An Exclusive interview with Ogunpola Damilola, a graduate of Olabisi Onabanjo University; he was before leaving Ogun State Government’s political appointment, the Personal Assistant Media to Governor Ibikunle Amosun and on reelection re-appointed as Special Assistant Media to Governor Amosun. He poured is mind out on his activities while serving in Ogun State Government, Rumours surrounding his exit from the Ogun government, relationship with Sen Solomon Adeola Yayi, Rebuilders and many more.
Amebo: Who is Damilola Ogunponla and how was your journey to political breakthrough?
Ogunpola: Ogunpola Damilola is the son of a Chief George Akinola Ogunpola. I was born in Abeokuta in the year 1982 and my village Ajegunle is in Ewekoro LGA. I will say politics is a thing that runs in my blood. As a 2yr old boy, my mum do take me to see my dad when he was locked in Kirikiri Maximum prison by the General Muhammadu Buhari government of 1984. As I grew older, my father took me along to high profile political meetings despite my very young age. I met politician like Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande right in my house. In 1995, I met former President Olusegun Obasanjo too and I was even present when he was discussing his Presidential ambition in 1999 with my dad.
I took a major decision to go into politics in 1995 when my dad was arrested by the Abacha govt. I was just in JS3 when they came to arrest him. It was very early in the morning and we were dressing up for school around 5:30am. I led them to my dad’s room and he was led into the black maria waiting outside. He looked into my face and said “Dammyboy, don’t let this scare you, let this encourage you”. At that point I was so dazed. I thought I wouldn’t see him again. He was always telling me to put people first in anything I do in politics.
My first political meeting with a sitting governor was with Akinrogun Osoba in 2002. Of course I went along with my dad and when my dad asked me to excuse them, Akinrogun Osoba himself asked me to stay. “So I have always learnt so much in politics till I got appointed by Senator Ibikunle Amosun”.
Amebo: You were a leading leader of rebuilders, how did the group come to formation, what were your roles and did the organization prompted your first appointment?
Ogunponla: Well, the group rebuilder was formed after I got appointed by Senator Ibikunle Amosun. It was jointly conceived by Ibrahim Amosun, Prince Ibraheem Adegbokiki and Sheriff Alani Adebayo. Ibrahim Amosun and Sheriff Alani Adebayo approached me in the office, told me about it and it was launched with the support of the governor Senator Ibikunle Amosun. My role basically was to interface with the group as a government representative. The rest is history now.
Amebo: You were a foremost social media warlord for the state government, were you appointed for such roles and how was it easy to maintain a balance between creating a friendship beyond politics with your fellas and antagonists
Ogunponla: Yes, I was appointed to project the administration in good light and defend its programmes and policies. At first it was not easy but as time went, I understood more about balancing things, got advice from experienced people and even from within the opposition. I could remember I wrote something against Prince Gboyega Isiaka towards that build up to the 2015 election. He called me and explained his own position. He advised me and I apologised for whatever harm that had caused him.
Amebo: You had a fall out with the governor of a recent, what was the major cause?
Ogunpola: Hmmmm deep sigh! First of all let me say Senator Ibikunle Amosun is one of my greatest benefactor and I will forever be grateful for giving me that platform to excel. God bless him. “I did not fallout with the governor. What happened was administrative and political misconception. The governor called me along with a colleague that he heard i have been having a relationship with Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola aka YAYI. I told him that isn’t true and it’s only the handiwork of mischief makers. It was a brief discussion and that governor asked me to be careful. I thanked him and left. The next day, I was to attend a pre introduction at my in law’s residence in Lagos and coincidentally, it was also the day the governor was having his end of the year party. I was supposed to pick a cousin who lodged at a hotel just behind the governor’s house at Ikeja GRA around 2pm in the afternoon.
That was the same time the first lady’s driver, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola and myself were in that hotel. We did not come at the same time neither did we leave at the same time. I saw the driver when I got out of the rest room, I called him and greeted him. I asked for his mission at the hotel and he asked for mine to and I told him. I saw him off to the rooms he came for and we both came back to the lobby to take a seat. He paid and I saw him off to his car while I returned to the lobby where I waited to pick my cousin for my pre introduction.
Unknowingly to me, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola aka YAYI was already leaving that hotel and the driver concluded that I was there to meet with him right behind the governor’s house at 2pm in the afternoon.
Few days after, I got a call via a colleague from the SSG. I got to his office and he asked me about what happened. I tried explaining but he was not interested in my explanation. He told me that the governor doesn’t trust me anymore and he has asked me to disengage from the government. He said I can’t be working with the governor and information will be at risk. I smiled, thanked him and left.
Unknowingly to me, though I got to know few minutes before entering his office, the SSG had already dated my resignation letter and directed that my salary be stopped because my appointment had been terminated. Let me make you understand that. The normal practice is that when you signed for your appointment letter, you also sign your resignation letter at that point BUT the date column will be left blank.
I didn’t have the chance to meet the governor to explain my side of the story either but I understood that perfectly.
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Amebo: It was on grapevine that you were caught sharing classified documents with a particular politician, your reaction?
