• Silence in Owo as Akeredolu’s family mourns in Ibadan

    Silence in owo as akeredolus family mourns in ibadan - nigeria newspapers online
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    December 27, 2023, would not be quickly erased from the memory of the residents and indigenes of Ondo State as a day of passing into glory of one of the prominent sons of the state and former state governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu.

    Akeredolu, popularly called ‘Aketi’ by his political associates, passed away in Germany during a long battle with cancer. The illness had taken the late former governor to the European country for treatment for some months but unfortunately, he could not survive the battle.

    After the bad news of the demise of the late state chief executive was broken to the people of the state, there was a series of condolence messages from people of all walks of life, right from President Bola Tinubu, the state governors, who were his colleagues, past governors, traditional rulers, members of the Nigeria Bar Association, political associates as well as friends and family of the deceased.

     In most of the condolence messages, the former governor of the state was described as a fearless man; he was also remembered for his candidness in approaching issues. Aketi (Akeredolu) was commended for his brave stance on the protection of lives and property of the people he governed during the time some criminal Fulani herdsmen began to launch attacks on the people of the South-West region some of whom were kidnapped, raped, and killed, while their farms were destroyed. As the Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, Akeredolu championed the creation and effective operation of the South-Western Nigeria Security Network also known as Amotekun Corps in the face of high criticism from some quarters.

     The son of the late governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu Jnr. while announcing the incident, described his late father as courageous, and compassionate, saying the late Aketi would be greatly missed.

    Part of his tribute read, “He peacefully departed in his sleep at a hospital in Germany, where he was undergoing treatment for protracted prostate cancer. While we are deeply saddened and devastated by his departure, we find solace in the understanding that as he transitions to eternity, he will be guided by the benevolent hands of the angels of light, with whom he resided during his remarkable and fruitful journey on earth.

    “During this challenging time, we sincerely appreciate everyone who has stood by us and extended their support since the news broke. We humbly request your prayers and support, while also asking for privacy as we navigate through this trying period. Daddy, may you rest in perfect peace.”

    Also, having officially announced the death of the former governor, the government of the Sunshine State declared three days of mourning to honour the departed governor while condolence registers were opened at the Governor’s Office in Akure, the state capital. It was also learnt that the same was done at his private residence in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, as well as the Akeredolu’s private residence in Owo his hometown.

     The incumbent governor and former deputy and acting governor, Mr Lucky Aiyedatiwa, who was sworn in shortly after the demise of his former boss, declared that the name of the late governor would be immortalised. All these are testimony that the late Akeredolu was a good man during his lifetime.

    However, some observations have been made in the aftermath of the death of the former Chairman of the Southern Governors’ Forum. During a visit to the community, it was observed that only a few residents were part of the mourning as the atmosphere never depicted that a big shot from the ancient town of Owo, where he (Akeredolu) hailed from had passed away. It was also learnt that it was only the first day that Akeredolu’s death was announced that a part of the community mourned. However, shortly after, social and business activities resumed as usual as if nothing tragic had befallen the ancient community.

    Akeredolu’s residence was said to have few visitors during the prayer session organised by the family and friends of the deceased in his honour eight days after his demise. It was reported that Akeredolu’s family was represented by his younger sister, Toyin Akeredolu, at the prayer session.

    Many believe that the Owo community is supposed to be a mecca for visitors from every part of the world if members of the immediate Akeredolu’s family had stayed in his private house in Owo, but they were in Jericho GRA, Ibadan, attending to visitors.

     However, since there is nobody to receive visitors at Akeredolu’s Owo residence, sympathisers and dignitaries were said to have been thronging the palace of Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Ogunoye, to condole with him and the people of Owo over the death of one of his prominent subjects.

     A source in the palace said some of the dignitaries that visited the traditional ruler include the incumbent state governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, who led members of the Ondo State Executive Council to condole with the first-class monarch; a former governor of the state, Dr Olusegun Mimiko; the senator representing Ondo North Senatorial Distribution, Jide Ipinsagba; and the members of Ondo State Council of Obas led by the Olubaka of Okaland, Oba Yusuf Adeleye. The Oka Akoko monarch was said to have represented the chairman of the council and Deji of Akure, Oba Aladelusi Aladetoyinbo.

    In his condolence message, issued through his media assistant, Sam Adewale, the Olowo of Owo Oba Ogunoye, described the demise of the former governor as tragic, sad, and painful, adding that the death of the former governor was an irredeemable loss to the government and people of Ondo State, family, and the entire Owo kingdom. The monarch submitted that death was inevitable as nobody could challenge God whenever it was time to die.

