ONDO 2024: Akeredolu’s return has unsettled key stakeholders – Insiders

  • Gov moves to recover control from ‘Abuja politicians’
  • Why Akeredolu may not back Deputy as successor – APC leaders
  • More people align with Finance Commissioner, Akinterinwa
  • 2024 elections still far away, says government


Uba Group

Politics took a new dimension in Ondo State at the weekend following the resumption of duties by the State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.

Insiders who spoke to our correspondent revealed that the much-awaited return of the Governor had unsettled many political actors who felt that his return might truncate the plans they had around clinching the ticket of the All Progressives Congress ahead of the 2024 governorship election in the state.

According to them, many stakeholders of the party in the state are, however, happy that the governor is back on his feet and has begun the process of reclaiming his control over the affairs of the government, including the process that will lead to the election of the party’s flagbearer in the 2024 election.

Akeredolu resumed duty on Friday after his return from a three-month medical vacation in Germany.

The Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Olamide Oladiji, received the Governor’s notice of resumption on Friday.

Oladiji said the governor’s action was in line with Section 190(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Richard Olatunde, also said in a statement on Friday that, upon his return, Akeredolu convened a meeting with key stakeholders from Ondo State in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, where he landed.

Governor Akeredolu also held meetings with members of the National Assembly, including the Senator representing Ondo North, Jide Ipinsagba; members of the House of Representatives representing Owo/Ose, Timehin Adelegbe; Ilaje/Ese-Odo, Donald Ojogo; Idanre/Ifedore, Festus Akingbaso; Okitipupa/Irele, Jimi Odimayo and Akoko South West/South East, Gboyega Adefarati.

The Governor thanked the people of Ondo State for their ceaseless prayers and support during his recovery process.

He assured the people of his administration’s unwavering commitment to the progress and development of the state.

Even though the Independent National Electoral Commission has yet to officially release a new timetable for the 2024 governorship election in Ondo State, political parties and gladiators eyeing the Alagbaka seat of Governor Akeredolu are not leaving anything to chance.

Sources told The Point at the weekend that Governor Akeredolu was unhappy with many developments that happened in the state while he was on his medical trip in Germany.

He was said to be piqued that “Abuja politicians” took over the reins of governance by strategising ahead of the 2024 governorship race in the state.


Akeredolu was said to be annoyed that the minister representing the state, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, was not his choice.

Tunji-Ojo was the federal lawmaker representing Akoko North East and North West Federal Constituency of Ondo State in the House of Representatives.

The Minister of Interior was said to be the anointed candidate of Femi Gbajabiamila, the Chief of Staff to President Bola Tinubu.


According to sources, Akeredolu’s candidate for the Ondo State ministerial slot was Ademola Adegoroye, the former Minister of State for Transportation in President Muhammdu Buhari’s administration.

“Recall that President Tinubu made some last-minute changes ahead of inauguration when he reassigned Gboyega Oyetola, Tunji-Ojo, Abubakar Momoh and others. Aketi (Akeredolu) complained bitterly from Germany and had to send a powerful delegation to President Tinubu. The delegation was led by a former Governor of Osun State, Bisi Akande. The President said it was too late to drop Tunji-Ojo, but promised to effect a swap.

“That was why Adegboyega Oyetola was redeployed from the Ministry of Transportation to Marine & Blue Economy while Bunmi Tunji-Ojo was redeployed from Marine and Blue Economy to Interior,” a source familiar with Ondo politics explained.

The Governor was said to have lost the ministerial nomination battle because his two other nominees were reportedly his kinsmen from Owo, his hometown.

“One of his two other nominees would have been considered by the President, but they are all from Owo, his hometown. He should have spread it across the three senatorial districts in the state,” the source said.

The source added that Gbajabiamila, Tunji-Ojo and some powerful “Abuja politicians” are prepared to sponsor a governorship candidate against whoever Akeredolu wants as his successor.


Another political appointment that allegedly irked Akeredolu was the Ondo State representative on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission.

