By Oreofe Okanlawon
I found out with dismay that since the Ondo State Firstlady, Chief Betty-Anyanwu Akeredolu, announced her 70th birthday celebration, which is to be marked with a legendary event: “Jog-athon,” the state and social media space have been awash with series of stories that brought the first family in the state to the fore. It does not leave the good, the bad and also the ugly of this life without something to talk about it.
It became the talk of town because of the calibre of persons involved: the Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and his immediate family; and many people throw their sense of reasoning in the air to vent their hatred on the first family, while some resort to cheap blackmail with reckless abandon.
Truly, Governor Akeredolu had written to the House of Assembly on June 7, 2023, to embark on medical leave as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and transferred power to his Deputy, Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa, to resume as the Acting Governor of the Sunshine State. This part is conscientiously fulfilled to ensure there is no vacuum in government according to the dictates of the Rule of Law.
Birthdays in the life of mankind is an annual celebration that even the Holy Bible, alongside other Holy Writs, acknowledges as a necessary yuletide to be celebrated with pomp and pageantry if the means is available for every individual. It is also a time for sober reflection with the Maker to appraise ones existentialism on earth and with a core to leave it a better place.
Not so unlikely and unexpected that in a state where there is upcoming governorship election next year, some unscrupulous elements will want to cash on this development, out of greed, selfishness and uncharitable tendencies to fellow human beings, to malign the Akeredolus; and without caution, rub the ego of their principals to curry favours and get to limelight at the expense of others.
With utmost mischief, some persons accused the Firstlady and her children of gross insensitivity that they abandoned their patriarch, the Governor, in sickbed, frolicking around and looking for means to get appointments from the Federal Government; and fat proceeds off the upcoming birthday and “Jog-athon” events.
Amongst the numerous authors of barrages of criticism against the 70th Birthday Celebration of the Firstlady was a journalist and public affairs analyst, Mr. Yemi Akintomide, who wrote from Ireakari Estate 2, Orita-Obele, Akure, to cast aspersion on the Akeredolus, titled: “Why I won’t pray for Akeredolu.” To him, the immediate family members were unconcerned about the welfare of their patriarchs, condemning the birthday celebration of the wife in its entirety.
In a piece that wore the toga of bare sponsorship and similitude of a calculated attempt to score cheap and uncouth political goal, he ridiculed every concerned person praying for the health of Mr Government, saying: “If Ada Owere 1 couldn’t pray for Akeredolu, who are mine to do so, and what will be the effect of my own prayer for Akeredolu? I need a warehouse loads of prayer for myself and my family. No sycophantic for me, please.”
He added that Chief Mrs Akeredolu had declared “that her husband needs no help or our prayers since he is attending to by best specialists and medical team in Germany. Period. For me, the recent action of civil servants in the Ondo State Public Service, gathering to pray to God for the quick recovery of Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, CON, is baseless and sycophantic in nature.”
But many well-meaning citizens of Ondo State and people with conscience across the globe differ on Akintomide’s opinion and that of those journeying on same mischievous path with him. They made it sufficiently known that there is no Office of the Firstlady, recognized by law as they make people to believe. And that the birthday celebration of Chief Mrs Akeredolu is a personal and private affair, so, why the storm in the tea-cup?
No surprise, that Akintomide within three days of putting that piece in the social space did not only pull it down but wrote a rejoinder to apologize to the Akeredolus and others that were maligned due to the Governor’s health. It is with great pleasure to reminisce on his rejoinder, as clearly stated, that there are still a large number of people in our society who are discernible to know the truth and make the writer of such venomous piece and his clouts on the street to come down from darkness to light as the rejoinder pinpoints this about them: “Once we were blind but now we can see!”
According to him, “I am aghast by the criticism that has followed my highly spirited write-up, where I sincerely pour out my heavy heart about the sorry condition health of our darling Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN, CON; unlike some hypocrites who embarked on physical campaign for divine healing on the Governor, but clandestinely wished him dead.
