Aiyedatiwa, Akeredolu: Who laughs last?

By Izobo M

Who laughs last in the ongoing feud between Governor Akeredolu and his Deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa? This piece examines the puzzle.

Ondo State deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, used to be regarded as ‘My successor’ by his boss, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu. At various fora, Governor Akeredolu never hid his intention to support Aiyedatiwa to succeed him. Their relationship was robust that Aiyedatiwa was tagged the most loyal Deputy Governor. During State Executive Council meetings, Akeredolu reportedly gave Aiyedatiwa duties calling him, ‘You are the next after me”.

Both men are now miles apart as Akeredolu has kept Aiyedatiwa at arms length since he returned from medical vacation in Germany. Aiyedatiwa has only seen Akeredolu twice this year. Akeredolu was said to have felt betrayed by his Deputy for plotting to take power when he was not yet pronounced dead. Aiyedatiwa, according to sources, held meetings with some cabinet members and promised them several positions in return for support their support to emerge as substantive Governor. Some Governors also called Akeredolu to inform him about moves by his Deputy and declared him not loyal.

Few days after Akeredolu returned to Nigeria, the Ondo State House of Assembly began impeachment move against Aiyedatiwa.

The Assembly raised 14 allegations of gross misconduct against Aiyedatiwa. Among the allegations were that Aiyedatiwa corruptly enriched himself and wasted government fund.

The embattled deputy Governor was also accused of engaging in Press releases and interviews with some media outlets wherein false allegations were levied against the Governor about his health.

If the move to impeach Aiyedatiwa succeeds, Akeredolu would be making history in the Country as the first Governor to rule a State with three deputy Governors.

During his first term, Agboola Ajayi, who served as Deputy to Akeredolu, was too in a hurry to succeed his boss. It was when Akeredolu travelled for medical treatment that Agboola moved to a
lobby the Assembly to declare him Acting Governor. The move failed as words got to Akeredolu who quickly mobilised to stop Agboola. Akeredolu’s move to impeach Agboola failed because of some lawmakers who were loyal to the former Deputy Governor.

Aiyedatiwa has found himself in the same scenario as Agboola. He could not secure the support of Secretary to the State Government, Princess Oladunni Odu, Commissioner for Finance, Wale Akinterinwa and Special Adviser on Union Matters, Dare Airegbaiye. Aiyedatiwa also lacked the political finesse and structure of Agboola. It is a ruling of the Federal High Court in Abuja that has stalled the impeachment move.

However, the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress has offered to use political solution to settle the feud and return peace to the State. It set up a Committee headed by a former Governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Aminu Masari. Part of the solution was for Aiyedatiwa to withdraw all cases he filed to stall the impeachment as well as apologise to Governor Akeredolu.

The impeachment move appeared to be taking a new turn as the Youth Wing of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party launched the ‘Resume or Resign’ protest against Governor Akeredolu. The group has also issued a seven-day ultimatum for Governor Akeredolu to resume in Akure and urged the state House of Assembly to invoke relevant sections of the Constitution to determine the health status of the ailing Governor of Ondo State.

Spokesman of the Ondo PDP youths, Mr. Tayo Oluyi, said the constitutional provisions must be upheld to ensure continued and effective functioning of the state.

He said, “We have written a letter of ‘Request to invoke Section 189(4) of the 1999 Constitution on the state of health of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’, to the State House of Assembly.

“And if the State House of Assembly failed in this regard, we won’t hesitate to explore other legitimate constitutional means to press our demands.

“We are ready as a main opposition party to take the governor to court, or even the Speaker if they failed to invoke Section 189(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on him (governor).

“It is also in our legal rights too to take to the streets if they failed to address this because our demands are very simple. We can’t have a governor that is yet to address the citizens since he returned from his medical vacation.

“If truly the Governor is fit, he should come out to address the good people of Ondo State, it should not be something that is much for him to do.

“While we do not presume the reason for his disappearance, we reference his not-too-long communication to the Ondo State House of Assembly wherein he requested for medical leave. We request that Section 189(4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which provides a framework for addressing situations where a Governor is unable to discharge the functions of the office due to health-related reasons be initiated by the State Legislative Arm.

“Given the critical nature of the responsibilities vested in the Governor, the potential implications of the state’s governance during a time of health-related incapacity, and how details of the heal condition of Governor Akeredolu has been deliberately shrouded in secrecy, leaving the people wit no information. It is important a thorough assessment of the Governor’s state of health is undertake to determine the appropriate course of action.

“It is crucial that the House of Assembly, in the interest of our state and its citizens, uphold Constitutional provisions to ensure the continued and effective functioning of our government.”

Also, the Ondo Liberation Initiave (OLI) launched the ‘Jare e gba’ protest calling on Nigerians to help free Governor Akeredolu from ‘perceived captivity’.

Spokesman for the group, Alabi Johnson, who spoke in Akure, explained that the concept of ‘Jare e gba’ was because the Governor has not been seen in public.

According to him, “Nobody has seen him in any public place since his claimed resumption of office. This is why our Ondo government needs to be rescued; the people need to be rescued by embracing Government policies that can eradicate poverty. Aketi needs to be rescued and taken out for better medical care. The Governor is no longer a private person but a public officer.

“Ondo State is our own. We cannot afford to live in disharmony because peace is supposed to be the driver of development in our state.

