In the game of politics, power and excellence do not usually mix because as they say, power corrupts. This is why politicians all around the world endure harsh scrutiny irrespective of their use of power, achievements and general actions in and out of the political space.
A close look at the man Nigerians have come to know as OGD may reveal why he faces even harsher scrutiny. This is because he defies all available stereotypes of career politicians.
A brilliant engineer with proven and visible results over the years, OGD seemed to have always been marked for success.
Long before the beginning of his political sojourn, Otunba Gbenga Daniel (OGD) had made a name as the owner of Kresta Laurel, an electro-mechanical engineering company, which he started in 1990. The company eventually grew to become one of the biggest companies in Nigeria, and by age 40, he was already rated one of the richest men in Nigeria by Newswatch.
In his early years as an undergraduate, he had won several scholarships and was so much of a prodigious student that during his year as a National Youth Service Corp member at the School of Engineering of the Lagos State Polytechnic, he supervised the construction of the Engineering complex and also conducted the semester examinations for the School of Engineering. An unrivalled feat for one at his level, he swiftly followed up with a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Lagos. In later years, he crowned his business studies with an executive programme in 1990 at the Lagos Business School.
While growing a reputable career, all of which prepared him for the rigours of politics, OGD worked at Metal Construction (W/Africa) Limited as the Assistant Commercial Manager. In 1983, he joined the then multinational company, H.F.SCHROEDER West Africa Limited, Lagos and as a result of his diligence, rose to the position of deputy managing director at Schroeder, becoming the first African to hold such a position in the company’s history.
Kresta Laurel, his brainchild that specialised in elevators, overhead travelling cranes and hoists was a consolidation of his abilities and vision as an engineer.
As a man who loved to craft, build or bridge gaps, OGD had always operated at the fringes of Nigerian politics, always doing his bit for his country.
After graduation and his consolidation as a business-minded engineer, OGD joined the Yoruba social-cultural group Afenifere under the then leadership of Pa Abraham Adesanya. During the struggle against the military juntas and campaign for the reinstatement of the annulled June 12 election, Gbenga Daniel became one of the financiers of the National Democratic Coalition (Nigeria) NADECO providing support to members who were fleeing the country to seek asylum abroad.
In 2003, he finally threw his hat into the political ring to vie for the office of the governor of Ogun State. His campaign strategy at the time of meeting with every stakeholder of every street and area in the state to sell his ideas redefined campaign trends in Nigeria. It was therefore not much of a surprise when in a landslide manner, he defeated the incumbent Governor Olusegun Osoba with the widest margin ever at the time in the Ogun State governorship race.
As governor, his unique insight saw him run an open government that allowed the people access to their leaders and this became the yardstick for subsequent officeholders. This, among other things, secured his return for a second term, which secured his win against a new opponent.
Since he left the number one seat of the Ogun State government, he has sustained his relevance in the business and political world with impressive grace.
In 2016, he was elected president of, the Nigerian-Finnish Business Council, which was established to foster business relations between Nigerian companies and their counterparts in Finland to encourage trade and investment. Never one to rest on laurels, he started KLL Construction Limited in 2017 to present a new kind of construction company culture in Nigeria.
In addition to relevance, despite all political persecution, the enigmatic founder of Conference Hotels was one of the only office holders not prosecuted by the EFCC despite repeated scrutiny and is as a result headed back to the Senate as a free man to serve his people once again.
Beyond politics, OGD is a tried and tested leader, with a proven interest in growth with or without the backing of political power. As he begins his sojourn into the Nigerian Senate, his antecedent proves that not only is he the right fit for the people of Ogun and all patriotic Nigerians, he is a man to be honoured, emulated and celebrated as he clocks 67.