Akeredolu tests negative as intrigues deepen

•SSG resigns, replaced •’Deputy governor sponsoring protests’

ONDO State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has tested negative for COVID-19.

The governor told reporters at the Government House, Alagbaka, Akure, the capital, that he received the report in the early hours of Monday.

He described the virus as “real and deadly.”

The governor last week tested positive for the virus and went into self-isolation.

In his absence, Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi, who has left the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) where he is seeking the governorship ticket, demanded to be sworn in as acting governor. He gave a 21-day ultimatum.

Secretary to the Government (SSG) Ifedayo Abegunde also yesterday resigned. The governor promptly appointed Mr. Tayo Oluwatuyi as replacement. He will be sworn in today.

Akeredolu nominated Mr. Idowu Otutebi as commissioner.

The governor accused the deputy governor of  sponsoring protests against him in Akure and Abuja so that he could hand over to him, following his COVID-19 infection.

Abegunde said Akeredolu’s victory in 2016 was manipulated.

Speaking on a radio programme monitored in Akure, the former SSG said he regretted working under Akeredolu in the last three and half years, saying he was exposed to hardship.

He said there was a cold war between him and the governor, adding that he quit the administration due to maltreatment.

Abegunde said he was unable to cater for the needs of his followers because the governor refused to release grant to his office.

He said: “Akeredolu didn’t win the election in 2016, but we made it possible for him to become governor. We were the pillars behind him and we will not support him again. He will lose this time around.”

Reacting to the allegation that he got N5 million monthly as grant, Abegunde, who disagreed with the governor, demanded for evidence.

His words: “I was suffering in his administration because he didn’t release any fund for my office grants. He has been telling lies that he was giving me N5 million every month even when he knew he didn’t give me such money.

“Where on earth did the governor give me such funds? Recently, I reported him to Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and he promised to invite both of us to Abuja for settlement. I remember that I told Fayemi that I was going to spit on the face of Akeredolu, if he repeated the lie that he was giving me N5 million monthly, and I would then return to Akure to resign and as well inform the public of his looting sprees.

“The government of Akeredolu is making the entire people of the state to suffer and I cannot be part of that any longer. Everyone is suffering. He doesn’t pay salaries at the right time. As a matter of fact, Akeredolu has not performed to the expectations of the masses apart from the roads he is building.

“Akeredolu has turned former Governor Mimiko to a saint with his own abysmal performance. We now see that Mimiko did well as governor because he gave his people enough funds to enable them cater for the needs of their own supporters. I had worked with three governors, and I can say that in the history of Ondo state, Akeredolu is the worst governor”

Abegunde said the people that enjoyed the government are Akeredolu’s wife, son and in-laws from Imo State.

He said: “Akeredolu has reduced the government to the property of his wife, son and in-laws from Imo state. All the contracts in the state are being given to his wife, son and the people from Imo state”.

Abegunde denied dumping the ruling APC, saying that he is supporting Mr. Segun Abraham, a governorship aspirant.

However, Akeredolu denied the allegations by the former SSG that he gave all contracts to his in-laws.

The governor said the allegations were laced with fabrications and falsehood.

He said it was Abegunde’s pervasive acts that haunded him and others out of his administration.

Speaking through his Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity, Ojo Oyewamide, the governor said he never awarded a single road contract to any contractor of Igbo extraction.

Akeredolu said documentations relating to contracts execution were not hidden.

He added: “This is far from the truth. Aside the temptation to dismiss this unsubstantiated claim by the facilitators of the imaginary scenario, the fact that such was coming from those whose pervasive acts have haunded them out of government is enough to ignore the story.

However, it is pertinent to aver that there is no single road contractor of Igbo extraction. Anyone with evidence of such should kindly avail the public of same.

“Documentations relating to contracts execution are not hidden. They are public and therefore, subject to public scrutiny. All road contractors in the state are well known and have nothing to hide.”

Akeredolu also raised the alarm over an alleged plot by his deputy, Agboola Ajayi, to sponsor mass protests against him, with a view to forcing him to hand over power.

The governor, who spoke through his Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, said intelligence report confirmed that funds had been released for the protest, which will begin tomorrow in both Akure and Abuja.

He said Ajayi was in a hurry to unseat him through the backdoor by creating a situation of crisis in the state.

The governor explained that one of the protests would be held in Akure by mobilising fake student leaders and ‘miscreants” to stage “Occupy Alagbaka Government House” while the second protest was planned to hold at the National Secretariat of the APC in Abuja.

He urged parents to restrain their children from participating in illegal political demonstrations.

Ojogo said: “He (Agboola) has released some funds to a fake students’ union activist to organise protests against Mr Governor to be tagged ‘Occupy Alagbaka Government House’.”

“The said activist is a former aide to the governor but working in the Office of the Deputy Governor. He was sacked recently; the first phase of the protest is on Wednesday (this week) and another will be held in Abuja at the APC National Secretariat, we have briefed the security agencies appropriately.

“This is not the first time the deputy governor will be planning to take over power desperately, last year when the governor was recuperating, he made similar move. We sympathize with him in his desperation for power, he should wait for God’s appointed time for him.

“God will continue to sustain Mr Governor to deliver on his mandate for the people of the state.”

Ajayi, who described the allegation as the figment of the imagination of a drowning government, said it was not only untrue but reckless, provocative and an attempt to portray him as a man desperate for power at all cost.

He said Akeredolu could do anything to whip up sentiment and remain relevant.

Ajayi noted that the actions and utterances of some political office holders in the state were dangerous to democracy.

He said: “The public should take note that the latest allegation against the deputy governor of Ondo State comes few days after a Special Adviser to Governor Akeredolu boasted on a radio programme in Akure that the government would do anything, including taking extra-constitutional measures to impeach an elected deputy governor. The same spokesman had earlier issued an official release that the governor will not handover the reins of government to the deputy governor because he has declared interest to govern Ondo State in another political party.

“Let it be known to lovers of democracy and good governance that if anybody is a threat to good governance, it is those who through their actions and inactions have personalised governance at the detriment of the people of the state.”

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