By: Iyke Onuoha
A popular African adage espounds a belief system that the world is a marketplace where men display wares, buy, sale and interact during the day, to disperse at dusk. The wares in this system symbolize human deeds and inactions.
In addition to sellers and buyers, market squares also witness the assemblage of others including entertainers, spectators, gamblers, swindlers, sorcerers, aptly summarized as the good, the bad and the ugly. There is a convergence of belief that African markets usually found at central locations of communities boast of gatherings of humans, ancestors and terrestrial elements.
The unseen elements point to the sacredness of the market square, justifying reasons that immoral and unclean activities are prohibited and when such are perpetrated, they are believed to attract negative consequences.
The Yoruba speaking people of Nigeria have a phrase “aye loja” and the Igbos have theirs as “uwa wu ahia”, both being attestations that the world is a market.
History is replete with stories of individuals who danced naked in the market square through acts of fraud, immorality and injustice, etc..These, sadly have become the norms in the modern day Nigerian society particularly, within the political system where majority of actors by every barometer, consist more of the ugly and the morally wretched of the earth.
It is incontrovertible that there exists a handful of actors of the good blooded in the political space. Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu comes amongst the good blooded, the upright of the world and the good of the earth.
Aketi as he is also called has, from 2008 when he came to national limelight following his election as then National President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), to the end of his service in NBA and till date as the incumbent governor of Ondo State, continued to distinguish himself in public service and leadership, demonstrating a consciousness that truly the deeds of men are subject to stewardship accounts.
It is often said that for integrity to be complete, it has to be consistent. Arakunrin has by virtue of exceptional public service in Ondo State and recorded interventions in national politics, earned a reputation of consistency in history of integrity, forthrightness and courage as the Voice of Reason and the Conscience of a Nation.
Pundits often opine rightly or wrongly that Akeredolu’s beliefs and the positions he espouses on sensitive national issues have succeeded to set him at variance with the powers-that-be and also stands deprived of “benefits”, “privileges”, and “favours” extended to his colleagues.
World-over, advancement in age is synonymous with countless life experiences, deep insights, wisdom, all put together, confer great respect and honour on persons. On account of above factors, Arakunrin does not come across as the typical political leader, rather he is in the class of the elders, the custodians of morality, an opinion leader amongst leaders.
As a legal giant of international standing, and by virtue of his accomplishments and positions in life including as Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), a serving Governor, Chairman of Southwest Governors Forum, Chairman of Southern Governors Forum etc, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has paid his dues in service to country and humanity. There is no life experience both pleasant and not so pleasant that may be new in his reckoning. He has seen and got it all in life through private endeavour which partly explains reasons for his strong convictions and insistence on justice to both the lowly and the mighty, not minding whose ox is gored.
It remains evergreen in the minds of citizens that when Nigeria stood at a crossroad on steps to take regarding power rotation between the north and southern regions of the country, Arakunrin rose like the biblical strong but lone voice in the wilderness, declaring from mountaintops that for equity, justice and most importantly, stability and unity of the country, the presidency should rotate to the southern part of Nigeria upon expiration of last term in office by now former President Muhammadu Buhari.
This position, though unpopular at the time but eventually, was unanimously adopted as a resolution by the entire Southern Governors Forum, for the 2023 Presidential election which produced Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Fair-minded observers believe that akin to John the Baptist who set the way for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, Arakunrin suitably qualifies and deserves every accolade as the fore-bearer of the current political dispensation in Nigeria.
We may quickly recall also that when thick darkness, palpable fear and unholy silence enveloped the length and breadth of Nigeria, precipitated by the heinous activities of organized, unchecked marauders who raided farms, homes and communities in destruction of properties, killing hundreds of citizens across states and cities, Arakunrin as typical, rose to the occasion to ‘Soro soke’ against this evil leading to his signing of relevant laws and the establishment of the Amotekun Security Outfit charged with the mandate to man forests, farms, communities, arrest criminal elements and protect the entire southwestern region of Nigeria. This is referenced even as my current intervention deliberately excludes a discourse on multiple and enduring accomplishments recorded by Arakunrin across sectors of the Ondo State economy.
Aketi’s most recent courageous intervention against sheer manipulation, domination and evident marginalization of some geopolitical zones (not his geo-zone) was on the controversial, ill-fated and lopsided power sharing formula for the tenth (10th) National Assembly leadership by his political party, the ruling APC. This remains another strong evidence of his commitment to promote the tenets of justice and inclusion in governance and political representation in Nigeria.
As a legal giant and rights activist, Arakunrin demonstrates exceptional leadership style different from the Machiavellian political ideology of “the end justifies the means”, associated with distrust, manipulation, subjugation, cruelty, character and human assassinations, etc.
Evidently, over the six (6) years period, and counting that Arakunrin has held sway as the numero-uno in Ondo State, he is reputed as a democrat, a true constitutional lawyer in words and in deeds, a rights advocate who accords all and sundry of their rights and privileges.
Experience in most states of the Federation reveal abnormalities where betrayals account for reasons governors fail to delegate powers or assign important responsibilities to deputy governors who are also deprived of constitutionally provided privileges including on finances. Interestingly, Ondo State under Aketi is different. This is as the Deputy Governor of the state maintains appreciable level of popularity, assigned critical policy and governance roles, provided with funding to run his office, given the latitude to engage aides as needed, explores new areas of responsibilities, and empowered to serve in acting capacity in the absence of his principal including on medical grounds as currently obtained.
It is instructive to point out that Aketi just as every human is fallible and susceptible to frailties, illhealth/seasons of rest and which when arise in the life of a man, the minimum duty by all should be those of empathy, love, understanding, support, best wishes and honest prayers. These are the lowest expectations from well meaning people of Ondo State and all Nigerians.
It is a sad omen and calls to question our humanity when men attempt to generate political capital from the illhealth of another. This confirms the biblical saying that men devote lifetime in the pursuit of vanity.
Arakunrin is a rare gift to Ondo State and Nigeria. He is a good man, of the good origin and of the good blood whose stand on social justice is legendary.
I encourage Arakunrin to see current trials as test of his faith like the biblical Job who refused to give up and refused to curse God. As a committed christian of the Anglican Communion, a man of great faith, I say to Aketi, let thine faith prevail.
I say get well soon, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Get well soon the Peoples’ Governor for it shall end in praise.
Pst. Iyke Onuoha, a Policy & Strategy Expert writes from Abuja, Nigeria.