Regardless of whether he gets the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC, or not, Ondo indigenes at home and abroadseem to have their minds firmly made up on not allowing Governor Rotimi Akeredolu back in the Ondo Government House.
Accused variously of being too distant and detached in his governance approach, the indigenes are especially piqued that the governor seems to have ceded the powers of his office to his wife, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu. A native of Imo State, the strong-willed First Lady has reportedly immersed and entrenched herself in her husband’s government that her word is the law and carries as much or even more weight than the governor’s; while many contractors prefer to go through her for mega contracts. She is described as brusque and condescending; looking and talking down on government officials while channelling the state’s resources to fulfilling her vanities.
What has worsened the case of the governor is his recent appointment of Miss Ngozi Ugochi-Igbo, also an Imo State native, as his Special Assistant on Gender, Research and Documentation. The 26-year-old lady who recently completed her one year mandatory National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, was described as the First Lady’s makeup artist. Party chieftains and faithful are riled and raging, describing the move as a deliberate slap on their faces because while they were yet to be compensated for their unquantifiable role towards ensuring Akeredolu’s electoral victory, he had yet to fully compensate them.
Yet, it was not the first time this would happen. A similar scenario played out last November when the governor approved the appointment of his wife’s relative, Miss Peace Joy Odili as the Special Assistant (Public Procurement). The appointment was controversially backdated to November 2018 to allow her to get allowances and salaries she did not work for. Ondo people have been biding their time, waiting for the best time to strike. And the time is nigh.
The Ondo State gubernatorial election holds in October 2020 while the APC primary election has been slated for July 20, 2020. Governor Akeredolu desperately desires a second term ticket and he has two major hurdles to cross – his party and the Ondo people. The people, who see him as being too elitist and had reduced governance to a family affair, are already shopping for a more indigenous alternative among the crop of aspirants in the leading parties.
While the APC in Ondo State has been factionalised due to the overbearing and divisive nature of the governor, he has been on a warpath with his deputy, Hon. Agboola Ajayi, for the best part of the last year, during which there were rumours that the latter had even defected to the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
Now, he is acutely aware of recent happenings in his party where incumbent governors do not get automatic return tickets as was the practice in the past. Former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos was the first major casualty of this new practice while the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki has been told in plain terms that he is also not entitled to one.
Akeredolu has declared that he is not scared what system is adopted – whether direct or indirect – for the primary election, saying that he is popular and has performed well hence he would win any mode of primary election conducted by the party.