PoliticsPolitical fireworks resume in Ondo as APC chieftains block Aiyedatiwa’s bid for governorship ticket in 2024

PoliticsPolitical fireworks resume in Ondo as APC chieftains block Aiyedatiwa’s bid for governorship ticket in 2024

The new Ondo State Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, is said to be caught between retaining the state executive council constituted by his late predecessor and satisfying his loyalists seeking appointments for their loyalty.

Former Ondo state governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, passed away on Wednesday, December 27, 2023, during a protracted illness in a hospital in Germany.

Aiyedatiwa, who hitherto battled political war against him while his erstwhile boss was on the sick bed, is expected to take up tasks from where his late boss stopped.

There are many tasks before the new governor to be done, failure of which may be unhealthy for the state.

Many believed that his first assignment was supposed to be the announcement of his deputy. But at the time of filing this report, Governor Aiyedatiwa was said to be busy making consultations on several political matters.

It was gathered that during his first visit, after being sworn in, to President Tinubu in Lagos last Thursday, Aiyedatiwa was said to have been advised by the former not to appoint a deputy governor yet until the APC in the state is organised and members are reconciled.

It could be recalled that during the last crisis that lingered for months, Aiyedatiwa reportedly fought against many party chieftains, Akeredolu’s aides and some members of the state House of Assembly. The party was said to have been divided over the matter, hence the advice of President Tinubu.

A reliable source informed Punch that, at the meeting with Mr President, Tinubu advised him (Aiyedatiwa) to first reconcile with all the aggrieved party members in the state before picking his deputy.

The source said, “He (Aiyedatiwa) was in Lagos yesterday (Thursday)where he met with the president. As he raised the issue of the Deputy Governor, the president asked him to go back to Ondo and reorganise the party first and make sure he also reconciled with the aggrieved members before talking about the deputy governorship.”

According to the source, the president’s advice may have prevented the governor from unilaterally taking some action without the consent of the party leaders and elders in the state.

“As it is now, he may not be able to dissolve the cabinet against the expectations of some people or sack any member of the cabinet for now, but he is still consulting,” the source stated.

On the other hand, the source disclosed that pressure was mounting on the governor by some of his loyalists and associates, who are allegedly lobbying to be appointed in the new government.

They are expecting the governor to dissolve the entire cabinet of late Akeredolu to give room for fresh hands, some of whom had allegedly been ‘starved’ by the Akeredolu administration. They believe it is now their turn to benefit from the new ‘cake’. The governor has to apply wisdom to not create more enemies for himself.

However, before any possible cabinet dissolution by the new administration, some members of the cabinet and some of Akeredolu’s appointees had already quit the government.

Those who had tendered their resignation letters included the Special Adviser to the Governor Akeredolu on Union Matters and Special Duties, Mr Dare Aragbaye, and the Chief Press Secretary the late governor, Mr Richard Olatunde; the state Commissioner for Infrastructure Lands and Housing, Mr Aminu Raimi; the Special Assistant on Photography to the former governor, Mr Olawale Abolade, and the Senior Special Assistant to Akeredolu on Special Duties and Strategy, Dr Doyin Odebowale.

Apart from these resignees, it was learned that some other aides of the former governor might drop their letter very soon. If they are not sacked, the governorship aspirants in the cabinet will voluntarily resign before the party’s forthcoming primary, coming up in April 2024.

Owing to this latest development, it could be observed that there have been alignment and realignment in the state’s political space as some APC chieftains had allegedly stepped up their lobby game to be considered in the new Aiyedatiwa’s administration. All these are said to be causing internal confusion in the party. But Aiyedatiwa, it was reliably gathered, would consider, first, those who stood by him during crises.

Already, it has been insinuated that the governor may appoint either the Chief of Staff to Akeredolu, Chief Olugbenga Ale or the state Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr Razak Obe as the deputy governor.

During his political travail, the duo were said to be at Aiyedatiwa’s side. They were also from the two senatorial districts that would produce the deputy governor. While Ale is from the Northern senatorial district, Obe hailed from the Central senatorial district. The governor is from the southern senatorial district.

Another serious battle the governor would face is the party’s ticket ahead of the governorship election coming up later in the year, as it was confirmed that he, too, has the ambition of becoming the state’s next governor.

Many believe that Aiyedatiwa faced the last crisis with some APC chieftains in the state due to his ambition to succeed late Governor Akeredolu.

Before things fell apart between them, a video recently showed the deceased praising Aiyedatiwa for his support and loyalty, and he (Akeredolu) promised to reciprocate the gesture, saying his deputy would continue from where he stopped.

To this end, getting the APC ticket in the April primary may be arduous for Aiyedatiwa, as there may be a gang up against him to prevent him from using his current position to win the ticket at the expense of other gladiators.

Another issue before the governor is the appointment of 18 caretaker local government chairmen and the 33 Local Council Development Areas, created by Akeredolu, whom the court had stopped operating.

Those affected are loyal to the late former governor, who appointed them, but they are now jittery and confused as they don’t know what would become of their fate in the new Aiyedatiwa’s administration.

Some of the loyalists of the new governor across the 18 local government areas of the state are also eyeing these positions. It is a big issue before the governor as he raises loyalists across the state ahead of the forthcoming party’s primary.

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