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ANALYSIS: With an absentee governor, embattled deputy, governance goes on recess in Ondo



On Monday the 16th of October 2023, the media space was agog with reports of how a detachment of operatives of the Nigeria Police Force and the Department of State Services (DSS) stormed the Ondo State secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) sealing it off.

The action of the security agencies, according to reports, was to forestall a planned protest by the opposition party in the state to draw attention to the absence of the governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu from the state.

The planned protest, which was eventually aborted as it was confined to the premises of the secretariat where banners were displayed, was planned by the youth wing the state PDP.

Ripples Nigeria reports that the PDP has been in the forefront of demanding that Akeredolu resumes office or resign from office.

The demand of the PDP stemmed from the refusal or inability of Governor Akeredolu to return to the state capital, Akure to resume office since his return from medical vacation in Germany where he spent months to attend to his health. However, after his much celebrated return to the country, Akeredolu has remained in his private residence in Ibadan, Oyo State, from wherehe supposedly governs Ondo State.

While he was away in Germany, Akeredolu, a lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, satisfied constitutional provisions by transmitting power to his deputy, Mr Lucky Aiyedatiwa, who took charge as acting governor.

Since the governor’s return, however, Aiyedatiwa, instead of continuing to act for his principal since he seemed unfit to return to office yet, was not stripped of the acting role, but was stripped of his media aides before the State House of Assembly moved against him for alleged gross misconduct amongst others, and initiating moves for his impeachment.

Though an Abuja Federal High court ordered a stay of proceedings in the impeachment process and the State Chief Judge declined to set up a panel to investigate the allegations leveled against Aiyedatiwa, the unrepentant lawmakers at the Ondo State House of Assembly were bent on removing the embattled deputy governor.

Even though Akeredolu continued to deny having a hand in the impeachment moves against his deputy, it was glaringly clear that it was a case of the voice of Esau, but the hand of Jacob at play, as the lawmakers seemed bent on ensuring that Aiyedatiwa did not survive their impeachment move against him.

With all that has transpired even before Akeredolu left on his medical vacation abroad to recent happenings in the state, it will be safe to conclude that the lawmakers were merely doing the bidding of Governor Akeredolu, who had a similar face-off with his first term deputy governor, Mr. Agboola Ajayi, who was practically disgraced out of office.

READ ALSO:Akeredolu unwell, needs special housing to recover, aide explains why Ondo gov is staying in Ibadan

Seeing the political conflagration between the governor and his deputy, and how it was slowing governance in the state, with the elections just around the corner, their party the All Progressives Congress (APC) stepped in as the national chairman, Abdullahi Ganduje inaugurated members into a nine-man reconciliation committee set up to resolve the political disagreement between Governor Akeredolu, and Aiyedatiwa.

So far, the party has been able to broker an uncanny peace among the feuding parties. After weeks of animosity, the committee members got the state’s lawmakers to suspend the impeachment process against Aiyedatiwa. Addressing a press conference after a closed door meeting, at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja, both Ganduje and the Assembly Speaker, Hon. Oladeji Olamide, confirmed the development to suspend the impeachment process.

Agreed that both Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa have personal or political grudges to settle among themselves, which should be normal in any human relationship, governance and the people of Ondo State are currently at the receiving end of whatever their personal or political beef might be.

There is no way governance in the state can be said to move on smoothly with an absentee governor, whose true current state of health is not known to the people he governs and an embattled deputy governor, whose present preoccupation is survival, as no one is sure what his fate will be even though the impeachment plot has been suspended for now. There were indications that his fall out with his principal was because of his political ambition to take over from Akeredolu at the expiration of this tenure.

insofar as he has not jettisoned that ambition, and Akeredolu has his preferred candidate to succeed him, the animosity has only been set aside for a later date. Meanwhile, governance in the state has taken a backseat and has been reduced to a slow pace, as the governor has continued to rule from Ibadan, with the deputy who of course will be sidelined, still fighting for political survival.

It is even more disheartening that those who were elected to make life more tolerant for the people of the state have abandoned their responsibilities at a time life has become practically unbearable in the country, with the cost of living ballooning beyond the reach of the ordinary Nigerian. It is also sad that while states with active managers of governance are struggling to bring succour to citizens, those in Ondo are either missing in action, or are unable to deliver optimum service.

What is more intriguing is the fact that, Akeredolu, as a senior lawyer and past president of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), should have been more circumspect in handling issues as it relates, not just to his deputy, but absence from his duty post.

Though many of his aides have argued that he can rule from anywhere, something left to be proven legally correct, it would have been expected that with his stature in the legal profession, he would not engage in actions majority of the people see as potentially unconstitutional. His actions are reminiscent of the Yar’Adua days, or a period in the history of Nigeria, when the president, Muhammadu Buhari also went missing due to ill-health.

For the lawmakers at the state House of Assembly, who should normally act on the side of the people, they have no doubt become partisan in the political war between Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa and unable to function and protect the interest of the long suffering people of Ondo State.

Meanwhile, governance in Ondo State has gone on recess for the time being!

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