Tension has gripped members of the Ondo State Executive Council over the alleged move by the deputy governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, to challenge his boss, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, for the governorship seat following speculations of ill health.
According to sources within the cabinet, the governor has become aware of the deputy governor’s alleged lack of loyalty and has grown increasingly uncomfortable with his purported ambition.
Although the deputy governor has yet to officially declare his intention to run in the 2024 gubernatorial elections, with the campaign said to have begun some time ago.
Trouble began when Akeredolu went on vacation and left the deputy governor in charge of the governor’s office.
During his brief stint as acting governor, the deputy governor was alleged to have prioritised his personal interests over that of the state and the governor.
Furthermore, certain members of the exco have accused the deputy governor of being responsible for spreading stories about the governor’s health and subsequent rumours of his death.
Sources within the exco, who preferred to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the issue, disclosed that the deputy governor had initiated the rumours about the governor’s health.
One of the exco members confirmed that Akeredolu’s health was not deteriorating while also expressing concern with the governor’s choice of deputy governors.
“The deputy governor is behind all these circulating stories. What actually happened was that after the Cabinet meeting three weeks ago and the subsequent courtesy visits, the governor decided to take some time to rest.
“The governor has been advised to deliberately spend quality time resting. So, the deputy governor went to Ibadan to visit him and brought along some files. However, he didn’t inform the governor or his close aides about his visit. Upon reaching Ibadan, the governor signed the files, which were then returned to him. But the governor didn’t wait to talk to the deputy governor.
“When he returned to Akure, he started telling some of our associates that the governor should transfer power to him. He even attempted to persuade Exco members to support his position.
“He deliberately initiated these rumours about the governor’s health to gain public sympathy and support. The deputy governor lied to us. It was only when we started contacting the governor ourselves that we learned the truth.
“Just last Monday, the governor signed the May 2023 salary. The fact that the ministries are functioning should assure you that the governor is in charge and actively involved. At present, he is upset and pissed with these false stories.”
But according to a government insider, the deputy governor already has his loyalists within the cabinet.
“If their attempt to remove the governor from office is successful, the deputy governor has promised a Commissioner that he will be his deputy. In addition, he promised to name another cabinet member as Secretary to the State Government.
“Unfortunately, two Commissioners are competing for the position of deputy governor in Aiyedatiwa. In addition, a Special Adviser has sworn allegiance to the deputy governor as part of her plot to be nominated for the position of NDDC State Representative.
“All of these people are currently allied with one another and pushing for the governor to delegate authority to the deputy.”
“The governor and the deputy governor met last week, and the governor signed several documents, including the salary for the Local Government. Why would the deputy governor keep quiet while the media was reporting unfavourable things about his boss? We know he is responsible for them.
“In truth, he was persuaded to make a statement disputing these false reports, but he chose not to. It is quite distressing to see such behaviour from a deputy governor who the governor personally hand pick.
“In fact, he was urged to issue a statement refuting these fabricated stories, but he declined. It is truly disappointing to witness such behavior from someone who was handpicked by the governor and made deputy governor,” he said.
Reacting to the development, Aiyedatiwa’s Press Secretary, Kenneth Odusola, maintained that “this falsehood and its peddlers would have ordinarily been ignored at this time, but the need to halt further negative reports and rumours capable of creating needless tension in our state has necessitated this response.
“The said allegation against the person of the deputy governor is a figment of the imagination of those behind it and their ungodly intentions to cause crisis in the State had been known for weeks and therefore such falsehood did not come as a surprise.”