July 20, 2024

Political Cabals all Over Nigeria: Ondo Testifies


Tonnie Iredia

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By Tonnie Iredia

It is no longer news that Arakunrin, Odunayo, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN, who was governor of Ondo state for the larger part of the last 7 years has passed on.

May the soul of that sworn courageous activist rest in peace.  His former deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa is now governor bringing to an end political skirmishes that have dominated governance in the state since the former governor took ill in the last one year or so.  

If a dozen doctoral fellows are engaged to conduct research into the nature of the relationship between the former governor and his deputy and how it affected governance, their main findings would not be more than unconfirmed stories generated and transmitted by supporters of both leaders especially some supposed clandestine moves by the deputy to oust his boss from office as well as arrangements by the boss to, as a result, impeach his deputy for reported disloyalty.

The instigators of the conflict are unfortunately supporters and close family members of the leaders who now constitute what has become popularly known as the cabals.  

Happenings in Ondo state in the last few months have confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that governance in many parts of Nigeria is really often based on fake news and cocotions.

In August 2023, when Akeredolu travelled to Germany for further medical treatment, he ignored the prevailing stories and delegated his powers to his deputy.

He also described Aiyedatiwa as loyal and competent.  But one month later, the chroniclers had successfully coloured a persuasive narrative that pushed the government to relieve the media aides attached to Aiyedatiwa of their appointments.

According to a government statement dated September12, 2023, the press crew attached to his office was also disbanded.

In October, the state house of assembly usually made up of cronies across the country, stepped into the drama and quickly invented several bogus allegations against the deputy governor which they considered grave enough to warrant his impeachment. It was destiny that saved the man.

The extent to which the supposed rift brought Ondo to its knees is better imagined.

The stories were many; but the most disturbing was the revelation that those who blocked everyone from the ailing governor were busy helping themselves to the state treasury.

At a point, it was even alleged that the governor’s so called loyalists were forging his signature to ‘steal’ funds.

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party which would have done same if the roles were reversed raised an alarm of profligacy by APC cabals.

In the words of Fatai Adams, the state chairman of the PDP, “people within and outside of government were taking advantage of Akeredolu’s prolonged absence and were stealing government resources.”

Ade Adetimehin APC’s chair in the state however refuted the allegations stating that PDP officials were merely playing to the gallery.

It was only after the governor had died that the discordant tunes of his supporters became clear.

While the governor was said to have died in Lagos, other sources told a section of the media that he died in a hospital near Hanover in Lower Saxony, a state in northwest Germany bordering the North Sea adding that prior to that, the governor was receiving treatment at another hospital in Berlin.

The state commissioner for Information and Orientation Mrs Bamidele Ademola-Olateju had also issued a statement that the governor died in Germany.

But after a condolence visit to Akeredolu’s family, the new state governor was quoted by the media to have said that his former boss died in his private residence in Ibadan the Oyo state capital.

This seems to have corroborated a previous media report that efforts to return the governor to Germany at the tail end of his sickness did not materialize.

This controversy clearly shows that the hide and seek game about Akeredolu by different interest groups did not abate even after his demise.

Apart from the controversies surrounding where he died, even his sickness had different versions. Whereas a group attributed his death to Leukemia, others said it was due to protracted prostate cancer.

It therefore would appear that those who designed strategies to make gains from the demise of a great leader continued with their version of the story perhaps to validate the original storyline.

But to the rest of society, the reality remains that Akeredolu had died irrespective of the venue or nature of sickness.

He had also ceased to be governor and Ondo state needed to move on, the unending skirmishes of politicians notwithstanding.

To those of us who had known the former governor far back in our college days in Ibadan, we are gratified to observe that talented Rotimi Akeredolu remained what we knew him for; courageous, truthful and humane organizer of men and materials.

The traits of character which the attitude of his new friends, relations and political jobbers demonstrated were clearly alien to the Aketi we knew.

I actually found it difficult to believe any of the happenings around his kitchen cabinet and cabal who decided to create animosity between him and his deputy.

The decision to block Aiyedatiwa from his beloved principal, the purported forging of signatures and the emergence of factions within government could never have happened with Akeredolu’s blessings.

Luckily, the new governor has confirmed without equivocation that he never lost faith in his principal especially as he was able to read between the lines.

To him, Akeredolu was forever “a courageous leader who believed in fairness, equity and justice.”

Nothing is new about what Ondo has just passed through.  At federal level, the nation has seen how cabals disorganized Obasanjo and Atiku, Yar’Adua and Jonathan and even Buhari and Osinbajo.

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo once jokingly recalled the story of how former vice president Atiku Abubakar allegedly imported some Mallams into the Villa to help him pray to take over from his principal even before the end of tenure.

The Mallams were said to have ordered that 7 cows be slaughtered in sacrifice following which Obasanjo would die in 7 days.

But Obasanjo didn’t die after 7 days or after 7 months or indeed after 7 years. In the case of Yar’ Adua and Jonathan which took virtually the same format as that of Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa, Jonathan was in the dark as to what was wrong with his principal.

No one told him or even the nation the nature of the then president’s ill-health. Even when Yar’Adua was smuggled back into the country one night, Jonathan who was acting president was not briefed.

It was the cabals that were in charge.

President Muhammadu Buhari like Akeredolu’s case, had no personal dislike for Yemi Osinbajo so he allowed him to act in his absence until the cabal established the danger of leaving the country in the hands of his deputy.

Thereafter, Osinbajo was left in the dark. Although president Buhari once asserted that the cabals had no influence in his government, there is doubt if Buhari himself believed the claim.

On her part, the then first Lady, Aisha Buhari left no one in doubt that she deprecated the cabals who destabilized her husband’s administration.

The cabals made sure Buhari’s trips were organized not to exceed 21 days so that no one could imagine the famous doctrine of necessity.

In the states, impeachments which the constitution expected to be influenced by only gross violations were organized by cabals.

In Enugu, Owerri, Taraba to name only a few places where fake impeachments of deputies took place, the offences listed were imaginary.

In other cabal-contrived impeachment moves, the bad blood caused was never in the interest of the principal, his deputy and the society at large.

Today, some analysts feel bad that cabals eventually succeeded in putting a divisive sword between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy Philip Shuaibu – a team that for 7 years resonated as the model of a malice-free joint ticket.

What this suggests is that if Nigeria must progress, principals must quickly mature enough to ignore myopic concoctions which are essentially done to get them to part with huge favours to aides and associates – a serious misdeed that can greatly reduce leaders into local champions who begin to see themselves as belonging to one group contrary to the oath of office of serving as president or governor for all.

See Also: Edo 2024: PDP Reconciliation Team Turns Down Obaseki’s Request for Zoning, Pleads for Leniency

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