ONDO 2024: Power play gets messier


… as Gov. Akeredolu’s rumoured illness tears APC apart

  •  He should hand over to his deputy – SDP, PDP
  • Governor not incapacitated – Govt officials
Uba Group

There is an interesting power play in the corridors of power in Ondo State, following the long absence of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu at public events.

The situation has further raised eyebrows among people, who have expressed concerns about the governor’s state of health.

In the last few days, there have been rumours of his demise making the rounds, particularly on social media.

While some unconfirmed sources said the governor had been flown abroad for medication, some said he was currently in Ibadan where his personal doctors are attending to him.

But his absence has allowed some individuals and groups to engage in power play to gain influence in politics and governance of the state.

This has thrown stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress in the state, who have different leanings on the 2024 governorship race, seriously against each other.

Akeredolu was last seen in public on May 17, 2023, when he played host to the Ondo State Cocoa Council delegation, led by its Chairman, Olusegun Awolumate, at the Governor’s Office, Alagbaka, Akure, the state capital.

Since then, Akeredolu has been conspicuously missing at public events.

As the Chairman of the South West Governors’ Forum, Akeredolu was expected to be physically present at the commissioning of Dangote Refinery on May 22 where governors from the region were fully represented.

He was also absent at the inauguration of President Bola Tinubu in Abuja on May 29 despite the fact that he was on the frontline of governors who insisted that power must return to the South.

Shortly after the inauguration of Tinubu, the President met and held a meeting with the Progressive Governors, but the Ondo State governor was also not present.

Following the state of the health of the governor, opposition parties are alleging that his wife, Betty and his son, Babajide, who is the Director General of Ondo State Performance and Project Implementation Monitoring Unit, have been running the affairs of the state.

The mother and son are also being accused of scheming to ensure that the Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, does not have a grip on the state in the absence of the governor.

Section 191 of the 1999 Constitution reads, “The Deputy Governor of a State shall hold the office of Governor of the State if the office of Governor becomes vacant by reason of death, resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity, or removal of the governor from office for any other reason in accordance with Section 188 or 189 of this Constitution.”

Akeredolu, according to the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, is indisposed.

However, a member of the cabinet in Akeredolu’s administration who craved anonymity disclosed that the governor was not incapacitated as had been speculated, but admitted that the governor was indisposed and had been efficiently piloting the affairs of the state.

The top cabinet member revealed that the developments as regards the governor’s state of health were not unconnected to the 2024 governorship poll, as politicians were behind what he described as unfounded rumours to soothe their own narratives.


She said, “I can confirm to you that the governor is a bit ill but not incapacitated, as they are saying. Mr. Governor spoke to me about two days ago to give me some instructions relating to my ministry, and I’m aware that some cabinet members have also been having conversations with him. Even some of them have been having meetings with him.

“Even what people do not know is that it is at the exco level of the state that a governor can be declared incapacitated and the needful will be done. How can you say Akeredolu is incapacitated? Someone who has been functioning as expected? He spoke with the new Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly and congratulated him immediately after the inauguration of the 10th Assembly on Saturday.

“About eight days ago, his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, represented him at the induction programme for the new members of the House of Assembly, which was held in Owo. So, I don’t understand the unfounded insinuations that the immediate family of the governor has taken charge of the state.

“Babajide (the governor’s son) is the DG of PPIMU, and you expect him not to have a role that he will be performing in the state? He’s been the DG since the beginning of his father’s second term, and you expect him not to be visible in the government?

“Even the wife of the governor is the First Lady of the state. Yes, some people might have something against her, but that does not take away the fact that she will have her own role as the number one woman in the state.

“I advise all those behind this plot to bury the thought because the intrigues playing out now border on the governorship election coming up next year. Many are trying to play God.

“This exact scenario played out when the governor was ill in his first term. They had tried all they could do to scheme him out but he bounced back.”

However, the leader of the Aketi Medical Team in 2016 and Vice Chairman of the Aketi-Ayedatiwa Medical Committee in 2020, Dr. Olusegun Akeredolu, has urged the citizens of the state to rise up and put an end to what he described as illegality.

He argued that a recurrence of the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua situation must be prevented.

He said, “In the same way that President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s true state of health was unknown in 2010, no one knows the whereabouts of Governor Akeredolu of Ondo State. The signals so far show that all is not well with the number one citizen in the Sunshine State.

