The Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, on Sunday shed light on the roles his wife and son, Betty and Babajide, play in his government.
He said none of them are employees of the state government and so do not draw remunerations from the government.
Mr Akeredolu was responding to a question during the Ondo Election Debate held at the International Event Centre in Akure on Sunday.
He had been accused of running a government of father, son and wife, with the implication of paying huge sums to his son as consultancy fees.
Mrs Akeredolu has constantly been accused of cornering juicy contracts and controlling government agencies.
The deputy governor, Agboola Ajayi, had alleged that Mr Akereolu’s son, Babajide, made a whopping sum of N433 million from a N4.3billion allegedly stashed in a secret account of the state government.
The controversial N4.3 billion was kept in a secret account for over 10 years, generating interest until it was uncovered in May 2020 during an auditing of the state accounts.
Mrs Akeredolu is known for her Breast Cancer initiative, a platform she has used to assist women suffering from breast cancer through enlightenment and financial and medical assistance.
The Sunday debate was attended by Mr Akeredolu, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Eyitayo Jegede, and Oyeleye Fasua of the Social Democratic Party.
Mr Akeredolu said he ran a “government of the people, for the people and by the people,” and dismissed the allegation of his son being paid huge sums as incorrect.
He said he was, however, proud that he had a son who was assisting him in what he was doing in government.
“I pray that you all should have children who can be of help to you. I am happy I have a son who is helping me, that is what parents are desiring from their children,” he said.
“My wife brought Brecan before I became governor. She has her office here and she has been helping women and touching lives even before I became governor of the state.
“Let anyone who has any evidence that my son collected consultancy fees produce the evidence. Let anybody come out with the evidence that my son is a consultant, instead of making baseless allegations.”
The governor vowed to sue those making the allegations if they fail to substantiate them.
Mr Jegede was asked a personal question of his role in influencing his relatives to positions in government during the Olusegun Mimiko administration, where he served as Attorney-General for nearly eight years.
In response, he said his brothers were career civil servants who rose to the pinnacle of their careers before he got into government.
He, however, used the opportunity to criticise Mr Akeredolu’s alleged style of using his family to run the government, saying it was wrong and against the oath of office to allow his children and wife to be involved in the administration of the state.
According to Mr Jegede, his wife would not be involved in the running of his government nor would he allow his children to be consultants.
Mr Fasua on his part stunned the audience when he responded that he would certainly involve his wife and children in the running of government if elected governor.
He argued that there would be no success if he did not get the backing of his wife and family in whatever he does.
Mr Fasua said his wife remained the backbone of his businesses and she is the registrar of his college of education, which he said had produced 40,000 graduates.
The debate was hosted by a consortium of media organisations, labour unions, civil societies and religious bodies.
But the deputy governor, Agboola Ajayi, who is the candidate of the Zenith Labour Party, did not attend even though he was invited by the organisers.
“We invited the candidates of the APC, the PDP, ZLP and the SDP for this debate and none of the candidates showed any sign that he will not attend as of one hour to the programme,” Akinwunmi Abodunde, the anchor of the debate, said.
Mr Ajayi had defected from the APC to the PDP to seek the governorship ticket, but failed and later secured the ticket of the ZLP.
“We don’t have confidence in the organisers and they are not likely to be fair to our candidate,” Tope Okeowo, an aide to the deputy governor, said.
He said most of the media organisations and those who ran the show had sympathies for the governor.
According to him, Mr Abodunde, the anchor of the debate, and members of the team are employees of the state government, noting that Mr Abodunde works for the state-owned Orange FM 104.5.
“If the deputy governor attended there would be trouble because the organisers are those earning money from the state government,” Mr Okeowo said. “You can see how the moderator favoured the governor in the distribution of the questions.”
The PDP candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, arrived late to the debate, citing engagements with the security chiefs in the state over the violent attacks against his supporters.
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