Governor Akeredolu’s Long Absence and President Tinubu’s Brokered Deal

Governor Akeredolu’s Long Absence and President Tinubu’s Brokered Deal

The last few weeks had been remarkable in the political history of Ondo state. The build up to last Friday’s meeting with the President at the Presidential Villa had been intriguing. Some thought it was going to lead to the crushing of the head of the political serpents in the state. They were wrong. But,

The last few weeks had been remarkable in the political history of Ondo state. The build up to last Friday’s meeting with the President at the Presidential Villa had been intriguing. Some thought it was going to lead to the crushing of the head of the political serpents in the state. They were wrong. But, it ended in the usual family way. Again, the state and the good people of Ondo may count their losses.

Some years ago, late President Musa Yar’Adua was incapacitated and some of his ministers while trying to hide his health status to gain free access to the treasury. They claimed there was no cause for alarm, that the President was fit and proper. Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, as he then was, President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) spoke out , urging the ailing President to throw in the towel.

Also when Former President Goodluck Jonathan increased the pump price of petroleum products, Mr. Akeredolu , Senior Advocate of Nigeria ( SAN)and some comrades hit the streets of Ibadan,Oyo state capital to protest and compel President Jonathan to reverse the increase. The former NBA President’s gift as a composer of good songs became manifest during the protest when he composed a song that instantly went viral:
“O ti yara gbagbe gbogbo re o/Aini re igba kan (2x)
Ase bintin logbon ori e,
Iwo ti a ro pe o gbon,
Ase bintin logbon ori e,
Iwo ti a ro pe o gbon.” (You have forgotten so soon/your lack/ so you have a tiny brain/You that we thought is intelligent/ so you have a tiny brain/ you that we thought is intelligent)

The governor of Ondo state, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has been off his duty post at Alagbaka, Akure ,Ondo state for over six months. First, he was snuggled out to Germany for medical treatment for three months and when few elements from the state particularly, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) started raising salient questions, his wife, Mrs. Betty Anyanwu Akeredolu and few aides quickly smuggled him into the country through Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja straight to his private house in Ibadan where only his family, not even protocol officers, could determine who sees the ailing governor.

That was a familiar script for wives of Chief Executives in Nigeria. Hadjia Turai Yar’Adua successfully hid her husband for months until the doctrine of necessity was invoked while Hadjia Hauwa Danbaba, wife of late former governor Danbaba Danfulani Suntai also deceived Taraba state indigenes until it became clear that the “pilot governor” needed attention more than being called “excellency”.

But for a former President of the NBA, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and a first class activist, many thought he would toe the royal path by resigning to pay attention to his health. He didn’t because it is the same DNA that runs through the veins of Nigerian politicians.

To divert attention from the governor’s health challenge and rattle the sole beneficiary of Arakunrin Akeredolu’s resignation his hit men started to unsettle the Deputy Governor, Mr. Lucky Aiyedatiwa . Attempts were made to impeach him and undermine his office leading to series of court cases and the intervention of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

On Friday, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu summoned all the critical stakeholders including the Deputy Governor and the Speaker of the House of Assemblyto the presidential villa, where in seven hours the date of Ondo state was technically deposited in a cooler.

The Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Oladiji Olamide, who read the details of the resolution, according to a statement issued by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser Media and Publicity to the president said: “Our resolution is that one, we shall embrace peace. Secondly, there would be no more dissolution of the cabinet, and the Deputy Governor would maintain the status quo as far as the House of Assembly leadership is concerned.

“We will maintain the status quo as far as the party leadership in the state is concerned and maintain the status quo as far as the leadership of the State House of Assembly is concerned. Thank you, Mr. President.” ⁣

A source at the meeting, however, said the Deputy Governor was directed to submit an undated letter of resignation to President Tinubu, to guarantee that he would not disrupt the political configuration in the state while he runs the government until the full recovery of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.

