Crisis rocks State Exco over Governor Deputy feud
The protracted feud between Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and his estranged deputy, Lucky Ayedatiwa, is taking its toll on the State Executive Council.
The Nation reported that there was apprehension yesterday among commissioners, special advisers and other aides as the governor fired the deputy governor’s aides.
The governor, who last week returned to the country after a three-month medical leave in Germany, may reshuffle the state executive council to weed out members who were suspected to be disloyal during his absence.
Many aides are jittery over the impending reshuffle, which may take place immediately after the governor’s return to Akure next week, a source said.
It was learnt that Akeredolu was sad that some of his aides caused serious tension in the state while he was away by sponsoring some reports that embarrassed the government and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) chapter.
According to a source, the Chief of Staff, Chief Olugbenga Ale, and about six commissioners may be dropped for allegedly working against the interest of the governor.
Akeredolu, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde, announced the sack of Aiyedatiwa’s media aides – Press Secretary Kenneth Odusola; Special Assistant (New Media) Okunniga Oladipupo; and Special Assistant (Photography) Abayomi Samson Adefolalu.
The statement added: “Consequently, all members of the Press Crew are to report back to their various ministries and stations. Equally, the Ministry of Information and Orientation is directed to provide adequate coverage for the activities of the deputy governor’s office henceforth.”
Sources said Ayedatiwa’s aide “were fired for insubordination and flagrant disregard for appropriate authority.”
However, the embattled deputy governor who said he remained loyal to his boss, attributed the brewing crisis to agents of blackmail bent on causing friction.
While leaving for Germany on medical vacation, Akeredolu transmitted a letter to the House of Assembly relinquishing power to Ayedatiwa as acting governor.
The governor, who returned on Wednesday, is still in his Ibadan home, where he has been carrying out official duties.
On Saturday, Speaker House of Assembly Mr. Oladiji Olamide and Deputy Speaker Abayomi Akinruntan presented a bill creating 33 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), which the governor signed.
However, the acting governor, who was accused of disloyalty by some of the aides of the governor, allegedly used the opportunity to fester his governorship ambition.
The move by Ayedatiwa pitched him against some governorship contenders and loyalists of Akeredolu in the state executive council.
There is an informal agreement in Ondo APC to zone the governorship slot to Ondo South, where the deputy governor hails from.
The aggrieved governorship aspirants are from the district.
A party source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said trust has broken down between the governor and his deputy.
He said: “There is no division in the party. The Aketi family is big and intact. But, there are complaints against the deputy governor who tried to create a camp from the big camp while positioning himself.
“The camp of the deputy governor started misbehaving, thinking that the governor would not make it. Some actually thought that the governor would not return. It was even reported that the governor had died.”
The source said detailed report about how the deputy governor ran the state in his absence got to him where he was recuperating.
On his return, Akeredolu declared that he will remain alive to complete his tenure, a statement believed to be a reaction to his rumoured death or incapacitation.
The source added: “The deputy governor was careless with some statements, which were taped and played to the governor’s hearing.
“At a meeting with other governors, he as acting governor of Ondo State complained that he was being denied access to the governor and was not given a free hand when other governors asked from him whether he was hearing from his boss.
“Colleagues of Akeredolu called him to tell him that his deputy was not loyal.”
But, reiterating his loyalty to the governor, Ayedatiwa said some faceless individuals and groups were plotting to dent his reputation and cause disaffection between him and the governor.
The statement reads: “Stakeholders have commended the deputy governor for the way he handled state affairs while he was acting governor, despite all his detractors did to provoke him into taking drastic actions. He avoided their booby traps and they tripped on their own banana peels.
“Against their expectations, the deputy governor was in constant touch with his principal on official state matters, so there was no gap between them.
“How can the man who was constantly in touch with his boss and had prepared for his arrival to attend some other critical state matters, including the signing of the LCDA Law after passage by the State Assembly, be surprised by that same arrival?
“Those behind the falsehoods being peddled around had planned that these concocted lies about disloyalty and impeachment would irritate Mr. Governor and his family so as to land a devastating blow on the deputy governor ahead of the coming governorship election in the state.
“Now that Mr. Governor is back and has started working, the deputy governor remains calm and committed to the duties of his office and unruffled by the lies of desperate politicians and their agents. The deputy governor remains loyal to his Principal and no amount of fabricated lies will change that.”