Aketi: Resume or Resign

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The African Action Congress is organising an “Akeredolu: Resume or Resign” town hall meeting in Akure, the Ondo State capital on Saturday 16 December. This demand reflects the view of most people in the state. Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has refused to vacate his position despite being ill for an extended period and in contempt of the constitutional provision for him to transmit power to his deputy in such circumstances.

On 13 December, Arakunrin Akeredolu, also known as Aketi, hurriedly announced that he would be proceeding on medical leave and transmitting power to Mr Lucky Aiyedatiwa, the Deputy Governor. This would be the second time he was doing so this year. This time, President Bola Tinubu, the leader of his party, the All Progressive Congress, intervened twice, before he took that step.

Many have questioned why he opted for a medical leave, rather than resign fearing the start-and-stop leadership that characterised his previous leave and how several elements within the government could once again take advantage of the vacuum his refusal to let go of power has unleashed.

It is general knowledge that he had been residing in Ibadan since his arrival from his first medical trip in September which lasted three months. He has been issuing orders from there while receiving medical care.

Sahara Reporters disclosed that Akeredolu’s ailment has left him “too weak” even to sign the transfer of power by hand and was directed by President Tinubu to transfer power via an “e-signature.” The faction of the ruling class in the state that is aligned around the governor has seized the opportunity of confusion to its advantage. Some allegations claim that others forged his signature on certain documents during this period.

But the House of Assembly has refused to probe these allegations, saying the governor himself has not complained that this was the case.  

The current situation highlights the governor’s hypocrisy. In 2009-2010, whilst he was President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), he called for the resignation of President Umaru Yar’Adua who later died in office, demanding that the Vice-President be sworn in as Acting President.

As, Omoyele Sowore, the AAC National Chair, pointed out on a Live TV programme, the governor never officially returned from medical leave. Looking at the timeline below, this statement rings true:

  • Rumours first circulated of the governor’s poor health in late 2022. However, a leaked 2-minute and 39-second, warning audio message from the First Lady, Arabirin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu to Bunmi Ademosun, Special Adviser on Multilateral and Intergovernmental Affairs to Aketi, whom she accused of spiritual and medical “scheming” confirmed his sickness.
  • In June of this year, he embarked on what was intended to be a 21-day medical leave, in June 2023.
  • After months of rumours concerning his diagnosis, deteriorating health and even death, a photo was posted by Arabirin Betty in what appeared to be a hospital, confirming he was alive. However, despite this confirmation of life and improving health, he would not return until 3 months later in September.
  • Whispers and news reports of plots by his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, certain cabinet members, and members of the House of Assembly to oust him from office or force resignation and transfer of power started circulating.
  • He returns, launching into action to oust his Lucky Aiyedatiwa as deputy governor and reshuffle his “disloyal” plotting cabinet.
  • Upon his return, he drew further criticism for taking up residence in Ibadan rather than the Ondo State Government House. He was governing Ondo State from Oyo State, holding meetings in his Ibadan residence instead of the Ondo State seat of government in Akure amidst turmoil within his cabinet, the State House of Assembly and disquiet from the people of Ondo State.
  • Reports of further deteriorating health, whilst he remains in Ibadan
  • In November, statehouse.gov.ng in a press release, reported that President Tinubu “Resolves Ondo State Political Crisis” with the warring Aketi and Aiyedatiwa factions agreeing to the “bury the hatchet and embrace peace” after “marathon negotiations.”
  • Further reports of deteriorating health.
  • Tinubu issues directive to transmit power by e-signature
  • Aketi announces he will take a medical leave and transmit power to Aiyedatiwa.
  • Akeredolu’s son requests air ambulance to airlift Aketi to Germany as, according to sources, he can no longer speak.

We cannot continue with this sort of impunity by people in power and their hangers-on who manipulate the situation like members of Yar’Adua’s kitchen cabinet did until his death. The people of Ondo State deserve better and must fight for the right thing to be done.  

SWL supports the AAC’s call and urges residents of the state to come out en masse to demand Akeredolu’s resumption or resignation. Temporary transmission of gubernatorial power at this point is a sham. 

by Eniola OLUYEMI

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