The implication of this was that the Deputy Governor will keep his job and run the government, but he will not be declared acting governor, despite the continued incapacitation of Governor Akeredolu.

Speaking on the resolutions, the spokesperson of the Ondo state House of Assembly, Hon. Olatunji Oshati, said, that the rationale behind the safeguards was to allay fears of victimisation by the Deputy Governor of members of the executive and legislature who stood against him during the crisis.

His words: “It was a win-win situation for the aides. The deputy governor will remain as the deputy governor. The status quo must remain”.

“There is no need to make the deputy governor acting governor because the state governor, who is our father, is still there.

“The deputy governor should not reshuffle the cabinet and there should be no change in the leadership of the House.”

On the undated letter of resignation, Hon. Oshati explained: “You know there were fears that the deputy governor, once reinstated, would begin to witch-hunt the others, so the president used it to allay the fears of everyone that no such thing will happen”, adding that the meeting took care that its decisions do not rubbish the legacies of Governor Akeredolu.

According to him: “There was no reason to rubbish the governor, because he is our father and we are all beneficiaries of his legacies, so we were mindful not to take any decision that would undermine him”.

But the implications of the Abuja deal are far reaching. A chieftain of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Basorun Seinde Arogbofa warned that there could be a further crisis if there is no one from whom authority issues in the state government.

He said: “If the governor is in place, there is no need for an acting governor; but if the governor is not in place, there is a need for someone who has the authority to carry the task of governance.If there is no one with that authority, then it will be like an animal kingdom”.

Basorun Arogbofa said Afenifere would consider the items on the resolution of the meeting with the President and issue a formal statement after a meeting of its elders. The Pan Yoruba Socio Cultural group had, on Tuesday, called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the APC national leadership to wade into the Ondo crisis, stressing that the state government was in disarray.

The main opposition party in the state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the president failed to resolve the issues brought before him.

Mr. Kennedy Peretei, Publicity Secretary of the party in the state said with the pending issues, the two factions will remain in dispute.

Hear him :“It is a situation of 1-1 draw. The Aiyedatiwa group wanted the deputy governor to be made acting governor, and the Akinteriwa-led group wanted the deputy governor impeached.

“There is no difference between what is done now and what the Masari-led peace committee (of the APC) did – just appealed to them to sheathe their swords. The only difference now is that the president did the talking.

“That the deputy governor will not be impeached anymore appears to be the soft landing for him and perhaps the only thing achieved in the meeting. But the issues of the state still remain. The cabal will still be using the name of the governor to steal.

“Since August, the leadership of the local governments in the state were dissolved and nothing has happened since then. Is that how to run a state, is that what the Ondo people want?”, he queried.

Secretary to the State Government and ally of the ailing governor, Princess Oladunni Odu said: “Our Father, the President, has taken the trouble to settle our rancour in Ondo State. We owe you all the gratitude, Sir. We will not disappoint you. We have taken every word you said. And we are going home as one united family under the party, APC.” ⁣

Ondo State APC Chairman, Engr. Ade Adetimehin, expressed delight at the outcome of Friday’s late night deliberations, affirming that the party will remain a watchdog to ensure that the new commitments are adhered to. ⁣

The Deputy Governor said: “and I want to say that no offence, no guile in my mind whatsoever. All that has happened is politics. Impeachment is part of politics. If you survive it, it is also politics. It has come. I’ve survived it and every other thing in his past.

“It is one big family and our father has intervened to bring all the children together to remain under the same family and with the position that I occupy, I will carry every one of you along in every decision that needs to be taken and everything that we do we will work together; the executive and the legislature will work together to ensure that governance is on the right track.

“We should respect one another regarding the offices we occupy and our age differences. So, it’s going to be mutual respect.

“And I want to assure the party structure that we will work together because the party is supreme. We will always give you the due respect”, he said.

With the Deputy Governor, now, like a tiger without tigritude , political observers in the state claim political actors in the ruling party in the state are sitting on a time bomb that could explode any time soon.

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