“The desperation among the political class is a pointer that H.E. Lucky Aiyedatiwa needs the support of Ondo State indigenes, and security must be beefed up. Otherwise, these desperadoes don’t mind destroying the work of our past heroes and turning the state into another theatre of war.

“Ondo State people must stand up and ensure the rule of law prevails. We must see Aketi, his current state of health must be known, and the Sunshine State must not be ruled by Aketi’s proxies like Mrs. Akeredolu or his son, Babajide Akeredolu.

“We voted for Akeredolu and Lucky Aiyedatiwa. If the governor is incapacitated, his deputy takes over, according to the Nigerian constitution. There is no provision for his son or wife to rule under our laws. Ondo State is not a banana republic or animal kingdom.”

Also, the Ondo State chapter of the Social Democratic Party has expressed its displeasure over the absence of Akeredolu from office due to ill-health.

The opposition party said since the governor was indisposed, he ought to have handed the administration to his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, for the latter to act as governor pending his Akeredolu’s return.

The party made this position known in a statement issued by its state chairman, Stephen Adewale, on Thursday.

The statement was titled, ‘Akeredolu’s Illness: Time to avert constitutional crisis in Ondo State’.

According to the statement, there is a need for the governor to hand over to his deputy in acting capacity for effective running of the state.

The statement read, “Ondo State and Ondo State friends must speak out on the increased level of uncertainty that hovered around the governance of our dear Sunshine State before it is too late. What began as a candlelight blaze is quickly snowballing into a sizable forest fire. And if we do not act quickly, history will not be kind to all of us who knew the incredible power of voice but chose silence.

“The SDP in Ondo State understands Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s health condition, for which we have been praying for a speedy recovery. However, the state should not and cannot be left without a constitutional head in an acting capacity while he is away attending to his health. As we write this, our dear governor has refused to hand over to his deputy in an acting capacity while his whereabouts remain unknown.

“In the past seven days, President Tinubu has met with the APC Governors’ Forum twice. During each of those meetings, matters of national importance were discussed. Nearly all the governors were in attendance, and those who could not make it had their deputies fill in for them. The only state that was conspicuously missing in terms of representation at the two meetings is our dear Ondo State.

“While he recuperates, therefore, we call on Governor Akeredolu to immediately hand over to constitutionally delegate power to the deputy in acting capacity so as to keep the state running effectively. And if he is strong enough to preside over the affairs of the state as his people claimed, then it is well past time for Governor Akeredolu to show up and prove the doubting Thomases wrong.”

It added, “We also call on every relevant stakeholder and patriots in the state to ensure that unnecessary and avoidable constitutional crises in the management and functioning of the state government did not ensue. This is not the time for them to hide in their cocoon of imperturbability. This is not the time for the ‘Governor is getting better and everything is going on smoothly in the Ondo State’ nonsense spewed by APC apologists and many politicians who are abetting the governor to shirk his constitutional responsibility.

“Unknown to these praise singers and those who have chosen silence over talking, no one suffers adversity alone and misery often seeks new neighbourhoods to occupy. No matter how these silent stakeholders in Ondo might feel, we will all be touched in varying degrees should this issue be allowed to deteriorate. A prolonged uncertainty over the administration of Ondo State will cost the state untoward setbacks. There is no doubt about this.

“And that is why silence is dangerous now. Ondo State is in a rare moment in time when only genuine, exhaustive, and wide-ranging conversations can save the impending storm. This is the time to start the constitutional conversations.

“It is disturbing that a man who once sat atop the highest chair at the Nigerian Bar Association, who actively participated in denouncing an ailing head of state when the latter refused to hand over to his deputy, and who has devoted his entire life to defending the constitution of the land would blatantly and deliberately flout that very constitution. In the light of this, we implore Governor Akeredolu to safeguard his hard-earned reputation by handing over to his deputy in an acting capacity until he is capable of handling the state’s business.

“This is a duty and responsibility that Governor Akeredolu owes to himself, his party members, his family, and the good people of Ondo State.”

Last week, the Ondo State chapter of the People’s Democratic Party also called for Akeredolu’s resignation, saying he should hand over to his deputy, Aiyedatiwa, because of his health status.