By Kazeem Akintunde
Since he came down with a health challenge, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state has managed to keep the media, and by extension, Nigerians, out of his personal business. In fact, when the governor was flown out of the country in April last year to seek treatment in a German Hospital, the rumor mills went on overdrive as there was an unconfirmed report that Arakunrin was seriously sick and could probably be dead.
However, a video soon surfaced online where the Governor was seen having breakfast with some of his close aides. That video doused the tension in the state and Nigerians looked elsewhere for other tantalizing news to engage their attention while Akeredolu’s health issue was quickly swept under the carpet.
But the issue is back on the front burner, no thanks to Ondo state First lady, Arabirin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, who, in a fit of anger, and in her attempt to embarrass her husband’s ‘side chic’, actually confirmed that her husband was sick and has been managing to run the affairs of the state in his condition.
As rightly stated by William Congreve in his ‘The Mourning Bride’ (1697), “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor Hell a fury like a woman scorned”, Mrs. Akeredolu threw caution to the winds when she recorded a voice note that she sent to a WhatsApp group known as Aketi Women Platform. In the two minutes, 39 seconds voice note, she confirmed that her husband was sick and has been battling some health challenges for quite sometime now. But her husband’s health issue was not the main gist as she had a direct message for one of Akeredolu’s aides, whom she accused of getting “too close” to her husband to the extent of procuring herbal concoction for the Ondo state’s number one citizen and she wants members of the platform to warn the aide, Ms. Bunmi Ademosu, who is special adviser on Multilateral and Inter-Governmental Affairs to her husband, to stay away from him.
Betty, in her voice note, alleged that Bunmi’s persistent closeness to her husband is weakening Akeredolu’s health condition. “We rely on the western style of medical care, and Aketi (Akeredolu) will get well,” she added. The governor’s wife also accused Ms. Ademosu of scheming to become Ondo state Deputy Governor. “What has triggered this very message was her recent (sic) meeting to become the deputy governor of the state. Look at you! What have you got upstairs to be the deputy governor of Ondo (state)?” Mrs Akeredolu charged. She continued: ‘Peradventure if anything happens to Aketi, Lucky (Aiyedatiwa) takes over. It’s a constitutional thing, but not for you to be scheming.” While noting that she had always warned her husband to stay away from Ms. Ademosu, the first lady stated that she was ready to do everything possible to protect her husband, threatening to “deal with” the governor’s special adviser.
“I warned Aketi from day one that this woman is evil and not good. And it’s happening. She has nothing good. I’m warning her for the very last time to stay away from my husband. If you don’t know that you are dealing with an Igbo woman, and in this kind of situation, I will deal with you mercilessly. You’ll never forget in your life. You are a very terrible human being. Go away and enjoy your loot.” She ended the voice note.
The salacious tale and bitter tone in the voice note were too good to be true and as expected, it soon got leaked on other platforms and eventually in the media. Consequently, the Governor’s media team, after several denials in the past, was forced to issue a statement confirming that the Governor had been sick for some time but that there was no cause for anxiety in the state. ‘We have observed the growing anxiety about the state of health of the Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, CON. The good people of the State, and by extension, other friends and well-wishers continue to express concern over the wellness of the Governor. We are constrained to respond to these concerns and assure our people that by the grace of God, there is no cause for alarm about the Governor’s state of health.
Governor Akeredolu, just like every other mere mortal, has had some health challenges for which he has since received treatment and recuperating speedily. Since the Governor is not a superhuman and the immunity his office enjoys does not extend to physical wellness or otherwise, the health issue is therefore not an unusual one. However, contrary to speculations and insinuations making the rounds, the Governor, though frail, is discharging his official functions. Mr. Governor is not faced with any life-threatening illness that would have encouraged any alleged conspiracy in his administration. He, in fact, held an Executive Council meeting with the Exco members till 4 p.m on Wednesday, 11th January, 2023, after the Security Council meeting where far-reaching decisions were taken on the escalated clashes in Ikare-Akoko.’
Several other voice notes have been released by friends and associates of Ms. Ademosu to lambast the First Lady but the woman in the eye of the storm has kept a dignified silence. In Akure in particular, and Ondo State in general, the frosty relationship between Arakunrin and the First Lady is indeed, an open secret. Their relationship has been a frosty one in the last few years to the extent that they could hardly be seen in public together. The First Lady, for the most part of last year, was in her home state, Imo, where she struggled to pick the APC Imo East senatorial ticket. She was forced to throw in the towel, alleging that the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, and forces in the party, wanted her out of the race. In a letter to the Party before withdrawing from the race, she stated that forces in the party in Imo State are bent on skewing the primaries in favour of a particular candidate.
Her foray into partisan politics at a time when her husband was seriously sick was frowned upon by many in Ondo State. A source confirmed to this reporter that it was Ademosu that was running around, taking care of Arakunrin and was with him during his medical trip to Germany. ‘The Governor is very close to the woman but whether they are dating or not is what I cannot confirm. But note that the woman is also not somebody’s wife and she is old enough to take care of herself,’ the source stated.
Many in Akure are also not happy with the overbearing attitude of the First Lady, whom they accuse of conduct beyond her office or power. There have been several occasions where the First Lady was said to have summoned contractors to give details of projects execution and in many instances, conducted on-site inspections of projects in the state. It was when contractors and senior government officials began to complain of the overbearing attitude of the First Lady that the First family got a way around the crisis by appointing their son, Babajide, as Director General of the Performance and Project Implementation Monitoring Unit, PPMIU, in the state. Babajide, without much experience, either in the public or private sector, was given an appointment far beyond his capability. On LinkedIn, he is profiled as President, Nigeria America Football Association, NAFA, part-time appointment, Co-founder, Nigeria Flying Labs, Co-founder of Emerging Communities, West Africa, as well as a Technical Consultant at Worley Parsons.
As it stands in Ondo State, the First Family is not only in charge, but in effective control. The Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, has learned how to survive by being humble and doing what he is delegated to do. He knows where his power starts and ends. Again, take political note of the last paragraph in her Excellency’s voice note. Even before his death, (God forbid) people are already scheming on who takes over as deputy governor once the present deputy steps in to complete their joint ticket. How sad!
Now, Ademosu’s family have written a letter to the Inspector General of Police, a copy of which was sent to the Director of State Security Service, DSS, warning that nothing must happen to their daughter. The Chairman, Elemo Adedipe Dynasty of Akure, Adedipe A.Olajide, in the petition, condemned the “outright threat to the life of our daughter”. Elder Olajide said the family would hold Betty “responsible and accountable should anything untoward happen to our daughter and/or her assets”.
The dynasty, however, empathized with Akeredolu as “he faces this unusual emotional stress from within his household at a time he has health challenges”. Elder Olajide also quoted a Bible verse that says “It is better to dwell in the wilderness than with a contentious and angry woman”. That speaks volumes.
But the man at the centre of the storm has maintained a dignified silence, preferring to focus on his job, and looking after his health. At 66, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, lawyer and senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN, is said to be suffering from blood cancer also known as Leukemia. Except for his frail look, he continues to discharge the function of his office without much controversy until Madam First lady called out Ademosu. The duo are adults and I believe that Mrs. Akeredolu should have taken her fight to her husband if there is anything amorous in his relationship with Ademosu. The ship of the state should, however, not suffer due to the infighting within the first family. We wish the Ondo State governor soonest recovery.
See you next week.