The alleged “Abuja politicians” were said to have also recommended Victor Akinjo to President Tinubu but the president substituted Akinjo with a new nominee, Otito Atikase.

Some youths of the APC in Ondo State, on August 31, 2023, protested the appointment of Akinjo as a board member representing the state at NDDC.

The youths insisted that Akinjo should be changed because he was not a member of the APC and that his appointment was an affront to members of the party.
Akinjo is said to be a member of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party, while Atikase, the new nominee, is a member of the APC.


The Point also gathered that as the Akeredolu-led administration is gradually exhausting its lifespan, the political gladiators in the state have started mobilising for the all-important election.

Some gladiators and politicians have begun plotting and strategising on how to win the tickets of their various parties for the next year’s governorship election, particularly those in the ruling party, APC.

The APC has remained at the forefront in terms of preparation for the forthcoming governorship election in the state leaving behind the major opposition, the PDP.

Politicking on who succeeds Akeredolu in the APC was said to have crumbled governance in the state during Akerodolu’s absence as some of the key players in the government tore the government into two camps.

One camp allegedly belongs to the Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, and the other belongs to those that are perceived to be loyal to the Governor within the cabinet.

Confirming the development in his first broadcast to the citizens of the state after he assumed office as the acting governor, Aiyedatiwa blamed governorship aspirants seeking to succeed Governor Akeredolu for the uproar over the health status of the governor and the agitation for transfer of power during his absence.

Aiyedatiwa was alleged to have created more enemies for himself in the process of fighting to ensure that he was made the acting governor of the state before the letter confirming such was sent to the House of Assembly by the governor

Although he denied any disruption of government activities, saying that was misplaced and only arose as a result of impatience and lack of proper understanding of the running of the machinery of government, Aiyedatiwa later said, “Such misrepresentations and baseless allusions are to be expected when political gladiators by their activities in the build-up to party primaries and gubernatorial elections in any state try to heat the polity. Ondo State cannot be an exception. It is, therefore, important to assure our people that governance is on course in the state.”

An impeccable source, who would not want to be mentioned, disclosed that a high-level power play was going on among the chieftains of the ruling party.

He said some of the gladiators who, at any moment from now, would begin to roll out their posters and flyers to signify their governorship ambition to the people of the state, had begun to scheme and lobby the regional and national leaders of the party for favour.

He added that some politicians that were not in the good book of Akeredolu were already lobbying the presidency to influence the process of the forthcoming party’s primary in their favour.

The source noted that some of the APC aspirants who already knew that Governor Akeredolu would not support their ambition were not praying for the governor to return to the office now.

Some of them were said to be lobbying the presidency, believing that President Tinubu would anoint them to be the candidate of the party.

“I can tell you that a series of political meetings and strategies are ongoing in and outside the state currently,” the source added.

According to one of the prominent members of the APC in the Sunshine State, some of the aspirants were happy that the Governor had returned, not because of the love they have for him but to prevent his deputy governor, Aiyedatiwa, from constitutionally becoming the governor, should the governor resign on health ground.

“Their thought is that if Aiyedatiwa becomes the governor, in case the governor resigns, he (Aiyedatiwa) would be the sitting chief executive officer of the state. And they believe he will do everything humanly possible to get the party’s ticket and eventually win the main election and become the governor in 2024. So they are using everything they have to avoid this from happening. They are really playing the game,” the APC chieftain stressed.


Investigations by The Point revealed that there are more than 15 aspirants in the APC, including Aiyedatiwa, and some members of the cabinet, currently jostling to succeed Akeredolu whose tenure will end by February 24, 2025.
The aspirants are: Lucky Aiyedatiwa; Wale Akinterinwa, (Finance Commissioner); Olusola Oke (SAN); Senator Jimoh Ibrahim; Gbenga Edema, a former member of the NDDC; Princess Oladunni Odu, Secretary to the State Government; Ife Oyedele, Executive Director, Niger Delta Power Holding Company; Soji Ehinlanwo; Duerimini Isaacs Kekemeke, Southwest APC Vice Chairman; Olusola Iji, former Ambassador; Jimi Odimayo, House of Representatives member and Matthew Oyerinmade.

