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As Akeredolu Dies @67: Aiyedatiwa Sworn In As Ondo Governor

Ondo State deputy governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa was yesterday sworn in as governor following the death of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.

Aiyedatiwa took the oath of office after Akeredolu died of prostate cancer in the early hours of Wednesday in Germany.

In the presence of thousands of political supporters, Aiyedatiwa, who had earlier been governing the state in “acting capacity”, was sworn in as the seventh governor of the state, by the Chief Judge, Olusegun Odunsola.

Speaking after his swearing-in, Aiyedatiwa said it was with a heavy heart that he accepted the onerous responsibility of taking over the reins of governance and affairs of the state following the unfortunate loss and passing of Akeredolu.

He said Akeredolu’s death was a devastating shock to him, stressing that the state had been praying earnestly for his quick recovery and subsequent safe return before the unfortunate incident.

“The demise of Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN, CON is indeed a great loss to me as an individual as our relationship dated back to many years ago, having closely worked with him when his gubernatorial journey started in year 2012. 

“The loss then did not affect our relationship as we continued to maintain a close political and personal relationship, which climaxed in the year 2020 when he graciously picked me as his running mate for his second term as governor of Ondo State.

“Governor Akeredolu was a man of courage and conviction who always stood for the truth even at his own detriment. I remember vividly during the time when we had a case in court challenging our second term victory. He still pursued the matter of emplacing a strong security network for the people of the Southwest codenamed ‘Amotekun Corps’.

“The people of Ondo State and the entire people of the South West will be eternally grateful for this bold act, which has greatly improved the security architecture in the region and reduced incidents of kidnapping, banditry and other acts of criminalities to the barest minimum especially in Ondo State,” he said.

He said the many legacies of Akeredolu in the health sector, infrastructural development, education, industrial development as symbolised in the Ondo-Linyl Industrial Hub, Ore, among others would be difficult to surpass.

New governor makes fresh appointments

Governor Aiyedatiwa, in a statement last night by Deputy Chief of Staff, Olusegun Omojuwa, announced five fresh political appointments after his swearing-in.

He named Ebenezer Adeniyan his Chief Press Secretary; Sunday Abire, Special Assistant on New Media; Smart Omodunbi, Special Assistant to the Governor (Political Matters); Motunrayo Oyedele, Special Assistant to the Governor (Photography) and Temitayo Iperepolu, Special Assistant to the Governor (Domestic and Government House).

Meanwhile, the Special Adviser on Union Matters and Special Duties to Late Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, Dare Aragbaiye, yesterday resigned.

“My decision to resign was prompted by the untimely death of my principal, a fearless and honest leader, Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN, to whom I remain loyal even in death.”

Tinubu, Buhari, govs, others pay tributes

President Bola Tinubu yesterday led other prominent Nigerians, including governors and organisations, in mourning Akeredolu, who was until his death, the chairman of the Southern Governors’ Forum.

President Tinubu described the late governor as a “Beloved brother, confidant and political soul mate.”

In a statement he issued personally, the president wrote that it was with a heavy heart that he was paying tribute to someone younger than himself.

“It is a difficult task to have to pen a tribute and sing a dirge for a departing soul. It is a more difficult job in our African culture when one is compelled to do so for a younger person.

“Here I am, having the difficult job of singing a dirge for Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu; my beloved brother, confidant, political soul mate and the Executive governor of Ondo State.

“Rotimi was a man who moved our nation towards equity, fairness and justice in his strident advocacy against every form of injustice in our country.

“This, he did, through the instrumentality of the law as a Senior Advocate, as Attorney-General of his beloved state, as president of the Nigerian Bar Association and as governor of Ondo State,’’ the president wrote.

He added that Akeredolu was an advocate of peace and security.

Former President Muhammadu Buhari also mourned the passing of Governor Akeredolu of Ondo State, describing him as a towering political and legal luminary.

