Friday, June 14, 2024

Are There No Honorable Men In Ondo?

To all extents, Rotimi Akeredolu, the governor of Ondo State is what many would refer to as “educated” and “enlightened.” It, therefore, follows that someone who has served as a former Attorney General in Ondo state and a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association would naturally (without needless prompting or stalling) be expected to do the right and, more importantly, the honourable thing, especially if such a thing is also constitutional. Unfortunately, the frailty of morality and character means that even the best of us tend to have the worst human tendencies unleashed when so much is at stake.

For so long, the political climate in Ondo state has remained unnecessarily heated up and charged with uncertainty. For months, the state has been caught in the throes of a political impasse, a tangled web of ambition, illness, and the insatiable hunger for power. At the heart of this storm stands Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, a man clinging to his office with a tenacity that borders on desperation. Akeredolu’s refusal to hand over the reins of power to his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, even in the face of ill health that has confined him to overseas treatment and recuperation outside the state, has cast a long shadow over Ondo’s political landscape. Some have even whispered that the situation may be orchestrated by a shadowy cabal, eerily reminiscent of the Yar’Adua era in Aso Rock.

But what drives this relentless pursuit of power, this refusal to relinquish control even when the frailties of health become glaringly evident? The answer, unfortunately, lies in the tragic reality that has plagued many developing nations: the insatiable thirst for personal gain and the intoxicating allure of absolute power, control, and authority. For many leaders in Nigeria, power is not merely a means to serve; it is a pathway to personal enrichment and the consolidation of wealth. It grants access to resources, sustains patronage, and shields them from accountability. To surrender this power, even when ill health beckons, is to relinquish not just a position, but a way of life.

The irony, of course, is both heartbreaking and infuriating. These leaders, who cling to power with such ferocity, often seek medical care in foreign countries, far from the ill-equipped hospitals in their states that they have failed to invest in or develop. They fly to world-class health facilities abroad, leaving their citizens to grapple with inadequate healthcare systems. No wonder the average Nigerian daily wishes evil of biblical proportions upon the country’s leaders.

Nigeria’s health sector has done a great job of exposing the true priorities of the country’s leaders who generally believe that their health, well-being, and their own lives remain more valuable than the lives of their constituents – the very people they are supposed to represent and have sworn to serve. Nigeria’s leaders have done an awesome job of being dismissive of the suffering of Nigerians who are now seen as an afterthought, especially in the face of the politician’s ambition. The case of Ondo is not an isolated incident. It is a symptom of a wider malaise that afflicts the country’s 36 states. A quick poll will show that many citizens agree that there needs to be a day of special reckoning for the breed of leaders that Nigerians have been unfortunate to have over the years.

While news reports have said that the president may have waded into the situation, the latest update is that Governor Akeredolu has finally done the needful by officially transmitting power to the deputy governor. Unfortunately, Nigeria’s stock of honourable men and women has been severely depleted. Little wonder why the Ondo State House of Assembly lacked honourable men and women who failed to seize a rare opportunity, in a pivotal moment in history, to invoke relevant sections of the 1999 constitution (as amended) before the intervention by the president.

Precious Ohaegbulam is an African Liberty Fellow and a Columnist for The Avalon Daily

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