This is not the best of time for Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu popularly known as Aketi as the Governor is fighting the battle of his life.
Akeredolu is fighting the battle from all fronts. He fighting for survival, he is fighting with chieftains of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), he is fighting for the second term ticket of the party, he is fighting the various oppositions who are gunning for his seat.
Many political analysts believe that Akeredolu has put himself in the position he is currently in. They argued that he has created more enemies for himself and that is the reason his popularity and his goodwill in the State is fast evaporating like the smoke of a cigarette.
Akeredolu won the his election in 2016 against all odds. He was picked to fly the party’s ticket by the powers that be and against the popular choice of the people.
Immediately Akeredolu was sworn-in, he went on a mission to sideline all the people that fought tooth and nail to ensure his election. Akeredolu made sure he decimated majority of those who worked for him to secure the victory.
Now, the Governorship election is fast approaching, all eyes is on Ondo State and Akeredolu is in the centre of it all.
The governor has parted ways with some of the bigwigs, who supported him in the last election in 2016.
The likes of the senator representing Ondo North Senatorial District, Prof Ajayi Boroffice; a former deputy governor, Alhaji Ali Olanusi; Kekemeke and many others in the party, have become archenemies of the governor. In the last three years, some top members of the Ondo APC have not been together. There is even an indication that the Governor and his deputy, Mr Agboola Ajayi, are at loggerheads.
Owing to the lingering crisis, a source in the party confirmed to Nigeriastandardng that Akeredolu might find it difficult to get the ticket of the party because he was not in the good book of the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
The source said, “The Governor may likely not get the ticket to contest on the platform of the APC and if he eventually gets it, he may make us to lose the election. The party is not together and he is doing nothing to unite the aggrieved party members.
“He is not on the same page with many party leaders who worked for him in 2016. It was as a result of the division in the party that made the party to lose the 2019 presidential election in the state when he supported the candidates of another party for the National Assembly elections. I wonder if the national leadership of the party has forgiven him totally for the alleged anti-party activities.”
In the same vein, it was gathered that the aggrieved party leaders, who have formed a group within the party, named Ondo APC Unity Forum, under the chairmanship of Olanusi, had concluded plans to fight the Governor’s re-election. There are allegations that the group has been making moves to ensure Akeredolu loses the party’s ticket.
Unity Forum has been waging political war against Akeredolu since he assumed office on February 24, 2017, accusing him of marginalisation and anti-party activities, especially in the 2019 general elections.
The forum has its membership spread across the 18 local government areas of the state. It has the sole intention of stopping Akeredolu from clinching a second term ticket for the ruling party in the state. Several governorship aspirants have shown interest within the group to slug it out with the Governor.
In order to have an easy victory over the power of incumbency and other opportunities at Akeredolu’s disposal, the group settled for a consensus candidate among the aspirants and a seven-man committee was set up, headed by Senator Yele Omogunwa and saddled with the responsibility of producing a candidate before the end of March.
The aspirants from the north senatorial district are Dr. Segun Abraham, Jumoke Ajasin-Anifowose, Bukola Adetula, Olaide Adelami, Akin Awodeyi, Kazeem Olanrewaju and Prince Dapo Adelegan, while Chief Olusola Oke, Egnr. Ife Oyedele and Jimi Odimayo hail from the south senatorial district.
The crisis had begun during the 2016 Governorship election primary when Akeredolu emerged as the candidate of the party.
The like of Dr Segun Abraham, Chief Olusola Oke, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, and some other party chieftains kicked against the outcome of the election. This development was said to have led to the exit of some chieftains from the party while others remained. Some of them, it was learnt, refused to work for Akeredolu during the main election.
Akeredolu, after winning the election, was alleged to have vowed to marginalise those that, he believe, did not work for him. He declared during his inauguration that some members would not benefit from his government. To this end, all efforts by the regional and national leadership of the party to resolve the crisis have yet to yield any fruitful result.
A prominent member of the Unity Forum, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, claimed that the group controlled over 75 per cent of the APC members in the state.
The many sins of Akeredolu
Many are the sins of Akeredolu in eyes of his political enemies. Above all, Akeredolu is accused of running a government of selfishness and greediness.
He is also popular for running a government of nepotism, impunity and favouritism. For instance, Akeredolu is accused of favouring Owo section at the detriment of other sections.
A source told Nigeriastandardng, “Arakunrin Akeredolu should be reminded his continuous and unrepentant stance on nepotism and impunity would no longer be condoned. Despite having Owo kinsmen as Chiefs of everything, which includes Chief of Staff, Chief of Protocol, Chief of Infrastructures ( Ministry of Works, Lands and Housing, Housing Corporation, Water Corporation, Electricity Board; and now House of Assembly Impeachment Chief), Chief of Forestry/ Natural Resources/all investments and industrial hub, and Chief of IGR/Remitta/SITA/COVID-19, etc!
“We were all in this State when over four qualified persons were side-stepped, paving the way for an Owo man to become the Surveyor-General of the state. An Owo man was made the Head of Service at the detriment of all other qualified and more senior men in the Ondo State Civil Service who were made to leave service unceremoniously before their stipulated retirement date. He was recently told to continue his job, even after clocking his compulsory retirement age. He is also currently a Permanent Secretary in the Governor’s Office.”
“Someone said an Owo person is the Chief Justice of Ondo State. Another person said the Chairman, Local Government Service Commission, is from Owo. The Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General is an Olowomade. The new Ondo Commissioner on the board of Federal Character Commission is from Owo.”
