Following the demise of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State on Wednesday, no fewer than five of his aides have tendered their resignation.
According to reports by Punch Akeredolu’s deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, was sworn in on Wednesday as the new Governor of Ondo State, hours after Akeredolu’s death was announced.
The ex-governor, who had a protracted battle with prostate cancer, died in Germany where he had been receiving treatment.
Following the emergence of Aiyedatiwa as the new governor, some of Akeredolu’s aides dropped their resignation letters.
They include Akeredolu’s Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde; and the ex-governor’s Special Adviser on Union Matters and Special Duties, Mr Dare Aragbaye.
Others are the Commissioner for Infrastructure, Lands and Housing, Mr Aminu Raimi; the Special Assistant on Photography, Mr Olawale Abolade; and the Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties and Strategy, Dr Doyin Odebowale.
The development indicated that they were not ready to work with the new governor. Some of them cited their loyalty to Akeredolu as the reason for their resignation.
In his letter of resignation addressed to the office of the Secretary to the State Government, made available to Punch on Thursday, the infrastructure and housing commissioner said his resignation was dictated by his conscience.
“I write to tender my resignation of appointment as Commissioner For Infrastructure, Lands and Housing with effect from today, 28 December 2023
“This decision is anchored on my conscience, as my leader and dear boss, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN, CON joined the Saint Triumphant.
“I sincerely thank our dear Arakunrin and the good people of the state for the opportunity to serve in his cabinet as Senior Special Assistant on Lands and infrastructure, Special Adviser on Lands, Works and Infrastructure and Commissioner for Infrastructure, Lands and Housing,” Raimi said.
In his own letter, the Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties and Strategy, Odebowale, said: “I write to notify your office of my intention to resign my appointment as the Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties and Strategy to the Governor of Ondo State with immediate effect.
“I use this medium to thank the government and the people of Ondo State for the rare privilege offered for service.”
Meanwhile, one of Aiyedatiwa’s allies, who did not want to be named, said the aides of Akeredolu resigned for fear of being victimised by the new governor.
“They resigned out of fear of victimisation which I don’t believe the governor would have time to do. I would like to tell you that more are still going to resign,” the source said.
The PUNCH reports that there was a rancour in the cabinet before Akeredolu died.
While Akeredolu was abroad receiving treatment, Aiyedatiwa functioned as acting governor, but some of the cabinet members did not cooperate with him.
Amid a move by the state Assembly to impeach Aiyedatiwa, he had openly tendered an apology to Akeredolu, pledging his loyalty.
However, Akeredolu’s Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties and Strategy, Odebowale, in a statement, rebuffed Aiyedatiwa’s apology, insisting that then deputy governor must be impeached.
Meanwhile, it was gathered on Wednesday that Aiyedatiwa had begun to shop for a deputy governor.
A source in the governor’s office said the governor might pick one of the cabinet members, adding that Aiyedatiwa had been holding meetings with political stakeholders in and outside the state in his search for a suitable and loyal deputy governor
According to the source, the governor is looking towards either the northern or central senatorial districts of the state.
The source in the governor’s office listed possible choices as the Chief of Staff to the former governor, Chief Olugbenga Ale; and the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr Razak Obe.
The source said, “In a couple of days, the deputy governor will be announced. The governor is still searching for a person who will be very loyal and supportive. He is very likely to pick among the ones that are very loyal to him in the cabinet of the late Governor Akeredolu.
“He has been meeting with some APC leaders in the southern senatorial district on the matter.”
However, when contacted the Chief Press Secretary to Aiyedatiwa, Mr Ebenezer Adeniyan, declined comment on the matter.
“I can’t comment, we are still mourning,” he said.
Meanwhile, a group, the Sunshine Advancement Ambassadors, on Thursday, warned the governor against embarking on a witch-hunt but to focus on governance.
The group gave the advice in a condolence message signed by its chairman, Olaniyi Ogungbuji.
“We advise Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa to take a cue from Akeredolu and put in his best to better the welfare of the people of the state. He should avoid witch-hunt of his assumed enemies during the political tussle that shook the state to the foundation,” the group said.