The Return of Akeredolu Heightens Political Tension in Ondo State

The Return of Akeredolu Heightens Political Tension in Ondo State

… Plot to Remove Deputy Governor Thickens The return of Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to Nigeria from medical attention in Germany, has been received with mixed feelings. His supporters are happy that he’s back hale and hearty to resume his political leadership in the state. Others are not so happy because his sudden return

… Plot to Remove Deputy Governor Thickens

The return of Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to Nigeria from medical attention in Germany, has been received with mixed feelings. His supporters are happy that he’s back hale and hearty to resume his political leadership in the state. Others are not so happy because his sudden return has altered their political permutations. His return has raised the political temperature in the state and the two sides are subtly engaged in a mind game.

Contrary to rumour-mills that the Governor had been incapacitated by his ailment, Arakunrin Akeredolu arrived in the country last week to wild jubilations and celebrations by his supporters in the state who were eager to see him return to take the mantle of leadership. He returned quietly to his private residence in Ibadan and not Akure, the state capital, thereby further fueling debate whether his return is true or false. He got to work immediately meeting some key members of his cabinet for updates on the activities of the government in his absence.

Before leaving on his trip, there existed a near frosty relationship between him and his deputy. Nevertheless, the governor transferred power to Mr. Lucky Ayedatiwa, the deputy governor to act as governor of the state. The governor did this out of constitutional requirement more than out of choice or personal conviction. The deputy governor, it was believed did not enjoy a good relationship with members of the first family.

There was also concern among the governor’s supporters that Mr Aiyedatiwa, who is believed to be positioning to succeed state governor, would use the period of his acting to gain ground, consolidate and oil his political machine in actualization of his ambition. However, with constant pressure from the opposition parties in the state and other political stakeholders, the governor had no choice than to hand over power.

The celebration of Arankunrin Akeredolu’s return with chants of “God has done what the majority of our people wanted underscored the significance and relieve the governor’s return had brought to the state. Addressing the people: “I came back yesterday, and as you know, it was a long journey. I decided that I must meet with you today. God has answered our prayers, and we give Him all the glory. I can assure you that our return is to the glory of God and the prayers of all of you here and those who wished us well.

“The majority of our people here knelt down and prayed for our return, and we have returned.
I will be alive to complete my full tenure in office. I want to tell you that I am back, and I will resume work immediately. This is my letter of resumption”, he said.

His return was a welcome development to the people of the state who thanked God for his health restoration. But, in the political sphere, it has ruffled feathers and jolted well laid out plots on succession. Ondo state is set to hold a governorship election next year and there are game plans by the political gladiators. Usually, the incumbent plays a vital role in influencing who emerges as the candidate of the ruling party. The governor’s priority was to stabilise the heightened tension and political anxieties among the members of his ruling APC who are looking forward to succeeding him.

The Deputy Governor’s Perceived Game Plan
There are growing fears that the deputy governor has raised his political bars ahead of his opponents leveraging on the opportunity given to him to act as governor. Also, there have been allegations that the deputy governor and his supporters had been spreading opinions to the media that Governor Akeredolu was already incapacitated, and could no longer govern the state, thereby causing the opposition to call for the resignation of the state governor. Some party stakeholders also believe that Aiyeditawa’s antics were aimed at cementing his position as the strongest candidate to succeed the state governor.

Although the deputy governor has debunked accusations that he was sabotaging his principal while he was away, claiming that the falsehood was spread to dent his image. “These lies would have been ignored but we owe it a duty to prevent the public from being deceived into believing the same falsehoods being repeated and recycled in different forms by those whose sole intention is to soil the image of the man whom they see as a threat to their political interests,” he said

“We need to remind the public that this is a continuation of the blackmail started by these same characters some months ago, with false stories planted in some media outlets against the Deputy Governor. However, since those lies did not yield the result they envisaged, the blackmailers have returned with fake stories about disloyalty, aimed at causing disaffection between him and the Governor.”

Governor Akeredolu Fires First Salvo, Sacking His Deputy’s media Aides

In a move that sends a powerful political message to his deputy on who is in charge of the state, the Governor fired a salvo, sacking all the media aides in the office of the deputy governor. According to a Special Assistant to the Governor, Dr. Doyin Adebowale, “the governor exercised his right to sack any appointees due to their low performance. The media aides to the deputy governor failed to perform their duties, instead they were serving as political pawns in the state”.

He further explained that there was no little governance going on in the state when the governor was not around, adding that many people were chasing their ambitions instead of leading the country. “The Governor is not interested in this petty politics people have reduced the whole state to in his absence.

“When he was away, there was little governance. People want to contest, they want to be governor, they want to be this, they want to be that. It’s within their rights but they were distracting us and recruiting people to be distracting us.

“The Governor is not petty. They wanted power. Posting the obituary of the Governor more than five times. No governor can watch that happen… Let them allow him to die first.”, he said.

Dr. Doyin Odebowale, Special Assistant to Governor Akeredolu Spills the Beans

In an interview with Channels Television recently, Dr. Odebowale alleged that the political atmosphere of the state was overheated by those who wanted to contest and become the governor in the coming election, saying that they (no name mentioned) reduced the state to petty politics.

He alleged that the governor’s obituary was circulated more than five times in the state and that those who wanted the governor out by all means created an impression that he had become completely incapacitated while he was away.

“When he (Governor Akeredolu) was in Germany, he was asking people questions about things. He was sending transformers and he was calling them to go and fix it, contrary to the erroneous impression being conveyed that he was seriously incapacitated. As a member of this government, I was appalled at some of the things that happened. They were posting the obituaries of their father, not the governor more than five times, posting the governor’s obituary.

“They wanted power, power to do what? Not to serve the people? They were overheating the polity. They created the impression that the governor was not in charge of anything. They picked on the First Family, abusing everybody. I’m not saying that the deputy governor did but I’m saying that these people know themselves. So, no governor will sit down and watch”

Watching The Next Moves

With a heightened political tension in the state; it is now a game of cat and mouse, the parties are watching the next move from each other. It is believed that members of Governor, Akeredolu’s inner caucus may be plotting the exit of the deputy governor before the end of his tenure due to perceived disloyalty. The message that may have been passed through the stripping of his office of his media aides is that he may no longer be needed near the governor. It is not yet known whether both men have met since the return of the Governor from his medical leave abroad.

There are different acts of provocation to force the deputy governor to resign his position but it is very unlikely that he would take that option.

Akeredolu’s Endless battles with His Deputies

Tongues are beginning to wag asking: Why is Governor Akeredolu always having issues with his deputies? It would be recalled that a similar situation existed between the governor and the deputy governor in his first term, Mr. Agboola Ajayi. After some disagreements, the deputy governor had to defect to the rival PDP. Governor Akeredolu took similar steps, exercised his power and sacked all his aides, about six of them in 2020.

The allegation against the former deputy governor was that he wanted to contest against his boss which many considered not morally correct. But Governor Akeredolu is not constitutionally allowed to contest beyond two terms and as such should not deter his present deputy from exercising his right to try his luck aspiring to the position of state governor.

A lot of APC members have advocated a level playing field in the emergence of a successor but like his counterparts in other states, it appears Governor Akeredolu would show more than a passing interest in who succeeds him as Governor of Ondo State.

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