The political fight between the Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, and his deputy, Agboola Ajayi, ahead of the state’s October 10 governorship election has deepened with each accusing the other of illegal financial dealings in the running of their offices.
Mr Akeredolu said his deputy receives N13 million monthly as running grant “which makes him the highest paid deputy governor in Nigeria”. He also described him as “greedy and lacking in contentment.”
Mr Ajayi, however, while admitting that he collected the amount, said the cash was inconsequential when compared to what accrues to the governor’s family monthly from the state purse.
The deputy governor is running against his principal on the platform of the Zenith Labour Party.
He had a stop-over at the Peoples Democratic Party after dumping the All Progressives Congress in search of the ticket to run for the office.
Mr Akeredolu is seeking a reelection on the platform of the APC as his statutory four-year tenure rolls to a close.
The governor, who spoke while responding to questions on the state-owned radio station, explained that Mr Ajayi “had a free hand to operate with unfettered access to all state properties and to his office”. He said two ministries were given to Mr Ajayi to manage “but he was never satisfied.”
“Agboola Ajayi is the highest paid deputy governor in Nigeria, as I speak. He earns more than the deputy governor of Lagos State. He earns over N13 million monthly as running grants for his office,” Mr Akeredolu said.
“Ajayi is just a greedy man that lacks contentment. I gave him a free hand to perform as a deputy governor. I gave him two ministries to run. He constructed roads. He built a number of schools. His wife also built a number of schools. The list is endless.
“Ajayi enjoyed more benefits than his predecessors as a deputy governor, but was only greedy. He had a free access to all state properties. He had a free access to me and all documents.
“He was even nick-named Arakunrin Kekere (small gentlemen). So, a man that would betray you would betray you no matter how you treat him. I have left Ajayi to God and posterity to judge him.”
In reaction, Mr Ajayi said the governor’s claims erroneously gives the indication that he was collecting the sums illegally.
“The Deputy Governor is surprised that the Governor could go to the press, announcing the sum of N13 million as what the deputy governor gets, as if it was a gift for personal use, and not for the use of his office,” Allen Sowore, media aide to Mr Ajayi, said.
His statement is reproduced in part below.
“The Deputy Governor states that what came to his office, until Akeredolu refused to release same, was N12 million per month. This includes the imprest of his office, allowances of staff, fuelling of vehicles, care of his residence and welfare of his aides.
“Huge as the amount may appear, it amounts to not so much when the heads and number of individuals it caters for are considered.
“This also pales to nearly nothing when compared to what Akeredolu and members of his family skim off the purse of our state with reckless abandon.
“For instance, the Governor gets a security vote of N750 million every month. He, Akeredolu, also gets an imprest of about N150 million, his wife, though occupies no constitutionally recognised position, and takes an imprest of N15 million naira per month.
“Apart from this, she collects an additional sum of N11 million from the Ministry of Women Affairs, which she runs like a potentate.
“Babajide, Akeredolu’s son, is also not left out in the pillage that Akeredolu and his family is visiting on Ondo State. He too takes a whopping N5 million monthly, and rips off the state by taking unbelievable commissions as a consultant to the State on almost every imaginable areas.
“All these are apart from millions and millions they get from inflated contracts awarded to family members and lackeys.”
But the governor, through his Press Secretary, Segun Ajigoye, also responded to the allegations.
He said his boss’ earlier ‘N13 million revelation’ had only exposed the “entrenched character” of the deputy governor.
“True to type, Ajayi has resorted to lies and fabrications that Mr Governor gets a monthly payment of N750m as security vote,” Mr Ajiboye said.
“This brazen misinformation is not a surprise but a true reflection of the unstable and treacherous content in Ajayi.
“The general public is urged to take advantage of the Freedom of Information Act to interrogate both statements by Mr Governor and Ajayi. For the avoidance of doubt, the State Bureaucracy which process such payments is very available to confirm the veracity or frivolity of either of the statements.
“The October 10 governorship election is between integrity and the absence of it. The patent greed which has provided motivation for the treachery and perfidy of Ajayi appears to have created further paths of dishonesty to oil his political misadventure. Succinctly, he is misled my his mind of greed.
“By his antecedents, Agboola Ajayi would have wittingly provided evidence of the payment of such huge amount even before now if it was true.”
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