Calls for the resignation of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu have reached a crescendo as he governs the state remotely from Ibadan, Oyo State, following his return from a three-month medical trip to Germany. Concerns are mounting that the governance in Ondo State is on auto-pilot, prompting accusations that the First Lady, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, is influencing the decision for the governor to remain in power despite reported health issues.
Governor Akeredolu, who returned to Nigeria on September 9, has yet to set foot in the state capital, Akure, choosing to stay at his personal residence in Ibadan. This prolonged absence has triggered political turmoil, with loyalists of the governor making moves to impeach Deputy Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
Aiyedatiwa’s troubles began upon Akeredolu’s return, marked by the dismissal of all media aides in the deputy governor’s office. Allegations, including gross misconduct and financial recklessness, were levied against Aiyedatiwa, leading to impeachment proceedings. Despite intervention attempts by the National Working Committee of the APC, Aiyedatiwa’s political standing has been significantly marginalized.
While attention initially focused on the deputy governor, recent developments have shifted the spotlight back to Governor Akeredolu. Notably, the Ondo State PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Kennedy Peretei, called for the governor’s impeachment, citing a violation of the constitution.
Legal experts, however, suggest that the process to declare Akeredolu incapacitated must begin with the state executive council. According to Section 189 of the 1999 Constitution, 2/3 of the executive council must pass a resolution declaring the governor incapable. This is followed by the formation of a medical panel to assess the governor’s health, with the panel’s findings determining the next course of action.
Despite these constitutional provisions, legal practitioners emphasize the practical challenges of such a process, as commissioners appointed by the governor may be reluctant to recommend his removal. Recent expressions of loyalty from 33 out of 35 State Executive Council members further complicate the situation, indicating a preference to await the next election in November 2024.
As the political drama unfolds, Ondo State finds itself at a critical juncture, grappling with questions of governance, constitutional processes, and the health status of its embattled governor.