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Aiyedatiwa: Ondo 2024 delicately poised for another controversy

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Governorship Primary further puts Ondo APC in disarray

Olusesan Laoye

After what seemed like an eternity with both parties in the Ondo state drama stalemated, the Deputy governor, Mr. Lucky Aiyedatiwa, last week, for the second time, assumed office as full fledged Acting Governor, which now gives him the authority to exercise the power of the governor’s office, unlike the first time, when he was political constrained.

The new developments is caused by the serious illness of the incumbent, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who went back to Germany to continue his treatment for Leukmania, a blood cancer, in which chemotherapy is always required, that also keeps him off balance for 10 hours, each time and makes him barely articulate.

With this deteriorating condition of governor Akeredolu’s health, who only surfaced once in the office, immediately he came back from his last German trip, intense pressures were mounted on the need for Akeredolu to, now, hand over power to his deputy, as the full acting governor, that would be able to operate with an executive order.

The agitation became rife in view of the fact that there were various atrocities being committed by some cabals, who have hijacked governance, using the advantage of Governor Akeredolu’s health to operate at will, sidelining the Deputy Governor, Aiyedatiwa in the affairs of government.

This situation, angered the supporters of the Aiyedatiwa both within the government and political circles in the state, and raised serious constitutional and political issues in the country.

It was however from this group, that the agitation heightened, which caught the public attention.

At the end of the day, the cart was let out of the bag and what both his immediate family, cronies in government and associates within and outside the party, were hiding, became known that the governor has turned vegetative, and not in any way fit to govern, and should hand over to the next man to him.

Akeredolu had been rushed back from Germany stop Aiyedatiwa from doing much damage to his political camp after it became public that they orchestrating a campaign against the absentee governor in the media. However, on his return, Akeredolu was escounced in Ibadan, Oyo state, away from the prying eyes of Ondo people, which further fueled the controversy.

Although Akeredolu would still be referred to as the governor, the operational power lies on Aiyedatiwa and this is where his maturity and governance acumen, would come into play.

Already Aiyedatiwa, has a lot to contend with in terms of governance and would need to straighten things, which have not been going smoothly for over a year now, that governor Akeredolu has become incapacitated, to govern properly.

What could however, help Aiyedatiwa to recover quickly and set the ball rolling, is the agreement signed with President Ahmad, Bola Tinubu, who stepped into the Ondo crisis, when it was getting out of hand.

The agreement stipulates that the Acting governor should not dissolve the cabinet or dismantle any structure of government still existing and should not show vendetta to anyone but be prepared to still be loyal to Akeredolu.

Although the cabinet and the state secretariat as a whole have been polarized, it was believed that this is the appropriate time for Aiyedatiwa to mend fences and carry everybody along. But a sticky aspect of the alleged was the condition that Aiyedatiwa should signed an undated resignation letter, which caused a uproar in the polity.

Also, the legislative arm of government, which could give him headache, due to its polarization as well, has been made by President Tinubu, to tow all the lines of the agreement that there should not be any move to impeach the Deputy and all of them must cooperate with him.

Although all these factors are there to enable Aiyedatiwa govern smoothly, the political situation and his own ambition for the governorship in 2024, is an issue, which may cause problem in the state in the absence of Akeredolu.

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Before his absence, the political activities have been gathering momentum, and likely contestants for the governorship have been known, including Aiyedatiwa himself.

His ambition has been the crux of the matter between him and Akeredolu, who is not favourable to his participation.

The argument in the State is for the Ondo South Senatorial District to produce the governor, in 2024. This is also the zone, where contenders are many, both in the All Progressives Congress (APC) , the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP,) Social Democratic party and the new wave, Labour Party.

Those who are coming out of the zone from all the political parties have been mapping about strategies to favour them. While some have banked on the support of the ailing governor Akeredolu, others have their backing from the Presidency.

Those notable in the same zone with Aiyedatiwa for the governorship, Include, Senator Jimoh Ibrahim, Chief Olusola Oke, who have been contesting, the governorship of the state since when he was in PDP, later SDP, before he moved to the APC, where he even contested with the incumbent Akeredolu but lost in the primary.

