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Aiyedatiwa takes over, Tinubu, govs say Akeredolu’s death big loss



Acting Governor of Ondo State, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, was on Wednesday sworn in as the substantive governor of the state following the death of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu earlier in the day.

Akeredolu, aged 67, passed away on Wednesday morning while undergoing treatment for prostate cancer in a German hospital.

Born on July 21, 1956, Akeredolu studied Law at the Obafemi Awolowo University (then the University of Ife) graduating in 1977. He was called to the bar in 1978.

His demise generated an outpouring of tributes and condolence messages from President Bola Tinubu, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, the Ooni of Ife, the Nigerian Bar Association, the Christian Association of Nigeria, and other eminent Nigerians, who described his death as a big loss to the count

In line with the constitution, Aiyedatiwa was sworn in as the seventh executive governor of the Sunshine State by the state Chief Judge Justice Olusegun Odusola.

He took the oath of allegiance at 5.15pm, swore the oath of office at 5:17pm, and signed the Oath Register at about 5:19pm.

‘Man of courage’

In his maiden address, the new governor described his former boss, Akeredolu, as a man of courage and conviction who always stood for the truth even at his own detriment.

He vowed to continue with the developmental ideas of the late former governor and also solicited support and cooperation from the stakeholders.

He said, “Today’s (Wednesday ), event has placed a burden on all of us to pull together and stay together as one because we have the onerous responsibility to continue to sustain the legacies of Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN, CON, which was good governance, properly called.

“Our leader and governor, during his time embarked upon several landmark projects, many of which have been completed and several ongoing. We now have the responsibility to complete them.

“It is to the credit of Arakunrin Akeredolu, that the state now has a flyover in Ore, while the one in Akure is ongoing. It is necessary for us to acknowledge with pride the wonderful achievements and legacies of Arakunrin Akeredolu. His records of performance are monumental and unprecedented.’’

He said the people of the South-West would forever be grateful to Akeredolu, who as the Chairman of the governors in the zone ensured the establishment of Amotekun, the region’s security outfit which tackled kidnapping and other crimes

Present at the inauguration were the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Olamide Oladiji; Secretary to the State Government, Oladunni Odu, some state executive council members; the Head of Service, Pastor Kayode Ogundele, former deputy governors, permanent secretaries, Chairman of the All Progressives Congress in the state, Ade Adetimehin, the Chief of Staff to the late governor, Chief Olugbenga Ale, party supporters, among others.

Before his death, Akeredolu had transferred power to Aiyedatiwa via a letter to the state House of Assembly on December 13, 2023, when he was to proceed on medical leave in Germany.

The development followed the intervention of President Tinubu who intervened in the crisis that resulted from the failure of Akeredolu to hand over to his deputy after he returned to the country from Germany in September.

Although Akeredolu returned to Nigeria in the first week of September after a three-month medical leave, he was operating from Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

The state House of Assembly had commenced an impeachment process against the deputy governor over allegations of gross misconduct.

This led to a division in the state assembly and the state executive council as well as the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress.

In a bid to resolve the crisis, Tinubu met with the leadership of the assembly and the state APC at the State House, Abuja, last month, where it was decided that Aiyedatiwa should take over as the acting governor.

The state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mrs Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, announced the governor’s death in a statement saying, “Mr governor peacefully departed from this world in the early hours of today, Wednesday, December 27, 2023.”

The statement was titled, ‘It is a sad day in Ondo State.’

It read, “With a heavy heart, the Ondo State Government announces the passing of our beloved Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, CON.

“Mr governor peacefully departed from this world in the early hours of today, Wednesday, December 27, 2023. This tragedy has left behind a profound void in our hearts.

“Governor Akeredolu answered the eternal call while receiving medical treatment in Germany. He succumbed to complications arising from protracted prostate cancer.”

It noted that a letter had been sent to the President to officially inform him of the governor’s death.

The family and the Ondo State Government appreciate Mr President’s support for Governor Akeredolu during his illness. The family and the state government will release further details regarding the funeral arrangements.

“Governor Akeredolu was an extraordinary leader whose unwavering dedication to the state and its people was both commendable and unparalleled.’’

Meanwhile, the new governor, in a statement on Wednesday evening  in Akure by his Chief Press Secretary, Ebenezer Adeniyan,  declared three-day mourning.

According to Aiyedatiwa, the period of mourning, with fasting and prayer, takes effect from Thursday and ends on Saturday.

Akeredolu’s aides resign

Shortly before the swearing-in of Aiyedatiwa, the Special Adviser to Akeredolu on Union Matters and Special Duties, Mr Dare Aragbaye and the Chief Press Secretary Mr Richard Olatunde resigned from office.

In the letters of resignation signed by the duo, addressed to the office of the Secretary to the State Government on Wednesday, the aides cited the demise of the governor as the reason for their action. The letters came in, some hours after the death of Governor Akeredolu.

Aragbaye’s letter was titled ‘Resignation of appointment as Special Adviser Union Matters and Special Duties.’

The letter read, “I write to refer to the subject above and to resign my appointment as Special Adviser Union Matters and Special Duties with effect from today, Wednesday 27, December 2023. My decision to resign is based on the unfortunate death of my principal a fearless and honest leader, Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredulu, SAN, CON , whom I am loyal to even in death

“I sincerely thank His Excellency for the opportunity granted me to serve in his administration as a member of the State Executive Council first as a Head of Service and now as Special Adviser. Please accept the assurances of my esteemed regards. “

Olatunde in his letter titled ‘Resignation Letter’ partly read, “ It is with a heavy heart and deep sadness that I tender my resignation as the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, effective from today, Wednesday 27, 2023.”

It further stated,” My decision to resign from office is hinged on the unfortunate and untimely death of our leader, principal, and father figure, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, CON.”

The Ondo State Government Secretariat was in a sombre mood following the death of the governor as the workers who resumed office after the Christmas holiday wore somber looks.

They were seen in groups discussing the development while many of them could not carry out any official duty.

Tinubu in a personally signed statement expressing his grief described the second-term governor, who was expected to conclude his tenure in 2024, as a fearless fighter, brother, confidant, and political soulmate.

He stated, “Today, I mourn a fighter and fearless defender of truth and the masses…brother, confidant, political soulmate, and the Executive Governor of Ondo State.”

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