The death of Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, on December 27, 2023, has shocked and saddened many Nigerians, especially the people of his state.
Akeredolu, who was 67 years old, had been battling health challenges for months, amid rumours of his demise and political intrigues. Here is a timeline of the events that marked his final days:
– June 7, 2023: Akeredolu embarked on a 21-day medical leave, citing the need to undergo routine check-ups and rest. He wrote to the state House of Assembly, informing them of his absence and delegating some of his powers to his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
– June 30, 2023: Akeredolu announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. He said he was asymptomatic and had gone into self-isolation. He urged the people of the state to adhere to the preventive measures against the virus.
– July 6, 2023: Akeredolu was expected to resume his duties after his medical leave, but he did not return to the state. His spokesman, Segun Ajiboye, said the governor was still in Abuja, receiving treatment for COVID-19. He dismissed the rumours that Akeredolu had died or was incapacitated.
– July 13, 2023: Akeredolu’s wife, Betty, accused a woman named Olubunmi Ademosu of poisoning her husband and plotting to take over his position. She made the allegation in a voice note that went viral on social media. She claimed that Ademosu, who was a former commissioner and a close associate of Akeredolu, had been having an affair with him and had given him a substance that made him sick. She also alleged that Ademosu had the backing of some powerful politicians in the state and at the federal level, who wanted to remove Akeredolu from office. Ademosu denied the allegations and threatened to sue Betty for defamation.
– July 20, 2023: Akeredolu returned to the state, after spending 43 days away. He said he had recovered from COVID-19 and thanked the people for their prayers and support. He also dismissed the rumours of his death, saying he was alive and well. He said he had handed over the affairs of the state to his deputy, Aiyedatiwa, who had been loyal and competent.
– August 10, 2023: Akeredolu travelled to Germany for further medical treatment, without informing the state House of Assembly. He said he had the permission of President Bola Tinubu to travel and that he had delegated his powers to his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, again. He said he would be back in a few weeks.
– September 12, 2023: Akeredolu, relieved the media aides attached to Aiyedatiwa of their appointments amid an alleged rift between the two leaders. The governor also disbanded the press crew assigned to the deputy governor’s office.
The affected aides included Press Secretary to the Governor, Kenneth Odusola; Special Assistant to Governor (New Media) Okunniga Oladipupo; and Special Assistant to the Governor (Photography) Abayomi Samson Adefolalu.
Sources within the government revealed that the aides were sacked as a result of insubordination and flagrant disregard to the appropriate authority.
– September 15, 2023: Akeredolu’s absence sparked a political crisis in the state, as his deputy, Aiyedatiwa was declared as the acting governor, even as he dissolved the state executive council. He said he had not heard from Akeredolu for over a month and that he had the constitutional right to assume full authority as the governor. He accused some of Akeredolu’s loyalists of sabotaging his administration and plotting to impeach him.
– October 8, 2023: The state House of Assembly moved to impeach Aiyedatiwa as the deputy governor, on the grounds of gross misconduct, abuse of office and disloyalty to Akeredolu. The lawmakers said they had received a letter from Akeredolu, dated September 30, 2023, in which he denied handing over power to Aiyedatiwa and accused him of usurping his authority. They said they had verified the authenticity of the letter and the signature of Akeredolu. They also said they had received a video message from Akeredolu, in which he said he was recovering well in Germany and would soon return to the state. They said Aiyedatiwa had acted in violation of the constitution and the oath of office he took.
– November 2, 2023: Akeredolu returned to Nigeria but remained in his Ibadan residence, after spending 84 days in Germany. He said he had undergone a successful surgery and was in good health. He thanked the people for their support and solidarity.
– November 25, 2023: President Bola Tinubu intervened in the rift between Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa, in a bid to save the state from chaos. Tinubu met with Aiyedatiwa and other stakeholders from Ondo State at the State House in Abuja and urged them to embrace peace and maintain the status quo.
– December 27, 2023: Akeredolu died in Germany according to the state government. His death was confirmed by the state government in a press statement, who said he had suffered from prostate cancer. They said the governor had died peacefully and had left behind a legacy of service and development.