“We appeal that they should rescue Akeredolu and take him abroad from proper medical care. We do not want him dead, but to live to sustain his hard earned legacies in the state.

“It is true that we can have divided opinion on policy matters like we have on issue of impeachment, but can never wish him (Aketi) dead.”

The Ondo Assembly, last week, jettisoned the peace processes of the APC and wrote to the Chief Judge, Justice Olusegun Odusola, to constitute the Panel to investigate allegations raised against Aiyedatiwa. It said the restraining order has elapsed. But Aiyedatiwa cautioned Justice Odusola to ignore the Assembly.

Speaker Oladiji Olamide, in the letter, said the restraining Order of an Abuja High Court has elapsed or became extinguished by the operation of the law, in view of the provisions of Order 26 Rule 10(2) & (3) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2019, which
states as follows:.

The letter reads in parts, “The Court has not taken the application or renewed the Order, as evident in the Certified True Copy of the Court’s record of proceedings for October 9, 2023 and October
16, 2023.

“In fact, in Exhibit ODHA3, it was recorded that the motion was served on the Plaintiff in Court on October 9, 2023,
after which the matter was adjourned to October 16, 2023.

“In view of the above facts, your lordship would agree that the said Order has elapsed by the operation of the law, and no longer constitutes an encumbrance for your lordship to discharge the sacred constitutional obligation placed on your office by virtue of Section 188
(5) of the Constitution to set up the Seven-man Panel.

“Consequently, the 10th Ondo State House of Assembly hereby calls on
your lordship to kindly constitute the Panel without any further delay.”

Aiyedatiwa, hrough his Counsel, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, argued that the Assembly letter was based on conjectures, misconceptions, inconsistencies, undue desperation and misconstruction of the law.

He said, “Contrary to this misconception of law and the facts, the same House of Assembly filed a Motion on Notice dated 20th October 2023, before the Court of Appeal, Abuja in respect of the same orders of the Federal High Court, praying for abridgement of time to hear its appeal against the said orders.

“If it is true that the orders expired by operation of law on 18th October 2023 as being falsely canvassed, why would the same House of Assembly file a fresh application two days later, in pursuit of its desire to set aside the said orders that it claimed have expired? While the Assembly is pursuing its appeal to set aside the orders in Court, it is deviously asking My Lord to set aside the same orders in Chambers, purportedly by operation of law.”

What further proved that the political solution would failed was Akeredolu rejection of the apology tendered by Aiyedatiwa. Aiyedatiwa who said political contenders preparing for next year’s governorship election exploited situations in the state apologised to his boss due ‘to the embarrassment and discomfort that the political chaos of these past months has caused him(Akeredolu) and the good people of Ondo State’.

Aiyedatiwa said he was saddened by the embarrassment and discomfort Governor Akeredolu faced due to the barrage of negative news in the State as a result of the events of the last few months.

“I tendered this reserved apology because of the embarrassment and discomforts he faces. The event has brought all kinds of negative news. He deserve the unreserved apology. I am at the center.That is exactly what I am tendring this apology for.

“We have continued to read in the media, all sorts of lies fabricated to create crisis just for the purpose of . The recent impeachment attempt by the House of Assembly and the ensuing reactions have further created division and chaos, with my loyalty to Mr. Governor being questioned.

“It is, therefore, imperative for me to put on record that there has never been any issue between Mr. Governor and myself and I have never undermined him. Political actors have only taken advantage of his absence to create a non-existent crisis for their own selfish interests.

“I am profoundly grateful to Mr. Governor for his intervention and role in persuading the distinguished members of Ondo State House of Assembly to embrace the political solution offered by our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the face of the impeachment move.

“It is in reference to all of the above that I tender my unreserved apologies to Mr. Governor for the embarrassment and discomfort that the political chaos of these past months has caused him and the good people of Ondo State.

“I completely distance myself from any group or individuals holding protests or calling on the Governor to resign. I have never commissioned any individual or group to engage in such protest or campaign.”

Akeredolu who responded through his Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties, Dr. Doyin Odebowale, said the only course of honour for Aiyedatiwa was for him to defend allegations of gross misconduct levelled against him by the Assembly.

The Governor said he was not averse to embracing, cautiously, any seeming overtures impelled by genuine contriteness, and insisted that he does not meddle in the affairs of the lawmakers.

According to him, “The good people of Ondo State are too discerning to be hoodwinked with dissembling equivocation. Keen observers of events, as they have been unfolding in the State, cannot miss the import of the malicious intents, insensitive posturing and diabolical projections of the last six months in the Government of the Sunshine State.

“The major sponsors of these acts of subterfuge should be ashamed of themselves. The very suggestion that these brazen and shameless acts of moral turpitude happened without the knowledge of the projected, most prominent beneficiary and active enabler of this disgrace, should make meaning to those who towed this path of infamy.

“The best respect that all elected and appointed officials of the Government can display to the people should find expression in the unconditional reverence for the institution which represents them. The Deputy Governor referred to the allegations of malfeasance levelled against him by the House of Assembly as “all sorts of lies against my person in the media”. It is only decent that we advise him to take this defence to the same House of Assembly which came up with 14 allegations of gross misconduct against him.

“This is the only course of honour at this moment.”

While this brinkmanship between the two State actors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) continue, governance in Ondo State has nosedived in this uncertain times.

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