Since his return to the country after his medical leave abroad, the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has moved swiftly against those who were alleged to be making political gains from his ill-health, PETER DADA writes
It is no more news that the Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, has returned to the country after some months of a medical vacation in the European country of Germany.
After enjoying enough rest at the foreign land , Governor Akeredolu landed in the country a few week ago and went straight to his personal residence in Ibadan , the Oyo State capital, amid jubilation among his family friends and associates, particularly, the political associates.
After informing the state House of Assembly of his return, he settled down and began work immediately.
However, it could be observed that his coming did not go down well with some politicians in the state, most especially those in the camp of the ruling All Progressives Congress. Some of them had already drawn plans to capitalize on the pitiable health condition of Mr Governor to manoeuvre their ways and take vantage position in the forthcoming governorship election next year against the interest of the governor, thinking that it was all over for the governor to return to the office, due to the news that the governor was incapacitated and would not be fit to rule the state again.
While the governor was receiving treatment in Germany, so many intrigues were said to have happened in the political circle of the Ondo APC which put a question mark on the loyalty of the so-called aides and political associates of the Chairman of the Southern Governors’ Forum. It was alleged that some of the aides of the governor diverted their loyalty to another direction and began to work towards clinching power in the 2024 governorship election.
It was also gathered that some members of the state executive council, then, led by the former acting governor (who has now moved back his position as the deputy governor following the governor’s return), Mr Lucky Aiyedatiwa, was divided while the state suffered for it for a while, in terms of governance because it was obvious that politics overshadowed governance at this period. The reason for this development was not unconnected with the political interests of the governor’s cabinet members and some other aides, who were allegedly planning towards the 2024 polls. Everybody wants to become governor.
Aiyedatiwa and some members of the Akeredolu’s cabinet were said to have been aspiring to contest for the governorship election next year. Consequently, the politics was allegedly heated up to the extent that each of the gladiators perceived one another as enemy, despite being a member of the same political party, even though they appeared to be friendly at the unavoidable public functions. They also allegedly monitored the public and private activities of one another with the aim of reporting to their boss who is loyal and who is not loyal.
A source said every account of their loyal and disloyal deeds was reported to the governor when he returned, hence the commencement of the “surgical operation” in the government house.
This, our source said, led to the sack of some media aides of the governor, attached to the office of the deputy governor, few days ago.
According to the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Akeredolu, Mr Richard Olatunde, the affected aides, included Press Secretary to the Governor, Kenneth Odusola; Special Assistant to Governor (New Media) Okunniga Oladipupo; and Special Assistant to the Governor (Photography) Abayomi Samson Adefolalu. The former aides were alleged to have involved themselves in some act suspected to be disloyal to the governor while on medical vacation.
It was gathered that the axed aides, while displaying loyalty to their direct principal, Aiyedatiwa, were sending some anti-governor’s posts on the social media while the governor was on medical leave.
“One of the sacked aides openly abused the governor on his WhatsApp status and the screenshot is with the governor’s people. The deputy governor media aides are the ones causing disaffection in the government. They are the ones going about saying Aiyedatiwa will complete Akeredolu’s tenure. It’s like they wished the governor dead. One of them was investigated and findings has it that he had engaged in planting some stories against the governor,” the source narrated.
Similarly, some groups have been accusing the deputy governor of not being totally loyal to his boss as they alleged that on many occasions; the deputy governor had been caught exhibiting some acts of disloyalty against his boss.
Having discovered the alleged disloyalty, a source among the cabinet members disclosed that Aiyedatiwa was allegedly not allowed, by some powerful governor’s loyalists, to perform certain functions in the office as an acting governor in order not to utilize the governorship position to take some steps that could shoot him ahead of the other political gladiators in the ruling party.
However, Aiyedatiwa denied all the allegations against him in a statement issued by his erstwhile media aide, Mr. Kenneth Odusola-Stevenson, describing all the allegations against him as the handiwork of his political detractor and faceless groups and individuals in the state to soil his image and pull him down politically. He expressed his total loyalty to his boss.
The statement read, “We need to remind the public that this is a continuation of the blackmail started by these same characters some months ago, with false stories planted in some media outlets against the deputy governor. However, since those lies did not yield the result they envisaged, the blackmailers have returned with fake stories about disloyalty, aimed at causing disaffection between him and the governor.
“These faceless individuals, who have been hiding their identities because what they are putting out are pure fabrications, are being sponsored by those who are threatened by the profile of the deputy governor, his relationship with his boss and the goodwill he enjoys with the people.
“Many stakeholders have commended the deputy governor for the way he handled the affairs of the state while he was Acting Governor, despite all his detractors did to provoke him into taking drastic actions. He avoided their booby traps and they tripped on their own banana peels.”
He added, “Now that Mr. Governor is back and has started working, the deputy governor remains calm and committed to the duties of his office and unruffled by the lies of desperate politicians and their agents. The deputy governor remains loyal to his principal and no amount of fabricated lies will change that. “
The Special Assistant to the governor on Special Duties and Strategy, Dr Doyin
Odebowale, on Channels TV recently confirmed insinuations and impressions that the people were having about the happenings and intrigues that took place in the government circle during the absence of Mr Governor.
Odebowale said, “I can tell you for free, when he (Akeredolu) was away, there was little of governance. People want to contest, they want to be governor, they want to be this and that. It is their rights but they were distracting us (other media aides) and they were recruiting people to be distracting us.
“The governor is not petty. While he was in Germany, he was asking people questions and giving directives; contrary to the impression created that he was seriously incapacitated. Now he is back, nobody is talking about the shenanigans that occurred when he was away. The shenanigans were about the coming election and the governor is not contesting again.
“As a member of this government, I was appalled at some of the things that happened. We know that certain members of the state executive council were contesting and some people outside are also contesting and it is legitimate but what we ask for is that they should not distract us.
“They posted the obituary of their fathers and not the governor more than five times. Posting the governor’s obituary because they wanted power. They were overheating the polity asking for power, money, funds like that. They created the impression that the governor was not in charge of anything. They attacked the first family, abusing everybody.”
In the same vein, a reliable source in the Government House disclosed that more ‘surgery operation’ is likely to happen in the governor’s cabinet very soon as some members of the state executive council may also get fired following the alleged disloyal roles they played against their boss.
The source said, “More aides and commissioners may go because the governor is most likely to reshuffle or dissolve his cabinet any moment from now. Some of them thought the man (governor) would not come back. As he returned now, he knows the roles everyone played in his absence. Those who are not loyal and pretended to be loyal, the governor know.
“Those who held several meetings, making several plans while he was away, the man knows them and will deal with them one after the other. Some of the aides who jubilated when the fake news of the governor’s death broke may not continue with this government. But we are not sure how the governor would go about it.
Meanwhile, the main opposition party in the state, state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, was indifferent about the whole drama happening in the governor’s cabinet but of the opinion that the governor should face governance and stop chasing his perceived enemies.
The party through its Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Kennedy Peretei said, “What Akeredolu has done by sacking the media aides of his deputy is simply a manifestation of the cacophony in the APC ahead of 2024 governorship election in the state. However, Akeredolu should come to Ondo State and settle down to the business of governance instead of chasing perceived enemies in his government.”