Farewell, Akeredolu!

DEATH is, no doubt, a necessary end for every mortal. Little wonder that Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN, CON, responded to the inevitability of death, taking a departure from the terrestrial plane. As his remains are committed to the mother earth today, we remember, with fond memories, the remarkable achievements of the people’s attorney and governor. Known for his infectious courage, distinctive bravery and uncommon assertiveness and bluntness in public discourses, Akeredolu was said to have succumbed to the vicissitudes of leukemia and prostate cancer while on treatment in a German hospital. His death, indisputably, left a big vacuum, comparable to the space created by a fallen Iroko tree in a bush.       

AS an outstanding legal practitioner, culminating in his conferment of the title of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Akeredolu’s influence loomed large, as he also became the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), with his towering achievements informing the decision of the association to name its secretariat in Abuja after him in 2012.

THE public service life of Akeredolu started with his appointment as Attorney General in Ondo State between 1997 and 1999. He forayed into party politics in November 2011, when he was one of the aspirants for the governorship seat of Ondo State on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), but lost in the general election to the then incumbent governor, Olusegun Mimiko. With his unfulfilled dream, he tried his luck again and emerged the candidate of the newly-evolved All Progressive Congress (APC) on  September 3, 2016, and went ahead to win the governorship election on  November 27,  2016. In his campaigns, he promised that his priorities would include agricultural development, improvement of education, job creation, improved roads, free education and primary health care.     

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AKETI, which was his political sobriquet, and ‘Mr. Talk and Do’ that his supporters fondly called him, got re-elected and sworn in for a second term on  February 24, 2020, with his administration programme framed on the REDEEMED agenda. While in the saddle for close to seven years, Akeredolu attempted to move Ondo State from a civil service state, improved  the internally generated revenue, constructed well-drained roads and built infrastructures. He passionately pursued the project of the Deep Seaport for the state, and got approval from the Federal Government. He massively renovated primary schools, recruited teachers, and expanded the health  sector, with the UNIMED Annex in Akure witnessing uncommon revamping.

THE administration of Akeredolu creatively funded tertiary institutions in the state, with the Olusegun University of Science and Technology in Okitipupa brought out of the abandonment the immediate past administration consigned it to. His regime settled the seven-months salary owed workers by the Mimiko administration, and emplaced a friendly welfare package for workers. Akeredolu also tried to rewrite the negative stories of pension and gratuity in the state, and evolved a health care insurance scheme for workers.

AKEREDOLU  built the Redemption Bridge in Ore, and initiated another one at Onyearugbulem intersection in Akure. He attracted investors into the state, with the Ore industrial park hosting companies like Linyi Dongstar & Export Co, Ltd and others. The egg factory being constructed in Emure-Owo is also underway. In the area of agriculture, Akeredolu provided noticeable supports to farmers, giving inputs and grains to reinvigorate their activities. His administration staged a cocoa revolution, with the 2, 000 hectares of land acquired to establish cocoa plantations at Ijugbere in Ose Local government, meant to return the state to a leading producer of cocoa in Nigeria, if not for the insecurity  threats against the initiative.

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AS Nigeria grapples with palpable insecurity, one distinctive achievement of Akeredolu in the southwest was the role he played as the chairman of the governors’ forum to vigorously push for the establishment of Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Operation Amotekun, to respond to the spates of maiming and killings in the region. Akeredolu earned national, if not global, respect as the Amotekun General, as he led the movement frontally, and funded the security outfit robustly in Ondo State. The reduction in crimes and criminality in the State is a testimony to the onerous commitment of Akeredolu.

AKEREDOLU was noted for his frankness on national and global issues, including volatile ones, unlike other politicians that are double-tongued. It is on record that Akeredolu stoked national debates about insecurity and general belief that Fulani herders were responsible for mindless killings across the country, including the southwest, even at a time that his political interest was on the balance in the court.

HE was also very vociferous as he led the campaign for power shift to the south in 2023, at a time when power brokers from the north were ambivalent in their posturing. He was unequivocal on the need to restructure Nigeria to have true federalism, as against what he considered a unitary government, with devolution of power to the sub-nationals and tinkering with the revenue allocation formula that is skewed in favour of the government at the centre. Akeredolu was down-to-heart and fearlessly courageous!

ARGUABLY, as we bid Akeredolu goodbye, so much is to be learnt from his person, ideology, courage and forthrightness by both contemporary political players and future generation. The sacrifices he made for Ondo State, Nigeria and humanity would engender a better present and more prosperous future in all spheres of human endeavours. Farewell, dear Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN, CON, the peoples’ General!                               

Farewell, Akeredolu!

Akeredolu goes home today

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