Akeredolu: Calls intensified to declare Ondo governor incapacitated

For the past couple of weeks, the call for the resignation of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has been growing louder as the governor continues to govern Ondo State from far away Ibadan in Oyo State.

DAILY POST reports that the governor has been in Ibadan since he returned from a medical trip in Germany and many in the state believe that governance in the Sunshine State has been on auto-pilot.

Akeredolu left Nigeria on June 13, 2023, for medical treatment in Germany and spent about three months before he returned to Nigeria on September 9. He had earlier notified the Ondo State House of Assembly that he would be taking a 21-day leave and transmitted power to his deputy to govern in an acting capacity.

Upon his return, the governor is yet to set foot in Akure, the state capital, instead, he is staying at his personal residence in Ibadan.

The First Lady, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, has been accused of pulling the strings to allow the husband to continue the stay in power despite the reported ill health.

Ondo State has been in political turmoil since the governor returned from his medical trip as his loyalists are making frantic efforts to remove the deputy governor of the state for actions taken during the absence of Mr Akeredolu.

Move to impeach Deputy Governor

Lucky Aiyedatiwa is currently fighting to survive the ongoing political battle as loyalists of Mr Akeredolu are making moves to remove him.

The travails of the deputy governor commenced when Mr Akeredolu returned to the country, and all media aides in the office of the deputy governor were sacked.

The loyalists of the governor in the State Assembly listed 14 offences committed by Mr Aiyedatiwa, including “gross misconduct, abuse of office with actions likely to bring down Ondo State Government, financial recklessness, publication in print media by your media aides maligning the credibility of the Governor, etc”.

The impeachment move has sidelined the deputy governor, who has been fighting in the courts.

The intervention by the National Working Committee of the APC appears to have slowed down the move but the deputy governor seems to have been relegated completely.

However, in the past couple of weeks, the attention has shifted away from the deputy governor to Mr Akeredolu. Ironically, the governor, who was the President of the Nigerian Bar Association during the sickness of Umar Musa Yar’Adua, was very vocal in the call for the resignation of the then-president over his health.

“No matter how much you love your country, it should not be at the detriment of your health. It is not your party or your wife that will decide whether you are capable of handling state matters; it is only your doctors that can decide that. The bar is not asking the president not to come back and take his seat, but the right thing must be done,” Akeredolu had said in 2010.

Steps to declare Akeredolu incapacitated

Kennedy Peretei, the National Publicity Secretary of the Ondo State PDP, had called for the impeachment of the governor for violating the constitution.

“The time has come for the Ondo State House of Assembly to immediately begin the impeachment process of Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, for violation of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

“It is no longer news that Ondo State has been on auto-pilot for nearly six months, grounding all activities of the government due to the ill health of the Governor,” he said in a statement.

However, the Assembly has consistently defended Mr Akeredolu and ignored any call for action.

According to legal experts, in the case of health challenges, the first move to remove the governor must start from the commissioners, who have the power to declare that the governor is incapacitated.

Rasheed Bakare, a legal practitioner in Abuja, explained to DAILY POST that Section 189 of the 1999 constitution provides the steps to be taken before a governor or deputy governor can be declared incapacitated to continue in that office.

According to section 189 of the Nigerian Constitution, only the commissioners of Ondo State can trigger the process of declaring Mr Akeredolu incapacitated.

The first step is that 2/3 of the state executive council must resolve that the Governor is incapacitated to continue in office.

“189. (1) The Governor or Deputy Governor of a State shall cease to hold office if, by a resolution passed by a two-thirds majority of all members of the executive council of the State, it is declared that the Governor or Deputy Governor is incapable of discharging the functions of his office,” the constitution reads in part.

After the resolution by the body of commissioners, the constitution provides that the speaker must set up a panel to examine the health status of the governor.

The medical panel must comprise five medical practitioners, including the physician of the governor. The panel must determine that the “Governor or Deputy Governor is suffering from such infirmity of body or mind as renders him permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office, a notice thereof signed by the Speaker of the House of Assembly shall be published in the Official.”

Once the report has been submitted to the speaker, it must be published and the governor is officially removed.

Mr Bakare told DAILY POST that as the law stands, it is going to be difficult to remove Mr Akeredolu or any other governor in Nigeria on the basis of section 189.

According to the legal practitioner, since the Governor appointed the commissioners, it will be hard for them to recommend the removal of their boss.

“The challenge with section 189 is that it is hard to see a commissioner that will say ‘My boss, the governor is sick and unable to perform, so let us pass a vote to that effect’. It is hardly done. In fact, that provision needs amendment.

“Who appoints the commissioners? The governor. For them to pass a vote against the governor, owing to the infirmity of the mind or body— they won’t. It hardly occurs,” he said during a phone interview.

Last week, 33 out of the 35 State Executive Council members passed a vote of confidence on the ailing governor and declared their loyalty to him.

Only the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Razak Obe, and the Commissioner for Commerce, Industry, and Cooperative Services, Akin Sowore did not sign the document.

There are indications that politicians in the state prefer to wait for the next election which is in November 2024. The primary election is scheduled for April next year.

(Daily Post)

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