However, another source told The Point that Akeredolu might not be favourably disposed to Aiyedatiwa as his successor, owing to some alleged betrayal deeds while he acted as the governor.

It was gathered that the Deputy Governor should have been the number one preference of the governor for the seat, if there had not been issues between him and some members of a ‘cabal’ in the government.

Aiyedatiwa was alleged to have created more enemies for himself in the process of fighting to ensure that he was made the acting governor of the state before the letter confirming such was sent to the House of Assembly by the governor.

Some of his foot soldiers were alleged to have gone all out to blame the delay in the transfer of power to him on some people in the government.

He was accused of being too desperate to clinch the ticket of the party by all means with or without the input of his boss.

According to feelers, this development has planted a seed of discord between him and his boss and this may not enable the governor to support his ambition for the number one seat in the state.

Akeredolu is said to be tacitly behind his Commissioner for Finance, Wale Akinterinwa.

Akinterinwa, who is from Ile Oluji/Okeigbo in the Ondo South Senatorial District, is one of the most influential and notable politicians in the present administration.

With the administration gradually moving to its expiration, he is one of those people who have shown interest in succeeding the sixth executive governor of the state.

Political watchers in the state argued that the successor of Akeredolu should come among those who would continue with his legacies and use their network to bring development to the state.

This has made many politicians and technocrats in the state shift their attention to the Finance Commissioner as Akeredolu’s potential successor.

Sources said that apart from being the financial brain behind the Akeredolu administration’s success in the state, Akinterinwa is the longest-serving Commissioner for Finance in the history of the state.

He has worked in that capacity with the administration of Olusegun Mimiko and has remained in that position since 2017 till date.

Analysts think that he is a manager of men and resources as the government has not been involved in any financial scandal since he assumed office.

Akinterinwa is a corporate finance professional, with a strong Managerial, Strategy, Finance, and Accounting background with more than 25 years of excellent training, strategic leadership, mentoring, and entrepreneurial prowess in diverse areas of investment banking, project finance, and management, venture capital, real estate development, finance and management consulting and public sector engagement.

He is seen in the state’s political circle as the best person in terms of maturity and composure to inherit the political and administrative structure of Akeredolu.

Another governorship aspirant is Olugbenga Edema from Ogogoro, Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State.

Born on November 15, 1966, Edema had his early stint with politics in 1998 as a member of the Peoples Solidarity Party, one of the many political associations aspiring for registration under the General Ibrahim Babangida transitional programme.

He moved to the Social Democratic Party, one of the two political parties created by the Babangida administration where he held several significant positions, including delegate to its national convention before the abolition of the two parties by General Sanni Abacha in 1993.

With the return to democratic rule in 1999, Edema joined the People’s Democratic Party where he contributed immensely to its success in the 2003 elections.

Subsequently, he served as a member of the Ondo State Sports Council (2005–2007) and the Ondo State Scholarships Board. He joined the Labour Party in 2010 and was elected as a member representing Ilaje Constituency II at the State House of Assembly in 2011.

He later joined the APC on October 23, 2014 and he re-contested but lost re-election in 2015. Until April 2021, he was the Board Chairman of the Ondo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission, OSOPADEC. Edema was appointed as a member of the Governing Board of the NDDC to represent Ondo State on the Board by former President Muhammadu Buhari. The Board was inaugurated on January 4, 2023.

The first female Secretary to the Ondo State Government, Princess Catherine Oladunni Odu, declared two weeks ago that she remained the best woman to build on the “Redeemed Agenda” legacies of Governor Akeredolu in the 2024 governorship election, having been in and out of governance in the last 27 years in the state.

Odu, who disclosed this in Akure, the state capital, at an interactive session with members of the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in the state, maintained that women’s leadership qualities would bring about the desired change and rapid development because of the family-centric blood that flows in them.

