By abiodun KOMOLAFE 

Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu is dead! May God repose his soul! Since nature abhors a vacuum, his Deputy, Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa has now been sworn-in as the substantive governor of the state. May God order his steps in the onerous tasks ahead!

By the way, if Aiyedatiwa could become the governor despite the intimidations from those whose hearts were made of rocks, nothing is impossible on earth. But then, this is just the beginning of what to expect in the foreseeable future, especially if the Obe-Nla, Ondo State-born politician is eyeing Alagbaka as its Chief Tenant, post-February 23, 2025. Interestingly, the governor’s many battles and subsequent triumph must have exposed him to the politics of Abuja. He can only build on this rare feat. Again, this is where playing politics through the party structures in the state comes in.

Isaac Kekemeke! Olusola Oke! Jimoh Ibrahim! Agboola Ajayi! Yele Omogunwa!  ‘Bourdillon Boy’ Adewale Akinterinwa! Lucky Aiyedatiwa! But where did Ondo State miss it? For those who have refused to give hope to their people when it’s badly needed only to start scheming for the soul of the state invites an obvious question of development. Take, for instance, at least four Local Governments in the Ondo South Senatorial District of the state (Irele, Okitipupa, Ilaje and Ese-Odo) have been subjected to uninterrupted darkness since 2014. But, rather than rally to solve the problem, its leaders have always been candidates for “to your tent, O Israel”, until elections beckon.

As an oil-bearing community, Ilajeland statutorily produces Commissioners for the Niger Delta Development Corporation (NDDC). Otito Atikase, who currently serves as Ondo State Representative on the NDDC Governing Board, is from Ugbo Kingdom. On his part, IfeOluwa Oyedele, the current Executive Director (Engineering and Technical Services) at the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), is from Igodan-Lisa in Okitipupa. Besides, Ilaje and Ese-Odo Local Governments supply the Chairman, Secretary and two other members to the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC); and that’s a permanent feature. Discreet investigations also revealed a special derivation budgetary provision which accords the Senatorial District special attention.

But why can’t these leaders learn from the Akoko cultural sub-group of the state? When a similar challenge befell Akokoland some years back, the late Pastor T. B. Joshua was reportedly contacted and he promptly rose to the occasion. He committed a huge sum of his personal resources to it, and, within three months, Akoko North East, Akoko North West, Akoko South East and Akoko South West Local Governments were reconnected to the national grid. Other donors showed up only after ‘Emmanuel’ had already saved the day. The dangerous truth is that Ondo South is blessed with sons and daughters, some of whom are even wealthier than T.B. Joshua but whose wealth has not impacted their people. Well, that’s a story for another day!

With his death, Akeredolu now belongs in the past and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. So, as the world is now Aiyedatiwa’s, let it be noted that the worst is yet to happen to the ‘Sunshine State’, especially as political activities are expected to heat up in the coming days. Typical of Nigerians, those who lost out in past battles won’t want to let go of fate. The defeated will be expected to return to the trenches to devise new ways and means. But only for a while, they’ll return with deadlier plots to undermine the governor’s position, with one primary aim: prevent him from securing the party’s ticket to contest the next Ondo governorship election, slated for November 16, 2024. So, it is a matter of who blinks first. For luck to keep smiling on Aiyedatiwa depends on how seriously he takes the mantle handed over to him by providence. It is what will define the shape, size and trend of things to come. Therefore, the governor needs to beware of banana peels on his path to success. If his ambition is to retain the seat of power, he needs to do more.

Aiyedatiwa needs to study the body language of Abuja before jumping into the governorship race. Otherwise, it may amount to daring the lion in its den and the resultant ‘roforofo’ will be a burden too heavy to bear for a state that’s already lacking in good governance. Twice or thrice in Nigeria’s recent history, Bola Tinubu has sponsored candidates for the governorship position in Ondo State; twice or thrice, he has lost out. But that was then! The music has changed: power has smiled on the ‘Jagaban of Borgu’ and Tinubu is now the President of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, with all the principalities and powers of that exalted office answerable to him. If the president wants, this is the time to exact his pound of flesh and right-thinking Nigerians needn’t take its likely implications for granted.

Yes, time may be no more on Aiyedatiwa’s side. However, those who think that he will take it cool or play by the rules are likely to be living in fool’s paradise. Similarly, those with the notion that the now-wounded ‘Aketi Boys’ and other interested parties in the political game will shy away from spoiling the show for the governor are yet to wake up from slumber. According to Femi Afolabi-Peters, a United Kingdom-based International Security and Intelligence Consultant, “all the events of the past months were nothing but politics of succession, especially, by those who believed they had brighter chances than the governor.”

In the words of the Specialist in Clandestine Security Operations, “power is not served ‘a la carte’. You gotta have a solid plan of action and seamless execution trajectory. Aiyedatiwa’s becoming the governor would bestow on him more powers and that’s bad news for those who professed love for Akeredolu but, in reality, they’re after self-interests anchored on survival instincts. Deep down their hearts, they’re only capitalizing on the late governor’s health situation to covertly advance their personal political agenda”

I also share Afolabi-Peter’s views. Now that Aiyedatiwa’s head has paved the way for him, the onus is on him to wield it responsibly, lest his traducers pee on him. Going forward, he needs to embark on surreptitious political loyalty operations, all with a view to separating the whiff from the chaff because saboteurs abound within every structure. Many more will align with the governor in the coming days, of course, with the sole purpose of killing him gradually from within. Who says Betty, Akeredolu’s wife, Babajide, his son, and other perfect storms of the Aketi political tendency won’t attempt to extend an olive branch to him? Who says the governor shouldn’t accept that open-heartedly, at least for some political advantages? Who says Aiyedatiwa shouldn’t be circumspect and be as wise as a fox? Besides, hasn’t the Wike-Fubara feud again shown that Nigeria’s political model is devoid of morals and that one can only triumph if he plays the game like ‘professional bastards’? Surely certainly, one who thinks otherwise had better enroll in the seminary and quit this ‘evil vocation’.

Lastly, a cross-section of Nigerians is reportedly of the opinion that Aiyedatiwa is scant in giving and that he has no political base. It also insists that, although the governor is a child of circumstance who only survived molestation from the ‘Aketi Boys’ by some dint of luck, he is lacking in goodwill. As such, he is the least person that can be presented by his people. Of course, these are weighty remarks, especially in a democracy like ours. But then, it is not too late for Aiyedatiwa to overcome these rather messy calibrations. He only needs to learn at the feet of President Tinubu.

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant them peace in Ondo State!

 *KOMOLAFE wrote in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria ([email protected]; 08098614418 – SMS only)


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