*When A Refined Gentleman Plays Politics in an Unusual Way: The Story of Lucky Orimisan Ayedatiwa– Prof Ademọwọ
Sometimes in 2021, my students invited the current Ondo State Deputy Governor, Mr Lucky Ayedatiwa as an honoree of their Annual Eminent Personalty Lecture and Award. The honoree of the maiden edition was Prof C.B.N. Ogbogbo. He was honored for his contributions in “returning History back into the secondary schools curriculum”. However the choice of Lucky Ayedatiwa didn’t go down well with me. I requested the students to convince me why he should be honored. I was amused when the President of the Students Association told me “he was singled out for being a gentleman and a loyal deputy governor”. Although I wasn’t swayed by the argument, but the background of this promoter (the President of the Students Association) made me to reconsider my decision: he is from Kano state!
Mr Lucky Ayedatiwa did came for the event, but the highlight of his visit was his uncommon humility, his gentleman mien and the brilliance of his presentation. As a closing remark, my institution’s Founder and Chancellor, a prominent legal icon described his presentation as “exceptional and uncommon among his peers”. He noticed how many times he mentioned his Boss, Mr Aketi, during the presentation, hence he commended his loyalty and promised to support him if he chooses to contest for the leadership of his state “because a brilliant gentleman who played politics in this unusual way should be supported to lead and inspire others to make the much needed differences in politics”.
Well, we are in 2023 and the ever-dramatic world of politics where alliances are formed and broken in the blink of an eye, has further threw up the story of Mr Lucky Orimisan Ayedatiwa, a business tycoon turned politician, as a fascinating tale of loyalty, intrigue, and ambition.
My introduction into this piece underscored the fact that the relationship between Governor Akeredolu and his deputy, Lucky Ayedatiwa, was nothing short of cordial, especially before the governor’s unexpected trip to Germany for medical treatment. And as the governor embarked on his journey, he left behind a seeming intact “house” that would soon become divided over the politics of his succession in the upcoming gubernatorial election.
With the governorship election in Ondo State on the horizon, the contenders for Akeredolu’s seat saw his absence as an opportunity to engage in some “dirty” politics. Reports suggest that government cabals in the state, who had always perceived Ayedatiwa as a threat due to his unwavering loyalty and steadfastness, seized this moment of uncertainty regarding the governor’s health to launch an attack against him.
However, it must be placed on record that
during Akeredolu’s medical leave, Ayedatiwa, as acting governor, displayed remarkable resilience. He openly resisted the pressure to play politics the usual way by not altering the governor’s existing appointments and chose not to hog the limelight by crediting projects solely to himself. Instead, he emphasized the achievements as “joint executive efforts”.
One of the most striking moves during this period was his appointment of Hon. Wale Akinterinwa, a major contender for the governorship, as the chairman of the Federal government’s palliative committee on fuel subsidy. This unexpected decision left many wondering about Ayedatiwa’s true intentions. In fact, some political gladiators tagged him a “mumu” for appointing a notable contender into such prominent, and an ambition catalyst, position.
With the arrival of the state governor, Mr Aketi, from Germany a few weeks ago, the once-intact house seemed to have crumbled. Governor Akeredolu swiftly sacked all of the media aides of Deputy Governor Ayedatiwa. This was followed by an impeachment proceeding against Ayedatiwa, alleging his “involvement in tampering with palliative funds to procure a bulletproof vehicle”. At first it was alleged that 25 out of 26 members of the state House of Assembly signed the impeachment but it turned out that only 11 of the 26 signed the impeachment notice.
Now the world watches closely to see how Governor Akeredolu will reward the loyalty of his once-trusted deputy. In politics, as in life, the unexpected often becomes the norm, and only time will tell how this unusual tale of power and loyalty will ultimately unfold. But one thing I agreed with many onlookers is that Mr Lucky Ayedatiwa will need all the luck and support of well-meaning Ondo State political gladiators to survive the seeming vindictive Aketi politics as a gentleman-politician.
I wish him the best of luck!
*Professor Ademọwọ writes from Ado-Ekiti.*