Saturday, February 24, 2024

The decline of the Sunshine

BY OLU AYELA

Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, a barrister, is a household name. He is debonair, outspoken, and candid. At the Nigerian Bar Association where he was chairman, he was known for his incisive analyses, erudition and agility.

When it came to discussing human rights, his place was on the front row.

These clouts, no doubt, recommended him to the good people of Ondo State, the Sunshine State of Nigeria, when he canvassed for votes to be elected governor.

The campaign was flawless, and when the election came, he was victorious. But little did the politically enlightened people of the state know that it was a pyrrhic victory and that they had shot themselves in the foot.

For all who may care, Ondo State is blessed with both human and natural resources and should be one of the richest states in the country, if properly managed.

Alas, mismanagement, avarice and calculated attempts to subjugate the people and the truth have turned a once growing state, and one of the privileged oil-producing states in the country, into a Siberia, a state of extreme difficulties and lamentation, one in which civil servants are not sure of their wages at the end of the month. Thanks to Ogbeni Akeredolu and his cabal who, by their actions and inactions are destroying the state.

Ondo State currently illustrates the potential risk philosophers predicted would befall a state if allowed to function without direction. It is a dictum that where there are no laws, there would be no sin.

Philosophers had centuries ago foreseen that a state without a rudder would fall into anarchy. The laws of the land are there to guide those at the helm of affairs. Today, Ondo State presents evidence of what those philosophers claimed.

In fairness, only God is immune to sickness. Akeredolu, like all mortals, had fallen ill. He was in Germany for months, and during the period handed over to the deputy governor as dictated by the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

But since he returned, the state has been without any one in particular governing it, yet he is one of the nation’s legal luminaries. Just when the Constitution would have vetoed that the deputy governor takes over the reins, Akeredolu was brought back to Nigeria, and bundled to Ibadan.

No one has seen him near Ondo State since then. Surprisingly, his wife Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu and his son, and some selfish politicians have formed themselves into a cabal ruling the state.

They are even eager to cite the cases of Turai Yar’Adua and Buhari as instances.

Many appointees of Akeredolu have lost their sense of reasoning and do not see anything wrong in what is happening in the state.

Imagine 31 of his appointees passing a vote of confidence in him, a man they have not seen at Government House, Akure, since his return from Germany; a man who has not called or presided over any Executive Council meeting since his return. They said in a statement on November 17, 2023: “We unanimously declare our unflinching trust in Mr Governor and endorse his impactful leadership. As a united front, we remain steadfast in our support for Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, CON, and pledge to continue working collaboratively towards the advancement and prosperity of the state. We express our gratitude to Mr Governor for his selfless service and courageous leadership.”

It is gratifying that one of his commissioners disagreed with them. Mr. Akinwumi Sowore, his Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, faulted his colleagues’ claim.

“I don’t have any issue with the governor, and he is our governor in the state. In fact, they don’t allow the man to rest.

There has been no exco meeting, the governor is far away in Ibadan and the deputy is embattled far away in Abuja, so, nobody to chair the executive council meeting in the state. Even if I am around, I will not have signed because I’m supposed to tell them what they are supposed to do. No exco meeting had been held, except during the period the deputy governor was acting governor. But since the governor resumed duty on 7th September, no exco meeting has been held,” Sowore said.

The lawlessness going on in Ondo State is contrary to the social contract the citizens signed with Akeredolu.

For a truth, Akeredolu is to blame for his shenanigans.

When he was hauled back into the country without being fit to perform his constitutional function as governor, as a learned gentleman, the right thing to do was to hand over to his deputy, but he refused. Truly, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. But the heat is now on him.

The price of hanging on to power at the detriment of the people is higher than he ever thought.

Whether he or his cabal likes it, as long as the state’s economy, infrastructure and security are not at acceptable level, Akeredolu’s surrogate cannot claim to be winning the peace, and of course, like Macbeth, they have murdered sleep.

Let it be emphasized here, that the battle for the right thing to be done in Ondo State is far beyond that of the deputy governor who has been castrated and treated like a leper when it comes to appurtenances of office by non-elective surrogates. It should also be recognised by all that the illegal occupation of the governor’s office by this so-called cabal is a threat to the survival of the state indigenes.

“Many appointees of Akeredolu have lost their sense of reasoning and do not see anything wrong in what is happening in the state”

The heavy groaning in the state about the absurdity is welcome but the indigenes should do more than lament. There is a need for affirmative action; incidentally, history is on the side of the people. If you fold your arms and refuse to take a responsible course of action, those who had vowed to run Ondo State to the ground would continue in the subjugation of the state-wide sovereign.

It is no longer news that when you see a façade of governor’s entourage anywhere in the state be sure it is either Akeredolu’s wife or son racing about in state apparatus, sucking it to the people: “we have come to suck you dry.”

It was a bitter experience the other day, when the entourage swept past and we all thought the governor was back and raced after him, only to discover it was the governor’s son and his friends inspecting projects in the state capital.

You begin to wonder how a young man with a lively imagination and with a very short attention span can be regarded as possessing the qualities expected of a brilliant academic or law guru. The bravado and other schemes are just like using antibiotics to fight the common cold; the people, no doubt, will just be more resistant rather than being sympathetic.

Go to any part of Ondo State now, what you see all are people who are downcast and people whose suffering is clearly visible in their faces.

Their strange stares seem to ask why they were being so silly-beaten just for the error of voting the wrong person into the seat of power. A rhetorical question only Akeredolu and his cohorts could answer. More than ever, the misery sweeping through the state is unimaginable.

The masses of the people are hitting their heads against pillars of corrupt politicians and posts erected by shameless state cows milking the poor citizens.

The utter chaos Akeredolu’s wife and her cabal have turned Ondo State into is highly unbecoming. The question to ask is what is the role of the governor’s wife in the scheme of things in a peaceful state? What power has the governor’s wife to wrestle all the apparatus of office from a sitting deputy governor? These anomalies are only possible in Ondo State.

What did the Constitution say about the office of the deputy governor and that of the wife of the governor and in the absence of a governor up to five months, how should power transit from him to the next line of authority? These are questions begging for answers in Ondo State.

Unfortunately, the Ondo State House of Assembly seems to have sold its soul to the highest bidder.

All sorts of stories are flying about with regards to what has handicapped the assembly from doing the right thing. Their job is very simple, if not blinded by poisonous gifts. Is there any clause arrogating the passage of governorship power to the wife or son of Ondo State governor, otherwise, who is benefitting from the current absence of power structure?

It is high time All Progressive Congress leaders intervened to restore order and good governance. The constitution is the nation’s supreme law and must be obeyed. Enough of political bravado and rascality. Ondo people have suffered enough and in the words of Milton Obote’s opus, Cry My Beloved Ondo State for your agonies have reached the high heavens.

In this regard, the advice of a group, Ondo State Patriots, based in Lagos which is aghast with the goings-on in the state is timely and should be heeded.

President of the group, Chief Samuel Olanrenwaju who is a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, has warned that the state must not be allowed to slide into anarchy as a result of the small mindedness of certain individuals.

He urged the state assembly to thread the path of common sense, by installing immediately the Deputy Governor, to continue to act pending the time the governor would be fit to resume duties in Akure.

•Ayela, a veteran journalist, wrote from Lagos

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