Ondo crisis: Deputy takes over as Akeredolu returns to Germany for treatment

•Ailing governor to transmit letter to lawmakers, Tinubu meets Ondo leaders again

•Assembly holds closed-door session, Akeredolu promises full recovery before returning

The ailing Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu,  is returning to Germany for further treatment.

The governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Richard Olatunde, in a statement on Tuesday, said Akeredolu would transmit a letter to the state House of Assembly handing over power to his deputy, Lucy Aiyedatiwa as the acting governor.

Akeredolu who was said to be suffering from cancer, had been going to Germany to treat the ailment during which he handed over to Aiyedatiwa in an acting capacity.

The governor went on medical vacation on April 3, 2023, and July 10, 2023.

At that time, he handed over to the deputy governor. He returned to the country on September 7 and wrote the state House of Assembly informing the lawmakers.

Although the governor returned from a medical leave in Germany in September, he was not sighted in Ondo State as he was reported to be staying in his private residence in Ibadan.

His absence created a leadership vacuum in the state and the executive council was divided into two factions consisting of those loyal to the governor and loyalists of the deputy governor.

The governor in September sacked all the media aides attached to the office of the deputy governor

An insider source said the aides were sacked as a result of insubordination and flagrance disregard to the appropriate authority.

In November, President Bola Tinubu held a meeting with the state All Progressive Congress leaders and the Speaker of the state Assembly, Mr Olamide Oladiji.

Oladiji, while briefing the press in Akure on the outcome of the meeting on November 28 said the meeting agreed that all impeachment proceedings be terminated and court cases should be withdrawn by all parties.

According to him, the deputy governor was asked to write an undated resignation letter before he could assume office.

But none of the resolutions was implemented as the feuding parties refused to withdraw their court cases.

Following Tinubu’s meeting with the state APC leaders and the deputy governor on Monday night, Akeredolu’s Chief Press Secretary, Olatunde, in his statement stated that his principal had decided to return to Germany for treatment on Wednesday.

Olatunde said, “During his medical leave, Governor Akeredolu will prioritise his health and ensure a full recovery before resuming his official duties. A formal letter regarding the medical leave and a notice formally transferring power in line with the Nigerian constitution will be transmitted to the House of Assembly.

“In the absence of Governor Akeredolu, the Deputy Governor, Honurable Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa, will assume the responsibilities of the governor in an acting capacity. Governor Akeredolu expresses his gratitude for the unwavering support and affection of the people of Ondo State. He assures them that his administration remains committed to the path of progress and prosperity for the people.

Akeredolu’s aide

“As a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and a widely respected Nigerian, Governor Akeredolu has consistently delegated power to his deputy during his annual vacations. This practice was observed on April 1, 2021, April 1, 2022, April 3, 2023, and July 10, 2023, when he embarked on previous vacations,” Olatunde said.

However, findings by our correspondent indicated that the Assembly, which met behind closed doors on Tuesday, had yet to receive Akeredolu’s letter as of the time of filing this report on Tuesday evening.

A source in the Assembly said, “The President, during the meeting held on Monday, directed that the House should get the letter transferring power to Aiyedatiwa, if they couldn’t get the letter from the governor; the House should adopt the Doctrine of Necessity.

“They (the lawmakers) deliberated on the matter of the presidential directive, but I am sure the House will come out with something tomorrow (Wednesday). But as I am talking to you, the governor’s letter has not reached the Assembly.”

When contacted on the telephone, the Assembly spokesman, Mr Olatunji Oshati, told our correspondent: “I will call you back. I’m in a parliamentary meeting.”

Meanwhile, a group, the Ondo State Conscience Movement, has urged Aiyedatiwa to open an investigation into allegations of alleged forgery of Akeredolu’s signature.

The group in a statement by its chairman, Shalom Olaseni on Tuesday, said the allegations, if proven to be true, pose a grave threat to the credibility of the state’s leadership, and also its resources and reputation.

Olaseni said, “It is imperative to highlight the damaging consequences of the alleged forgery of the governor’s signature. Such action not only undermines the democratic fabric of the state but also compromises the allocation and utilization of resources. The potential misuse of the ailing Governor’s signature could lead to the misappropriation of funds, tarnishing the reputation of Ondo State and jeopardizing its developmental endeavours.

“In a direct appeal to the acting Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, the Ondo State Conscience Movement urges him to exercise his authority and initiate an immediate and exhaustive investigation into the alleged forgeries of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s signature by cronies in his cabinet.

“As the current steward of the state’s executive responsibilities, Mr Lucky Aiyedatiwa holds a pivotal role in upholding the principles of justice and accountability. The Movement implores him to champion transparency by demanding a thorough inquiry, ensuring that the findings are made public. This act would not only underscore his commitment to the rule of law but also demonstrate an unwavering dedication to the well-being and integrity of Ondo State”The Ondo State Conscience Movement therefore emphatically calls for an extensive investigation into the alleged signature forgery. The findings must be made public to ensure transparency and to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. The movement asserts that this investigation is not just a matter of legal scrutiny but a crucial step toward reclaiming the integrity of the state’s governance structures,”

In a related development, a legal practitioner, Dr Tunji Abayomi, has said the lingering political crisis in the state can only be resolved by the people in the state and not external bodies.

SAN advises indigenes

Abayomi, who is also the Pro-chancellor of the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko stated this while speaking with journalists in Akure on Tuesday.

He said, “The resolution of the crisis is not in Abuja. The President only helps us. We have to resolve the problem in Ondo State. The law does not give the President power to govern the state. He can only govern the country. The power of resolution belongs to the executive of Ondo State. We need to solve the problem; it is left for the leaders of Ondo State if there will be resolution or not.”

(Punch)

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