Morakinyo Ogele, a prominent human rights lawyer in Ondo, has declared that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu can govern the state from any part of the country amid his ill-health condition.
Mr Ogele, who spoke late Wednesday night in Akure, the state capital, wondered why people, especially the main opposition parties, are raising concerns over Mr Akeredolu’s continued absence in the state.
“The constitution has failed to address the question of whether a governor can operate from outside the state,” the human rights lawyer said in an interview. “There is nowhere in the constitution that states the governor can only operate in Ondo state.”
Mr Ogele’s position is coming amid calls for Mr Akeredolu’s whereabouts in the state since his return from a medical vacation abroad.
In September, Mr Akeredolu returned to Nigeria from his three-month medical vacation in Germany after falling sick with an undisclosed ailment.
But since his return, the governor has been staying at his private residence in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, receiving briefings from cabinet members and other government functionaries.
The development has forced residents and critics to question Mr Akeredolu’s whereabouts, with many demanding that he either resume or resign from office.
Speaking further, Mr Ogele argued that the governor has the legal right to direct or govern the affairs of the state as outlined by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
He wondered why there were concerns about the governor, especially when his absence had no adverse effect on the governance of the state.
According to the legal practitioner, the Nigerian Constitution is silent and not specific about where the governor must reside or stay as an elected governor.
He added that once Mr Akeredolu fulfils his responsibilities as governor, there’s no need to raise concerns about his continued absence.
“The constitution is very clear on this issue. Now that the governor is around, nobody has accused him of not performing his constitutional role. Section 189 of the Constitution is as clear as the summer sky. As of now, no one is complaining that the governor has not been performing.
“The moment he arrived, he signed the LCDAs bill into law, and the salary of workers is going on smoothly. It is one thing not to perform his constitutional roles; it is another thing that he is performing. If he cannot perform as governor, that is where the constitution comes in.
“There are lots of gaps in our constitution. The constitution has not indicted any governor who is not within his state to perform his constitutional roles. That is why we need to amend our constitution,” Mr Ogele said.
While noting that the issues relating to the whereabouts of Mr Akeredolu were political, Mr Ogele said that the governor was also sick and receiving treatment for an ailment that could require him to be absent from the state.
“No one is praying to God for the grace to be sick. But the moment you are sick, you just have to take care of yourself, either here in Nigeria or in other countries. So, as a governor, he is subject to sickness.”
Amid the questions about Mr Akeredolu’s whereabouts, the youth wing of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had given him a three-day ultimatum to either address the people of the state or tender his resignation.