Akeredolu: The Road To Government House

Rotimi Akeredolu, winner of the APC Ondo State governorship primary election
Rotimi Akeredolu, winner of the Ondo State governorship election

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has officially declared Rotimi Akeredolu the governor-elect of Ondo State.

INEC returning officer, Abdul-Ganiyu Ambali announced that Akeredolu, candidate of the All Progressives APC, scored 244,842 votes to defeat 27 others in the governorship election held on Saturday.

Also  Eyitatyo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party,  PDP, came second with 150,380 votes while Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, scored 126,889 votes to come third.

Rotimi Akeredolu, fondly called ‘Aketi’ by friends and admirers won the governorship ticket of the APC on September 3, in a controversial contest that saw him defeating 23 other aspirants, including Olusola  Oke, who later defected to the Alliance for Democracy,AD, and Olusegun Abraham, who was supported by National Leader of the party, Bola Tinubu.

Akeredolu polled 669 votes to defeat his closest rival and candidate of Tinubu who polled 635 votes. Although the other contestants initially accepted the results of the primary and even congratulated him, but facts later emerged that the election was rigged in his favour.

The other candidates protested and the party’s appeal committee recommended that the primary be cancelled. But John Oyegun, the National Chairman of the party overruled the decision of the appeal committee and upheld Akeredolu as governorship candidate of the party.

The development did not go down well with many leaders of the party, including Tinubu who accused Oyegun of betrayal. Tinubu was supported by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. But Akeredolu refrained from joining the fray as he called on members to unite in the interest of the party.

When he met President Muhammadu Buhari shortly after his primary victory, he informed the president that he had resolved his differences with Tinubu and all were on the same page.

But there were media speculations that Tinubu backed Oke who was the candidate of the AD to spite the leadership of the APC. It was reported that Tinubu’s group had a power sharing arrangement with Oke as condition for support.

Though Oke denied this allegation, Tinubu never personally denied nor admitted supporting any other candidate apart from the candidate of the APC.

He was, however, conspicuously absent at the grand finale of Akerodulu’s campaign at Owo, which was attended by President Buhari and other some other party leaders.

Tinubu’s absence at the rally, as well as the absence of  the governors of Lagos, Oyo and Osun was seen as sign that the Asiwaju did not endorse Akeredolu’s candidature.

Akeredolu’s journey to the Ondo Government House has a tinge of irony. He won the governorship ticket of the APC in 2012 with the active support of Tinubu, who backed him against all odds. He contested the governorship election but was defeated by the incumbent Olusegun Mimiko, then of the Labour Party.

One of the problems associated with Akeredolu’s candidacy in 2012 was that the former NBA President was too elitist and couldn’t connect with the electorate. Party leaders believe it was one of the reasons Tinubu was unwilling to back him again.

But despite this short-coming , Akeredolu was able to win the governorship election.

One obvious advantage he had going for him in this election is the federal power he brought into the campaign. In 2012 when he first ran for governor, APC was an opposition party trying to gain a foothold in the South West.

But four years after, it has transformed into the party at the centre, and Akeredolu flaunted this advantage throughout the campaign. He called on his people to support the party in power so that the state could benefit from federal largesse. On November 26, his people heeded that call.

Akeredolu was born on July 21st, 1956 to the family of an evangelist, Ola Akeredolu in Owo, Ondo State of Nigeria. He had his early education in Owo and proceeded to Aquinas College, Akure, Loyola Colege, Ibadan and Comprehensive High School, Ayetoro, for his secondary school education and Higher School Certificate, respectively.

He attended the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, in Ile Ife, Osun State, where he obtained his LLB degree in 1977 and the B.L from the Nigerian Law School in 1978.

He was a student union leader at Ife where he was elected Vice President, Students’ Union, University Of Ife, for the 1975-1976 academic sessions.






     

     

    He became the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Ondo State between 1997 and 1999 serving at the same time as a member of the Ondo State Judicial Service Commission. He embarked on far reaching reforms as the AG of the state.

    Some of his achievements are still visible in the state judiciary today. He was also a member of the Council of Legal Education during this period by virtue of his position as the AG.

    He first became a member of Body of Benchers at the same time, 1997-1999, and was subsequently re-appointed in 2006. He remains a member till date.

    He was the Chairman of the Legal Aid Council from 2005 to 2006. He was conferred with the prestigious title of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 1998.

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