Brewing Cold War Between Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa in Ondo

Brewing Cold War Between Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa in Ondo

Fidelis David writes that things are beginning to fall apart between Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state who recently returned from a three-month medical vacation in Germany and the Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.

No doubt, sour relationship between governors and their deputies have been a recurring decimal since the Fourth Republic birthed in the country on May 29,1999 and last month, the scenario began to make headline again, particularly in Edo state, with the ongoing political war  between Governor Godwin Obaseki and the deputy governor, Philips Shuaibu.

While Shuaibu accused the governor of using security operatives to intimidate him, Obaseki on his part accused the deputy governor of plotting a coup against him.

Shuaibu and Obaseki’s political feud is neither the first nor the last in the series of political battle involving governors and their deputies in Nigeria, as there were examples of Bola Tinubu versus Akerele-Bucknor between 1999 and 2003; Yahaya Bello versus Simon Achuba; Abdullahi  Ganduje versus Hafiz Abubakar, Rotimi Akeredolu versus Agboola Ajayi in 2020, among others.

Again, the phenomenon is again playing out in Ondo State. Last Tuesday, Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, disbanded the media crew attached to the Office of the Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, giving an indication that all may not be well between numbers one and two citizens of the sunshine state.

The affected aides include: 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.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Richard Olatunde, noted that all media aides appointed by Akeredolu and seconded to the office of the deputy Governor, have been relieved of their appointments with immediate effect.

According to the release: “They are to submit all government properties in their possession to the Acting Permanent Secretary, Office of the deputy Governor. Similarly, the Press Crew attached to the office of the deputy governor has been disbanded. Consequently, all members of the Press Crew are to report back to their various ministries and stations”.

Equally, Akeredolu directed the Ministry of Information and Orientation to provide adequate coverage for the activities of the deputy governor’s office henceforth.

No doubt, with Akeredolu’s second term ending in about 17 months and election expected to be held in the later half of 2024 to choose his successor, political alignment and realignment are not unexpected.

Besides, sources in government circle revealed that the duo are at loggerheads over an alleged betrayal of trust on the part of Aiyedatiwa. The sources also revealed that Akeredolu may reshuffle the state executive council to weed out members who were suspected to be disloyal during his absence with many aides becoming jittery over the impending reshuffle, which may take place immediately after the governor’s return to Akure.

It was also gathered that the move may not be unconnected with the rumour that Akeredolu became incapacitated few days after the governor travelled to Ibadan to observe his medical leave.

Basically, the rumours escalated due to the shades of opinions and interpretations emerging from different quarters and directions while some camps in the political circle alleged that the loyalists of the deputy governor, Aiyedatiwa, were behind the rumours about the governor’s ill health so that their principal could be fully in charge of government.

However, others claimed that the rumours were the handiwork of mischief makers among the aspirants eyeing the party’s ticket for next year’s governorship election.

Worthy of note is, there was a noticeable crack in the state cabinet with some members pitching their tent with the Deputy governor while some distanced themselves from the Deputy governor while the cold war within the state cabinet was attributed to an alleged bid by Aiyedatiwa to succeed Akeredolu in 2024.

Aiyedatiwa’s Loyalty

Nevertheless, Aiyedatiwa, had clarified that there was no rift between him and Akeredolu. Aiyedatiwa who hasn’t declared his intention to run in the governorship election officially said: “The lies would have been ignored but I owe it a duty to prevent the public from being deceived into believing the same falsehoods being repeated and recycled in different forms by those whose sole intention is to soil the image of the man who they see as a threat to their political interests.”

According to him, “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.

“There is a 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.

“Many stakeholders have commended the Deputy Governor for the way he handled State affairs 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 banana peels. Against their expectations, the Deputy Governor was in constant touch with his principal on official State matters, so there was no gap between them.

“How can the man who was constantly in touch with his boss and had prepared for his arrival to attend to some other critical state matters, including the signing of the LCDA Law after passage by the State Assembly be surprised by that same arrival? Those behind the falsehoods being peddled around had planned that these concocted lies about disloyalty and impeachment would irritate Mr. Governor and his family to land a devastating blow on the Deputy Governor ahead of the coming governorship election in the State.