    “This is too much to comprehend. The death of Aketi is an unfortunate occurrence that came to the entire kingdom as a rude shock. May the Almighty God grant eternal bliss to his precious soul,” the traditional ruler prayed.

    Given the ugly development, there have been divergent views of the people of the ancient town over the absence of Akeredolu’s family in Owo during the mourning period. Some agreed that there was nothing wrong if the family stayed back in their base in the Oyo State capital receiving sympathisers, while some were of the view that it did not speak well of the Akeredolu’s family to abandon their hometown and state to be attending to visitors outside the state, considering the status of the deceased in Owo and the state in general, when he was alive.

    It could also be recalled that the Akeredolu’s family and aides were highly criticised by the opposition party and some concerned citizens of the state for allegedly keeping the ailing governor in Ibadan after he returned to Nigeria from Germany in September, while he was reportedly recuperating. After the transition, the family allegedly failed to return to his Owo country home to mourn.

     A resident, Mr Kenny Daramola, said the family had the right to choose wherever was convenient for them to host their visitors, maintaining that they didn’t need to be in Owo or Ondo State.

     He said, “We don’t have people coming here, even people here have gone to pay condolence visits to the family in Ibadan. This is because, you know, Aketi (Akeredolu) was an Ibadan-based person. He spent most of his life in Ibadan; he had his business in Ibadan, and his family is in Ibadan. So, I think the family feels comfortable being in Ibadan to receive sympathisers.”

     However, another resident, Kasim Alaba, frowned on the development as he said that Akeredolu’s family had not displayed the attitude of a proper Owo indigene in their decision to stay outside the state to receive visitors. At the same time, the late governor had a private house in Owo.

     “For me, I don’t think it is proper for the family of late Akeredolu to be mourning in Ibadan. Although we know that Aketi was based and making his living in Ibadan before coming to be governor in Ondo State, Ibadan is not their home. They are not indigenes of Oyo State. We should also not forget that this man died on the throne as a serving governor. So, his family should have honoured him by coming home to Owo to mourn. Akeredolu is an original Owo indigene and made an impact in the community and Ondo State as a whole; he deserves our respect,” he opined.

     A community leader in Owoland, Alhaji Abimbola Omolola, expressed the importance of the bereaved Akeredolu’s family being in Owo during the mourning period, even as he expressed optimism that the former governor’s family would still come to their hometown.

     He said, “They (family) will still move from Ibadan and come home. Home is the last place for everyone and there is no place like home, East or West, North or South, home is the best. They may have their reason for staying in Ibadan for now, but I believe they will move back to this place when all the arrangements for the burial are completed by the government and the family. It’s a state burial; I know the government is going to set up a committee to handle the burial ceremony, but the family will be involved. Before then, they would have moved to Owo and made sure all arrangements were completed.

    Omolola, who described the death of Akeredolu as a great loss to the Owo community, said the late former governor deserved a befitting burial and honour from all the stakeholders in the state, noting that it might take a long time before the community would have the opportunity to produce another governor for the state.

     “It is a great loss, not only to his family, not only to Owo town, not only to the surrounding towns but to the entire Owo kingdom as a whole because before another governor can rise from Owo area again, it may take another 40 years. This is because the former governor, the late Adekunle Ajasin, was there from 1979-1983, and the rotation has just come back to us. After Ajasin, the mantle of leadership went to the South Senatorial District. It left the South and went to the Central. Then, from Central, it went to the North (Adebayo Adefarati). (Olusegun) Agagu was there for some time, and (Olusegun) Mimiko too was there. So, it was another 40 years before it came back to us.

     “So, we should not envisage that we are expecting another governor from this area till another 40 years. So, it is a great loss to us. The fact is that he did not complete his term. But during his tenure, he worked not only for Owo; he worked for the state and South-West as a whole. As far as security is concerned, he was the brain behind Amotekun, and Amotekun has performed excellently well. They have relieved us from the herdsmen, from kidnappers, from other criminals.

     “Also, he has impacted all the 18 local government areas in the state with regards to infrastructural development. And as far as education is concerned, he has been able to increase the budgetary position of education. So, not only Akeredolu’s family or Owo is mourning, but the whole state should also mourn,” the community leader stressed.

     Meanwhile, as of the time of filing this report, the official statement on the burial arrangement of the deceased has not been released by either the family or the state government. It was, however, gathered that the government was planning to set up a committee on the burial. Similarly, a source close to Akeredolu’s family disclosed that the late former governor would be interred in Owo, his hometown.

     “The arrangement is going on underground for the burial, but Akeredolu will certainly be buried in Owo. Even the Anglican Church in Owo is making arrangements; maybe to bury him beside the late former governor, Adekunle Ajasin, within the church premises in Owo,” the source stated.

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