A statement by Buhari’s spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu quoted the former president saying, “I have lost a valued friend. I pray that his soul finds eternal peace. My thoughts are with the countless people who are inspired by his leadership in law and politics.

“My condolences to his family, the government and people of Ondo State and to our party, the All Progressives Congress.”

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum, in a statement by its Chairman, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State, said Akeredolu was a true believer in justice and fairness, “A voice of reason, one whose counsel resonated well and often brought succour. He was an accomplished Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a true democrat and a believer in the new Nigeria project.”

The Northern Governors’ Forum, in a condolence message by its Chairman, Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State, described Akeredolu as a leader that championed the transformation of Ondo and contributed to the development of Nigeria.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said Akeredolu was a quintessential gentleman who took finesse to governance.

“Akeredolu was a politician of class because he was never known for destructive politics,” he said.

Delta State governor, Sheriff Oborevwori described Akeredolu as an urbane and cerebral leader of great value who was progressively committed to the growth and development of his state and Nigeria.

Enugu State governor, Peter Mbah said Akeredolu fought a good fight and served his people and nation wholeheartedly.

Mbah recalled that as an intellectual leader and legal luminary, Akeredolu came prepared for leadership and delivered on his mandate, adding that his death was a grave loss to not only the people of Ondo, but the entire nation and humanity.

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi and the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Lekan Balogun, described Akeredolu’s death as a national loss.

Ooni, in a statement, said the late governor was an epitome of honesty and courage who lived a life worthy of emulation.

Olubadan, in a statement by his media aide, Oladele Ogunsola, said Akeredolu’s demise was a blow to democracy and political activism.

In a statement, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State described Akeredolu as a pragmatic and courageous leader whose death came like a devastating storm.

Also, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Ondo State described Akeredolu’s demise as a colossal loss to the state and Nigeria as a whole.

The association, in a statement by its chairman, Anselm Ologunwa, said Akeredolu was well noted for his firmness in decision-making.

Akeredolu died of prostate cancer – Ondo govt

The State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, in a statement, said Akeredolu died while receiving medical treatment in Germany. “He succumbed to complications arising from protracted prostate cancer,” she said.

The commissioner described Akeredolu’s passing as unbearable to the people of the state.

“This tragedy has left behind a profound void in our hearts.”

She added that Akeredolu was an extraordinary leader whose unwavering dedication to the state and its people was both commendable and unparalleled.

“He not only served as the governor of Ondo State but also emerged as a prominent advocate for the entire Southwest region and the nation. Governor Akeredolu was a courageous leader and an exemplar of integrity. The weight of this loss is truly unbearable,” she added.

However, Daily Trust observed that the Government Office located at Alagbaka in Akure, was deserted as civil servants were in a pensive mood when they heard the news of the demise of the governor.

Controversies over ‘handing over’

However, Akeredolu’s last moment would be remembered for the controversies generated over his alleged unwillingness to hand over to his deputy while his illness lasted.

In 2010, Akeredolu, then as president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), was among those who called on the then ailing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to hand over to his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan. He also supported the adoption of the doctrine of necessity by the National Assembly as a political solution to the constitutional logjam created by the failure of Yar’ Adua to follow the constitutional process and the lacuna created by his absence from office.

Daily Trust had reported in November how Ondo was on autopilot over the political imbroglio created by Akeredolu’s absence and the failure of the state assembly to allow his deputy to act. Some powerful members of the cabinet also allegedly instigated the assembly to commence an impeachment process against the deputy governor as political gladiators positioned themselves ahead of the 2024 governorship poll in the state.

Daily Trust recalled that Akeredolu had returned to Nigeria in September after spending three months on medical leave in Germany and stayed at his private residence in Ibadan, Oyo State.

Critics and members of the opposition had pressured Akeredolu to resign his position and face his health following his refusal to hand over power to his deputy.

Sequel to the political bickering, which divided the cabinet members, President Tinubu had intervened and directed that power be handed over to Aiyedatiwa in acting capacity, pending the governor’s return.

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