He and Jimoh Ibrahim are said to be the most favoured at the top echelon of the APC.

It was further argued that, while he will be working underground, based on the agreement, his supporters all over the state, may not work with the agreement and start promoting him ahead of the time, when their principal would get a go ahead from the top to open his campaign train.

And if it happens, that he was told not to contest and give room for someone favoured by both Akeredolu and the Presidency, he may want to defile the agreement and work solo. At worst, he may leave the party for another one, where he would contest.

 

Though no one knows what steps he would take and what would unfold, at the end of the day in the political permutations, it is most likely that the person that the Presidency would back for the governorship would get the ticket of the APC and it is envisaged that the person with the Federal might, is likely to win the election.

Though the Acting governor, appears to have started well with his broadcast to the citizens of the state, immediately, he assumed office, giving them assurance of hope, there were other issues and people that could make him step on toes, administratively,

Aiyedatiwa in his broadcast called for the need to quickly resume the state’s developmental agenda, moving past the distractions caused by the governor’s illness. He called for prayers and support for Governor Akeredolu during his health crisis.
According to him. “At this juncture, permit me to say that only God Almighty has explanations for what happened in the last few months.
“When nature sets in to hinder human performance, it is always a painful thing.
“We must acknowledge that the key to the wellbeing of a man is in the hands of God. It is not for us as humans to question God but to pray for His mercies upon our lives.

“It is in this regard that we admit with all sense of responsibility that the intrigues that ensued due to Mr. Governor’s health challenges were indeed avoidable distractions.
“We ought to have done better so as to keep giving Ondo state the seamless and solid governance, which Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN, CON, had established in the state in the last six-and-a-half years.”
However, last week the acting governor temporarily suspended the governor’s Chief of staff, pending his return, which points to the role he may have played against during the crisis.
The issues at stake include, the attitude of the wife of the governor Betty and her son, Babajide, who have been over bearing and in actual control of the affairs of the state, the allegations of forgery of the signature of the governor on official documents and any attempts that would be made to still want to undermine his status, are seen to be big problems that could make him steps on toes and, which could endanger the agreement.

Like the the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Rasaq Obe, who exposed the forgery of the governor’s signature on official document to his office, wrote, after confirming the irregularities in the signature, “I will be ready to fight the matter to a logical end,” other things may follow.

According to him, “I am ready to take the battle to any length with anybody or persecutor and I will not stop till they are all brought to book and jailed.”

Though the controversy over the matter is still on going, a call has been made to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to investigate the forgery issue.

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Tackling the excesses of the governor’s wife and son along with the strong, powerful house members, such as the speaker, loyal to Akeredolu, would be a very big task for the Acting governor. This is where he has to use great wisdom to overcome. However, he is getting support from unlikely sources, such as Senior Advocate of Nigeria, (SAN), Barrister Kayode Ajulo, who has been very vocal about the forgery matter. He too, along with the commissioner who exposed the irregularities in Akeredolu’s signature, had said that some cabals and government officials were involved in the forgery, saying, that the absence of Governor Akeredolu from June this year 2023, till date, created a big vacuum, for “some cabals to hijacked governance in Ondo state.”

Meanwhile, the former speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon Bamidele Oloyeloogun, has said that desperation of politicians, in Ondo State, for the 2024 governorship race has been responsible for the crisis going on in the state.

He said that the only way for the State to get out of the present mess in the absence of Governor Akeredolu, is for all the stake holders and elders in the state, to come together hold a meeting, to show concern and speak with one voice to tackle the issue, which if not properly handled, could plunge Ondo state, into a serious upheaval.

“For a long time, there has never been an elders Forum meeting of Ondo indigenes.This is worrisome and that was why, I had to go to Abuja to meet the most elderly person , Pa Akinyelure in the APC, to contact other elders not limited to APC alone, to convey a meeting on the way forward for Ondo State.”

 

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