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REVIEW: Ondo boils as Akeredolu, deputy draw battle line. Who’ll blink first?



The rift between the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu and his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa continues to fester after the State Assembly slammed the latter with 14 allegations of misconduct.

A letter signed by 11 lawmakers accused Lucky Aiyedatiwa of “gross misconduct, abuse of office with actions likely to bring down Ondo State Government, financial recklessness, publication in print media by your media aides maligning the credibility of the Governor” among others.

This came after reports revealed that the lawmakers were induced with cash gifts by Governor Akeredolu to impeach his deputy but this was refuted by Aiyedatiwa’s counsel.

Ige Asemudara, counsel for Aiyedatiwa, had revealed that the political feud between Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and his deputy is about the 2024 governorship election in the state.

Asemudara stated this during an interview on Channels TV’s Politics Today, saying, “One of the very serious issues we have in this country is abuse of legal process. In your introduction, you said maybe the political crisis in Ondo is about the next election. And I can tell you this is not unconnected with the permutations of the November governorship election in Ondo State.

“There are several other issues. As we speak, the governor is not of sound health so we should not be talking about impeaching the deputy governor. They are just trying to pave the way for some sort of anarchy.

“The same elements in the state House of Assembly have refused to account for the oil derivation funds from the federal government. Their fear is that any Ilaje man close to government is not good for them.”

However, Doyin Odebowale, an aide to Governor Akeredolu, said the governor was not controlling the House.

He said that many allegations against the deputy governor were not included in the impeachment notice.

Wading into the feud, the ruling All Progressives Congress instituted a committee in order to resolve the crisis.

The APC Director of Publicity, Bala Ibrahim, stated that the ruling party was currently exploring the option of an internal mechanism to resolve the crisis.

Ibrahim reiterated that the leadership of the ruling party was not making noise about it because it was a sensitive issue.

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He said, “I don’t think the party will want an internal affair to go out of hand. You are aware that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has just returned from a sick leave and the party has an internal mechanism for settling dispute.

“I am sure that option has not been exhausted. It is not for the party to start debating this on the pages of newspapers or in the media.”

Ibrahim also dismissed insinuation that certain elements who were seeing the governor as a lame duck had hijacked his government.

“No, the governor is above that. You cannot accuse him of being a lame duck or someone who is not in control of his affairs. For someone who has just returned from a sick leave, I think it will be unfair to drag him into undue conflict at this time.

“He needs time to recuperate properly and he needs the support of the people. Moreover, Akeredolu is a senior lawyer. But I can assure you that it will not go out of hand,” he noted.

Meanwhile, at its sitting on Tuesday, the legislative house noted that Mr Aiyedatiwa was yet to respond to the notice of allegations against him.

This is in spite of an order of the Federal High Court in Abuja, restraining the House from doing so until the court determines a suit filed by Mr Aiyedatiwa.

“The impeachment process will continue in line with the 1999 Constitution since the deputy governor failed to respond within seven days stipulated by the law,” the Speaker, Olamide Oladiji, said.

He issued a fresh directive to the Chief Judge of Ondo State, Olusegun Odusola, to “immediately” set up a seven-person panel to investigate the allegations levelled against the deputy governor.

Avert Bloodshed in Ondo, Traditionalist Urges Tinubu

Also, a traditionalist, Olu Fagboyegun, called on President Bola Tinubu, to ensure that the ongoing impeachment proceeding against Aiyeditiwa, does not lead to bloodshed in the state.

Fagboyegun, an indigene of Owo in Ondo state, also called on the governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, to stop those hurling insults at the people of Ilaje extraction where Aiyeditiwa hails from to de-escalate tension.

Addressing journalists in Osogbo, Osun State on Tuesday, Fagboyegun, who demanded an end to the impeachment proceeding against Aiyeditiwa, recalled how intra-party conflict had in the past plunged Ondo State into crises that led to the loss of lives and destruction of properties.

To prevent the situation from generating further, Fagboyegun demanded an end to the “impeachment proceeding against our duly elected deputy governor, Mr. Lucky Aiyeditiwa. We the people of Ondo state elected him, together with the incumbent governor.

“That the governor should address us (his people), to distance himself from all the unruliness of those hauling barrage of insults at the deputy govenor and the entire Ilaje People.

“That if above fails to materialise, His Excellency, the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should immediately declare of state of emergency in Ondo state before the degenerates into bloodshed,” Fagboyegun said.

As the state’s politics continues to stir tension, many are of the opinion that it would continue to escalate until one of the major actors gives way, or throws in the towel. If that does not happen anytime soon, it is very clear the state may be thrown into violence as the governorship election approaches.

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