I must confess that I remain an ardent fan of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), of Ondo State. As a two-term governor of Ondo, Governor Akerdolu has proved that his election in office was not a fluke and his second term ticket was only a confirmation that the people of the state are pleased with his stewardship.
My first encounter with Akeredolu was not exactly pleasant. At that event during his first attempt at governing the state, which did not materialize eventually, he exhibited such temperament that left me wondering how he hoped to govern a state with such a temper that can only be compared with that of the famous short fuse man, you know him. I will spare mentioning his name here because, of late he has been bedeviled with so much trouble, both domestic and in the hands of the federal government.
Akeredolu lost in 2012 to Dr. Olusegun Mimiko but re-contested in 2016 and triumphed against all odds. However, between that encounter on Isaac John, in Ikeja in 2012 and now, I have not stopped admiring his forthrightness, doggedness and determination to fight for a good cause. At a time when many would not want to stand up and be counted for a just cause, Akeredolu has never been found wanting and he has never shirked such responsibilities.
For the umpteenth time, I would like to say that it is the inability of most political officer holders and Nigerians in all to address and admit our frailty and work towards unlocking those things befuddling the nation that has left us at sixes and sevens. And admitting and addressing them we must before we can make any headway.
Akeredolu does not suffer fools gladly. He has shown that the only name a spade can be called is by its name.
While many of his contemporaries as governors would not want to upset the apple cart, possibly because of their veiled future political ambitions, Akeredolu has not held anything back and would readily stand to be counted for what he believes in. That is the stuff that selfless leaders are made of.
During the unrestrained killings by some Fulani herdsmen, across the nation, there was a conspiratorial silence by political office holders and many bigwig politicians just so that they do not offend the presidency and its landlord, especially in the south west. The killings went on across the nation and everybody was blamed except the suspected killer-herders. Some even advised the unfortunate victims to give up their ancestral land just to stay alive. The President, Muhammadu Buhari, himself advised that we must learn to live with our killer neighbours. That was how far they went just to ensure that they evaded the reality that starred the nation and its citizens.
Today, we have more than enough refugees dotting our landscape. We have focused more on placating the killers than resettling and compensating the victims. We hear more of compensation, deradicalisation and rehabilitation of murderers and bloodthirsty vagabonds and little or nothing on the fate of refugees, many of whom their girls are daily being impregnated by the same people who are supposed to protect them. They take advantage of their inability to purchase even sanitary pads to lure them into amorous relationships.
So, when on June 7, 2019, the governors of the South West region met over the increasing spate of the insecurity and decided to elect Aketi (Akeredolu’s moniker), to show leadership, he literally picked up the gauntlet and has proven that he is a man of strong conviction and character.
The “Special Security Meeting” held at the Ondo State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, was held to address the growing spate of insecurity within the six South West states.
The Governors also announced their decision to hold a regional security summit that will bring all critical stakeholders together to brainstorm on how to stem the tide of insecurity in the region.
In his speech after his emergence, Aketi said, “There’s urgent need to stem the tide of criminal activities and banditry in our region and as leaders, we must be proactive in our approach to addressing the issue.”
The meeting was attended by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde; Osun State Governor, Gboyega Oyetola and Governor Akeredolu.
One thing for sure, Akeredolu’s worst critics cannot accuse him of not showing purposeful leadership. Not only has the rate of killings been reduced, the emergence of Amotekun, the regional security outfit, has also ensured that most of the senseless killings have been reduced drastically. His push for a regional security outfit in spite of resistance and refusal on the part of the federal government will be thanked for this.
However, the governor has been giving some ardent admirers of his cause for concern of late. Akeredolu’s government has been tainted with allegations of nepotism. He had in the past alluded that he could reward his son for his hard work during the campaign for his election and that there was nothing anyone could do about it.
In spite of calls against doing so, Aketi last Monday swore in his son, Babajide as Adviser and Director-General of the Performance and Project Implementation Monitoring Unit of the state.
The governor, while justifying the appointment in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary Richard Olatunde, said, “The need to recalibrate our development agenda has given rise to the establishment of the Performance and Project Implementation Monitoring Unit (PPIMU). This will assist us in ensuring value for all resources being deployed by our government.”
According to the governor, the PPIMU, office of his son has been charged with a number of mandates which include: to design and implement project management, implementation, monitoring and evaluation platform for the office of the governor, to coordinate, monitor and evaluate the execution of the Ondo State 8-point agenda, state development plan and its approved programmes and projects.
By this appointment and given the enormous responsibility Babajide now has, it is safe to conclude that he is the de facto number two citizen of the state, next only to his father. Even though Aketi committed no crime in his action, it still raises a huge moral question. To think that part of the problem that has held us back can be attributed to cases of nepotism, tribalism and religious bigotry, make this not only nauseating and unbecoming of a man of such high moral rectitude. As a very senior silk he is aware of the implications of lopsided appointments in the country, especially during the current dispensation. Can Akeredolu ignore the likelihood of a conflict of interest?
Akeredolu must learn from the experience of the president, that it is this same devil-may-care attitude in appointments that has to continue to raise tension and agitations across the land. These are distractions that are totally avoidable. This singular act by the governor is even worse than that of Buhari, because unlike the president, Babajide is his son and not just a relative or an acquaintance. If Buhari has failed to bring to book some close acquaintances of his who have been found wanting in one way or the other, can Akeredolu prosecute his son for any misdemeanour?
In trying to justify his wrong-headed action, he further confirms the allegations against him of high-handedness in running the state.
Hear him, “When somebody says Baba (Babajide) is this, I just laugh at them. If I wanted to make Baba my chief of staff, he can be; did you do more than him in the campaign? Ask yourself, how many of you did more than Baba in the campaign? How many?” he had asked.
“The young boy was going everywhere and all of us saw him but we decided not to because he wouldn’t want it. My son is satisfied, that’s why. If he is not, I will put him somewhere, there is nothing anybody can do. I will put him there; there is nothing you can do. Is he not my son? Is he not from Ondo state? Has he not worked?”
The same arrogance I saw in him in my first encounter in 2012.
If Babajide supported his father during the campaign, is it not to be expected? Why did he not make this appointment during his first tenure to test his popularity going into the second term election, or did Babajide not support him then? Again, in speaking in that manner to the people of the state, is he not exposing the fact that he simply has no regards for the people and so deals with them like a master would his servants? The governor should give this a rethink and find an alternative means of rewarding his son. I refuse to believe that all those who worked for the party’s success have all been rewarded to justify rewarding his son with such a sensitive and juicy appointment.