President Bola Tinubu has reportedly summoned the Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, and the State House of Assembly Speaker, Olamide Oladiji, to Aso Rock in Abuja for an urgent meeting.
The Herald gathered that the meeting, which would take place on Monday, is to find a permanent solution to the political crisis in the South West State and address the leadership situation in the state.
However, it was learnt that the arrangement will not prevent a constitutional crisis as it will not require the ailing Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to resign, even though he is ill and has been unable to perform the responsibilities required of his office for many months.
The call for the urgent meeting scheduled to be held on Monday comes after human rights activist and #RevolutionNow convener, Omoyele Sowore, announced the scheduling of a town hall meeting and mass protests for Saturday in Akure to call on the ailing Governor Akeredolu to either return to office or resign.
The emergency meeting will be the second one summoned by the President to resolve the leadership crisis in the state following the governor’s absence from office since July 2023.
The call for the meeting comes about two weeks after Tinubu met with over 50 persons including Aiyedatiwa, his and aides of Governor Akeredolu, state commissioners, party chieftains and some elders of the state on November 24.
“Tinubu has summoned the Ondo State Deputy Governor and the House Speaker to another urgent meeting after Sowore announced mass protests and town hall meeting in Akure,” one of the top sources privy to the invitation told SaharaReporters on Sunday.
“The emergency meeting is to be held in Aso Rock on Monday. It is aimed by Tinubu to ask the deputy governor to be allowed to act as governor.”
However, SaharaReporters learnt that Sowore insisted that nothing short of Akeredolu’s resignation from office would be deemed to be acceptable.
Akeredolu’s son, Babajide, who was appointed by the governor in November 2021 as the Director General of the Performance and Project Implementation Monitoring Unit, Office of the Governor of Ondo State (PPIMU), was one of those present at the November meeting.
Also present were the senators representing Ondo South (Jimoh Ibrahim), Ondo North (Jide Ipinsagba), and Central Districts (Adeniyi Adegbonmire).
SaharaReporters earlier today (Sunday) reported that a pro-democracy organisation, Take-It-Back Movement would organise a town hall meeting in Akure on Saturday, December 16 to call for Governor Akeredolu to resume office or resign.
The event will also mark the commencement of street protests to call for the resignation of the ailing governor who has not set foot in his state since July 2023, the report added.
Sowore, the candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the 2019 and 2023 presidential elections, on Sunday, also called on Governor Akeredolu to resume and perform his constitutional duty as governor of Ondo State or resign.
Sowore, in a post shared on his X (formerly Twitter) handle disclosed that there would be a town hall meeting and beginning of street protests in Akure, the state capital and across the state on December 16, to demand Akeredolu’s resignation.
He wrote: “There will be a Townhall Meeting & a beginning of Street Protests In Akure and across Ondo state on Saturday December 16th 2023!
“All persons of conscience are invited! #GovAkeredoluMustResign #RevolutionNow.”
According to a flyer announcing the event, the town hall meeting organised by the Take-It-Back Movement and themed ‘Akeredolu; Resume Or Resign,’ will be held by noon on Saturday, December 16, 2023, at Akure Town Hall on Oba Adeside Road in Akure.
All You Need To Know About Gov. Akeredolu And Aiyedatiwa’s Feud
Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), won his re-election as the state governor in October 2020 and was sworn in for a second term in office in February 2021.
However, the governor’s second term, since January 2023, has not been smooth sailing as he had to be flown abroad for treatment over a medical condition.
It was exclusively reported in January that Akeredolu was suffering from leukemia.
“The governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu has leukemia, he is really down,” one of the sources in the Alagbaka Government House revealed at that time.
Leukemia is a blood cancer caused by a rise in the number of white blood cells in the body.
Meanwhile, the family have been keeping his health status hush-hush to maintain their grip on the affairs of the state.
In November 2021, Akeredolu appointed his son, Babajide as the Director General of the Performance and Project Implementation Monitoring Unit, Office of the Governor of Ondo State (PPIMU), courting controversy.
The 67-year-old politician returned to Nigeria in September after a three-month medical leave in Germany but has been holed up in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
Meanwhile, Akeredolu has been under intense pressure from opposition parties to resign or hand over power to his deputy in line with the 1999 constitution. But his aides have defended his action or inaction, saying he could govern the state from anywhere.
On Friday, it was exclusively reported that a forensic report by the Association of Forensic Professionals of Nigeria (AFPON) had confirmed that the ailing governor’s signature was forged on an official document.
Meanwhile, there are indications that there may be more of such forgeries.
A forensic report on Friday, signed by Mr Nuhu Kutana Tanko, who stated that “there are strong indications the author of known specimen handwritings/signatures on known documents marked ‘K-K4’ did not write the questioned signatures on questioned documents marked ‘Q-Q2.’”
The investigation was initiated by the State Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Razaq Obe, who wrote to the Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, confirming the forgery of Akeredolu’s signature on an official document relating to his ministry.
In the commissioner’s letter on Friday titled “Forgery Of Mr. Governor’s Signature On Official Document” and dated December 7, he wrote, “I write to bring to your attention a critical matter that requires immediate action. 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. GovernorI 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.”