For political observers in Ondo State, the pair of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and his deputy, Hon. Agboola Ajayi must have been a perfect combo to lead the state when they were sworn-in 2017.
With Governor Akeredolu seen as a technocrat with little background knowledge of the political permutations and intrigues of the state, Ajayi, a grassroots politician was expected to fill the void for his boss.
For two years, the political aspect of running the state was left in the hands of the Deputy Governor as Akeredolu battled with the administrative side.
There was a seamless flow between the two but noticeable cracks began to manifest halfway into their four-year tenure.
Giving a vivid narrative on the feud between the governor and his Deputy, a top source within the state cabinet said that the tension currently emanating in the political firmament of the state began the day Agboola Ajayi was picked as Akeredolu’s running mate.
According to the source who craved anonymity, the Deputy Governor is well-rooted in the political calculations of the state better than his boss who was yet to understand its political terrains.
While emphasizing that the Deputy Governor capitalized on the political naivety of his boss to expand his political frontiers, the source said from the inception of the Akeredolu-led government, Ajayi had been oiling his governorship ambition.
“Aketi (Gov Akeredolu) entrusted the entire southern senatorial district and the political architecture of the state in the hands of the Deputy Governor.
“The Governor was politically too careless and he over trusted his Deputy from the beginning. Ajayi knew he would run against the governor. The move took away friends of the party from the south. That was why he picked most local government chairmen and House of Assembly members.
According to one of our impeccable sources within the Akeredolu-led government, things totally went awry between the two when the governor fell sick in 2019.
With the sickness preventing Akeredolu from being outside the state for weeks, his deputy, Ajayi was said to have plotted the move by mounting pressure on members of the state House of Assembly to activate the doctrine of necessity by making him the acting governor.
The move according to the source infuriated the governor which made him rush back to the state after five weeks of being absent.
The source added that the Deputy was the one who leaked the purported suspension of his boss by the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
With the alleged plans of the Deputy Governor against his boss uncovered, he was subsequently shut out of governance as he was no longer carried along in the affairs of the state which culminated in his continued absence from the State Executive Council.
Based on the political strength of the Deputy Governor, the move to impeach him from office has become a herculean task as Akeredolu has continued to struggle to secure the needed two-third majority of the Assembly for the impeachment of Ajayi despite a mouthwatering N10 million promise for each of the lawmakers ready for the move.
Only nine members of the Assembly were said to be in the camp of the governor instead of the needed 18 out of the 26 lawmakers.
The feud between Akeredolu and his deputy reached its crescendo on May 21, 2020, when Ajayi was prevented by the Commissioner of Police, Bolaji Salami from leaving the Government House allegedly on the orders of the governor.
Shortly after the development, Ajayi quit the APC and pitched his tent with the PDP.
Shortly after decamping from the APC, the Deputy Governor revealed he would not be resigning from office, stressing that the people who gave him the mandate did not ask him to resign as a Deputy Governor.
Following the development, seven aides of the Deputy Governor were sacked by Governor Akeredolu with Ajayi reinstating them as his aides hours later.
With the move, Ajayi who had obtained the PDP nomination form will likely be facing his boss during the October 10, 2020, governorship polls.