Saturday, April 25, 2020 5:25 pm
By Jethro Ibileke
Speculations that the Chief of Staff to Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo state, double Chief Francis Taiwo Akerele, has resigned have been swirling in the social media since the evening of Friday, 24 April.
But up till the time of writing this story late Saturday afternoon, the speculations have continued though the main subject of the rumours has refused to confirm whether he has indeed quit his position of not.
According to the raging rumour, the Chief of Staff dumped his Principal alongside a former Speaker of the State House of Assembly and an appointee of Obaseki, Alhaji Kabiru Ajoto, who also hails from Akoko-Edo local government area of the state and has also been at the forefront of the internal wranglings in Edo APC, on Obaseki’s side.
However, the only evidence that Akerele has quit his position in Obaseki’s government in the public domain was a letter dated 25 April, 2020 which has been circulating in Edo State.
But even then, the letter was so poorly written that many are doubting its authenticity.
It reads thus: “Dear sir,
“My decision to exit the government is based on administrative and governance grounds.
“I am solidly with His Excellency, Mr Godwin Obaseki in his quest to transform Edo state. His mission and vision resonates with mine.
“This is all I have to say, I will like to be given opportunity to go private as I part ways administratively with the government based on principles.
“I thank His Excellency for the opportunity given to me to serve in this capacity and also thanks to His Royal Majesty, Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, for his immense leadership and support during the period I served in this capacity. May his reign be long and peaceful. Amen!”
Critics also pointed out ordinarily, Akerele’s resignation letter should have been written on his official letterhead, addressed and delivered to the office of the Edo state Governor.
Anyway, in a statement issued on Saturday from the office of the Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, titled: “Obaseki yet to get official communication of CoS resignation”, indicated that the governor was yet to receive Akerele’s resignation letter.
The statement said: “In the past few hours, it emerged on social media that the Chief of Staff, Mr. Taiwo Akerele, has resigned his appointment with the Edo State Government.
“While the governor has not received any formal communication to this effect, he believes that this is a personal decision of Mr. Akerele.
“However, whenever the resignation letter gets to the governor, he would accept it, and he wishes Akerele all the best in his future endeavours.”
True to the literal meaning of his name (small, but mighty, in Yoruba), diminutive Akerele holds a powerful position in Obaseki’s kitchen cabinet out of tune with his small stature. The man popularly referred to ‘double Chief’, because apart from his position as Chief of Staff, he also holds a traditional chieftaincy title in his Igarra hometown called the shots at Edo Government’s House.
But he has been through the thick and thin, and has weathered the turbulence of Edo politics with Obaseki, as the Governor’s right-hand man in a working relationship that has spanned over 12 years.
Akerele started working with Obaseki following his appointment as head of the economic team of former Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s administration.
Obaseki later appointed him his Chief of Staff on November 14, 2016 after he became the governor of Edo State.
Thus, analysts and political leaders have been wondering why Akerele will decide to dump Obaseki, whom he had vowed to either swim or sink with since the speculations about the resignation began.
But while some opinion leaders in Edo believe that Akerele’s resignation is to punish Obaseki, others think the ‘resignation tale’ is nothing short of a political gimmick.
One commentator said: “If Akerele quits, I will not be surprised. He has long been trying to run a parallel government in government house. When, he formally submits his resignation letter, I will tell a true story involving my encounter with him wherein he sought to undermine the authority of the Governor. When he reads the story, he will learn to be careful about the pregnancy in tomorrow’s womb.
Another alleged that, angered Obaseki ‘moves to demolish former CoS Taiwo Akerele’s property, as his plea for Akerele’s rebuttal hits rock’
Another school of thought said that if it is true that Akerele and ‘others’ have resigned from Obaseki’s kitchen cabinet, they have a mission: to decamp to another political party, where they could seek alternative platform for their Principal, in view of the clash of the titans that await them for the governorship ticket of the APC.
Rumour mills had been rife with reports that Obaseki might finally embark on a political sojourn to another political party to seek a re-election, should his foes in the APC successfully outwit him in the battle for the governorship ticket of the party. And the likely landing option is the Action Alliance party.
Whether double Chief Francis Taiwo Akerele has resigned as Obaseki’s Chief of Staff and for whatever reason or motive, let’s keep our fingers crossed, time shall tell, and it is not far away.