Speculations were rife yesterday that some powerful politicians in the nation’s seat of power, Abuja, might have thrown their weight behind the Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, in order to ward off impeachment plot against the embattled second citizen of the state.
LEADERSHIP gathered that some Abuja-based politicians, including those who hail from state and strong political elements outside the state but sympathetic to Aiyedatiwa, had resolved to forestall and resist the removal of the deputy governor.
The impeachment plot is reportedly being promoted by the state’s Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and some of his loyalists.
As part of the strategies to save Aiyedatiwa, the state’s lawmakers were rail-roaded into Abuja on Tuesday.
The plot was to compromise the lawmakers while in Abuja to dump Akeredolu and the impeachment plot.
This newspaper was told that a minister in the cabinet of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu hired a private jet which conveyed some of the lawmakers to Abuja.
The minister was reported to be the one coordinating other Abuja political heavyweights backing Aiyedatiwa to retain his job.
A member of the state assembly told LEADERSHIP yesterday that Abuja political bigwigs, especially those of Ondo State origin, had vowed to spare no efforts to whittle the influence and weaken the grip of Akeredolu and members of his family on the state assembly and other organs of government in the state.
The source said, “The Abuja strongmen were not pleased that Akeredolu, who returned to the country from three-month medical vacation in Germany on September 7, had holed up in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, from where he has been administering the state through proxies, represented by his wife Betty, son Babajide and about three cabinet members, including an overbearing special adviser who hails from the same locality as the governor.
“A serving minister is the arrowhead of a gang of Abuja-based politicians rooting for the preservation of Lucky Aiyedatiwa in office and members of the group have vowed to wrest the state from the grip of the governor, members of his family and few of his aides who constitute the cabal holding the state down.
“The Abuja politicians are canvassing that the interest of the state and its undying yearnings for growth and development cannot be tied to the destiny of a particular family. Those opposed to the impeachment of the deputy governor are of the opinion that while the governor is recuperating in Ibadan, he should have allowed his deputy to handle the challenges of governance. They argued that the governor is not strong enough to return to the government house and at the same time his wife and son are plotting the removal of his deputy in collaboration with some members of the house.
The Abuja lawmakers have resolved not to allow this ugly trend to continue. And that is why a minister volunteered to hire a private jet to ferry us to Abuja,” disclosed the lawmaker who pleaded not to be named.
LEADERSHIP further gathered that the national chairman of the governing party, All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Ganduje, summoned the lawmakers to Abuja yesterday for a meeting with the national working committee of the party headed by him and the panel chaired by a former governor of Katsina state, Aminu Bello Masari over the plot to remove Aiyedatiwa from office.
Ganduje, who inaugurated the Masari panel, had charged the members to resolve the political impasse in the state, by reconciling the feuding Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and his deputy.
Ganduje’s initiative was also meant to halt the ongoing impeachment plot against the deputy governor.
LEADERSHIP recalls that Ganduje and Masari’s panel held similar meetings with federal lawmakers from the state last week in a concerted effort to appease the Akeredolu to forgive Aiyedatiwa’s misdemeanour.
This newspaper further learnt that only seven of the 26 lawmakers willingly agreed to honour Ganduje’s invitation and were brought into Abuja in a private jet in the early hours of yesterday.
Findings by LEADERSHIP revealed that other 19 lawmakers, led by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Olamide Oladiji, initially declined the invitation of the APC chairman apparently due to the prompting of Akeredolu and his handlers.
Following the recalcitrant postures of the lawmakers, this newspaper was further told that Ganduje was compelled to employ subtle threats to eventually secure their cooperation.
Oladiti arrived in Abuja in company of eight other lawmakers, including his deputy, in a commercial flight yesterday afternoon.
Fifteen of them were later ushered into a meeting with Ganduje and members of the Masari panel.
It was not unclear by press time yesterday if the other 11 lawmakers were able to find their way to Abuja for the engagement. Details of the meeting were also unavailable at press time yesterday.
The impeachment process was stalled last week following the refusal of the state’s chief judge, Justice Olusegun Odusola, to set up a seven-man panel to probe the 14-count allegations slammed against the deputy governor as demanded by the state’s assembly.
Odusola said he could only obey the assembly if an Abuja federal high court vacated its order stopping the impeachment process.
The case, which came up before Justice Emeka Nwite on Monday, was adjourned to October 30.
Oladiji declined to react to the report. He ignored calls and messages sent to him to seek his comment.