The media has been awashed and inundated about the health of Ondo State Governor; Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN in the last few weeks. The headlines relating to the health of the Governor ranges from rumors of death, incapacitation to loss of memory; to mention just a few.
The Nigerian Bar Association, Akure has closely monitored the unfolding of events and the association is taken aback at the embarrassing and disgusting manners some unscrupulous and disgruntled political gladiators have politicised the fledgling issues of the Governor’s health not minding the political and socio-economic implications of such indulgence on the state. More importantly, the inglorious act also has tremendous implications on the health of the ailing Governor.
Furthermore, in the last few weeks, the most trending and sensational industry in Ondo State has been rumour mongering. Politicizing the health of a human being; especially a leader isn’t only unfortunate but repulsive. If this ugly trend is not urgently averted and the gladiators allow the voice of reason to prevail; the fledging peace Ondo State is enjoying may be truncated. The socio-economic implications of a chaotic state is better imagined than experienced.
The position of the law on the matter is clear and as an association of lawyers; we want to put the records straight. A situation like this is already anticipated in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended). By Section 190 of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended), a Governor who notices that he needs a vacation or is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office is expected to transmit a written declaration to the Speaker of the House of Assembly that he is proceeding on vacation. During the period of vacation, the functions of the Governor shall be discharged by the Deputy Governor as Acting Governor.
Apparently, when the Deputy Governor becomes the Acting Governor; he has full statutory powers to act as the Governor and this includes presiding over State Executive Council meetings, awarding contracts, making appointments and entering into agreements on behalf of the state; to mention just a few. The presumption of regularity under the Evidence Act makes everything done by the Acting Governor to be presumed to have been legally done.
Similarly, it must be noted that any human being can be sick and the sickness may be protracted. This is the very reason Section 190 CFRN is silent on the length or duration of the vacation a Governor can seek under the law.
The only condition in which an Acting Governor can effectively take over finally as a Governor is provided for under Section 191 (1) of the 1999 CFRN. When the office of a Governor becomes vacant by reason of death, resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or removal from office in accordance with Section 188 or 189 of the Constitution.
Evidently, none of the conditions under Section 191 (1) and Sections 188 and 189 of the Constitution have taken place and there should be no cause for alarm. Death, resignation, impeachment and permanent incapacity are not matters to be imagined or speculated but they are questions of hard facts which must be ascertained.
None of the political gladiators ought to take advantage of this scenario and the Acting Governor of Ondo State; Arakunrin Lucky Ayedatiwa should step fully into the shoes of his boss and perform the constitutionally recognized roles placed on him without any fear or favour or intimidation.
Much is expected from the Acting Governor as well as the entire Executive Committee Members at this point. If Mr Acting Governor does not perform his roles or seen to be performing his roles; that will be a gargantuan opening calling for speculations and sentiments. It will be a veritable opportunity for speculations and rumors. The entire cabinet members should come together and leave no stone unturned in filing the vacuum left behind by the health of Mr. Governor. It is our prayers that Mr Governor will return hale and hearty. Ondo State will soar better and higher. And the Sunshine State will keep glowing.