I Will Not Resign As Ondo Deputy Governor

 Meanwhile, on Friday, the deputy governor debunked rumour that he had resigned from office, declaring that his tenure will end on February 23, 2025.

“I wish to state that I, Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa, the Deputy Governor of Ondo State have not, do not intend and will not sign/author any letter resigning my position as the duly elected Deputy Governor in a joint ticket with my principal the Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu.

“I took an oath the day I was sworn in along with Mr. Governor on February 24th, 2021 to protect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on a four-year mandate which terminates on February 23rd, 2025”, he stressed.

Aiyedatiwa who reiterated his loyalty to Akeredolu added that he remains calm and committed to the duties of his office and unruffled by the lies of desperate politicians and their agents.

According to him: “I remain loyal to my Principal and stand by the oath I took with the Bible to run the full cycle of the four- year tenure with Mr. Governor. To this end, I urge the people of Ondo State, the State Assembly and the general public to disregard such letter now and in the future”.

Akeredolu’s Decision, a Manifestation of Cacophony in the APC

The State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in a statement issued by the Publicity Secretary, Mr Kennedy Peretei said Akeredolu should rather come to the State and settle down to the business of governance instead of chasing perceived enemies in his government.

He 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 the 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.”

PDP also knocked Akeredolu for his continuous performance of official duties from his home in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, since he resumed duties after his three-month medical leave in Germany.

The party which frowned that, days after Akeredolu’s return, he hasn’t been seen anywhere near Ondo State said “The Governor of Ondo State, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu is still nowhere to be found, eight days since he claimed he has resumed duties as Governor after his three- month medical leave in Germany. The Governor was reported to have signed the creation of 33 LCDAs bill into law, sacked the media aides of Deputy Governor Mr. Lucky Aiyedatiwa all from hiding.

“Last week, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), Ondo State Chapter challenged the rationale for Akeredolu calling for a meeting in his Ibadan residence, instead of Ondo State where he was elected to govern. Up till this moment, the Governor has not been seen anywhere near Ondo State.

“Akeredolu is beginning to fuel media speculations that, against the advice of his doctors he was hurriedly brought into Nigeria to foil an impeachment process”.

The party alleged that Akeredolu also ordered an upgrade of his Ibadan residence to include a replica of Executive Council Chambers, from where he intends to hold Exco meetings.

“Does Akeredolu want to make Ibadan the capital of Ondo State? What is the hurry to resume all about, if he cannot come to Ondo State? Would it not have made more sense if he was still attending to his health abroad? Why did he say he has resumed when indeed he has not?

“Our party wishes to advise Akeredolu to come to Ondo State to complete his tenure. But if he does not feel fit enough to resume, he can proceed on another medical leave instead of trying to pull wool over our eyes in Ondo State”.

Akeredolu Created Aiyedatiwa’s Problem

Meanwhile, another source in the APC said Akeredolu created the problem for the deputy governor. According to him, at different fora Akeredolu had revealed that his deputy will succeed him in 2025.

So, many supporters of Akeredolu saw it as awkward, believing that he was not part of Team Aketi and he was coming to reap from where he didn’t sow.

He said that all move by the deputy governor during the governor’s leave was viewed as an attempt to solidify his stance in the party or hijack the government.

Role of Politicians in the Rift

But, a chieftain of APC in the state, Adeyeri Stephen, warned politicians in the state to refrain from bitter diatribe capable of causing disaffection between Akeredolu and the deputy governor.

Adeyeri said in lieu of fanning the embers hatred, politicians should harmoniously ensure cohesion in order not to retard the development of the Sunshine State, noting that some politicians are bent on heating up the polity in the state.

“I would like to clarify that the rumors circulating regarding the relationship between Governor Akeredolu and his Deputy Aiyedatiwa are entirely false and baseless. Both individuals maintain a professional and healthy working relationship, focused on serving the best interests of the people of our state. Any claims suggesting otherwise are mere speculation and should not be taken seriously.

“Some vested interests and politicians are needlessly causing disaffection, stoking hatred because of abysmal reasons best known to them. Governor Akeredolu is a man of peace who represents the true Omoluabi, while Aiyedatiwa is also a gentle man with calm spirit.”

Be that as it may, with the return of Akeredolu, whose tenure ends on February 24, 2025, real politicking is expected to commence while shakeup of the cabinet is imminent.

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