By Segun Ajiboye
Since the passing of Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, former Governor of Ondo State, on Wednesday, 27 December, 2023, in a German hospital, so many things have both been said and written about the governor and his immediate family.
His death in a German hospital did not come as a surprise to many, considering his long battle with illness. However, what is surprising is the level of disdain with which Aketi, as he was fondly called, is being treated in death even by those who would have sworn to take a bullet for him when he was alive.
But surprisingly, a day or two after the news of Akeredolu’s demise broke, popular human rights activist and candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the 2019 and 2023 presidential elections, Omoyele Sowore, during a live interview session on Arise News TV, asked to see Akeredolu’s remains to determine the period of his death.
However, in a surprise twist, which made nonsense of the Sowore insinuation, that the late Governor may have passed on, long before it was made public, on Friday, January 5, 2023, the remains of the former governor arrived the country from Germany, as earlier claimed by the family. The public is till waiting for any further action from Mr Sowore on this.
No doubt, Sowore’s claims constituted an enormous and wicked blunder, but Aiyedatiwa’s actions towards his late boss were far worse. Aiyedatiwa, a Yoruba man, cannot claim not to understand the gravity of his highly insesentive actions when few HOURS after the announcement of the death of Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, and following his swearing in as governor, he took up the mic and said: ‘A ku ori ire’.
You may ask what sort of ori ire? Does it amount to ori ire that Akeredolu was dead? Or that Aiyedatiwa, according to his name, now owns the world? The new governor’s remarks elicited loud cheers from his followers, and some in the crowd shouted that Aiyedatiwa would do nine years. The new governor smiled, again to another round of loud cheers from the crowd, the same set of crowd that sang, ‘Ma jo lo mo n wehin e’ for Akeredolu.
Having taken the oath of office, Aiyedatiwa naturally becomes the state’s chief mourner. But he obviously did not see it that way. And so, was absent at the airport when the remains of his former boss arrived from Germany.
Despite Aiyedatiwa’s absence at the airport, notable dignitaries on hand to receive the body were Akeredolu’s family members, led by his immediate younger brother, Wole Akeredolu and his widow, Betty Akeredolu.
Other dignitaries at the airport include Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, represented by his Chief of Staff, Tayo Ayinde; Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Tokunbi Talabi; and a representative of Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke.
Also at the airport were the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State, Ade Adetimehin; a member of the House of Representatives, Gboyega Adefarati, and some members of the Ondo State Executive Council, led by the Secretary to the State Government, Oladunni Odu.
I went through the list of the people at the airport several times, hoping to see the name of the state governor, Mr. Lucky Aiyedatiwa. But each time I tried, his name failed to appear. Wasn’t he supposed to be the chief mourner as far as Ondo state was concerned?, I asked myself.
Then I remember the wise saying, ‘Power is transient’. If Akeredolu was alive and he had returned from an oversea trip, his deputy would have stood in the sun for hours to receive him with broad smiles.
You know what? Akeredolu was, after all, a human, and he had his failings. But whatever shortcomings he may have had, both in private and as governor, he surely deserved a better dealing from his successor.
I am not saying that Aiyedatiwa should have adorned himself with a black dress, like the one worn by Mrs. Betty Akeredolu, but he should at least have honoured the memory of the man who picked him from the multitude of men and women who BATTLED to be on the ballot in the 2022 governorship election.
The cheerleaders would sing to you the kind of songs they know you would love to hear. But remember, Governor Aiyedatiwa, enikan o l’aye.
●Ajiboye was Chief Press Secretary to Late Governor Akeredolu between 2017 and 2021