There were strong indications that alls till not well in Odo State, over the conflicts between the ailing governor of the State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, and his embattled Deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, despite the intervention of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who tried to put an end to the prolonged feud, which was speculated to be, as a result of the next year’s governorship election, which Aiyedatiwa, is gearing up to contest.
President Tinubu waded into the crisis, when it was glaring that there may not be an end to it due to the deadlock between the two warring groups of Aiyedatiwa and Akeredolu, after there had been several failed attempts to settle the rifts.
Although President Tinubu did not just stepped into the matter, there were several factors which called for that. However, his intervention followed that of the APC national body, which did not produce concrete roadmap for the way forward as the two stuck to their guns.
In the first place, the crisis which started like a joke, escalated in an unimaginable level, which has tremendously affected the governance of the State. The governor who was prevailed upon to hand to his deputy when he went on medical leave, did allow the deputy to exercise full authority of his office as he was reported to have put his royalists, including his son, to undermine the deputy.
However, the governor’s hurried return and the resumption of the plot to impeach the deputy escalated the situation and the Chief Judge’s refusal to empanel the committee to investigate him as constitutional required, insisting that a court order, which the deputy obtained, forbade him to act. Since return three months ago, the governor has been holed up in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, and unable to get to Ondo, not to talk of governing the state.
Secondly, Tinubu, who saw the danger it portends for the party, not only in Ondo State, but the entire South West, if the rifts continues, had to rise up to the challenges to put an end to it. Although, his directive after the meeting of Onfo stakeholders in Aso Rock with the president, that they should maintain the status quo, was differently interpreted by the different parties involved, which raised more question than answers. But as the storm brew, the state Executive Council met on Thursday for the first since the governor returned and again for the first time with all the warring parties in attendance.
Although all these were not done without someone making a move. It was said that Aiyedatiwa knowing the gravity of what is on ground and the effect it would have in his political career and ambition, had to move faster than those in Akeredolu’s group, to save his future ambition.
As such, he contacted those that matter in Ondo State and at the National level to bail him out.
It was said that he reached out the the new God father of Tinubu, who is now being regarded as the “Daura” in Tinubu’s government, Chief Akinyelure and other notable leaders in the South West, such as Chief Arogbofa of the Afenifere, and the National Secretary of the Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr. Kunle Olajide all of who have a say in the political affairs and what concerns the people of the south west, irrespective of where, in the region.
Apart from all these notable Yoruba leaders, some traditional rulers with great influence in Ondo state, such as the Osemawe of Ondo, Deji of Akure, Oba Akinrefon of Igboluji and others, were contacted one way or the other, to waded into the crisis to safe Ondo from both political and internal crisis, which the feud could cost the people, the politicians and the entire state.
Those from the zone where Aiyedatiwa comes from believed that they just have to rally round him because they saw him, as a potential material for the governorship, since it was argued that their zone should be the next to produce the governor, after Akeredolu. It was argued that Dr. Olusegun Agagu was the last to be governor from that zone.
Although there are others contenders in the zone, who have shown interest, and those who will still come out, it was believed that the crisis should not be an hindrance to ruin the political career of Aiyedatiwa, because if the impeachment eventually sails through, he would be done politically and this is what all his loyalists, who felt, he has a chance, which would benefit them as well, are trying to protect.
Although there has been conflicting reports as to what took place at the meeting, the outcome which has been in the public domain and which was collaborated by the spokesperson of the President, chairman of the party in the State, Chief Ade Adetimehin, Secretary to the State Government, Oladunni Odu Oladiji, Senator Jimoh Ibrahim, the speaker of the State House of Assembly and the majority leader were that the President ordered that the status quo should be maintained.
It was also said that, as a way out, Aiyedatiwa should function as Deputy and was made to write a resignation letter in case of default, from the agreement reached.
The two camps were said to have agreed to obey to the letters, all the agreements reached.
