The Chief of Staff to Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, Taiwo Akerele, suddenly resigned yesterday for being sidelined, over his refusal to join the fight against the National Chairman of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
The resignation of Akerele came barely two months after Obaseki’s Senior Special Assistant on Anti-Human Trafficking Issues, Solomon Okoduwa, also threw in the towel for undisclosed reasons, but said he decided to move on and to explore other opportunities.
It was reliably gathered yesterday evening in Benin that the youthful Akerele, an indigene of Igarra in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State, first tendered his resignation on Friday, but it was rejected by Edo governor, who urged him to change his mind and continue in office, to prevent embarrassment, ahead of the June 2 governorship primary election of APC.
The source, a senior Edo citizen, who spoke in confidence, disclosed that the chief of staff refused to withdraw his resignation, thereby making Obaseki to ask some top officials of his government (names withheld) to meet with Akerele and persuade him to rescind his decision, with the meeting dragging till around 1 a.m. yesterday, but the chief of staff stood his ground.
Very early yesterday morning, Akerele released a fresh resignation dated April 25, 2020, an indication that his mind was made up to quit, without looking back.
With Obaseki being at loggerheads with his benefactor (Oshiomhole), who is a former governor of the state, the chief of staff decided not to join the fight and he was not attacking or insulting the national chairman of APC, as some allies of Edo governor were doing, which was discovered to be some of the reasons for sidelining the hardworking and trustworthy young man.
Akerele, who was appointed on November 14, 2016, in his resignation, dated April 25, 2020, said: “My decision to exit the government is based on administrative and governance grounds.
“I am solidly with His Excellency, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, in his quest to transform Edo State. His mission and vision resonate with mine.
“This is all I have to say, I will like to be given opportunity to go private, as I part ways administratively with the government, based on principles.
“I thank His Excellency for the opportunity given to me to serve in this capacity and also thanks to His Royal Majesty, Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, for his immense leadership and support during the period I served in this capacity. May his reign be long and peaceful. Amen”
Edo Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Paul Ohonbamu, was contacted for his reaction to the resignation, but he had not responded, as at press time.
Obaseki’s Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, however, stated that his boss was yet to receive any official communication on the resignation of Akerele, claiming that the story had only been doing the rounds on the social media, even when the letter was forwarded to the media aide through WhatsApp.
Osagie said: “In the past few hours, it emerged on social media that the Chief of Staff, Mr. Taiwo Akerele, has resigned his appointment with the Edo State government.
“While the governor has not received any formal communication to the effect, he believes that this is a personal decision of Mr. Akerele.
“Whenever the resignation gets to the governor, he will accept it and he wishes Mr. Akerele all the best in his future endeavours.”
Tension is mounting in Edo state, ahead of the June 2 governorship primary election of the APC, with many chieftains of the governing party strategising to be the governorship candidate of APC, during the September 19 this year’s election.
It is also becoming obvious that Oshiomhole may not support the candidature of Obaseki for plotting the failed coup against him, which almost led to his being disgraced out of office as the national chairman of APC, but for the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari and the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
A month before resigning, in an interview with our reporter, Akerele said: “Government is not easy to run in Sub-Saharan Africa. I will not allow any of my loved ones to work in government, especially my immediate family, and of course in particular my children. There is nothing as demoralising as working so hard and receiving no commendation, but continuous criticisms. But for maturity and when you look at the impact you are making in the life of many people, I would have long left the scene and of course, one day, very soon, I still have to move on, for others to come and continue.
“If I am travelling to London or Lagos, I will remove one or two things that are personal to me in the office. So that in case I hear my removal on the radio, I do not need to come back here (his office). I did not contest for the position, it is appointive. So, I am at the beck and call of the appointing authority. I am grateful to God and Governor Obaseki for the privilege to serve. This is my fourth year. I always live in confidence that I have done my best.
“People do a lot to occupy this position. I do not want to say certain things, but I was just doing my work and I was appointed to be the chief of staff. The position of chief of staff is very tough, particularly in Edo state that is politically very volatile.
“We do not have a system to calculate the intellect, man-hour, energy and sleepless nights public servants spend and invest in the course of discharging their duties.
“Unfortunately for me, I have not been able to adopt 100 per cent political approach to my way of doing things, hence our work ethics is dictated by our orientation, working with the World Bank, the European Union, the Department for International Development (DFID) and other international bodies. Hence, sometimes when you do not get results, due to other people’s inability, after working so hard, it is quite frustrating”.
The erstwhile chief of staff also stated that it is not easy to survive in the public sector, especially somebody like him, without a godfather or a godmother.