By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
It’s the season again. The daggers are out from all corners. The naysayers are firing on all cylinders, deploying all the weapons in their lean armoury to cut Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, to sizes simply because he is seeking re-election for a second term in office. Will they fail? Definitely.
Has the Governor committed any offence by so doing? Of course, no offence committed. Akeredolu is only exercising his right as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. A Governor and the President have the right to two term limits of four years each per term so long their political party nominates them to contest.. No doubt, second term is not automatic. The Governor or the President has to earn it. And that will only be decided by the electorates.
Does Akeredolu deserve his mandate renewed? Absolute yes, without much ado. This is the will of the majority of the people in Ondo State. And Come October 10, the will of the people will and must prevail, other things being equal. As they say, one good turn deserves another.
Be that as it may, the crux of this intervention is more about the crude dirt being thrown at the First Family by some disgruntled opposition elements and their insufferable allies on the social media. Evidentially, Governor Akeredolu has done well in his first term in office using all standard metrics of assessment of governance.
Now, to the main issue: For crying out loud and at the risk of being immodest, who will have the likes of Mrs Betty Anyanwu Akeredolu as the First Lady of any state in Nigeria and won’t be proud of her in terms of the value addition, creativity, innovation and support system she contributes to the administration of her husband, the Governor, without holding a statutory office beyond being a supportive wife to her husband?
How exactly will anyone downplay the vitality of her NGO, Breast Cancer Awareness of Nigeria(BRECAN) to the campaign about cancer in the state and the nation at large, the enlightenment and succor, financial and otherwise, the organization helps to provide for women of Ondo State who are afflicted by the dreaded disease? All these she does using her personal funds and donations from her development partners, absolutely at no cost to the state government purse for the benefit of the commoners in the state!
It’s on record that her pet project, BEMORE, essentially for the empowerment of the girl child, has reshaped the lives of thousands of girls in the state and beyond for good in terms of empowerment in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), computer programming, coding, training in renewable energy generation especially in solar energy production, bead making, among other several trainings in vocational skill acquisitions.
Today, a lot of the beneficiaries of the BEMORE initiative,that has been running for three years now, are gainfully employed while some have become employers of labour in their respective locations contributing meaningfully to the socio-economic development of the state. If this is not value addition to governance, then the naysayers must be from another planet where value creation has a totally different meaning beyond the ken of mortals.
Without sounding patronizing, it must be stated that the current First Lady is the most engaged and engaging First Lady in the annals of history of Ondo State. And this is without any slight to her predecessors in office. Mrs Akeredolu, popularly called Mama Digital by her admirers because of her dexterity in the deployment of the digital space to drive advocacy and activate good governance, has got a lot on her plate, all geared towards creating empowerment for the people of the state.
If my memory serves me right, this is the first time in the history of the state that widows are being taken care of by any First Lady, again at no cost to the state government. Widows, God rest the souls of their departed husbands, our fathers, devoid of any political coloration, in all the 18 local government areas of the state, during the lockdown triggered by COVID-19 pandemic were all adequately taken care of by Mama Digital. All they needed to do was to register online in a portal created specifically for them and the rest is history. Going forward, post-COVID-19, the widows will still be taken care of by the First Lady. What else can we ask for?
As for Babajide Akeredolu, a young man of 30 years old, with the best of education money can buy, all acquired before her dad became Governor and the father being Governor, yet remains anonymous and quiet, that should tell any discerning mind the sort of pedigree the Akeredolus have. Truth be told, how many 30-year-old of Babajide’s ilk can remain gentleman and unassuming in the face of the power and influence their parents command? Mr and Mrs Akeredolu must be commended for the upbringing of this young man.
Going by the privilege of the information at my disposal, Babajide, more known as Babse in informal circles, even without an official portfolio, which is not against the Constitution by the way, has also impacted significantly on the administration of his father in a lot of ways. Someday, when his father will no longer be in power and the history of how Ondo-Liyin Industrial Hub, now providing employment to hundreds of Ondo Indigenes, will be told, came to be, Babse’s name will get a honorable mention.
Again, mostly behind the scene, and in his usual characteristic anonymous manner, Babajide Akeredolu, has done well to advance and project the image of the administration of his father in the last three and half years without rubbing it in the face of anyone.
For those who are quick to draw references from the saner clime, there is nothing absolutely wrong in having relations of government leaders who are competent take up certain responsibilities as long as there is no conflict of interest. Akeredolus, none of the direct relations of the Governor is even an appointee of the administration. Why the hate? Where is the bile coming from?
Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Donald Trump of the United States of America is a top policy advisor to her dad. Her husband, Jared Kushner, is the US Envoy to the Middle East where he is currently making waves with regards to a new peace deal he is trying to broker between Isreal and Palestine, two perpetual warring neighbors.
Robbert Kennedy, younger brother of J. F Kennedy, former President of the United States of America, who was assassinated while in office, was the Attorney General of the US when his older brother was the President. A younger brother of the current Prime Minister of Britain, Boris Johnson, was in the cabinet of his elder brother until he resigned in pursuit of private interests. One can also recall the place of the Ghandi Family in the political destiny of India. Coming to Africa, Winnie Mandela was everyhwere defending the cause of black South Africans while her husband, the late iconic Nelson Mandela, was President of South Africa. Mrs Zuma, as recently as one can recall, also served while her husband, Jacob Zuma, held sway as President of South Africa.
I have gone this length, with references, to assert without equivocation that relations of government leaders can serve in governemnt as long as they are competent, qualified and will always bring something new and dynamic to the table. Luckily for the people of Ondo State,the Akeredolus have got all what it takes to lead and govern properly. Even at that, the First Lady and her humble son, Babse, are contributing hugely without any fuss to the administration of the Governor. Let them be, please.
Adeleye sends this piece from Akure via firstname.lastname@example.org