IN the words of the Ondo State Government, it was indeed a sad day in Ondo, yesterday, as Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, died exactly 190 days after he was first flown out of the state to Germany for medication. He was 67.
In Akeredolu’s stead, his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, who took over in acting capacity two weeks ago, was sworn-in yesterday as substantive governor in a sombre ceremony.
He described Akeredolu’s death as a personal loss having worked with the deceased since 2012 when the governorship journey started, and promised to sustain the legacies of the late governor.
Announcing Akeredolu’s death earlier, the Ondo State Government, in a statement by the Information and Orientation Commissioner, Mrs. Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, described him as an extraordinary leader, lamenting that “it was a sad day in Ondo State.”
The statement read in part: “With a heavy heart, the Ondo State Government announces the tragic passing of our beloved Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, Mr. Governor peacefully departed from this world in the early hours of today, Wednesday, December 27, 2023.
“This tragedy has left behind a profound void in our hearts. Governor Akeredolu answered the eternal call while receiving medical treatment in Germany.
“He succumbed to complications arising from protracted prostate cancer.
“A letter has been sent to President Bola Tinubu, to officially inform His Excellency of this devastating news. The family and the Ondo State Government appreciate Mr. President for his support for Governor Akeredolu during his illness.
“The family and the state government will release further details regarding the funeral arrangements.“
“Governor Akeredolu was an extraordinary leader whose unwavering dedication to the state and its people was both commendable and unparalleled.
“He not only served as the Governor of Ondo State but also emerged as a prominent advocate for the entire South-West region and the nation.
“Akeredolu was a courageous leader and an exemplar of integrity. The weight of this loss is truly unbearable.”
Aiyedatiwa declares three days of mourning
Shortly after his swearing-in at 3.15 pm by Ondo State Chief Judge, Justice Olusegun Odusola, Governor Aiyedatiwa said he was accepting the role of becoming the number one citizen in the state with a heavy heart.
His words: “It is with a heavy heart that I accept this onerous responsibility of taking over the reins of governance and affairs of our state after the unfortunate loss and passing of our beloved governor and leader and my dear principal Arakurin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu.
“The death of our governor is indeed a devastating shock to us, as we have all been praying earnestly for his quick recovery and subsequent safe return to Ondo State, having embarked on another medical leave on Wednesday, 13th December 2023.
“Indeed, there is no armour against fate, death lays his icy hand on kings.”
Vowing to continue to sustain Akeredolu’s legacy of good governance, the new governor said he has the responsibility of completing the landmark projects that his boss started and continue to advance the welfare of Ondo people in every decision he takes.
“I want to assure the people of Ondo State that under my watch, this administration shall continue to advance the welfare of the people. We shall always place the people first in every decision we take.
“It is my prayer, once more, that God Almighty shall grant the family and the people of Ondo State the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss,” he said.
Tinubu, Atiku, Akpabio, governors, Akpata, PDP, NBA, AGF, others mourn
Akeredolu’s demise elicited an ocean of tributes in the polity with President Bola Tinubu taking the lead. Governors; the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA; Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; and Senate President Godswill Akpabio were among those who paid glowing tributes to Aketi.
I’ve lost a fearless brother —Tinubu
President Tinubu described Akeredolu as his beloved brother, confidant and political soulmate, a fighter and fearless defender of truth and the masses.
The President noted with nostalgia how Akeredolu broke down in tears on July 5, 2022, when marauding Fulani herdsmen attacked and killed no fewer than 40 worshippers at St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State, adding that his leadership qualities as a true statesman and compassionate leader radiated brightly to the world.
Tinubu’s tribute read in part: “It is a difficult task to have to pen a tribute and sing a dirge for a departing soul. It is a more difficult job in our African culture when one is compelled to do so for a younger person.
“Here am I having the difficult job of singing a dirge for Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, my beloved brother, confidant, political soulmate, and the Executive Governor of Ondo State.
