Rotimi Akeredolu, the governor of Ondo State, died on Wednesday morning after a long battle with illness. The former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) died at the age of 67.
Akeredolu’s death brings the number of Nigerian governors who have died in office to three since the return of democracy in 1999. Others are the former Kaduna State Governor, Patrick Yakowa, and ex-Governor Mamman Ali of Yobe State.
Mamman Bello Ali
Mamman Ali was elected governor of Yobe State on the platform of the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2007.
He died of leukaemia while receiving treatment at a hospital in Florida, United States, in 2009.
Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa
Yakowa’s tenure as governor of Kaduna State, from 2010 to 2012, was tragically cut short in a helicopter crash at the age of 64.
His journey to the state’s top office began in July 2005 when he was appointed deputy governor, a role he returned to after winning the April 2007 election.
He took the oath as governor on May 20, 2010, succeeding Namadi Sambo, who had become vice president to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Yakowa cemented his place as governor with a successful election victory in April 2011. Unfortunately, fate intervened on December 15, 2012, when his helicopter crashed while returning from the funeral of Oronto Douglas’ father in Bayelsa. The tragedy also claimed the lives of former National Security Adviser General Owoye Azazi.
Akeredolu was elected as Ondo governor in November 2016 and subsequently sworn in on February 24, 2017.
The former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) won his reelection bid in October 2020.
However, his tenure has been marred by persistent health concerns. In June 2023, he embarked on a 21-day medical leave to Germany, which subsequently stretched indefinitely. This extended absence, coupled with his return and residence in Ibadan, Oyo State, fueled speculations and anxieties about his health and its impact on governance.
The political landscape in Ondo became increasingly turbulent during Akeredolu’s absence. Aiyedatiwa, the deputy governor, faced impeachment threats from the state assembly, while controversies surrounding media aide sackings and alleged document forgeries further destabilised the state. President Bola Tinubu’s intervention was needed to quell the assembly’s impeachment move.
The escalating crisis and the lack of transparency regarding Akeredolu’s health fueled calls for him to either resign or resume his position.
On December 11, Akeredolu wrote to the state assembly that he was proceeding on another medical leave and transmitted power to his deputy. Akeredolu was pronounced dead on December 27, 2023.