Having been sick for a long while, the news of the death of Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, the Governor of Ondo State should ordinarily not have come as a shock, he will however be greatly missed for his courageous standpoint on issues of the structure of Nigeria. Under his watch as President, the Nigerian Bar Association was a veritable voice of courage in championing equity and fairness in the governance of the Nigerian Federation. In all national conversations, he aligned with true progressive voices in the advocacy of true federalism insisting on the change of the Constitution imposed by the military through which Nigerian federalism is twisted.
As Governor of Ondo State Akeredolu observed and attributed growing sectional activism to “faulty and twisted federalism” lamenting that sectional agitations had displaced “national patriotism”, worried that unitary structure might continue to provoke sectionalism while insisting that true federalism will renew and restore fidelity to national consciousness”.
He also decried the concentration of the nation’s wealth in the Federal Government such that states were ever dependent on the centre for allocation of revenue from resources extracted from their territories contrary to true federal practices wherein the constituent federating units control their resources and remit constitutionally agreed percentage to the central government.
The states as a result have become so dependent on the Federal Government and pauperised, unable to impact the lives of the ordinary Nigerians.
In practical terms, in conjunction with his colleagues South West Southern Governors Akeredolu ensured the establishment of the Amotekun Security Corps for the security of the region and the constituent states as it ought to be in a true federation contrary to the most unacceptable monopoly of security by the Federal Government a caricature of federalism under the imposed military constitution.
In politics, Akeredolu as Chairman of the Southern Governors Forum mobilized his colleagues in demanding and insisting that the office of the President of Nigeria was not the exclusive preserve of any region and thus joined other forward looking groups including the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum in the successful advocacy for a President from the Southern Region after the tenure of President Buhari of northern extraction.
It is the hallmark of his courage that his advocacy for true federalism was not diminished by the lukewarm attitude or open rejection of restructuring of the Nigerian Federation by the Federal Government on which same platform Akeredolu was elected.
As we mourn the exit of this great Nigerian patriot and federalist of no mean stature, Afenifere wishes to assure all who are genuinely committed to equity, justice and fairness that we shall remain unrelenting in the pursuit of restructuring to re-enact the foundational principles of true federalism which was beneficial to all.