Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State’s camp may not be serving its best interests with its recent declaration that it would not hand over governance to his deputy, Mr Agboola Ajayi, because he is a “betrayer and the greatest threat to his administration”.
The governor’s position is worsened by the fact that while he has insisted on holding on to power despite recently testing positive for COVID-19, the deputy governor has been more restrained and conciliatory, concealing any desire he might have to act in the office of governor should any circumstance incapacitate the governor from discharging his duties.
Speaking through his Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojigo, Mr Akeredolu noted that: “Those of us in government believe strongly in this government and see the deputy governor as the greatest threat to good governance in Ondo State, and you can’t attempt to handover to people like that. Agboola Ajayi is the greatest threat to this government.
You don’t rock a boat that has taken you across the ocean. It is a non-issue and we are not even considering handing over to Mr Ajayi, and I know as a matter of fact that no one who believes in good governance in the state will even advise Mr Akeredolu to hand over to his deputy.
What would be the compelling reason when governance is not grounded? We cannot toy with what we have built over the years.
We cannot risk it and attempt to hand over to someone who has exhibited a mindless level of betrayal and an unquestionable level of treachery.
COVID-19 is not a death sentence and the governor is strong enough to work. For the deputy to insinuate, incite or instigate people to be stirring the water to say that the governor should hand over to him, confirms our fears in the last ten months that Agboola Ajayi has been striving to take over power through the back-door and God will not allow him.”
It is not clear whether the commissioner was aware of the provisions of Section 190 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended),which does not give a governor the luxury of choice or sentiments concerning who acts in his capacity when he is either on a vacation or otherwise unable to discharge his duties as governor.
It is also not clear if the commissioner noted the course of action Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, took by handing over the reins of government to his deputy while going into isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 in March.
What he was, however, clear on was that Mr Akeredolu is in good enough health to discharge his sworn duties as governor of the state.
It was therefore unnecessary to have launched into a tirade denouncing the deputy governor and promising on grounds of sentiment to flout the constitution.
Mr Ajayi, meanwhile, has not mimicked the commissioner’s emotive outburst. He has instead observed that there is no need for anxiety about the governor’s health and that the governor would be treating files while in isolation in order not to negatively affect governance.
Those new to Ondo State politics and unaware of the bitter rivalry between the governor and his deputy who defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) recently would wonder why the brouhaha.
The last thing the governor (or his commissioner) needs is to be perceived as repaying civility with hostility. After all, of all the governors who tested positive for COVID-19, it was only the showy Mallam el-Rufai who transmitted power to his deputy.