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S’West Governors Forum: Race to replace Akeredolu intensifies

Abiodun, Makinde tipped to lead Almost four months after the death of a former governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, governors from the South West…..READ THE FULL STORY HERE▶

Almost four months after the death of a former governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, governors from the South West geopolitical zone are yet to fill the vacuum in the chairmanship of the South West Governors Forum. But Daily Trust Saturday reports that the race to replace the late chairman of the forum has intensified behind the scene.

The legal luminary, popularly called Aketi, was vocal and daring in matters that concerned the South West when he led the forum, not minding whose ox was gored, thus making his shoes difficult to fill, especially as the president of the country now comes from the region and all eyes are fixed on what positions the states in the zone would take when it comes to national and sub-national issues.

Aside from never taking ‘no prisoners’ on matters that affect the South West, the formation of the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN), code-named Amotekun, which he spearheaded, was a major feat achieved during his term as the chairman of the forum. The formation of Amotekun in 2020 was a response to the security breaches across the South West states that security agencies could not control.

Given the back and forth the governors went through with the federal government before the formation of the regional security outfit, the eventual consent of the federal government was seen as a victory for the region’s governors and the never-say-never of its then leader.

Akeredolu, despite being a leading member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), damned all the consequences and confronted the Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government, which was obviously not disposed to the formation of the outfit.

He had stepped on the toes of the Miyyeti Allah’s leadership when he gave a quit notice to herders in his state. Under his leadership, the state passed the anti-open grazing law, which barred open grazing by herders in the state; and he ensured that other states in the region replicated same.

As the chairman of the governors of the South West, his leadership also brought his colleagues in the zone together to jointly address issues of regional and economic integration.

But after his demise, the leadership of the forum has been left void.

Among the South West governors, there are two Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors, including Seyi Makinde of Oyo State and Ademola Adeleke of Osun, while others are of the APC.

Among the three other governors, two are second-timers: Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos and Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, while Biodun Oyebanji of Ekiti is just serving his first term. Lucky Aiyedatiwa, who succeeded the deceased governor as required by the constitution, is not favoured to lead the forum, which he has not been well acquainted with, observers noted.

Findings by Daily Trust Saturday revealed that Governor Abiodun is the bookies favourite as Akeredolu’s replacement. The other names being put forward are Makinde and Sanwo-Olu.

Although all the six governors from the region have not formally decided on the next chairman, Daily Trust Saturday reports that Abiodun has tacitly placed himself for the role.

On December 29, after the death of Akeredolu, it was Abiodun who led the South West governors on a condolence visit to the Ibadan residence of the former governor.

Addressing newsmen after signing the condolence register, Gov Abiodun, who spoke on behalf of others, said they would be collectively involved in Akeredolu’s funeral ceremony, adding that he truly deserved it.

Daily Trust Saturday also recalls that on January 19, after the deadly explosion that claimed several lives in Ibadan, Abiodun spoke in a manner suggesting that he was speaking for the South West Governors’ Forum, declaring that governments of South West states would not be deterred by the explosion.

He said Ibadan was strategic for every Yoruba person given its historic importance, adding that governments of South-West states would not be deterred by the tragic incident but would “jointly intensify security across states to ensure that our people are safe.”

Speaking with Daily Trust Saturday, the Special Adviser on Information and Strategy to Governor Abiodun, Kayode Akinmade, was silent on whether or not Abiodun will put himself forward for the role.

He, however, said the governors have the prerogative to decide who to lead them at any point in time.

He said, “That will be the decision of the governors. They will meet and decide who is to lead them. It’s not a position you can contest for.

“It’s the prerogative of the governors and in this case, all of them, i.e South West governors, are eminently qualified to lead as chairman. The criterion to be used is best known to them. There is a way they do their things that is not known to everyone. So, the governors will meet and decide who to lead them at any critical moment.”

Analysts said some odds favoured him as the next chairman against Makinde and Sanwo-Olu.

Those with inside knowledge told our correspondent that President Bola Tinubu, being from Lagos State, has nullified Sanwo-Olu as the would-be chairman of the forum.

Also, the Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Debo Ogundoyin, is the current chairman of the Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures. Sources said the slot was conceded to Makinde due to his romance with the ruling party and that “ordinarily, the APC should have clinched the slot” against Ogundoyin, a member of the PDP.

But a former member of the House of Representatives rated Makinde and Sanwo-Olu over Abiodun as the next chairman of the forum.

The former lawmaker, who pleaded anonymity, explained that the duo would be better off, going by their performances and commitment to leadership.

“The governors will have to meet and decide, but if you ask me, I will tip Makinde and Sanwo-Olu. This is because of their performance and activities; even Biodun or Oyebanji of Ekiti State too. It doesn’t matter that he is a first-time governor; he was secretary to the state government and had learned from his boss. I am talking about commitment and time,” he said.

A political scientist and former chief of staff to a former governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, Prof Emmanuel Ojo, said the next chairman of the forum should have passion for the development of the South West.

He said such governor must be able to galvanise the support of his colleagues to drive Odu’a investment, create jobs and tackle insecurity in the region by building on the legacy of Akeredolu.

He said, “I can tell you that some governors are too busy to take up that position.

“Also, leadership qualities matter; and whoever has been elected as governor of a state must have one or two qualities to have emerged.

“The most important thing is that whoever emerges as the chairman of the Governors Forum in the South West must have passion for the development of the zone. And to demonstrate that, such person should look at the Awolowo heritage and do something about it. Without passion for the South West, nothing can be done.”

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Baba Voss

A Prolific Writer, Vast In Series of Publications Basically on Politics, Entertainment, Sport, Life Style, Fashion, Business, Technology, Health, History etc.

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