Odu, the former Commissioner for Education, between 1995 and 1999, and Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board, between September 2003 and February, 2009, however, noted that no woman had been elected to the position since the return to democracy in 1999.

The SSG, therefore, said she was the best woman fit for the governorship position after Akeredolu’s departure.

Odu, who also hailed President Bola Tinubu for aligning with the inclusiveness goal and the 35 per cent affirmation agenda with the appointment of women in his cabinet, noted that gender constituted an important unit of electoral and political demography in the country.

According to the former Director, Federal Medical Centre, Asaba and Federal Commissioner, Public Complaints Commission, any society that promotes the dignity of women and gives them the opportunity to thrive will experience rapid development.

As the Secretary to the State Government, she has stood as one of the strongest pillars in the government, strengthening the work of her boss.
However, a top politician in Ondo State who pleaded anonymity said Odu would have been too old for the job by 2025.

“She would have been 73 years old by 2025. We don’t want any old person for that job,” he said.

She was born on December 29, 1952 in Okitipupa, Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo State.

One of the politicians in the state with a rich political profile is Olusola Alexander Oke who was a member of the House of Representatives in 1992, NDDC Commissioner in 2001, and Chairman of the State Oil Producing Area Development Commission. He was a National Legal Adviser of the People’s Democratic Party and had been a governorship candidate of both the PDP and Alliance for Democracy in the state.

Another source said that the Senior Advocate of Nigeria might be disqualified on age grounds, having been born on April 7, 1956 at Ilowo, a coastal town in Ilaje Local Government Area.

Some of the aspirants were happy that the Governor had returned, not because of the love they have for him but to prevent his deputy governor, Aiyedatiwa, from constitutionally becoming the governor, should the governor resign on health ground

Another governorship aspirant is Soji Ehinlanwo, an alumnus of Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti and the chairman of its Endowment Fund. Ehinlanwo was the State governorship candidate for the defunct Congress for Political Change in 2012. The APC chieftain is the son of a two-term senator for the Ondo South senatorial district, late Hosea Oladapo Ehinlanwo. The technocrat cum politician has thrown his hat into the governorship ring in the state.

Isaacs Kekemeke, D.I., as fondly called by his admirers, got elected into the House of Assembly in the old Ondo State in 1992 at 29 years old and became the Minority Leader in that Assembly. He was a member of the constitution drafting committee of the PDP in 1998 and became the pioneer Secretary of the Ondo State PDP. He was appointed the pioneer Chairman of the National Examination Council by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in the year 2000.

He was appointed the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Ondo State in 2003, Commissioner for Works, Lands, Housing, and Public Infrastructure in Ondo State in 2005. He was the Secretary to the Government of Ondo State in 2007. He was the pioneer Chairman of APC in the State in 2014 and is presently the National Vice Chairman, South West, for APC.

Another serial governorship contender is Jimoh Ibrahim. He was the governorship candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party in 2003. He contested against Adebayo Adefarati and Olusegun Agagu in the election that produced Agagu as the governor. He has remained in the political firmament of the state, playing different roles during the successive governorship elections.

Many people thought that he played a spoiler role in PDP during the governorship election that produced Akeredolu as governor in 2016. He emerged as the senatorial candidate of APC in the 2023 general election and defeated the immediate past Deputy Governor of the state, Agboola Ajayi, to emerge as the Senator for Ondo South Senatorial District.

Since 2012, when he was the running mate to Akeredolu in the governorship election, which they lost, Paul Akintelure has fizzled out from the politics of the state. He has remained in Lagos State and seldom comes to play the local politics. He has, however, shown interest in succeeding Akeredolu in 2025.

Ife Oyedele came into political limelight in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election, which former President Muhammadu Buhari won. As one of the strong members of the CPC, he was made the Executive Director of the Niger Delta Power Holding Executive Director.

When contacted at the weekend over the political scheming in the state, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Richard Olatunde, simply said, “The 2024 election is still far away, sir.”