Ogunpola: Sharing government documents? Hehehehehe… It’s totally false! Well let me put it straight that I had no access to any documents while I was in office other than whatever we were given officially from the ministry of information to use on social media. I don’t have an office dedicated to myself, I don’t sign any file or documents so I challenge anyone saying that to come out with such classified documents which have been released anywhere in the media circle.
Amebo: Some said you were sacked while some said you tendered your resignation, what’s the true situation?
Ogunponla: I was not sacked, the government dated my resignation letter. I have explained that under question 4 and the commissioner for information confirmed my resignation in premium times interview.
Amebo: You have been seen with Sen Adeola a front gunner for the number one seat, what’s actually your relationship.
Ogunpola: My relationship with Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola is political and nothing more. He asked me to be on his team for the actualization of his 2019 governorship ambition which by the special grace of God will become a reality.
Amebo: Almost after you bowed out of the state government appointment, you were seen gallivanting with the reason for your relief “Sen Adeola” Dont you think the government spy might be right after all?
Ogunpola : Distinguished Sen Adeola spoke with me after I left Ogun Government to join him, it wasn’t while serving. There is nothing like a spy. Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola is an APC member. I have known him since 2014 when he tried to represent for the Ogun West Senatorial district in Ogun State. He was not a stranger in Ogun APC, he once visited the governor both at his Lagos home and the government house in Abeokuta. All cadre of government appointees flock his house back then. All these were not hidden. He was accepted by all back then even by the powers that be in government.
So when he spoke with me about all what happened and why I needed to join his gubernatorial team, it was not very difficult for him to convince me and moreover, I am a politician. Even till this moment, we have to a very large extent people serving in this government in different capacities that still relate with Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola towards his 2019 governorship ambition.
Amebo: Some believed your politics doesn’t go beyond the Social Media, is this a true statement?
Ogunpola: Well that’s not true in any way. I have revealed few things about myself with regards to my life and politics in my first answer. I operate two local government areas, Abeokuta North and Ewekoro but I stay more in Abeokuta North and I attend my ward meetings. I also help the people of my local government in my own little way.
Amebo: Recently some Chairmen loyal to your new principal were pushed aside over misconduct, how is your new camp dealing with this?
Ogunpola: It is not a camp affair, it’s a party issue which I believe will be resolved. The party constitution is very clear to this effect and the National organ of the party is aware and they have promised to look into the matter.
Amebo: Most times your defense of Ogun Government had made you have profound foes, especially the likes of Sf Ojo (a core antagonist of the present government), now that both of you are now together, how was your first meeting, and what transpired.
Ogunpola: When I discovered Sf Ojo was also with Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, I was a bit confused. It took me a while before I could really let him into my political thoughts. We still have disagreement over his way of criticism of the present administration but the success of Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola 2019 has made me set few things aside to work cordially with Ojo to make that a reality.
Amebo: What’s your relationship now between you and the Governor of the state now that you have a new principal.
Ogunpola: Like I said earlier, he’s one of my greatest benefactor. He took a stand as the Chief Executive of a State and the state’s number one security officer and that’s very normal. Even after leaving the government, I still defended his policies which I have defended in the past.
Amebo: How do you perceive some government policies especially after you left the camp of the governor?
Ogunpola: There are no new policies. The governor was very clear with his 5 cardinal programmes and his mission to rebuild is still on track.
Amebo: Is their any possibility of you working with the Governor again?
Ogunpola: This is politics, there are alignments and realignments anything can happen but my focus now is Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola and his 2019 aspiration in Ogun State.
Amebo: It is no doubt the governor brought you to limelight, if he calls on you to support his candidate come 2019, will you accept such offer?
Ogunpola: Yes I will if that candidate is Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola aka YAYI
Amebo: How will you rate this administration despite been out of its system?
Ogunpola: This administration has been doing good even in the face of obvious national economic challenges but I believe there is still much room for improvement.
Amebo: How will you judge the present government and what do you think your new principal will do differently if voted in?
Amebo: Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola will present his programmes at the appropriate time and hopefully I will have another chance to talk about his programmes here. Like I said earlier, there is still much room for improvement.
Amebo: You are yet to get married, what time should your fiends and family be expecting?
Ogunpola: I am happily married! Got married in February, 2017!
Amebo: Why was such marriage not elaborate despite your high ranked position in the polity?
Ogunpola : It was the decision of my in-laws
Amebo: During your leisure hours, what do you do?
Ogunpola: I watch football and movies then I also watch documentaries
Amebo: Some of your friends in Rebuilders were promised juicy career work, were they given if not what was your contribution towards ensuring the Governor heed his promise and more so what are your personal contribution to the group?
Ogunpola: Yes the governor made few promises of careers jobs to few of the team rebuilders and I know the governor will fulfill his promise at the right time. The governor believes so much in rules and regulations and he won’t want to go against that. My personal contribution to the group is to make sure the activities of the group are always brought to the governors notice and on few occasions, the governor had granted the group audience via a dinner.
Amebo: What should be expected from you to do differently this time around especially that you are no longer on the pay roll of Ogun State government?
Ogunpola: Well nothing much has changed. I have had time to get more involved in the private sector via my company and my wealth of experience in governance and social media marketing.
Amebo: Are you contesting in 2019?
Ogunpola: When we get to the bridge we will cross it but that really depends on God’s plans for ones life. God first!