Rotimi Akeredolu also known as “Aketi” is the Governor-Elect of Ondo State, Nigeria and also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) who became president of the Nigerian Bar Association in 2008. Akeredolu is also a Managing Partner at the Law Firm of Olujinmi & Akeredolu, a Law Firm he co-founded with Chief Akin Olujinmi, a former Attorney General and Minister for Justice in Nigeria.
EARLY LIFE AND BACKGROUND
Akeredolu was born on 21 July 1956 in Owo to Reverend J. Ola Akeredolu of the Akeredolu family and Lady Evangelist Grace B. Akeredolu of Aderoyiju family of Igbotu, Ese Odo, in Ondo State. Akeredolu started his primary education at Government School, Owo. He proceeded to Aquinas College, Akure, Loyola College, Ibadan and Comprehensive High School, Ayetoro, for his secondary school education and Higher School Certificate, respectively. He attended the Loyola College in Ibadan. His middle name “Odunayo” means “Year of happinesss” in Yoruba He went on to the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) to study Law, graduating in 1977. He was called to the Nigerian Bar 1978.
CAREER AND LIFE
Akeredolu was appointed Attorney General of Ondo State from 1997–1999. In 1998 he became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He was Chairman of the Legal Aid Council (2005–2006). In November 2009 he faced allegations of corruption when the Bar Association’s Third Vice-President, Welfare Secretary and Assistant Financial Secretary circulated a petition entitled “Complaints against your fraudulent manifestations, violation of the NBA”. Subsequently, the allegations against him were reviewed and dropped by the National Executive council of the Nigerian Bar Association.
In a lecture in December 2009, Akeredolu said no amount of electoral reform or judicial system could give Nigeria free and fair elections, if Nigerians themselves refused to take practical steps to ensure that their votes count. Later that month he stated that Umaru Yar’Adua, the President of Nigeria should have handed over to Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan in an acting capacity during his illness, a statement that was backed up by the Nigerian Bar Association who said he was authorised to speak on their behalf.
In 2012, the Nigerian Bar Association named its new secretariat in Abuja after him with its president citing the reason being the need for “generational identification and recognition of those who had contributed immensely to the development of the association.Everything in the NBA is usually highly politicised. The sheer courage for him ( Akeredolu) to go through the rigour is a testimony to his selfless service.” Governorship candidate
In November 2011, Akeredolu was among a crowd of aspirants to be Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate for Governor of Ondo State in the 2013 elections. In an interview that month, Akeredolu said that he had become well known and respected as president of the Bar, and described himself as a progressive. If elected, his priorities would include agricultural development, fish farming for export, improvements to education, jobs for youths and improved roads. He would provide free education and primary health care. He was in favour of increased subsidies and greater local control over public spending.
On 28 July 2012, On Akeredolu was selected as the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate for Governor of Ondo State during the ACN congress in Akure. His selection pitched him in a head to head battle with the incumbent, Olusegun Mimiko and Mr Olusola Oke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Akeredolu promised to create 30,000 jobs in his first 100 days in office. His promise was refuted by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a ruse. His promise nonetheless resulted in the submission of over 10,000 CV’s to his campaign office.
On Saturday September 3, 2016, in a controversial primary election that rocked the ruling party during which Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a major party voice and National Leader of the ruling APC demanded the resignation of the party’s chairman John Odigie-Oyegun, Akeredolu was awarded ticket to represent the All Progressive Congress (APC) the 2016 elections for governor. On Sunday, 27 November 2016, he was declared winner of the keenly contested Ondo State gubernatorial elections.
On Sunday, 27 November 2016, Akeredolu was announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission as the winner of the Ondo State Governorship Election. Mr. Akeredolu scored 244, 842 votes in the election while Mr. Oke won 126, 889 votes and Mr. Jegede 150,380 votes. According to Prof. Ganiyu Ambali, INEC Returning Officer, Mr. Akeredolu defeated two major opponents, Eyitayo Jegede of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), to clinch victory. He is to be sworn in as the governor of Ondo State on the 24th of February, 2017 in Akure, the Ondo State Capital.
ROTIMI’S WIFE TALKS ABOUT THEIR PERSONAL LIFE&HISTORY
Your husband is an icon in the legal profession and you are equally a strong woman in your own right. How do you manage conflicts when they arise?
The ingredient that oils the wheel of our marriage is communication. My son granted an interview recently where he referred to our house as a debating society. It is so because there is nothing my husband and I do not talk about. It could be when we are eating or in his room. There must be one topic we are discussing and we are never on the same side. But we always have a point of agreement at the end of it. That has been our life and in a way, we enjoy it. Even when we have misunderstanding, because of the vibrancy the conversation in our marriage gives to our home, we can’t keep malice for one day. And if you ask if I would marry him again, I will say yes multiple times. I think he would say yes too because he can’t have it better. He would always want to say something whenever he comes back from work. I don’t think Aketi can cope with any woman other than me.
How did you meet him?
It was during youth service, at a friend’s house in Enugu. Two youth corps members were visiting. One was visiting his girlfriend and Aketi accompanied him. It was love at first sight. I had always told my friends that the person who would be my husband, I would see him and my legs would start wobbling. And it happened that way. So I said if I could feel that way, then I would spend the rest of my life with this person and that was what happened. It was a mutual feeling and we knocked it off from there. What he told me was that he had always had that premonition that he might not even marry a Yoruba person. It didn’t come to him as a surprise that he eventually fell in love with an Igbo girl.
You are an Igbo woman married to a Yoruba man. How did you manage the culture clashes?
It was expected that there would be culture clashes, but if you are lucky to have someone that loves you and truly believes that you will spend the rest of your lives together, he would be protective of your own shortcomings. Of course, his parents were enlightened and they could let go. They were not very rigid. I think I can comfortably say that I had a breathing space and he made it possible. I will give the credit to him because some men would relax and say let her slug it out with the in-laws, but he didn’t. And here we are growing old together (laughs).