• Monday, July 15, 2024
businessday logo


Akeredolu’s demise: The price for activism

Akeredolu’s demise: The price for activism

The news of Governor Akeredolu’s passing, which had simmered in speculation, finally broke on December 27, 2023, bringing an unsettling closure to the mystery surrounding his absence. It laid to rest not just a life, but a tapestry woven with threads of family, community, and profound impact.

While sadness permeated most of the day, its source remained elusive. Then, as night shrouded the land, sleep became an elusive visitor. My mind embarked on a restless journey, revisiting the facets of the man and the legacies he left behind, as much as I knew them.

Born in Owo, Ondo State, on July 21, 1956, to devout Christian parents, Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu carved a path that spanned legal prowess, political leadership, and social activism. He became a lawyer, Attorney-General of Ondo State, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, President of the Nigerian Bar Association, and eventually, Governor of Ondo State. Fondly called Aketi, his progressive ideals drew him to the All Progressives Congress, and his message resonated with his people, entrusting him with their collective destiny.

Governor Akeredolu’s leadership possessed a Midas touch, bringing palpable change to his people. In January 2020, he spearheaded the formation of Amotekun, the first regional security network, a move that ruffled feathers within the ruling party. He stood his ground, representing the voice of his people and region, even when it meant defying the established order.

This defiance became even more evident in January 2021 when, under President Buhari’s administration, he issued a seven-day ultimatum for herders to vacate Ondo forests. The rampant menace of Fulani herdsmen and the government’s apparent inaction had left his people vulnerable, and Governor Akeredolu refused to be a silent bystander. This stance further upset the powers that be, who preferred the status quo.

In May 2021, Aketi’s leadership transcended state borders as he spearheaded the formation of the “Southern Governors Forum” to safeguard the interests of the Southern region. They swiftly enacted a law prohibiting open grazing, with Aketi among the first to sign it in August 2021. This move challenged the existing political order, disrupting the unequal distribution of resources, and it was met with resistance.

The Owo massacre of June 5, 2022, served as a stark warning for his defiance. Yet, Governor Akeredolu remained undeterred, continuing to advocate for a Southern Nigerian president, a stance that further provoked those who preferred Northern dominance. The tragic events and rising tensions hinted at powerful forces seeking his downfall.

Like Governor Soludo of Anambra, Aketi belonged to a rare breed of leaders – intellectually gifted, academically accomplished, and driven by a spirit of benevolence and compassion. They embody the answered prayers of their times, appearing when hope seems lost. We cherish them while we have them, pray for their protection, and when they are gone, we mark their passing with quiet reflection.

Governor Akeredolu, though not without flaws, was a pivotal force in implementing reforms and policies. His impact on Nigerian politics is undeniable, even if tinged with sadness for his passing. However, amidst the loss, hope persists. Like prophets of old, one may fall, but more will rise, and brighter stars will shine, ushering in an era of prosperity, especially for the common people.

Until his final days, Governor Akeredolu remained an activist, and for that, he paid the price. He will be fondly remembered by family, friends, and the countless individuals who found solace in his towering political figure. Though sadness lingers, it mingles with a sense of peace. Knowing that Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu’s life was impactful and his story worth telling is enough to finally bring slumber to my eyelids. May he rest in peace.

Jude Chukwudozie writes from Anambra State