The five-month political impasse in Ondo State over the absence of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu SAN, may soon come to an end as President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and other critical stakeholders in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, agreed to invoke the principle of necessity to proclaim the embattled deputy governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa as acting governor of the state. The President yesterday met with some Akeredolu’s cabinet members and Ondo State lawmakers at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where they took the decision.
Akeredolu, who returned from Germany on September 7, has not been in the state since his return. He is in his private residence in Ibadan, where he is said to be recuperating.
With this resolution, Ondo State House of Assembly may reconvene on Monday to invoke the doctrine of necessity to proclaim Aiyedatiwa with full powers to govern the state.
“The doctrine of necessity is the basis on which extraordinary actions by administrative authority, which are designed to restore order or uphold fundamental constitutional principles, are considered to be lawful even if such an action contravenes established constitution, laws, norms, or conventions.”
This doctrine became popular in Nigeria in 2010 during a logjam created by the long absence of former Umar Yar’Adua from the country over his health status and the deliberate actions of some members of his cabinet to sideline Dr Goodluck Jonathan from being installed as the Acting President.
The ailing Yar’dua was hospitalised in Saudi Arabia and was unable to formally transfer the instrument of office to his deputy.
The National Assembly intervened by invoking the doctrine of necessity to proclaim Goodluck Jonathan as acting president without recourse to constitutional niceties that require such a proclamation to be done by the ailing president.
This resulted in speedy restoration of normalcy and order that enabled Nigeria to make progress in managing state affairs.
A source confided in The Guardian that President Tinubu, had been worried over the political development in the state following the long absence of Akeredolu from the state and the power play that had divided commissioners and lawmakers in the state.
Apart from the President and other key officers of the presidency, national chairman of the party, Abdullahi Ganduje; Aiyedatiwa, Ondo State Secretary to the Government (SSG) Oladuni Odu; former national chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande; Chief Patrick Ayo Akinyelure, the state commissioner of finance Wale Akinrinwa; Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Olamide Oladiji; APC chairman in the state, Ade Adetimehin and some members of the National Assembly from the state attended the meeting.
It was gathered that the wife of the ailing governor, Mrs Betty Akeredolu and his son Babajide, who were at the Villa for the meeting were not allowed entrance into the meeting venue where the critical decision was taken.
The decision to install Aiyedatiwa as acting governor came on the heels of impeachment plot against him, which has divided cabinet members and members of the state House of Assembly.
The state has been in turmoil over the impeachment plot against the deputy governor. The Guardian findings revealed that before the meeting, 11 out of the 26 lawmakers had aligned with Aiyedatiwa’s camp, with the goal of ensuring that the deputy governor assumes the role of acting governor.
Earlier yesterday, the 11 lawmakers had planned to convene at the Assembly in order to discuss and reach a consensus on the matter. However, the sitting was postponed with the intention of awaiting the outcome of a meeting involving Tinubu and other stakeholders.
During a visit by The Guardian to the Ondo State House of Assembly Complex, the atmosphere of the premise was calm, with the usual security operatives at the complex mounting the gate and checking vehicles before allowing entry.
Recall that the leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, and some traditional and religious elders in the state had a few days ago appealed to Tinubu to wade in the state’s political imbroglio.
Only last week, some cabinet members passed a vote of confidence on Akeredolu because of what they described as his “exemplary leadership style”, which they said has been rewarding to the people and the state at large.
The communiqué was signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Oladunni Odu; the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Olugbenga Ale; the Head of Service, Kayode Ogundele; 16 Commissioners; and 12 Special Advisers.
However, Commissioner for Energy, Mines, and Mineral Resources, Razaq Obe, and his counterpart in the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Cooperative, Akinwumi Sowore, did not sign the communiqué, and Aiyedatiwa was also not present on the list.
According to findings by The Guardian, it was revealed that both the camp of the governor and Aiyedatiwa had initially scrambled on how to get the exco on their side.
A top source within the cabinet disclosed that some persons loyal to the deputy governor were the first to make the move to secure the signatures of substantial numbers of cabinet members in order to pass a vote of no confidence on the governor.
According to the source who craved anonymity, the camp of Akeredolu got wind of the ploy by Aiyedatiwa’s men, hence the governor’s loyalists swung into action to quickly mobilise the cabinet members to pass the vote of confidence.
“You know that the cabinet has for a while been divided, but what some of us were not aware of was that those who are close to Lucky (Deputy Governor) have been making underground moves to get some of us to their side and pass a vote of no confidence on Aketi (Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu).
“You know that it is only the exco that can make the legal move on whether there is a void in the governance of the state on whether there is incapacitation on the part of the governor. That is what Lucky’s men were trying to do.
“When we got to know of their plans against a man who appointed them into the cabinet, we proceeded to outsmart them, and we subsequently affirmed our support for the governor. Even those they thought were with them turned around and signed the communiqué.”
On why he did not sign the communiqué, Obe, who is said to be close to the Deputy Governor, expressed his scepticism regarding the motive behind the earlier request for his signature from an unidentified person within the cabinet.
The Commissioner for Energy, Mines, and Mineral Resources revealed that no exco meeting was held before it was decided that a vote of confidence would be passed on the governor.
“I left Akure to attend a conference, and I communicated that to the Chief of Staff before I left. So later, they were asking for my signature to be appended to a document; they called it a vote of confidence, and I said that somebody could share a copy with me so that I would know before my signature went on it.
“The person who reached out to me to send the electronic signature said he didn’t have it, so someone is asking me to drop my signature on a document that I don’t have any knowledge about, so I did not send the signature.
“No executive meeting was held; nothing like that. So I was careful about dropping my signature on a document that I didn’t know about.”
On his part, Sowore described the move by his colleagues to put out such communique as the handiwork of desperate politicians.
“The vote passed by the members of the cabinet in the state in a situation like this does not count, because in the first place, we are the appointees of Mr. Governor; we can’t even say that we don’t have confidence in him; anybody that doesn’t have confidence in government has to resign. So, by pushing the vote of confidence, as far as I’m concerned, it does not make sense; we don’t have the power to remove the governor as a member of the cabinet.
“So passing a vote of confidence on the governor in the first place does not add anything to Mr. Governor. So it is the work of those desperate politicians in the state to create crises when there is no crisis.
“I don’t have any issues with the governor, and he is our governor in the state. In fact, in the first place, they don’t allow the man to rest. There was no excos meeting; the governor is far away in Ibadan, and the deputy is embattled far away in Abuja, so nobody was to chair the executive meeting in the state.
“Even if I’m around, I will not have signed because I’m supposed to tell them what they are supposed to do to those who are not lawyers. No excos meeting had been held except during the period when the deputy governor was acting. But since the governor had resumed duty on September 7, 2023, no excos meeting had been held.”
Speaking on the development, a human rights lawyer, Allen Sowore, who carpeted the exco members over the vote of confidence passed on Akeredolu, described the move as an exercise in futility.
The legal practitioner stated that passing a vote of confidence on an elected personality has no place in the presidential system of government that is being practiced in the country.
Sowore disclosed that the underground ploy by the exco was to pass a vote of no confidence on the deputy governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, who has been having a running battle with his boss. `
“The vote of no confidence is a distinctive feature of parliamentary democracy. In such a system, the elected parliament can either affirm its support or push for the removal of the Prime Minister.”