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Sack of aide in Ondo APC puts Akeredolu on the spot

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Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu. Photo/Twitter/GOVONDO


As Party Men Query Constitutionality Of Action
There was political drama within Ondo State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) and the cabinet of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu last week, as the Governor sacked one of his aides for sending a suspicious birthday greetings to wife of the Deputy Governor, Chief Mrs. Ajewole Ajayi. 

The wife of the Deputy Governor celebrated her birthday last Sunday. The event was attended by political leaders, though Akeredolu was away on a 9-day vacation, during which his Deputy, Agboola Ajayi acted. 

While other party members and well-wishers felicitated with Mrs. Ajayi, the Special Assistant to the Governor on Political Matters, Engr. Augustine Pelemo, joined others to celebrate her on his Facebook wall: “Happy Birthday to the Acting First Lady of Ondo State, Chief Mrs. Ajewole Agbola Ajayi, long may you live ma.”

The title, “Acting First Lady of Ondo State,” rocked the state and government circles and the aide was roundly accused of planting seeds of discord and mischief with a wry birthday wish. 

For the record, Pelemo was appointed the Special Assistant on Political Matters to Governor Akeredolu, but attached to the office of the Deputy Governor, Ajayi, who until the sack of the former was still an Acting Governor.

Some party supporters, especially the political apologists of the Wife of the Governor, Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, faulted the birthday wish and submitted that it was a deliberate attempt to spite the First Lady of the state. 

Less than 24 hours after the Facebook post, the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Donald Ojogo, in a statement issued to journalists on Monday, announced the sack of Pelemo. 

Ojogo asserted that: “This directive is with immediate effect; and it underscores the need to instill sanity and nip in the bud, divisive acts and tendencies inimical to the existing cordiality and cohesion in the administration led by the Governor.

“While wishing him well in his future endeavours, Mr. Governor further directs Pelemo to hand over every government property in his possession to the deputy chief of staff without further delay,” the statement read.”

Wielding a strong defence for the Governor’s action, which got a lot of criticism within the party, the Commissioner argued that Akeredolu has the prerogative to hire and fire, appoint and sack whosoever he deems fit in his cabinet. 

However, many APC loyalists, especially factions who are aggrieved and not in Akeredolu’s Aketi Team, described the sack of Pelemo as childish, brash and vindictive. They argued that such act is capable of causing more harm within the party, especially now that 2020 election is around the corner. 

A party chieftain, Mr. Tolu Babaleye, who expressed disbelief over the rationality of the sack said; “the sack may brew unnecessary crisis in the state as the offence heaped could have been overlooked. I have continued to wonder if Pelemo was wrong in semantics, term and principle looking at our conventions, as the Office of First Lady is not backed by any law but was created for convenience and to keep the wife of the Governor busy. 

“I am also surprised that this is an offence for which a Special Assistant on Political Matters can be sacked.”“I have also been searching for whoever sacked the aide on behalf of Aketi as I am aware that Aketi, the Governor, is not in the country and had handed over the state to his loyal Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi through an instrument communicated to the Ondo State House of Assembly.

“The question bothering my mind is: who sacked Engr. Austine Pelemo? Is it the Acting Governor or the Governor who is abroad or the Chief of Staff to the Governor who had handed over to his Deputy?”

For a very long time, the wife of the Deputy Governor has been conspicuously absent from public functions involving the First Lady, even avoiding her pet programmes such as BRECAN, FOWOSO and BEMORE Camps. 

Babaleye, alongside other political observers in the state, observed the huge distance between the two frontline ladies and attributed it to situations where old animosities have refused to go away.

“Another question is who is the First Lady of Ondo State at the moment in the absence of the Governor, whose Deputy is now the Acting Governor? I asked the last question because in my opinion, the Office of the First Lady is attached to the office of the Governor,” Babalaye queried. 

“Another issue bothering me is, where is the wife of the Deputy Governor (Now Acting Governor) who ordinarily is supposed to be to be assisting the First Lady?”He noted: “Even at the Villa, I do see the wife of Osinbajo assisting Aisha Buhari to plait her hair and do her headwear. I knew the wives of former Deputy Governor, Oluwateru, former Deputy Governor Ali Olanusi and the wife of Oluboyo, but I have never come across that of Agboola Ajayi assisting the Ondo State First Lady. Why?”

Based on the provisions of extant laws, he stated that the sack of the aide by Akeredolu while still on vacation was a flagrant abuse of the Rule of Law and an affront on the Office of the Acting Governor. “I have also observed that Donald Ojogo the Commissioner of Information has never referred to Agboola Ajayi as Acting Governor of Ondo State in any of his releases. I consider this an act of insubordination and disregard with flagrant disdain for the office the Acting Governor who is now the constituted authority. I call on the Acting Governor to issue query to Donald Ojogo for insubordination and abuse of office. 

“I call on the Acting Governor of Ondo State to  “Act” now and save the state from allowing a cabal to be build and grow in the absence of Arakunrin Akeredolu, by reversing the sack of Austine Pelemo, as the sack is improper and illegal (Yar’adua Saga is a lesson for us all). 

“Using the name of Akeredolu that is far away in Germany to sack an innocent aide for saying the truth and giving correct description is an injustice that should not be allowed to stand. Ondo State belongs to us all and shall soon become our place of pride.

But the Assistant Publicity Secretary of the party, Ayodele Gbenga Oladimeji, argued that the governor did not act in contravention of the Constitution, saying “Someone was sacked on the 7th of October by the Governor and you say it ought to be the Deputy Governor because the Governor was on leave.”

Oladimeji presented the document signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Ifedayo Abegunde to back his claim, but could not provide the letter of resumption of the Governor. He added, “However, the Governor resumed from leave on the 4th of October.”

Another party faithful, Mr. Williams Fisayo, said: “The man should be blamed not the system. There was no time Mrs. Osinbajo was referred to as acting First Lady when her husband held forte for President Muhammadu Buhari in acting capacity.

“He should know by now that there is a lot of power complexity in the corridor of power, therefore one needs to be careful in what one says and action one takes.”

Fisayo explained the intricacies attached to political office, saying “I think it’s Law 4 in Book of Power that says, ‘Always say less than necessary in the process of impressing your master. “I pity him, he allowed his overzealousness to becloud his sense of political duty to the extent that he was unaware that his boss, Aketi had resumed office on the 4th and he posted his birthday message on the 5th. What a grave mistake.”

But Babaleye, who insisted that Akeredolu had not resumed formally as Governor if he had even arrived the state, described the defence from Oladimeji as “Ignorance of the highest order. Go and read Section 190 of the Constitution. The Governor needs to inform HoA that he has resumed. Where is the letter? Stop putting politics in everything.”


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