Oluwarotimi Oduanayo Akeredolu, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has made history as the 17th governor of Ondo state, and the sixth civilian to attain that position.
In 2012, he ran on the platform of the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) but lost to Olusegun Mimiko, who handed over power to him on Thursday.
In November, he trounced Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the governorship election.
Dubbed Aketi by his political associates, the legal practitioner went into the primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) with so much confidence in the midst of storm.
In one of the last interviews he held before clinching the APC ticket, Akeredolu boasted that he knew the state better than Mimiko.
“I ran for an election, I toured round the 18 local government areas of the state more than once. The places I know now in this state, even the governor cannot claim to know them. I am very familiar with the politics of the state,” he had told PUNCH.
The primary was more like a rematch between him and Olusegun Abraham, his closest rival. In 2012, Abraham was pressured to step down for Akeredolu, but asked to do the same four years later, Aketi chose to allow the delegates decide his fate.
After the primary, a panel recommended the annulment of the exercise on the grounds of alleged irregularities, but Akeredolu managed to survive, as the national working committee (NWC) of the party waved aside the recommendation. The dust raised by that incident is yet to settle.
The Ondo primary shook APC to its foundation. Bola Tinubu, national leader of the party and Akeredolu’s estrange benefactor, had called for the resignation of John Oyegun, chairman of the party, over the manner he handled the Ondo primary.
DISAGREED WITH TINUBU
With Tinubu at a campaign rally when the going was good
There’s no permanent friend, or permanent enemy in politics, what you have is permanent interest. The buildup to the last governorship election in Ondo showed the worth of that saying.
In 2012, Akeredolu had a cordial relationship with Tinubu, whom many believed influenced his emergence as ACN flagbearer.
One of the issues that dominated the headlines during that campaign period was the public spat between him and Mimiko over Tinubu.
The lawyer had accused his rival of “forgetting so soon” how the “respected Nigerian democrat” assisted him during the hard times.
‘’Mimiko, now referring to the much-respected Nigerian democrat and political strategist, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as an emperor smirks of gross disrespect and crass ingratitude,” he had said in a statement issued by his campaign team,” he had said in a statement.
“One only hopes that the transient aroma of political power has not deluded the governor’s mind-set into forgetting, so soon, all the moral support he enjoyed from the latter in his most trying times.’’
Akeredolu did not even agree that Tinubu endorsed him in 2012.
“I don’t know those who are saying so; I don’t know what they mean by endorsement this time around. There was never a time that I was endorsed by anybody,” he had said in PUNCH interview.
“I keep explaining it to anybody that cares to listen that there was no time I was endorsed by anybody. We had a process that every candidate submitted to in 2012. That process is called caucus team. The caucus of the party interviewed and interacted with all those who had interests in being governor and by unanimous decision, the caucus team picked me.
“There was no issue of endorsement. I have never sought anybody’s endorsement. I have never asked anybody to endorse me.”
However, Tinubu was among the APC chieftains who witnessed the inauguration, meaning the rift could have been resolved.
NOBODY IS BORN A POLITICIAN
n a separate interview, the former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) punctured the argument that he is a green horn in politics.
“Nobody is a born politician. Because some people contested an election and won did not make them professional politicians. People came from various professional fields to contest for elections. That does not make them politicians. All of us have our first time. I have been in it for over four years now. So, that accusation would no longer be tenable,” he had told NATION.
On the 2012 campaign train with Babtunde Fashola, former Lagos governor and now minister of power, works and housing,
Born on July 21, 1956 to Ola Akeredolu, a reverend and Grace Akeredolu, a lady evangelist, Aketi started his primary education at Government School, Owo.
He attended three secondary schools: Aquinas College, Akure, Loyola College, Ibadan and Comprehensive High School, Ayetoro, where he obtained his Higher School Certificate (HSC).
He later gained admission into the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) to study Law, graduating in 1977. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1978.
He served as attorney-general of Ondo between 1997 and 1999. He was also chairman of the Legal Aid Council between 2005 and 2006.
He is married with four children. Akeredolu met Betty, his wife during the National Youth Service Corps.
The woman, who hails from Imo state, said it was love at first sight.
“It was during youth service, at a friend’s house in Enugu. Two youth corps members were visiting. One was visiting his girlfriend and Aketi accompanied him. It was love at first sight,” she recollected in an interview.
“I had always told my friends that the person who would be my husband, I would see him and my legs would start wobbling. And it happened that way. So I said if I could feel that way, then I would spend the rest of my life with this person and that was what happened. It was a mutual feeling and we knocked it off from there.”