“It is an impossible task to fully capture in words Rotimi’s towering figure and his human essence. Rotimi was a man who moved our nation towards equity, fairness and justice in his strident advocacy against every form of injustice in our country through the instrumentality of the law as a senior advocate, attorney-general of his beloved state, as President of the Nigerian Bar Association and Governor of Ondo State.
“Rotimi was a man of ideas and action. While he was with us, he taught us the power of action and service. His footprints dot the entire landscape of the state through the hundreds of kilometres of roads he built, the many schools he built, and healthcare facilities that he provided.
“Today, I mourn a fighter and fearless defender of truth and the masses. A gallant lawyer and one of the finest of the legal profession. I beckoned him to contest for the governorship position of Ondo State in 2012.
“His death is a blow to our governing APC and the progressive family as we are diminished by it.
“I hope that his successor Aiyedatiwa will hold steadfast to the vision of governance left by this towering political leader.”
Former AGF, Bayo Ojo mourns Rotimi Akeredolu
A former Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Bayo Ojo, SAN, described the late governor as a very brave, courageous and forthright statesman whose legacies would live after him for a very long time to come.
He said Akeredolu was a great Nigerian, an unimpeachable patriot, a sound legal mind, and a quintessential legal luminary of global reputation, whose death would mark the end of an eventful career of an exceptional Nigerian, whose love for country was exceptional.
Governors mourn Akeredolu
Governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, mourned one of their colleagues, Akeredolu, saying his death was an irreplaceable loss.
In a statement by the NGF Chairman and Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq, the state governors described Akeredolu as one who was loved by many and a true believer in justice and fairness.
“It is with a heavy heart that I, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, Chairman Nigeria Governors’ Forum NGF, on behalf of my colleagues and the entire staff of the Forum, commiserate with the family of our dear brother, friend and colleague, Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu CON (SAN) on his demise on 27th December 2023.
“Aketi was loved by many, a true believer in justice and fairness – a course he towed dearly to the very end. Amongst many, he was a voice of reason, one whose counsel resonated well and often brought succor.
“He was an accomplished Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a true democrat, and a believer in the new Nigeria project.“His humility and non-partisan stance for national interest to always prevail endeared him to many.
“We are indeed saddened by this irreplaceable loss and pray for the family and the entire people of Ondo State in this difficult time. May God in his infinite mercy ease your pain.,” the statement read in part.
Individually, Governors Ademola Adeleke (Osun), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Dr. Peter Mbah (Enugu) and Malam Dikko Umaru Radda (Katsina) penned soul-stirring tributes to Akeredolu saying he would be sorely missed.
We’ve lost a courageous, dogged fighter —Ondo Speaker
On his part, Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly, Olamide Oladiji, said Akeredolu was a courageous and visionary leader, who devoted his life and times to the service of humanity.
“He demonstrated leadership when occasion demanded. As a fearless and courageous leader, the late governor stood his ground in the defence of his people when threatened by insecurity, culminating in the birth of the Amotekun Security network,” he said.
Death of Akeredolu, Na’abba comes as a rude shock —Atiku
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, joined other prominent Nigerians to mourn Governor Akeredolu of Ondo State and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gali Umar Na’Abba.
In a statement shared by Dele Momodu, Atiku said the death of the duo came as a rude shock to him: “It was a rude shock and sadness that I read about the passing of Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gali Umar Na’Abba. Governor Akerodolu was a quintessential gentleman who took finesse to governance,” he said.
It’s a national loss —PDP
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Debo Ologunagba, said: “Akeredolu was a courageous and amiable personality, brilliant lawyer and outstanding administrator with deep understanding and capacity for leadership especially in his roles towards the unity, stability and development of the nation.
