Unease lies the head that wears the crown is a common refrain used to describe Nigerian politicians whose first thought upon ascending the summit of rule is how to perpetuate themselves on the seat. But, the current governor of Ondo State, Arákùnrin Rotimi Akeredolu is not just uneasy; he is positively quaking in his boots. The danger that he will be consigned to history as a former governor come 2020 is very real to him. Hence, he has been running from pillar to post seeking the support of the elites.
Ordinarily, the governor is expected to run unopposed for his party’s ticket and contest a second term. But these are no ordinary times, and Ondo is no ordinary state.
Unlike elsewhere where the executive is the law and lawmaker, judge and executioner, many stakeholders and even the ordinary folk have a significant say in who gets to become their governor come 2020. And the road to reelection for Akeredolu is littered with thorns, potholes, and hidden traps.
Insiders disclosed that the state’s elite are nowhere near ready to make things easy for the embattled governor. When he rode on many people’s shoulders to become governor, it was assumed he would reciprocate the gesture through his appointments and elevations but the opposite was the case. He allegedly ran many of those who had run Ondo APC out of town and installed his own loyalists everywhere.
Now with the primaries near and mass support imperative, Akeredolu has been going on a charm offensive to woo them to his side, only to be met with numerous hard stares and cold shoulders. In a bid to collect their pound of flesh, some disgruntled elites have even formed Change Agent Foundation International. The group’s remit, according to those in the know, is to propagate Akeredolu O To Ge (Akeredolu, Enough is Enough), similarly to the movement in Kwara that ousted former senate president Bukola Saraki.
Akeredolu was also said to have scored low on so many indices. Unlike his sterling performance as a private, then public advocate, his performance as a governor left so much to be desired. The elites are said to be looking for someone else who can do better than the governor. Hence they’ve refused to stand behind him, solidly or otherwise, despite his recent charm offensive.