In the same way as his forebears Agagu and Adefarati, the late Rotimi Akeredolu has walked icily to the afterlife. Akeredolu, a prosperous lawyer who entered politics in order to make a significant contribution to the betterment of society and the fortification of institutions, has now, with heavy heart, given up everything he had ever wanted.
Akeredolu would be pleased with himself that he came, saw, and conquered as he sets out on this lone and icy trip to the hades. He buried his parents after seeing them grow elderly. He passed away while acting as governor of his home state of Ondo and as a prosperous lawyer. The knowledge that he would be buried in splendor, surrounded by family and friends, and that his life would be preserved in a compilation of moments from the courts and the nation he cherished would be consoling.
After a protracted and vigorous struggle with leukemia and prostrate cancer, late Akeredolu, a strong and brave man, passed away on Wednesday morning. He was a man of several events and pasts. He attained the highest professional award in law by becoming a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, or SAN. His first attempt at politics was a gubernatorial poll.
Prior to running for the top job, he had no aspirations for lower jobs. He did not miss a stone in his pursuit. To achieve his goals, Aketi, as he was affectionately known, had to battle Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his political godfather who is currently President of Nigeria. Against all odds, he pursued his desired position and put in a lot of effort to realize his dream. He actually did. He became the Governor of Ondo State.
The discord between Akeredolu and Tinubu
A guy of many parts was Rotimi Akeredolu. He also did not manage to avoid life’s traps. He was Bola Tinubu, his political godfather,’s favorite in 2012. After abandoning him four years later, Tinubu took up Olusegun Abraham, another political son, whom he anointed. Why did Tinubu abandon Akeredolu? I don’t know if Tinubu later told him. A question that many political experts have wondered about and are desperate for a solution to.
Due to this, Tinubu’s political opponents, John Oyegun (the APC chairman) and Bukola Saraki (the Senate President), were allied with Akeredolu, forcing him out of his camp. The reason the once-happy relationship between the politician father and son soured is still a mystery to everyone. But, late Akeredolu was fortunate to have a grin.
By unseating his political godfather’s chosen candidate, he almost completely destroyed the party. Asking Oyegun to step down for “sabotaging the will of democracy in Ondo State by sending the name of Rotimi Akeredolu to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) against the decision of the appeal panel that demanded for a fresh governorship primary election in the party,” Tinubu blasted Oyegun’s leadership for its alleged manipulation.
Akeredolu remained still. He possessed boldness and bravery. He persevered in the face of hostility from Bola Tinubu and his core supporters at the time, including Aregbesola, Akinwunmi Ambode, and the late Abiola Ajimobi. They abandoned his campaigns and backed Alliance for Democracy (AD) candidate Olusola Oke.
When Tinubu endorsed a candidate before the primaries, Akeredolu shot back, staring directly into the eyes of his political father. While refuting claims that he was forced to support Olusegun Abraham during the state’s 2012 guber primary, he went on to say that Tinubu’s decision to side with Abraham was a sign that he had lost his status as the party’s national leader. Finally, he emerged victorious and Bola Tinubu was present at the swearing-in event.
Akeredolu was born on 21 July 1956 in Owo to Reverend J. Ola Akeredolu of the Akeredolu family and Lady Evangelist Grace B. Akeredolu of Aderoyiju family of Igbotu, Ese Odo, in Ondo State.
Akeredolu started his primary education at Government Primary School in Owo. He proceeded to Aquinas College in Akure, Loyola College in Ibadan and Comprehensive High School, Ayetoro, for his secondary school education and Higher School Certificate, respectively. He went on to the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) to study Law and he graduated in 1977. He was referred to the Nigerian Law School in 1978.
He served as president of the Law Students’ Society and was a member of the National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS).
Akeredolu began his legal career as a junior counsel at the law firm of Alex Ibru & Co. He was appointed Attorney General of Ondo State from 1997 to 1999. In 1998, he became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He was Chairman of the Legal Aid Council (2005–2006). In November 2009, he faced allegations of corruption when the Bar Association’s third Vice-President, Welfare Secretary and Assistant Financial Secretary circulated a petition entitled “Complaints against your fraudulent manifestations, violation of the NBA”.
Subsequently, the allegations against him were reviewed and dropped by the National Executive council of the Nigerian Bar Association.
Rotimi Akeredolu contested the Ondo governorship election in 2012 on the platform of the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) but lost to Olusegun Mimiko. He was the first interim chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo (2014).
He ran again in 2016 as the APC candidate and won the election, defeating Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the governorship election. Akeredolu was re-elected for a second term in 2020 despite facing challenges within the party and allegations of ill health.