Fidelis David writes that the extraordinary political impasse, emotional derangement of utter helplessness, uncertainties and various turbulent moments which Ondo State and its citizens were subjected to in recent times may have finally come to an end with the weekend’s resolution of the crisis by President Bola Tinubu.
Figuratively, there is mark of a new hope in the sunshine State. To some, it’s the beginning of a new life, inspite of the ups and downs of the last three months in Ondo state. The reality of this new season and the re-awakening influence of the new moment removed those throat-cutting bad sessions of gloom and abject crisis, reactions and loneliness.
In other words, those miserable moments of sulky grief and the feelings of total loss has eventually become a bitter experience of the past which a new blessing and glory have now replaced in Ondo state. However, to others, the siege is not yet over.
Basically, the peace and new season can be attributed to the intervention of President Bola Tinubu in the political impasse in the coastal State, driven by concerns over the escalating political tension, exacerbated by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s ill health, his absence from the state, the power struggle, and the impeachment proceedings against the Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
The feud between Akeredolu and the deputy governor, had escalated into a power struggle, casting shadows over the state’s peace and stability.
Trouble started with the ill-health of Akeredolu, who went on a three-month medical leave in Germany and his subsequent arrival on September 7, 2023.
On September 12, he subsequently disbanded the media crew attached to Aiyedatiwa, over an alleged betrayal of trust on the part of his deputy.
Basically, some camps in the political circle alleged that the loyalists of the deputy governor, were behind the rumours about the governor’s ill health so that their principal could be fully in charge of government.
But, 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.
Alleged Misappropriation of N300m
As as result of these, on September 20, the State House of Assembly commenced an impeachment plot against the deputy governor, over alleged financial misappropriation bordering on the approval of alleged N300 million for the purchase of bulletproof SUV for himself but source close to Aiyedatiwa wonderd why the deputy governor who has no direct involvement in the purchase of vehicles can be accused of buying such.
Another controversy was Akeredolu’s failure to return to the state or make public appearance fuelling the suspicion that the state is being governed by proxy.
However, in a testament to President Tinubu’s relentless commitment to peace, witnessed the dawn of a truce, as he late on Friday, waded into the months-long crisis between factions loyal to Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa.
This followed marathon negotiations between the President and the deputy governor, representatives of governor Akeredolu, federal and state lawmakers of Ondo, officials of the state’s chapter of the All Progressives’ Congress, and other stakeholders in the state at the State House, Abuja.
The president’s resolution of the crisis came at a meeting with major political actors in the state where it was agreed that the deputy governor would be allowed to be, with the impeachment actions against him dropped while Tinubu also ordered the police to withdraw from the premises of the State House of Assembly in Akure.
Factions Vow to Uphold Peace, Maintain Status Quo
Interestingly, the deputy governor, who declared his decision to maintain the status quo and unite all the factions, said: “I want to say that I pledge to all of you that I embrace every one of you. I put behind all that has happened before now. I’ve let go and also let God, just as the President has advised us.
“And I want to say that with no offence, no guile in my mind whatsoever. All that has happened is politics. Impeachment is part of politics. If you survive it, it is also politics. It has come. I’ve survived it, and every other thing is in the past.
“It is one big family and our father has intervened to bring all the children together to remain under the same family and with the position that I occupy, I will carry every one of you along in every decision that needs to be taken and in everything that we do, we will work together; the executive and the legislature will work together to ensure that governance is on the right track.”
He pleaded with all members of the State Executive Council to rally around the Governor and himself to “bring the dividend of democracy” to the people of Ondo State.
“All the Executive Council members, I want to plead with all of you to cooperate with me, with the Governor, so that we can bring the dividend of democracy to our people. We should respect one another regarding the offices we occupy and our age differences. So, it’s going to be mutual respect. And I want to assure the party structure that we will work together because the party is supreme. We will always give you your due respect.”
The Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Oladiji Olamide, who read the details of the resolution, said, “Our resolution is that one, we shall embrace peace. Secondly, there would be no more dissolution of the cabinet, and the Deputy Governor would maintain the status quo as far as the House of Assembly leadership is concerned. We will maintain the status quo as far as the party leadership in the state is concerned and maintain the status quo as far as the leadership of the State House of Assembly is concerned. Thank you, Mr. President.”
On her part, the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Oladunni Odu, said, “Our Father, the President, has taken the trouble to settle our rancour in Ondo State. We owe you all the gratitude, Sir. We will not disappoint you. We have taken every word you said. And we are going home as one united family under the party, APC.”
Also, the State APC Chairman, Ade Adetimehin, expressed delight at the outcome of the deliberations, affirming that the party will remain a watchdog to ensure that the new commitments are adhered to.
“Today is my happiest moment. And I know sanity has come to Ondo State. So, on behalf of the teeming supporters of our party in the state, we appreciate our leader, Mr. President. PDP has crumbled in the state; virtually, they decamp every day. The only problem we have is the one you have solved for us today. And that problem has been resolved permanently,” Adetimehin stated.
The Crisis Is Not Yet Over
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, however, believes the intervention of President Tinubu was a mere window dressing, saying the siege is not yet over. The Party’s Publicity Secretary, Kennedy Peretei, said as long as Akeredolu remains in hiding, it is not yet over, noting that the cat and mouse race will still continue.
The PDP said: “There have been conflicting reports as resolutions of the Presidential parley at the instance of President Bola Tinubu to resolve the political impasse that has plagued Ondo State for a better part of this year. Both Rotimi Akeredolu and his embattled deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa’s camps interpreted the resolutions as being in their favour.
“Mrs Betty Akeredolu celebrated the resolutions on her verified X-handle as “Hottest Breafast to last everybody till 2025”. To Aiyedatiwa’s supporters, their worries about impeachment are over.
“Let us pray that, the Presidential intervention will not go the way of the Bello Masari Reconciliation Committee set up by APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Ganduje.
After several trips to Abuja at taxpayers’ expense, both parties returned to court despite promises to withdraw all cases.”
According to the opposition party, “Again, major stakeholders in the All Progressives Congress (APC), leadership of the Ondo State House of Assembly and Ondo State Government were at the Villa to iron out their intractable differences.
“From what we have read about the outcome, Tinubu’s intervention is a mere window dressing. Out of respect for his office, the impeachment of the Deputy Governor will no longer see daylight, but as long as Akeredolu remains in hiding, it is not yet Uhuru, the cat and mouse race will still continue. The siege is not yet over”.
Akeredolu must resume or resign now
Also, political activist, Omoyele Sowore alleged that President Tinubu was foisting a sick governor on the state.
He said: “Please Ignore this bogey, Tinubu has no right to stymie the progress of Ondo state, he can’t continue to impose an incapacitated governor on the people and progress of Ondo state. Akeredolu must resume or resign with immediate effect!.”
Therefore, one moral lesson in the Ondo scenario is that no human words is irreversible except that which comes from the Almighty. Life isn’t like that. Even, a hot iron can still be cooled off despite its ferocity and whether the storm is over or not, it is heartwarming, that what we hear now are the fading, faint distant claps of a receding thunderstorm in the sunshine state.