Last Thursday, February 18, 2021, the sixth civilian governor of Ondo state, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, drew the curtain on the executive council. It was time for members of the Akeredolu cabinet to exit the stage after about four years of serving the state and her people.
A few hours before the governor finally dissolved the council, it was an emotional moment, when at the extraordinary meeting, valedictory speeches were made, with cabinet members commending the governor and reliving the good moments they had together.
The exiting cabinet members took turns to pour encomiums on Akeredolu, commend the notable feats he achieved in his first tenure and offer their views of his personality. To all of them, Governor Akeredolu is a leader who has uncommon passion for developing the state. According to them, the governor ran the affairs of the state in the last four years with a sense of responsibility and patriotism. A view shared by all of them is that Governor Akeredolu is a courageous, audacious, blunt, truthful, sincere and compassionate leader.
Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Temidayo Oluwatuyi, shattered the impression that Akeredolu was an administrator whose approval is difficult to obtain. Oluwatuyi said to get Akeredolu’s nod for anything, you must be ready to deploy convincing arguments. Once you are able to prove the altruism of your proposal and how beneficial it is to the state and her people, be rest assured that you would get the governor’s approval, Oluwatuyi said.
The SSG recalled how he once secured the approval of his boss for 13 out of the 15 files he brought to him. He was then Commissioner for Natural Resources.
According to him; “When I came back from the governor with the approvals, some people wondered how I performed the miracle. To them, it was a miracle to have got the governor to approve 13 of the 15 proposals I brought to him. But I told them that all they needed to sway the mind of Mr. Governor was the ability to convince him.”
In the opinion of Chief of Staff to the governor, Olugbenga Ale, Akeredolu is a leader that cherishes merit. Ale said he was surprised when the governor appointed him as his CoS, because he did not lobby for any appointment. To him, Akeredolu is a thorough administrator, whose eyes don’t gloss over errors. He hailed the governor for being a good representative of Owo town, where he hails from. Ale, who is a retired permanent secretary, commended the governor for not politicising the state’s civil service.
Akeredolu, according to the CoS, is man who appreciates family values and loves his family. He said the way the governor protects and cares for members of his family is worthy of emulation.
The Head of Service, Oluwadare Aragbaye, said Akeredolu is a man who enjoys divine mercy. He ascribed the mercy of God to the purity of Akeredolu’s heart. Aragbaye, who described Akeredolu, as a compassionate man, said the governor always has deep feelings for people. Noting that Akeredolu is loyal to friends, Aragbaye said the governor always remembers people and keeps relationships.
The HoS thanked the governor for what he has been able to do for the state’s civil service and government workers. He hailed the appointment of 42 permanent secretaries by the Akeredolu administration, describing it as unprecedented in the history of the service. Aragbaye mentioned regular promotion as one of the gains of the service from the government.
Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, identified grace as the secret behind the string of successes that Akeredolu has achieved in life. Ojogo described the governor as a benevolent leader, saying he is one of the beneficiaries of his boss’ benevolence. Apart from saying Akeredolu possesses uncommon integrity, honesty and courage, Ojogo added that the governor’s bluntness is such that is rare in the country.
These qualities, according to Ojogo, are very difficult for ordinary minds and ordinary eyes to discern. Saying he counted himself lucky to be part of the modest lifestyle of Akeredolu and the modest but very lasting legacies and successes of his administration, Ojogo noted that the governor has never regretted any decision carefully articulated by him.
He said: “The most costly and most expensive of all gifts of nature is the rare grace of God. You possess it. And the grace of God cannot come without personal moderation and God-given wisdom. You are a man of grace. I congratulate you and I confess that grace.
“Office consumes intellectual capital. It does not create it. The best leaders are those who master the art of what decision to take at very critical moments. When you took certain decisions, as politicians, most of us were not happy.
“You made up your mind that you were not going to politicise governance. And one of the ways you did it was not to be frivolous in the award of contracts. You are very strict. Today, we are all happy because it bred good governance.
That was a sound decision you took.
“Another critical decision you took was the insistence that Amotekun must be launched. Today, it is a success story and I am happy for you. That was a sound decision that was taken and laced with courage.”
Commissioner for Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs, Omolola Fagbemi, is one of the women in the cabinet. Fagbemi described Akeredolu as a leader with a sense of humour, adding; “I will never forget your sense of humour, your unparalleled sense of humour that acts as a soothing balm for us each time we see you.”
She commended efforts of the governor’s wife, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, to change the fortunes of women in the state, when she said: “During this four-year tenure, women have had a better time under her. I am already sure this second term, you will continue to provide necessary financial logistics for her to continue her good work.”
Commissioner for Environment, Funso Esan, said: “After the election, I was sitting in my house in Lagos when you called me that ‘Mr. Esan, can you work with us?’ I replied: ‘In what capacity, sir?’ You said either commissioner or special adviser. Then I said, ‘I can work with you.’
You said, ‘thank you’ and cut your phone. It was the fourth day I saw my name as one of the commissioners.
“I am saying this because I thought if you don’t know anybody or if you don’t go and beg, you could not be given any appointment. But you did that without me asking for it.”
It is the view of Pastor Emmanuel Igbasan, Commissioner for Economic, Budget and Planning that Governor Akeredolu is a puzzling personality, adding: “You are an enigma and phenomenon. I need to give glory to God that I have a rare privilege and opportunity to be associated with you at this time. Men are not known where they stand in the time of comfort and convenience. But real men are known in the period of confusion and conflict. And you have come up sterlingly, as a leader in this generation.
“I need to congratulate the people of Ondo state on all the achievements that have been recorded in the past four years. And as one of your disciples, I will proudly wear the badge of our achievements with a deep sense of gratitude to God and to you.”
WHILE responding to the accolades showered on him, Governor Akeredolu spoke in his usual blunt manner. He said: “Except you chose to keep some things to yourselves, I’m not a perfect man. Nobody spoke about the fact that I’m a brash person. Nobody spoke about the fact that I am a very temperamental person. Nobody spoke about the fact that a number of times you people didn’t sometimes like my utterances.
“I know that there are a number of things I say that you didn’t like. I know that I am not a perfect person. I’m aware of it myself. I know my limitations. I’m aware of the fact that I could be temperamental. I know that I could run into problems at times. Knowing my limitations as an individual, I will choose this opportunity to appeal to all of you to forgive my inadequacies.”
Akeredolu thanked the council members for their services to the state and people, saying the achievements of his administration belong to all of them.
He said: “I can assure you, whatever it is, I can’t be governor and determine what happens in the Ministry of Agriculture. I can’t be governor and determine what happens in the Ministry of Budget and Planning. I can’t be governor and manage the Ministry of Finance. I can’t be governor and manage all the ministries and all the agencies. We must have made a mark. Don’t say I made a mark. We made a mark. That’s why, when they write news for me, I change it and put we. It is all of us.
“There is nothing we have achieved here without you. Nothing! Take it or leave it. Is it what you are doing in education? Am I there? I am not. Kamomi Aketi, will I follow you to drink water? I won’t. But somebody was there. He was not just there in the office, he was there on the field as they drilled boreholes. So, You must take credit for it. Whatever is our achievement, the credit goes to all of you and all of us. Not one person. Everybody here has contributed his own quota in no small measure. Everybody and I mean it.
“Whatever achievement we have made, it was a joint achievement. Not by Akeredolu alone. Akeredolu cannot be everything and I was never everything. Yes, the buck has to stop at my table. There are decisions you took, you don’t even tell me. Today, we talk about roads; we talk about infrastructure. Can Akeredolu be the one that did everything? It is not possible.”