After a disastrous end to what should have been a promising and glowing career in public service, former Chief of Staff to Governor Godwin Obaseki, Taiwo Akerele, is attempting to stage a comeback to the limelight with a recent dig at his former boss.
Akerele, who enjoyed the privilege of being appointed as one of the youngest Chiefs of Staff in the country by Obaseki, squandered the privilege by exiting the Godwin Obaseki-led administration in the thick of the face-off between Governor Obaseki and his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
He was one of Governor Obaseki’s first appointees, who had previously served as an executive in the Edo State Employment and Expenditure for Result (SEEFOR) programme in the State.
Akerele recently took umbrage at Governor Obaseki’s message to leaders and party faithful in Igarra, headquarters of Akoko Edo Local Government Area, during the inauguration of newly appointed Senior Special Assistants (SSAs) and Special Assistants (SAs) in the local government.
The governor had hinted that he has high regards for the people of Akoko Edo LGA, which is why he defied all odds in appointing Akerele to serve as his then Chief of Staff.
But Akerele would have none of this, issuing a statement against the governor, lampooning his developmental efforts and questioning the governor’s politics.
For the outsider looking in, it would seem that the move was inspired by a sense of principle and commitment to noble ideals, however, it would come to the fore much later after Akerele left office that he was indeed a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Fronting a Marxist persona to regale and impress his friends and associates, Akerele is no different from the archetype corrupt politician who abuses his office for wanton personal accumulation of wealth.
During his time as Chief of Staff, he was notorious for engaging in clandestine and avaricious moves through which he cornered resources and acquired property overseas, obviously through dubious dealings.
The level of his corrupt deals was so humongous that he was eventually being blackmailed by opposition interests who used evidence of his sleaze to threaten him, and in the process, obtain information about happenings in government to aid their attack on Governor Obaseki.
Hence, Akerele was notorious for playing the mole in government. He was in the habit of leaking official secrets to the opposition, betraying the trust of his principal, who had placed him in a position that required a surfeit of integrity and tact in handling confidential matters.
In the height of the quarrel between Obaseki and Oshiomhole, there were numerous instances when issues discussed in trust and within the governor’s inner sanctum got to the opposing camp even before the meetings ended. Akerele would, through his actions, sabotage moves, leak official secrets and divulge key information to paymasters in the other camp who he was beholden to, notwithstanding the impact on the government.
However, before his supposed resignation, deliberate effort was made to restrict Akerele access to key discussions and engagements because there was suspicion that he was acting as a mole.
True to the suspicion, these leakages ceased to happen. It was such that whenever he was not around, secrets were kept and when he was around, intricate details sneaked to the opposing camp.
This was what constituted the character of the man, Akerele, who today is standing on the rostrum, pretending to be a champion of good governance and accountability when he couldn’t even be trusted with official secrets to advance the business of governance in Edo State.
Akerele is beating his chest, brawling for a debate on public policy, politics and governance. He has only handled two public offices and has shown very bad and repugnant antecedents. It is shameful that he even finds the time to spew the nonsense that he has regaled the public with.
He should be advised that we have very comprehensive documentation of his sins in government and his attempt to hide behind the veneer of respectability does not fool everyone.
The governor’s developmental strides are spread across Edo’s three senatorial district and cut across agriculture, infrastructure, institutional reforms, digital economy, education, healthcare, forestry, welfare enhancement, energy, oil and gas, security, sports, youth development and job creation.
One of the most iconic projects perhaps is the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP), which has attracted $560 million into the State’s economy with over 70,000 hectares of palm oil estate allocated to 10 investors. Some of them have commenced first harvest from their fields. The foresight in this feat is revealed in the fact that just a few days ago, Indonesia conducted a commercial flight with a plane powered by palm oil-blended jet fuel. Aside the inherent benefit of oil palm as a cash crop, a new frontier is opened with the use of palm oil as aviation fuel.
If this is not enough foresight in public policy implementation, what else is? This is aside the two operational refinery projects in the State; over 145MW off-grid power generated; over $4bn attracted in seven years among many other key developmental projects initiated by the government to transform the state from a civil service state to an industrial haven.
Akerele has no locus standi to engage in any meaningful discourse on Obaseki’s legacy and no matter his feigned claim as a public policy expert, he is only but a tainted opportunist seeking undeserved attention in the wake of the governorship election scheduled for next year.
Hon. Ologun Peters writes from Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State