“They said Tokunbo Ajasin on the Revenue, Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission is from Owo. We have countless SSAs and SAs from Owo who are now more powerful than some redundant commissioners and other appointees. No one is against empowering your townsmen and kith and kin as long as you own your companies and businesses but using Ondo State to empower your kinsmen alone will NOT be condoned anymore.”
“Dear Arakunrin Akeredolu, all of us cannot come from Owo. Ondo State is made up of Akoko, Akure, Owo, Ondo, Ikale, Ilaje, Apoi, Odigbo and the rest. We will not continue to look while Owo people enjoy at the expense of other ethnic groups that make up the State.”
“The case of Akoko is even worse; the governor’s zero tolerance for Akoko people is very embarrassing; he recently sacked one of his aides who travelled to New York on official duty (United Nations Youth Conference) but was trapped by COVID – 19, making the list of Aketi’s sacked appointees from Akoko region skyrocket to five out of the total six from the entire state within one year.”
“Someone should remind (Akeredolu) that you are the Governor of Ondo State and not Igboroko or Ehinogbe and we need not learn the Ogho language before you deliver on your election promises.”
Besides, Akeredolu is also accused of embarking on white elephant projects. Projects, he sworn enemies and political analysts say have no economic impact of the people of the State.
Akeredolu is said to have spent over N1.1billion on a GRA project with nothing to show for it.
He is also said to have spent N6billion on a bridge that is less than 50 metre length and the Governor also claimed to have expended N1.2billion on Osupa road in Akure, a road that is less than 700metres long.
One of the sources that spoke to Nigeriastandardng said, “The money Akeredolu used in paying consultants is more than enough to executive projects.”
For some people, their with Akeredolu started during the State of the Assembly and the National Assembly elections where Akeredolu was said to have imposed majority of the party’s candidate on them.
This, led to the defeat of many APC candidates. The source further said, “Our first clash with him (Akeredolu) was during the State House of Assembly election. He imposed a candidate on us in my Local Go ernment Area, but we voted for another party (PDP) to prove to him that we are more than him.”
“He (Akeredolu) is a dictator. The post of the Governor is not for one person, it is for all the people that voted you there. He has never allowed us to present to him the people that we want.”
Akeredolu has also been accused of fanning the embers of disunity in the State, leading to various communal clashes. His silence on these clashes has further laid credence to the allegation.
Also, recently, Governor Akeredolu said he has drawn a battle line with political leaders in his party (APC), under the auspices of the Unity group, who are gathering against his second term ambition in the state, saying he is no longer interested in any peace meeting but “battle ready” for members of the group.
He said, he was ready to confront members of the Unity Forum, headed by Ali Olanusi, a former deputy governor, allegedly frustrating his attempt to get a second term ticket.
An impending political tsunami in Ondo APC
There is strong indications that Akeredolu’s Deputy, Agboola Ajayi, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde would soon dump the APC for the PDP.
This was further confined by a meeting, called by Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, an ally of Akeredolu to broker peace between Akeredolu, his deputy and SSG which hit brickwall.
Fayemi had on Saturday May 2, 2020 came to the state House in Akure in a bid to settle the rift between Akeredolu and two cabinet members believed to be powerful and who could truncate the chances of the governor to secure a second term.
It was, however, gathered that not much was achieved by Fayemi, who arrived Akure, Ondo State capital, in the evening of that fateful day, held the peace-making meeting till the early hours of the next day, Sunday.
Those who attended the meeting included the state’s Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi, Secretary to the State Government Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde and Chairman of APC in the state, Engr. Adé Adetimehin. In attendance was also Governor Akeredolu.
Governor Fayemi had two days before reportedly called to plead with both Agboola and Abegunde to attend the meeting.
Sources said at the meeting, Fayemi pleaded with the duo of Agboola and Abegunde to bury the hatchet and focus on how to make the second term ambition of Akeredolu possible.
But the meeting, as it turned out, was only a partial success. It was learnt that, that same night, the Deputy Governor drove to Abegunde’s house to review what was discussed at the earlier meeting with Fayemi.
Sources said Deputy Governor Agboola is of the view that the Ekiti State governor played a trick on them by luring them into the Aketi re-election project when many issues are still burning and remain unresolved by Governor Akeredolu.
Meanwhile, SSG Abegunde had also allegedly demanded that Governor Akeredolu make available to him a large sum of money as palliatives for the people of his constituency which the governor reportedly turned down.
Akeredolu was said to have been irked by reports that the SSG was planning to dump APC for PDP in conjunction with the Deputy Governor.
The Deputy Governor, sources said, was alleged to have mentioned Abegunde to some PDP Governors as one of those who would decamp from the APC to PDP with him along with 13 other members of the state.
Ifeoluwa Oyedele to the rescue
A governorship aspirant under the platform of the APC who is a prominent member of the Unity Forum, Mr. Ifeoluwa Oyedele, has vowed to rescue the State from poor governance that is currently ravaging the State.
Oyedele described the Akeredolu-led administration as “the government of governor Akeredolu, wife and for his children.”
He insisted that the Ondo State has repeatedly experienced leadership failure in the past years and confessed that those saddled with the responsibility of piloting the affairs of the State had turned governance into a family business.
According to him, “No indigene of Ondo State today can be proud of the current situation of the state. This year makes the 44th year when Ondo State was created. I don’t think there is any building within the state that has portable water from the government.”
“In some parts of the State, people have been battling with electricity blackout for over 10 years. They only rely on the I better pass my neighbour generator. What this means is that a child of about 10 years of age has never seen electricity from the national grid.
“What has baffled us the most is that every four years we do elect governors but the most painful is that they seem not to have any plan. What we have in Ondo State today is the government of the governor and wife and for his children.”