This include, the nullification of the impeachment move against the Deputy by the state House of Assembly, that the Deputy should drop all the litigations, against the governor and the State Assembly, there should be no dissolution of the Executive Council of the State, that Aiyedatiwa should function as deputy and must consult Akeredolu on all matters concerning the State, must be loyal to his boss, the governor and that he, Aiyedatiwa, should not kick off campaign, for the 2024 governorship election, for now.
It was agreed that a three man panel be raised to monitor activities of Aiyedatiwa to ensure he did not default in all the agreements reached.
All these were seen as an antidote to the issue on ground and all the parties and stakeholders involved at the Tinubu’s Abuja parley agreed to adhered strictly to them.
But unfortunately, it was learnt that some strong loyalists of the Deputy, after the Abuja meeting, are still plotting to circumvent the agreement and hell bent on declaring the Deputy as the Acting governor.
It was argued that eleven law makers, in the State Assembly, loyal to Aiyedatiwa have not soft pedaled, claiming that President Tinubu has no right to dictate what goes on in the affairs of Ondo State and can’t as well, tell them how to run the State.
They further argued that since Aiyedatiwa is going to function, even, as the Deputy, he should have all powers of an acting governor, since Akeredolu is still out of the state adding, that the constitution does not allow a governor to operate outside the state.
That if he is yet to get well, after he returned from Germany, he should return to Akure, the State, capital to recuperate, and not Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
It was also insinuated that Aiyedatiwa was instrumental to the moves by his loyalists both in the State Assembly, the APC, and in government to transform him to Acting Governor, the insinuation, which he has vehemently denied, saying, that he has no other option than to abide by all the agreements reached, with President Tinubu.
The State chairman of the APC, Chief Ade Adetimehin, when contacted said that all the leaders and stakeholders of the party that met President Tinubu on Ondo crisis, were committed to the peace deal. He said that no one can move against the directives of President Tinubu.
According to him, “Mr President has invested so much in the party and as the leader of the party and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, his directives stands. I can assure you that no one can change it”
Also the Majority leader in the State House of Assembly, Hon. Emmanuel Ogunmolasuyi said, “nothing and nobody, either in Ondo State or elsewhere, can change the Abuja peace accord, with President Tinubu on the crisis here”
What is also, actually saving the situation now, in the state, is the unflinching loyalty of the Speaker of the State Assembly, Olamide Oladiji and the majority leader.
Even, few days after the Abuja peace deal with the Presidency, the issue of the Local government, how those to be at the helms of affairs as interim chairmen, vice and members, was to have caused serious crisis, but for their advice to Akeredolu, to quickly send their names for ratification, before internal politics would be used to polarize the situation.
This made the 51 names for the interim 18 local government Council Areas of the state to come up for screening in the house.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Governor, Aiyedatiwa, last week presided over the State Executive council meeting, as the vice chairman of the council and not as the Acting Governor as being rumoured by his loyalist.
The rumours going round the state, as at the weekend made a group known as the Ondo Progressives Network, hinted and raised the alarm that the people of the state should not go to sleep as it alleged that the loyalists of Aiyedatiwa are still moving clandestinely to subvert the agreement reached with President Tinubu.
The group stated through its Publicity Secretary, Ogunika Taiwo, that it cautioned those backing Aiyedatiwa that a breach of the resolution reached with the President would amount to insubordination and flagrant disrespect.
The statement reads: “We have observed a growing trend of discontent and dissatisfaction in the camp of the deputy governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
“The activities of his known and close allies and personal aides have shown a total rejection of the stance of the President and other stakeholders who attended the Abuja meeting.”
“However, we are saddened by the latest news and speculations of plots by the deputy governor in collaboration with some members of the House of Assembly to declare him acting governor against the resolutions reached in Abuja.
“We consider this as an act of insubordination and gross disrespect to the office of the President.”
“We would like to advise the deputy governor Aiyedatiwa to be guided in his ambitious drive and resist the lure of desperation and insatiable quest for power. The agreement reached in Abuja would serve the interests of the people and the State”