In a shocking turn of events, the vibrant political landscape of Ondo State has been plunged into mourning with the sudden demise of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu at the age of 67.
The news, breaking on Wednesday, reverberated with profound sadness, signaling the end of a political era and leaving behind a legacy tinged with both achievements and the untold challenges of battling prostate cancer and leukemia.
Akeredolu, a legal luminary adorned with the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), had secured his re-election as the governor of Ondo State in a resounding victory during the October 2020 elections. His swearing-in for a second term in office transpired in February 2021, marking the continuation of his stewardship in the state.
However, the shadows of adversity loomed large over Akeredolu’s second term, marred by persistent health struggles. Reports indicate that the governor succumbed to the relentless grasp of prostate cancer and leukemia in the early hours of Wednesday, around 2 a.m., while undergoing treatment in a German hospital. These debilitating conditions had rendered him immobile for several months, casting a somber pall over the governance of Ondo State.
Akeredolu’s battle with illness prompted his decision to embark on medical leave overseas in June, precipitating a series of challenges that would define the latter part of his political career.
Despite returning to Nigeria in September, the governor, in a bid to manage his health, chose to stay in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, drawing public criticism for governing remotely.
According to Vanguard, in a move that underscored the severity of his health condition, Akeredolu, on Wednesday, December 13, embarked on another medical leave. In a formal notice, he officially transferred power to his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, who assumed the responsibilities of the governor in an acting capacity.
The governor’s decision to relinquish authority due to health concerns mirrored the strains of his prolonged medical battles and the complexities of navigating governance amid personal adversity.
Akeredolu’s commitment to the welfare of the state led to this poignant moment of handing over the reins to his deputy, acknowledging the imperatives of collective leadership in the face of his incapacitation.
This heartbreaking development comes after months of grappling with ailments that forced the suspension of planned celebrations for the 70th birthday of Akeredolu’s wife, Betty, on July 9.
The decision to halt festivities stirred public discourse, shedding light on the delicate balance between personal trials and public duties that the governor and his family were navigating.
As Ondo State grapples with the sudden loss of a leader, Akeredolu’s legacy will be remembered for the strides made during his tenure, juxtaposed with the poignant challenges he faced in the latter part of his political journey.
The governor’s contributions to the legal profession, his role as a leader in the Nigerian Bar Association, and his enduring commitment to the people of Ondo State will form an integral part of the narrative surrounding his impactful life and career.