate scandal leading up to the 2019 general elections as he claimed to have graduated from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) on the 2015 senatorial election form for Ogun East Senatorial District. He, however, stated that he was admitted to OAU but did not finish his civil engineering programme and did not graduate from the university.
He is, however, known to have studied accounting at Kennesaw State University in the US state of Georgia in 1986. In addition, he has an honorary degree in business administration and finance from Adeleke University in Ede, Osun State. and also has an honorary doctorate in finance from the Ekiti State University in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State.
Abiodun’s professional career began in the US where he worked at Glock Inc. as a Cost Accountant from 1989 to 1991.
He subsequently returned to Nigeria and made a name for himself in business. Before he ventured into politics, Abiodun established himself in the private sector as an accounting guru and shrewd administrator. Before 2015, he was the Chairman and/or Chief Executive of several established companies, including Crestar Hydrocarbons Limited, OMS-Heyden Exploration and Production Limited, Heyden Petroleum Limited, Alarmnet and Innovative Ventures Limited, and First Power Limited.
He was Chairman of the Oil and Gas Committee of Ogun State in 2009 and Chairman of the Depot and Petroleum Product Marketers Association (DAPPMA) from 2012 till 2019.
His knowledge and versatility in accounting, engineering, electricity and business, in general, enabled him to be considered for high-profile appointments in the public sector. He was appointed a member of the Presidential Think Tank set up by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2001 and appointed Chairman of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018.
Foray into politics
When it was announced under the regime of the now-late Sani Abacha that a transition programme to democracy was been facilitated by the government in 1998, Abiodun joined the defunct United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP). He was elected a Senator, emerging as the youngest senator-elect in the country. However, the death of Abacha and the controversy surrounding the political process meant that the entire programme was quashed and Abiodun’s hopes were dashed.
Upon the country’s actual return to democracy a year later, the accountant joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in his state. He contested the party’s 2002 gubernatorial primary, which was conducted ahead of the 2003 general election, but finished as the runner-up to Gbenga Daniel, the eventual winner of the state governorship election.
He remained undeterred in his wish to be elected into public office and ran for the Ogun East Senatorial District seat on the platform of the APC in 2015. However, he was defeated by the PDP candidate in the general election.
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Election as Governor of Ogun State
He contested for the office of Governor of Ogun State in 2019 on the platform of the APC. This time, he was successful, despite his boss, Governor Ibikunle Amosun, objecting to his candidacy. Abiodun defeated Amosun’s preferred candidate, Adekunle Akinlade of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), in a tightly contested election in which he won with a margin of just over 19,500 votes.
He was sworn in as Governor of Ogun State on 29 May 2019.
In 1986, Abiodun was arrested for allegedly committing credit card fraud in Miami Dade Florida, USA. He was said to have used a pseudo-name (Shawn Michael Davids) to conceal his criminal identity. He was eventually arrested in November 1986 for the crime, as well as for fighting and injuring a police officer in an attempt to resist arrest. The incident was brought to the knowledge of Nigerians by two Nigerian online newspapers, Sahara Reporters and Peoples Gazette.
In conjunction with other global media outlets, Premium Times, a Nigerian news website, exposed Abiodun in the Pandora Papers in 2021 about owning and being a Director of two offshore firms – Marlowes Trading Corporation and Heyden Petroleum Limited – situated in the British Virgin Islands, a well-known tax haven. This action, the newspaper reported, was a breach of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, as public officials are expected to renounce leadership roles in private firms upon assumption of office.
The newspaper also alleged that the Ogun-born politician did not publicly declare his interests in the companies before he was sworn in as governor, as required by Nigerian law. He, however, made no public comments on the allegation.
However, the biggest controversy surrounding his political fate occurred in June 2022 when Tinubu, who was then a presidential aspirant in the APC, censured him publicly over his (Abiodun’s) alleged support for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo ahead of the 2022 APC presidential primary.
While speaking in the Yoruba language to the APC presidential primary delegates in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, Tinubu referred to Abiodun as ‘eleyi’, a term which is loosely translated to mean “this one”. This term is used to demean one’s personality and the derogatory moniker has subsequently been used to refer to the governor by all and sundry.
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Abiodun was honoured by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in 2014 with the national award of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (MFR).
Also, the Nigeria Cocoa Summit and Awards presented Abiodun with the 2021 Award of Excellence in recognition of his contributions to the state’s cocoa sector. He has supported interventions in his state’s cocoa industry, including meeting all requirements for the state to take part in the CBN Cocoa Development Initiative, allocating land for potential investors in primary production, and providing farmers in his state with 100,000 cocoa seedlings in 2020–21.
Dapo Abiodun net worth
As of 2022, Abiodun’s net worth is estimated at $314 million.
Abiodun married Bamidele Abiodun in 1990 and the couple has five children, including the late Olugbenga Abiodun, a Nigerian DJ, also known as DJ Olu.
Dapo Abiodun religion
He attends services with the Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministry and is a born-again Christian. He has declared that God brought him to the office of Governor of Ogun State, despite significant opposition.
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