By Ezra Odogu
Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), died on Wednesday after months of battling illness reported to be leukemia.
Family and top government sources confirmed the death of the former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) president, who died at 67.
With his death, Akeredolu became the third Nigerian governor to die while in office after the former Kaduna State Governor, Patrick Yakowa and ex-Governor Mamman Ali of Yobe State.
On November 27, 2016, the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) announced Akeredolu as the winner of the Ondo State governorship election having polled 244,842 votes to defeat his closest rivals, Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who scored 150,380 votes and Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) who got 126,889 votes. He was sworn in as governor on February 24, 2017.
He won the battle to re-contest for the 2020 Ondo State governorship election after beating Olusola Oke, D.I. Kekemeke, Jimi Odimayo, Segun Abraham and others in the APC primaries.
On Saturday, October 10, 2020, Akeredolu was re-elected after polling 292,830 votes against his major opponents from PDP and the Zenith Labour Party, Eyitayo Jegede and Agboola Ajayi respectively. He was sworn in for a second term in office on February 24, 2021 alongside his new deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
Akeredolu had been out of office at least since June 2023 when he officially transferred power to Aiyedatiwa and proceeded on a 21-day medical leave in Germany.
The leave, which was supposed to end on July 6, 2023, was later extended indefinitely as the governor continued to receive treatment in Germany.
He later returned to Nigeria on September 6 and resumed at his private residence in Ibadan, Oyo State, to recuperate amid lingering crisis bordering on governance faraway in Ondo.
From Aiyedatiwa’s running battle with the state Assembly members who moved to impeach him, to the sacking of his media aides by the governor, the political crisis in the Sunshine State has headlined the dailies on a regular basis. It took the intervention of President Bola Tinubu to prevail on the lawmakers.
There were repeated calls from different quarters, asking Akeredolu to either resign or resume office, but his handlers continued to give an impression that things were under control.
It became abundantly clear that all was not well when Kayode Ajulo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, raised the alarm in November that some commissioners forged Akeredolu’s signature to approve documents. The claim was confirmed a few days later by the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Rasaq Obe.
On December 11, Akeredolu wrote to the state Assembly that he was proceeding on another medical leave. Although he handed over to his deputy, many have argued he should have resigned instead of transmitting power to Aiyedatiwa in acting capacity.
Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa served as governor of Kaduna State from 2010 to 2012 when he died in a helicopter crash. He was appointed deputy governor in July 2005, and returned as Kaduna number two citizen in the April 2007 election. He was sworn in as governor on 20 May 2010, succeeding former Governor Namadi Sambo who had been sworn in as vice president the day before.
Yakowa, 64, successfully ran for election as Kaduna Governor in the April 2011 poll and won. On December 15, 2012, Yakowa died in a helicopter crash along with the former National Security Adviser, General Owoye Andrew Azazi (rtd), while flying from Bayelsa State to Port Harcourt. They were returning from the funeral of Oronto Douglas’ father in Beyelsa when the incident occurred.
Others in the ill-fated helicopter crash were Dauda Tsoho and Mohammed Kamal, both aides, as well as the two pilots: Muritala Mohammed Daba and Adeyemi Sowole.
Yakowa’s deputy, Alhaji Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, was consequently sworn-in the following day as the state’s new governor by the state Chief Judge, Justice Rahila Cudjoe.
MAMMAN BELLO ALI
Mamman Bello Ali represented Yobe South Senatorial District between 1999 and 2007 and was the chairman senate committee on public account. He contested and won the governorship election in Yobe in 2007 under the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and was in office until his death in 2009. He died of leukemia while receiving treatment at a hospital in Florida, United States.