Barrister Oluwarotimi Akeredolu is a household name, debonair, outspoken, and candid. At the Nigerian Bar Association where he was former chairman, he was known for his agility, and when it comes to discussing human rights, his place was on the front row. It was the accumulation of these clouts that recommended him to the good people of Ondo State, the Sunshine State of Nigeria when he canvassed for votes to be elected governor. The campaign was flawless, and when the election came, he was victorious. Little did the rabble know, it was a pyrrhic victory and that they had shot themselves in the foot.
For all who may care, Ondo State is blessed with both human and natural resources and should be one of the richest in the country if properly managed. Alas, mismanagement, avarice and calculated attempts to subjugate the people and the truth has turned a once growing state, and one of the privileged oil producing states in the country, into a Siberia, one in which civil servants cannot even be sure of wages at the end of the month. Thanks to Ogbeni Akeredolu; his cabals are on a voyage seemingly to destroy the state.
Ondo State currently illustrates the potential risk philosophers predicted would befall a state if allowed to function without a formal structure. It is a dictum that where there are no laws, there would not be a sin. Philosophers including Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseu had centuries ago foreseen that a state without a rudder would fall into anarchy. Ondo State presents today, an evidence of what those philosophers claimed.
In fairness, only God is infallible. Akeredolu like all mortals had fallen ill. He was in Germany for months, though handed over to the deputy governor as dictated by the 1999 Constitution (as amended), but since he returned, the state has been without any one in particular governing it, yet he is one of the nation’s legal luminaries. Just when the Constitution would have vetoed the deputy governor, Akeredolu was brought back to Nigeria, but bundled to Ibadan. No one has seen him near Ondo State since then. Surprisingly, his wife Betty Anyanwu Akeredolu and his son, and some dirty politicians have formed themselves into a cabal ruling the state indirectly. They are even eager to cite the case of Turayi Yar’Adua and Buhari as precedence.
The lawlessness going on in Ondo State is contrary to the social contract the citizens signed with Akeredolu and his surrogates, headed by his wife. In truth, Akeredolu is to blame for his shenanigans. When you were hauled back into the country without being fit to perform your constitutional function as governor, as a learned gentleman, the right thing to do was to hand over to your deputy, you refused. Truly, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. But the heat is now on him, so is the price of hanging on to power at the detriment of the people higher than he ever thought. Whether he or his cabal likes it, as long as the state economy, infrastructure and security are not at acceptable level in the state, Akeredolu’s surrogates cannot claim to be winning the peace, and of course, like Macbeth, they have murdered sleep.
Let it be emphasized here, that the battle for the right thing to be done in Ondo State is far beyond that of the deputy governor who has been castrated and treated like a leper when it comes to appurtenances of office by non-elective surrogates. It should also be recognized by all that the illegal occupation of the governor’s office by this so-called cabal is an escalating threat to the future survival of the state indigenes. The heavy grunts around the state about the absurdity are a common welcome but the indigenes should do more than lament. There is need for affirmative action; incidentally, history is on the side of the people. If you fold your arms and refuse to take a responsible course of action, those who had vowed to run Ondo State to the ground would continue in the subjugation of the state wide sovereign.
A group, Ondo State Patriots, based in Lagos, addressed selected senior journalists at the weekend, warning Akeredolu’s wife, Secretary to the State Government, Finance Commissioner, Speaker of the State Assembly and the rest of the cabals terrorizing the State, to stop the impunity and lawlessness. Chief Samuel Olanrewaju, retired Assistant Inspector General of Police who is President of the group, further warned, that the state must not be allowed to slide into anarchy and dungeon as a result of the small-mindedness and selfishness of some people towards acquiring political office and properties. He urged the state assembly to toe the part of common sense, by installing immediately the Deputy Governor, to continue to act pending the time the governor would be fit enough to resume duties in Akure.
It is no longer news that when you see a façade of governor’s entourage anywhere in the state be sure it is either Akeredolu’s wife or son racing about in state apparati, sucking it to the people, “we have come to suck you dry.” It was a bitter experience the other day, when the entourage swept past and we all thought the governor was back and raced after him, only to discover it was the governor’s son and his friends inspecting projects in the state capital. You begin to wonder how a young man with lively imagination and with a very short attention span can be regarded as possessing the qualities expected of a brilliant academic or law guru. The bravado and other schemes are just like using antibiotics to fight common cold; the people no doubt, will just be more resistant rather than being sympathetic.
Go to any part of Ondo State now, you see all the downcast and pathos of a suffering people well portrayed right in the streets. Their strange stares seem to ask why they were being so silly-beaten just for the error of voting the wrong person into the seat of power. A rhetorical question only Akeredolu and his cohorts could answer. More than ever, the misery sweeping through the state is like a scythe cutting down the pillars of power structure as it goes. The masses of the people are hitting their heads against pillars of corrupt politicians and posts erected by shameless state cow-milking family members.
The utter chaos that the cabal has turned Ondo State into is highly unbecoming. The question to ask is what is the role of the governor’s wife in the scheme of things in a peaceful state? What power has the governor’s wife to wrestle all the apparati of office from a sitting deputy governor? These anomalies only are possible in Ondo State. What did the Constitution say about the office of the deputy governor and that of the wife of the governor and in the absence of a governor up to five months, how should power transit from him to the next line of authority? These are questions begging for answers in Ondo State.
Unfortunately, the Ondo State House of Assembly seems to have sold its soul to the highest bidder. All sorts of stories are flying about with regards to what handicapped the assembly from doing the right thing.
Their job is very simple, if they are not blinded by poisonous gifts; is there any clause arrogating the passage of governorship power to the wife or son of Ondo State governor, otherwise, who is benefitting from the current absence of power structure?
In all events, it is high time All Progressive Congress leaders intervene to restore codified behavior that assists in peaceful existence and imperative laws of nature, which direct humans to accept and submit to political authority. Our people have suffered enough and in the words of Milton Obote’s opus, Cry My Beloved Ondo State for your agonies have reached the high heavens.
• Ayela is a veteran journalist based in Lagos