“His death is a huge national loss. He was an unrepentant fighter for Fairness, Equity and Justice in the affairs of the nation. He believed in true federalism, respect, defense and protection of ethnic nationalities which he advocated as prerequisite for peace and development in our nation.“
Akeredolu has left a significant void in our political landscape —Ganduje
National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, said that Akeredolu had left a void in the nation’s political landscape.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Edwin Olofu, the APC chairman said Akeredolu left “behind a remarkable legacy of dedication towards the development and betterment of Ondo State.”
Ganduje said the deceased was an accomplished lawyer and advocate for progress, noting his unwavering commitment to steering the affairs of the state and tireless efforts to improve the lives of his people.“
Nigeria, Yoruba lost a courageous, honest leader —Ooni
To the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the late politician was a honest, and courageous leader, whose death was a monumental loss to the Yoruba race and Nigeria as a whole. Oba Ogunwusi in a statement he personally signed said Akeredolu was an epitome of courage and honesty.
His words: “The Oduduwa race have just lost a pillar of honesty and courage, a man who served humanity with his expertise as a law luminary, experienced politician and a true descendant of Oduduwa.
“When we were challenged at the grassroots by invaders who masqueraded as herdsmen, Aketi worked with stakeholders across the southwest and the national level to deliver our mandate of security and prosperity. This birthed Amotekun and other initiatives through which our people are safer and more confident to embark on their lawful businesses daily.
“He was an honest, bold and courageous leader whose legacy will never be forgotten. If Akeredolu tells you anything, that is the way it is. His death is a personal loss to me because we were very close right from our days as students of Loyola College, Ibadan till date. In fact, he did a legacy project for the school through which his name will forever be remembered.”
Akeredolu was an Iroko, a nationalist, Akpabio, Sani
President of the Senate, Senator Godwill Akpabio, described Akeredolu as “a nationalist and the Iroko of the Sunshine State.
“In a condolence message issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Eseme Eyiboh, Akpabio said that Akeredolu was a leader who knew his onions and was indeed the Iroko of Ondo state as he defended the state with all his strength as governor.“ Akpabio eulogized the late governor whom he said spent his active life fighting for justice, fairness and equity, saying that as a nationalist, “Akeredolu believed in true federalism, which he pursued with passion and vigour.”
Also the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Sani Musa, APC, Niger East, described Akeredolu as a visionary leader whose commitment to the development and growth of Ondo State was evident in his numerous achievements. He said that the death of Akeredolu has left a gap in the political and governance landscape of the nation.
NBA pays tribute to Akeredolu
The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, in its tributes by its President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, said: “It is with a heavy heart that I pay tribute to Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN (Aketi), the governor of Ondo State and past president of NBA, whose transition took place on December 27, 2023, after a protracted ill-health.”
He variously served as Secretary and Vice Chair of Ibadan Branch and went on to become the 24th President of the Association from 2008 to 2010 – one of the most influential and courageous Presidents ever to lead the NBA. The late learned Senior Advocate also served the nation in various other capacities at different times, one of which was as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice from 1997 to 1999 and later as two-term Governor from 2017 till his demise.
How Akeredolu became fourth Nigerian governor to die in office
WITH his demise, yesterday, at 67, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, of Ondo State became the fourth state helmsman to die in office.
The first governor to die in office was Shehu Kangiwa of old Sokoto State. The youthful Kangiwa was a sportsman. He died while playing his favourite sport-Polo, in January 1982.
It took 30 years for Nigeria to witness another death of a serving governor. In 2012, Governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa of Kaduna State, the first and only Christian to rule Kaduna was killed alongside five others in a helicopter crash in Ogbia Creek, Bayelsa State.
Yakowa was deputy to Architect Namadi Sambo. He was sworn in as governor when Sambo was made vice president to Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
Seven years after Yakowa, Governor Mamman Ali of Yobe State died in a Florida hospital, United States in 2019 two weeks after he travelled to the country to treat Leukemia.
Akeredolu’s expiration, yesterday, after a protracted illness, came four years after Ali’s death.
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