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Obituary: Oluwarotimi Akeredolu 1956-2023, from students’ leader to Governor

Akeredolu’s demise: The price for activism

The Ondo State Government has confirmed the death of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu after a prolonged battle with leukaemia.

Akeredolu, who died on Wednesday at the age of 67, is reported to have suffered from the cancer of the blood, known as leukaemia, which continued to deteriorate despite intensive medical care outside the country.

The medical issue, it was gathered, was complicated by prostate cancer.

Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, the Ondo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, in a statement made available to journalists in Akure, said; “With a heavy heart, the Ondo State Government announces the tragic passing of our beloved Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, CON.

“Mr. Governor peacefully departed from this world in the early hours of today, Wednesday, December 27, 2023. This tragedy has left behind a profound void in our hearts. Governor Akeredolu answered the eternal call while receiving medical treatment in Germany. He succumbed to complications arising from protracted prostate cancer.

“A letter has been sent to President Bola Tinubu, GCFR, to officially inform His Excellency of this devastating news. The Family and the Ondo State Government appreciate Mr. President for his support for Governor Akeredolu during his illness. The family and the state government will release further details regarding the funeral arrangements.

“Governor Akeredolu was an extraordinary leader whose unwavering dedication to the state and its people was both commendable and unparalleled. He served as the Governor of Ondo State and emerged as a prominent advocate for the entire Southwest region and the nation. Governor Akeredolu was a courageous leader and an exemplar of integrity. The weight of this loss is truly unbearable.

“However, we find solace in the knowledge that Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu lived a purposeful life, devoted to the service of God Almighty.”

Recall that Akeredolu, commenced another medical leave on Wednesday, December 13, 2023, as a follow-up to his medical treatment and transferred the power to his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, as the acting Governor of the state.

His Early Life

Born on 21st July, 1956 in Owo, Ondo State to Late Rev. J. O Ola Akeredolu of Owo and Lady Evang. Grace Akeredolu of Igbotu Ese Odo Government Area of Ondo State. The young Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu.

Education

AKETI as fondly called by friends and admirers started his primary School education at Government School Owo before proceeding to the famous Aquinas College Akure in 1968. He later proceeded to the prestigious Loyola College, Ibadan in 1969 to complete his secondary school Education. He also attended Comprehensive High School Ayetoro for his Higher Secondary School Certificate.

Oluwarotimi was admitted into the famous University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) In 1974 popularly known as Oba Awon University. He obtained his LLB degree in 1977 and proceeded to the Nigerian Law School for his B.L in 1978.

The pedigree of Akeredolu tells a riveting story of a rebel with a cause. Apart from his illustrious ancestry and cosmopolitan upbringing, a peep into his tenure as elected Vice President 1975/76, of the student University days at the famous and prestigious University Of Ife now (Obafemi Awolowo University) shows the architecture of service, fame and greatness in the making.

As a leader of the Students Union at Ife, Aketi helped to engineer a leadership focused on issues, robust debates and constructive engagements. He encouraged a genuine mobilization of mass consciousness against inequality, injustice, corruption, arbitrariness, and recklessness. By the time he was graduating, the startling and sterling leadership qualities of honesty, tolerance, fairness, transparency, endurance, vision, teamwork, justice, and self-respect had all become the chisel that etched out the man’s character and ideological leaning in all of his endeavours in the subsequent years.

Personal life and Family

A devoted Christian with a warm and accommodating heart for people of other faiths, Akeredolu has limitlessly supported a wide range of religious organizations in Ondo State and beyond, an example of such is the recent dedication of a Chapel of Epiphany at his Owo residence for propagation of Gospel. He was honoured by the Lord Bishop of no less a denomination than the Anglican Communion as the Chancellor of the Cathedral of St. Andrews Church, Owo, his hometown.

In addition to a distinguished and Spartan career in legal practice, Aketi also donated his lifetime to a career of mentorship and social service. He was a member, of the Oyo State Football Association, 1992-1994, an associate Member, of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Oyo State Branch. He also accepted and became the Patron, of The Nigerian Law Society, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Patron, Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria(BRECAN), Patron The Law Society, Faculty of Law, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko. He was also the Patron, of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, Oyo State branch.

Oluwarotimi, a dogged fighter, indefatigable, tenacious advocate, diligent solicitor, and one who is unyielding and unbending in any cause he believes in, A gentleman in the finest and truest sense, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN is an accomplished family man. A detribalized Nigerian, Aketi is happily married to Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu and blessed with four children who are doing well in their chosen careers, his hobbies include Lawn tennis, reading, and singing.

Meanwhile, the good people of Ondo state have acknowledged the development strides recorded by Governor Akeredolu, saying that the different masterpiece infrastructure that dots the landscape, including the Ore Industrial Park amongst other projects have turned the Sunshine State into an industrial haven.

On assumption of office in February 2017, Akeredolu met a disturbing state of affairs. The workers were being owed a backlog of seven months’ salaries. Children were sent out of school because their parents could not pay their fees, and families were separated because the man could not perform his responsibility of catering to the needs of his family. The civil service was on the brink.

The Akeredolu administration has ensured prompt payment of salaries of workers in the state. Workers are promoted, leave allowances are paid and various capacity-building pieces of training have been organised for public servants. This is in addition to the appointment of 44 permanent secretaries, righting the wrongs that have been done to many top civil servants by past administrations.

The education sector is up and running again. Despite the huge amount purportedly spent on education by the former administration, many public schools were in shambles, with roofs blown off and dilapidated buildings. Expectedly, the state, which once stood as the pride of the Southwest region, dropped in ratings of many examination bodies.

