Gbenga Daniel, a former governor of Ogun State and chief strategist for the Atiku Abubakar presidential campaign, has resigned from active and partisan politics.
Mr Daniel, a longtime chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, said in a letter to the party’s chairman, Uche Secondus, that he abandoned politics after realising that he had reached the peak of his career.
The 62-year-old would now spend the rest of his retirement running his charity and political foundation, he said in the March 14 letter.
A career engineer with renown background in installation and maintenance of elevators, Mr Daniel joined the PDP in 2001 to run for governor in Ogun State. He defeated incumbent Olusegun Osoba in the 2003 general elections, and went on to serve two terms until 2011.
Mr Daniel said a crisis that engulfed the PDP in Ogun State shortly before he left office lingers 10 years on, desperate concerted efforts by party loyalists to find a lasting solution.
He was arraigned for alleged corruption shortly after leaving office by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and disappeared into political oblivion as he struggled to extricate himself of the multi-billion naira charges of misappropriation of public funds. Several years after his arraignment, however, no verdict had been reached by the federal court on his matter.
Mr Daniel regained political prominence in 2017 when he ran to be national chairman of the PDP. Even though he ran some of the sturdiest campaigns at the time, he ultimately lost to Mr Secondus at the party’s national convention in December 2017.
Although Mr Daniel shared the sentiments of other Yoruba politicians who alleged widespread injustice and conspiracy in the convention’s outcome, he soon re-emerged as the main man of Mr Abubakar’s presidential exploratory panel in early 2018.
In May 2018, Mr Abubakar confirmed widespread expectation and named Mr Daniel his campaign director. But following Mr Abubakar’s victory at the presidential primaries in October 2018, Mr Daniel was dropped as the director general, replaced by Bukola Saraki, Nigeria’s Senate President.
But Mr Abubakar kept Mr Daniel as a key strategist with somewhat undefined but sweeping roles in the campaign structure.
Multiple sources close to Mr Daniel told PREMIUM TIMES Saturday that his resignation was a fallout of the outcome of the presidential election, which saw President Muhammadu Buhari declared winner against Mr Abubakar with nearly four million votes difference.
Mr Daniel felt he could have done better to ensure victory for the party but for his removal as the head of campaign committee, according to a source close to the former governor.
“He was rejected because he is a Yoruba when he contested for the party’s chairmanship,” an associate of Mr Daniel knowledgeable of the discussion that preceded his resignation from the PDP told PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday. “Then he was humiliated by being removed as the DG of campaign shortly after securing the presidential ticket.”
Mr Daniel did not publicly oppose the appointment of Mr Saraki as the campaign DG, and insisted in his letter that the decision to quit politics was strictly personal and not borne out of ill-feelings against the party or elements within it.
Kola Ologbondiyan, a spokesperson for the PDP, told PREMIUM TIMES Saturday afternoon he had not seen Mr Daniel’s letter to the party, and would, therefore, not be able to comment.
A spokesperson for Mr Abubakar was unavailable for comments Saturday afternoon.
Read below a full transcript of Mr Daniel’s letter to Mr Secondus which a party source made available to PREMIUM TIMES Saturday afternoon:
14th March, 2019
The National Chairman,
Peoples Democratic Party,
Wadata Plaza, Michael Okpara Street
Wuse Zone II, Abuja
*Attention: Prince Uche Secondus*
*Resignation from Partisan Politics*
This is to inform you of my intention to resign from active and partisan politics with effect from today, the 14th day of March, 2019.
My decision in this regard is entirely personal to me and having served in various capacities, including as Governor of Ogun State, I have resolved to immerse myself in some other vocations and take on some new challenges.
My Political Journey so far
I joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State on Sunday, the 9th of September, 2001 at an event which was described as one of the most ceremonial political rallies in our recent political history in the South Western part of Nigeria. We rose from that rally to create a highly robust and effective political campaign machinery which resulted in an electoral victory for the Peoples Democratic Party in Ogun State in 2003; this movement and vibration affected the politics of the region positively with a victory in five (5) states of the South West.
2. I served as Governor of Ogun State for eight (8) years and our administration till today remains a point of reference in terms of physical, social, economic, educational and human capital development since the State was created in 1976.
3. Notwithstanding these widely acclaimed achievements however, our party, the Peoples Democratic Party ran into trouble waters towards the end of our administration (about the year 2009) which led to the sad loss in the election of 2011, and regrettably ten (10) years after the party has been unable to resolve those internal disputes and challenges.
4. Meanwhile, the PDP in Ogun State was confronted with a very difficult situation in matter of choice. Whereas the national leadership of our party, recognized one candidate for the 2019 election, by court pronouncements another candidate, and in compliance with those court orders, which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recognized was on the INEC list. The candidates recognized by INEC were not acceptable to the national leadership of the party. Our situation was then compounded because the candidate which the court and INEC recognized and accepted as valid has also been expelled by the party. This was the dilemma we found ourselves as we approached the March 9, 2019 Governorship and State House of Assembly elections.
5. Going forward, we have responded to the yearnings of our people and joined others in emplacing an administration that we believe will better serve the interests of our people than what currently exists. The rest they say is now history.
6. I must say that looking back, I do not have any regrets over that patriotic choice and decision, especially as several of our citizens, leaders and stakeholders in the state and outside have commended that singular action. Many stakeholders within and outside Ogun State feel fulfilled, excited and grateful about our decision to join others in putting a stop to a regime that was believed to be against the collective and general welfare of our people.
7. Let me also add, that in the last few months, I have had one of the rare privileges of traveling round the entire length and breadth of our great country on at least two occasions; the first being during my campaigns to become the National Chairman of our great party, and later as the Director General of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organization (APCO).
8. I must sincerely admit that in the course of all these travels, I have built a network of contacts, of friends and associates in a mutually rewarding relationships which I cherished most and greatly too. I am therefore persuaded that I have fewer points to make and prove in my Political journeys in partisan politics.
9. My decision to quit partisan politics notwithstanding, I have decided to rejuvenate my charity based organization, the Gateway Front Foundation (GFF) which will literally continue to dispense succor to our people in need, address and assist in the areas of some of their health challenges; I also plan on resuscitation of the non-partisan Political Leadership Academy (POLA) which I established some years ago as a platform of political education to our citizens.
10. Without doubt, I will miss the company of my friends and associates and all those relationships I built in the course of the years all over the country.
While I crave for your kind understanding, accept assurances of my highest regards.
Otunba (Engr.) Gbenga Daniel, FNSE, FNAEng
Governor of Ogun State (2003-2011).
His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar GCON
Chairman, Board of Trustees (PDP)