By: Niyi Akerele
What will make an unassuming, humble and complete gentleman find himself in the news for the wrong reasons? This is the million-dollar question that the people of Ondo State have been trying to find an answer to in the last few days as they came across an unbelievable report about their deputy governor, Hon. Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa.
When the news filtered last weekend that the deputy governor allegedly had a domestic violence issue with his wife, it took many by surprise. For one, it is odd to see a man in such an exalted position get into such a mess. But more surprising is the fact that he’s been widely known to be a quiet man who goes about his duties with the best of humility which has endeared him to many.
However, those who have been following political events in the State in the last few months were quick to draw their conclusion: this is a blackmail plot. Aiyedatiwa has simply come face to face with high wire politics aimed at reducing his popularity and chances of succeeding his boos, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, in office.
The next governorship election in Ondo State holds next year and Aiyedatiwa, as expected, is one of the major contenders for the number one seat.
However, he is facing an onslaught now because his rivals feel the earlier he gets out of the way, the better. This is because he is calling the shot already as Akeredolu has been indisposed since his return from an official Leave about a month ago.
Flagging off what many fear would be a running battle against the deputy governor was the story of wife beating allegation raised against him last weekend by a group that claimed that it got wind of series of domestic abuse incidents between him and his wife.
However, in a statement signed by his media aide, the deputy governor denied the allegation and termed it a blackmail.
The statement read: “It has come to the attention of the Office of the Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Hon. Lucky Aiyedatiwa, that a baseless and false report credited to a faceless group alleging the Deputy Governor of engaging in domestic abuse and assault on his wife, has been making the rounds in some sections of the media.
“This falsehood and its peddlers would have ordinarily been ignored at this time but the need to halt further negative reports and rumours capable of creating needless tension in our State has necessitated this response. The said allegation of domestic abuse against the person of the deputy Governor is a figment of the imagination of those behind it and their ungodly intentions to cause crisis in the State had been known for weeks and therefore such falsehood did not come as a surprise.
“While His Excellency reserves the right to privacy on issues pertaining to his family, it is pertinent to state clearly that there has never been any domestic crisis between the Deputy Governor and his lovely wife, Mrs. Oluwaseun Aiyedatiwa, who at the moment is outside the shores of the country.
“It is not a secret that Mrs. Oluwaseun Aiyedatiwa has lived and worked in the United Kingdom for many years before his husband became an elected public official in Nigeria and she has been shuttling between UK and Nigeria since then and continues to take care of the home and the children who are also in the United Kingdom.
“Therefore, any report of alleged domestic issues within the family should be taken as the handiwork of the enemies of the State who are bent of causing crisis where there is none and we therefore warn those spreading such falsehood to desist or face the consequences.
“In the last four months quoted in the false report as timeline, His Excellency has been busy with official duties of his office and has during the period performed the duties of the office of the Governor as delegated to him by his boss, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, while he was on Leave. It is therefore uncharitable for anyone to claim that the Deputy Governor has in that period carried out “multiple assaults” on his spouse who is out of the country. This is nothing but political blackmail taken too far. We urge the good people of Ondo State to ignore such falsehood as those behind it may just be plotting further attacks on the Deputy Governor to promote their sinister agenda.”
With the wife beating allegations unable to gain traction, those behind it are said to be preparing series of onslaught against the deputy governor in days and weeks to come. A source said even though he may not abandon his gentleman persona, the deputy governor may have finally realized that he needs to stand up against those determined to get rid of him.
There had been fears that there was an impeachment move against him in the State House of Assembly where the 10th Assembly was inaugurated at the weekend. There were reports that an Owo legislator was going to be installed as Speaker, against political norm, in an effort to make it easier to push though the impeachment of the deputy governor. The plot, however, failed.
Investigations by TRACE revealed that the intense efforts by some vested interests to deal with the deputy governor may be hinged on the uncertainty over the health of the governor who has since been taking bed rest at his personal residence in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The Ondo State government had confirmed that the governor was indisposed as a result of his ill-health. The government through the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, however, insisted that the governor has been attending to state matters and delegating functions to functionaries of the Government, when necessary.
However, there are fears that if his condition does not improve on time, the governor might be convinced by his loved ones to resign from office on health ground and hand over power to his deputy. This, if it happens, would mean that Aiyedatiwa would become governor before the next governorship election.
If Akeredolu decides to resign on health grounds and Aiyedatiwa takes over as governor, this could make him an overwhelming choice to become governor again in 2025. Taking over full governorship power would mean that Aiyedatiwa becomes the leader of the ruling party which gives him an edge against other governorship aspirants.
Akeredolu had never hidden his admiration for his deputy since they were both inaugurated in 2021. In fact, Akeredolu had said during the inauguration that he would not mind Aiyedatiwa as his successor in office. On a number of occasions, Akeredolu had openly commended the loyalty of his deputy and had said he had the confidence that Aiyedatiwa could continue his projects from wherever they stop at the end of his tenure in February 2025.
This, it was gathered, had been a source of concern to those who do not support Aiyedatiwa to become governor. It is believed the impeachment cloud may not be clear yet as the leadership of the new Assembly could still be lobbied to get it done so that another deputy governor could be installed before the end of the year to prepare for the possibility of Akeredolu resigning on health ground.
… to be continued