• Why governor won’t resign over health challenge – Olateju
Ondo State Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Rasaq Obe, stirred fresh controversy yesterday after telling Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, that he has confirmed the forgery of the signature of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
Governor Akeredolu has been recuperating in Ibadan, Oyo State, since his return from medical vacation.
Supporters of Aiyedatiwa had earlier raised the alarm that Governor Akeredolu’s signature was being forged to siphon money from the state coffers.
Obe, in a letter to Aiyedatiwa dated December 7, 2023, said the situation required immediate action.
In the letter, Obe said, ” It has been confirmed that the signature of Mr. Governor on a certain document has been forged.
“The irregularities in the signature were first observed when a file from my ministry was returned through the office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG). This is the only file that has been returned so far out of the five files that were sent for Mr. Governor’s approval about two months ago.
“Upon closer inspection, I noticed significant differences between the suspicious signature and handwriting and Mr. Governor’s known signatures and handwriting in the file. Concerned about the gravity of the situation, I decided to seek a forensic review before disclosing my discovery. I sent the suspicious signature, handwriting samples, and copies of the old regular signatures to forensic experts, who have now confirmed that the suspicious signature and handwriting were indeed forged.
“Despite the inherent risks involved, I have chosen to fulfill the obligations of my office by reporting this alarming development to you as the highest-ranking member of the State Executive Council after Mr. Governor. I firmly believe that this is the course of action our esteemed leader, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, CON, would take in such a situation.
“Considering the possibility that such forgery may be widespread, this heads-up is of utmost importance to the government and people of Ondo State. I have attached a copy of the forensic report and relevant pages from the file for your reference.
“I urge you to treat this matter with the urgency it deserves and take appropriate actions to address the situation. It is crucial that we restore the integrity of our processes and ensure that such a disturbing development is swiftly punctuated.”
Obe confirmed to reporters that he wrote the letter but declined to give further details.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation in Ondo State, Ms Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, has explained why the governor will not resign his position
The commissioner, in an interview on Arise TV yesterday, explained that the governor was not incapacitated, and so there was no need for him to resign.
She stated that the governor still performs all his duties and that the only thing he wasn’t doing at the moment was attending social events like weddings. She explained that the governor had been attending to memos and in touch with the cabinet members.
When asked further why Akeredolu, a senior advocate of Nigeria, hasn’t considered resigning from office, the same way he, as the then President of the Nigerian Bar Association, called on the then President Umaru Yar’Adua to resign on account of his health, the commissioner insisted that the governor wasn’t incapacitated and didn’t have to resign.
She noted, “The governor is not incapacitated, I still maintain that. He would have easily done the needful. The governor still gives approvals. No issue, other than the heightened political issues.”
Speaking further on why the State Executive Council hasn’t in line with Section 189 (1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution (As amended) declared the governor as incapable, she said the governor wasn’t incapacitated and the executive council had no such plan.
“Unless the governor is incapacitated, there is no reason to evaluate his health,” she added.
When asked why he had remained in Ibadan if truly he wasn’t incapacitated, the commissioner explained, “The governor is still recuperating having gone through a very bad illness. I can’t come here and lie – I know Nigerians are watching – that the governor can run and play tennis. That is not true.
“The governor is still recuperating. His psychomotor, affective and cognitive skills are still intact, but he’s not as strong as he was in the past.”
Asked about the nature of the governor’s illness, Ademola-Olateju stated, “It’s not a very good illness, I think it’s a somatic problem (related to the body, especially as distinct from the mind). He has lost some weight, and he once told us that after 40, nobody is well.”
In spite of the commissioner’s claim that the governor is not incapacitated, a civil society group, Ondo State Coalition of Civil Society Organizations (OSCOCSO) has issued a two-week ultimatum to the Ondo State House of Assembly to declare Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa as Acting Governor or face mass protest.
It also invited the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate allegations of theft and funds mismanagement in the state.
The OSCOCSO said its ultimatum was due to a constitutional crisis in the state following the governor’s prolonged absence from office due to ill health.
Executive Director, Life and Peace Development Organization (LAGDO) Franklyn Oloniju, who spoke at a joint press briefing in Akure, said it was alarming that the Ondo Assembly failed to activate relevant constitutional provisions to appoint Aiyedatiwa as Acting Governor even after the peace move facilitated by President Bola Tinubu.
Oloniju said the Ondo Assembly’s inaction was a dereliction of duty and a violation of Section 190 of Nigeria’s constitution (as amended).
He stated that the Governor’s prolonged absence has created a vacuum in the leadership of the state, leaving the government rudderless and unable to effectively address the pressing issues facing the people of Ondo State.
According to him, “The failure of the House of Assembly to act promptly has exacerbated this crisis and is causing unnecessary hardship and uncertainty for the people of Ondo State.
“We call on the Ondo State House of Assembly to immediately redress this lacuna and own up to its constitutional duty by designating the Deputy Governor as Acting Governor. This is essential to restore normalcy, ensure continuity of governance, and protect the interests of the people of Ondo State.