The abysmal performance of students from the state in national examinations captured the picture painted by Governor Akeredolu of the education sector while addressing the people of the state. The governor lamented that the failure of the curricula to address the challenges encountered by society had reduced education to what it is in most societies.

With proper planning and strategic execution of policies, the administration has constructed or renovated more than 800 public primary schools. Aside from wearing new looks, the schools now boast of modern facilities to make studying attractive to young minds.

Without a doubt, the state has never had this good in infrastructural development. For the number of roads this administration has constructed since coming on board, the people now call the governor Mr. Road.

The new name may not be out of place. Since he took the oath of office on February 24, 2017, Akeredolu has embarked on serious infrastructural development. The governor had promised, before his election, to correct the infrastructure imbalance in the three senatorial districts. In keeping with that promise, more than 100 roads spread across the state have either been constructed or renovated.

In Ikare Akoko, Governor Akeredolu did what many thought was impossible with the construction of a dual-lane where the mythical Oke Alabojuto hill once stood with its deadly toll on human lives. The hill, which has claimed countless lives in the past, finally gave way to the bulldozers deployed by Akeredolu, leaving the people marvelling.

Other major constructions include the opening up of Owo with dual carriageways. Akure, the state capital, is wearing a new look, with the dualization of major roads in the city. It is the same story in Oke Ogba, Iwalewa, Abusoro, Isarun, Idanre, Igbara-Oke, and many other towns across.

Perhaps the icing on the cake in the infrastructural development of the state so far is the construction of the Ore interchange bridge along the Ore-Benin expressway.

The determination of Governor Akeredolu has also given room for a fresh of hope for the people of Ondo State. Aside from raising the state’s internally generated revenue to enviable heights, the Sunshine State has equally joined the elite club of industrialized states in the nation.

The efforts of Akeredolu for the creation of a deep sea port in Ondo State have finally become a reality, with the recent approval of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). It will be recalled that Akeredolu, while pitching for the port, said: “The port will offer between 7000 to 10,000 job opportunities, while the Free Trade Zone will offer between 9,500 to 10,000 employment opportunities.

Already, five companies — a paper mill, an ethanol plant, medium-density fibre board, high-density fibre board, plywood, and a textile company have sprouted from the mustard seed that was planted when the state signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Linyi municipal government of the Shandong province of the Peoples Republic of China.

The industrial revolution in the state has taken a very strong foothold with the ethanol plant in Ore. A special species of cassava is being planted in between the Gmelina which will be used to feed the ethanol plant.

More than 1,000 people have been employed for the ethanol factory for direct jobs. The plant is also expected to provide jobs for more than 10,000 people, particularly cassava farmers and traders. Local farmers are excited about a ready and lucrative market for their goods. Shehu Oladapo, a cassava farmer in Odigbo Local Government Area was full of praise for the governor.

The WinWin Textile factory inside the park commenced production of textile thread a few months ago. With 300 workers already employed, WinWin Textile has helped to ease the problem of unemployment among the people, especially the locals, who for the first time have found a worthwhile venture outside the civil service.

The Weewood Plywood/HDF factory is already bubbling with life. Young men and women, who would have been roaming the streets, are busy with one task or the other. The company’s products, high-quality fibre board plywood are already in high demand in local markets across the state, while the state is being positioned to earn foreign currency through the export of the product.

A short distance away, the expatriates are screwing the nuts and putting the finishing touches to the giant paper mill factory. Jack Sun, Business Development Manager for Weewood, said the factory is now about 80 percent completed.

On completion, the paper mill is expected to employ more than 3000 direct staff, while many more are expected to benefit from jobs created down the value chain.

The paper mill, like other factories in Ore Park, is structured to create more indirect jobs for the locals. For example, long before the machines for the mill began to arrive the shores of the country, Weewood commenced preparations by planting the trees the will form the primary raw materials for the mill.

Today, the almost 10,000 hectares of land allocated for the Weewood afforestation project by Governor Akeredolu is beginning to yield the expected result, as the trees continue to grow into maturity.

The story is a win-win situation for Ondo State and its people. The company will employ residents on the farm to plant the trees. It will go on to employ people in the factory and other auxiliary jobs that would be created.

On the establishment of the state Security Network Agency, codenamed, ‘Amotekun’ Governor Akeredolu, who is also the chairman of the South West governor’s forum, has been commended for being generous with his wealth of knowledge in leadership and good governance to the South West region of Nigeria through the successful launched of the new regional security outfit called ‘Operation Àmòtékùn’.

However, the introduction of Amotekun is a wake-up call by the South West governor’s forum through the leadership of the chairman Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to enhance maximum security and help to fight kidnapping and other forms of crime in the region.

The chairman of the South West governor’s forum Akeredolu has been known for breaking new grounds and making history in infrastructure, utilities, agriculture, education, healthcare, Commerce and Industry., works, investors friendly governor, the list is endless.

The South West governor’s forum had a submission in the second quarter of 2019 where the chairman of the forum, Akeredolu presented a blueprint of the Ondo State security submitted to the governors for the fight against kidnapping, armed bandits, arms robbery, and other forms of criminal activities in the South West region.

Akeredolu in his usual style of no rest until the work is finished has led the South West governor’s forum to bring an end to this menace that was putting the region on a red point in the world of criminal activities.

Through Amotekun, many youths have gained employment, and criminals have been shown their way out because South-West Nigeria will no longer be safe for criminal activities and hideouts.