Governor Rotimi Akekredolu and his Deputy, Agboola Ajayi, of Ondo state have drawn a line in the sand as the 10 October 2020 governorship election is inching closer. The matter became more dramatic on Saturday, 20 June when the Police Commissioner, Bolaji Salami, and his men prevented him from leaving the government house.
–Watch the video here
Trouble started over the plan of Ajayi to defect from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Akeredolu, a former Nigerian Bar Association boss, would have none of that. He eventually did on Sunday, 21 June.
Richard Akinnola, a social critic, took a dig at Akeredolu (Aketi for style) over the matter.
“Aketi, remember you are former president of the NBA and such, there are certain levels of conduct expected of the former holders of that office, politics or no politics. What you directed the Ondo state Commissioner of police to do against your deputy, is unacceptable. Yes, he is about to defect, so bloody what? It is you l know, l don’t know your deputy but l won’t clap for you when you do wrong. Please, stop the charade. It is embarrassing to our state. It is unacceptable to a person like me.”
It was the same shindig that happened between the late Governor Adekunle Ajasin and his Deputy, Akin Omoboriowo that sparked off crisis of murderous magnitudes in 1983. Ajasin who had been governing since 1979 was seeking re-election and his Deputy too wanted to govern. In the primary election, Omoboriowo alleged that he was rigged out in favour of his principal. Consequently, he changed camp to the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) on the platform of which he contested.
In the governorship election, Omoboriowo was declared winner by Dapo Alibaloye, the Ondo state electoral commissioner. All hell was let loose, because the allegation was strong that NPN and Alibaloye rigged Ajasin out.
However, when TheNEWS confronted Alibaloye on the matter, he defended himself:
“If that opportunity comes back my way today, I will do what I did in 1983. I will do it! I was not on the field, I was a returning officer and I was to return the figures that were added, pronounce them as they were added.
Omoboriowo had the highest figures before me by what was tallied. And I was there, it is true that the UPN, NPN, they said this one is from so, so, and each returning officer was accompanied by a police officer. I did not have the power to cancel it on my own at that time and if let’s say that I knew the right result, I didn’t have the power to cancel it.
The alternative, therefore, was for the state not to have a result, then as a senior civil servant, I would have been irresponsible for not announcing the results, because making a bad decision is better than making none.
The NEWS asked him to clear the air on how he mysteriously escaped when violence erupted after that announcement. “There was a myth waxed around how you escaped from Akure. Some said as an Ekiti man with relevant African insurance, you disappeared, using transponder (egbe). On a serious note, how did you leave Akure because some people allegedly wanted to attack you?”
Alibaloye replied: “I do not know whether I was to be attacked or not but I finished my work, went to my house and took my bath and started off to Lagos that night. Those who wanted to attack me, maybe God stopped them, saying this person is not what you think, so there is no power that is above that of God. God was with me and ever since I have lived. Were they not around to use that their foul power? God knows I didn’t do anything wrong. I had to sign when they had added the figures. That’s all.”
- Read that 15 January 2016 interview with Alibaloye here
However, not many were as lucky as Alibaloye. Four NPN stalwarts were roasted alive in Akure. Olaiya Fagbamigbe, a member of the federal House of Representatives, Awoleye Agunbiade, former majority leader in the state house of assembly. Worse still, NPN official R.A. Agbayewa and his wife were beaten to death by the mob.
The Police and the media, especially, the Ondo state Radio Vision Corporation, made the violence worse as the latter was making announcements about the escape route of the Deputy Governor!
Just as the Police were willing tool in the hands of NPN then, this time, the Police were allegedly in cahoots with the Governor. The Commissioner of Police, Salami, told the Deputy Governor: “We are not saying you should not go out. Since you are defecting, even your letter was brought to me in my office this evening that you are doing it (decamping)…
“What the government is saying is that you cannot go out with official vehicles. This is politics, I am not saying it is right. This is a government house, the governor is the one talking, give me a few minutes, let me talk to my boss.”
The Deputy Governor replied: “I have tried all constitutional and acceptable means to prevent this crisis. You are being used by the governor to deprive me of my constitutional right; I am highly disappointed that a policeman of your caliber can be used like this.
“I personally paid for this vehicle. You should not have put yourself in this mess. Let me tell you, you cannot repeat what happened in this state in 1983 because Ondo State people will resist you and you and your emperor with everything.”
However, in a statement signed by Segun Ajiboye, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Akeredolu said the story, which claimed that the Commissioner of Police, Ondo State Command restrained the Deputy Governor from leaving the Government House on his directive was a concorted and devious lie meant to discredit him.
“It should, however, be placed on records that it is a time-tested code in government’s business for officials to take inventory of offices and quarters before and after an official is moving in or out of offices or quarters.
Accordingly, the CP’s intervention which was at the instance of an almost manipulated security apparatus at the Government House was most desirable to restore law and order. It becomes particularly worrisome and suspicious when aides of the Deputy Governor insisted on leaving the premises with items wrapped in unclear ownership as late as 11 pm. Governor Akeredolu reiterates his commitment to the rights of all, including the Deputy Governor. But he has a duty to be firm and dispassionate in exercising the roles assigned to him.
Notwithstanding the above, Ajayi, on Sunday, 21 June, finally dumped APC and joined APC in Apoi, Ese Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State.