“When expressing my gratitude to my numerous friends, colleagues, political leaders and adherence readers all over the world that understood and identified with my viewpoints raised in the said write-up; I will use this medium to ask for the forgiveness of those that felt offended or their ego brushed, especially Ondo State First Family and their admirers.
“However, I must state it clearly that there was never an intention or determination to smear or attack the personality of anyone, either high or low; but only expressing my journalistic insist on burning issues of urgent public importance,” the repentant Akintomide said.
Illness to every individual is a natural phenomenon, and no man is immune against it since the era of super immortality is forever gone and the iron age of men has begun (as culled out from the Greek Myths and mind of Zeus, their chief god). Anybody can fall sick and deserves a treatment, this is why the case of Governor Akeredolu is not an exception and the family deserves some privacy on this development. The Governor’s state of health is a lie carried too far and blown out of proportion.
Sad to note that some overambitious persons, who are not too far away from the cabinet, speculated on the Governor’s health condition, and like Macbeth, they allowed themselves to be goaded by inordinate ambition to the blatant hurt of the first family. No wonder, the Oscar-winning Film Director, Oliver Stone, described speculation as “the mother of all evil.” Just like the ugly tales in William Shakespeare’s play: “Macbeth,” inordinate ambition beclouded their senses of reasoning and judgment.
Alas, it is commonplace that when people fail to understand an individual and personality that operates in a highly cerebral frequency, they tend to resort to cheap blackmail and take preposterous stances against such persons. Without any prevarication, Chief Mrs Betty-Anyanwu Akeredolu is a quintessential Rare Gem. And this is why her 70th birthday becomes the talk of simpletons and busy-bodies who will stop at nothing to smear the reputation of the first family.
According to Proverbs 18:14, “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?” This, alongside Proverbs 17:22: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bone;” describes the Akeredolus and why the 70th birthday celebration with a difference: “the Jog-athon” is non-negotiable. To many who are discernible enough, it is an express declaration that Mr. Governor is hale and hearty as there is no cause for alarm.
Chief Mrs Akeredolu is a typical virtuous woman, who fulfills the Biblical truths of Proverbs 18:10-31 as they are evident in the life of her husband, children and even grandchildren. This woman of unparallel qualities deserves to be celebrated for reaching the seven decades miles-stone on earth and two scores of marital bliss with her husband, the “Talk-and-do” Governor of Ondo State.
Like the great Chinese affirms, as paraphrased that: “Those who are without learning should desire to drink from the ancient pool of knowledge,” and this can be no more discernible to the wise than the story of Herodias and her daughter. At King Herod’s birthday, the Herodias daughter got a strange wish. Who says the Firstlady’s 70th birthday celebration cannot be another wish for more health and prosperity for the family? Is birthday not a celebration of life? Who says it cannot be an express delivery of longer life for all the Akeredolus?
What a faithless generation, and why Jesus Christ and so many Rabbis of ages lamented and enjoined the people to seek knowledge, but places premium priority on wisdom and understanding. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7). Do you think you can love Akeredolu more than his wife and children? Will the wife, the exemplary model of a virtuous woman nurture her husband through four decades of marital prosperity and watch his life cut off in the prime?
The forthcoming birthday of the Firstlady and the unusual peace in the Governor’s family is a strong statement of the truth that there is no cause for alarm over Akeredolu’s health, contrary to the dust raised by detractors to cause some political ill-feelings and pass wrong signals. I won’t be surprised if Governor Oluwarotmi Akeredolu (CON) would surface at the birthday celebration to crack some jokes again in his usual styles.
Like the pharisees and sadducees of old, who always choose to see ‘afar’ and refuse never to wear their ‘sad’ countenance but spleen it on others, I will discard the ill-feelings trailing the health of the Governor and his wife’s upcoming birthday as “mere squabbles of envious monks.” The way the Pope threw off as mere bin-wastes the criticism of Martin Luther King (Jnr) during the Golden Age of the Protestants and Reformation moves in Rome.