Resignation Drama: How Obaseki Tore Ex-Chief of Staff’s Letter of Notice

Appoints son of former Senator, Uzamere as replacement

When Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki claimed on Saturday that he was yet to receive the letter of resignation by his chief of staff, Francis Taiwo Akerele which had been trending on social media since Friday, he was being economical with the truth, discreet investigation by Tell has revealed. The governor, in reaction to the news said in a statement on Saturday signed by his special adviser on media and communication strategy, Crusoe Osagie, that Akerele’s resignation would be accepted whenever the letter was received.  But in spite of the denial, Obaseki on Saturday announced Osaze Ethan Uzamere, son of former senator, Ehigie Uzamere as his replacement with the appointment taking immediate effect. An unimpeachable source close to the governor’s office confided in the magazine that Akerele’s resignation letter making the round on social media was indeed the second one after the governor reportedly tore the one he took to him on Friday.

According to the source, “It’s not that he didn’t see it. What happened was that when he gave it to him, the governor tore it and told him there was no need; that whatever it is, they were going to sort it out. But you know the truth is that for a man who has been your chief of staff to decide to resign and he enumerated the reasons why he resigned to include, but not limited to the fact that someone within and around the governor was usurping his position, and he thinks that the governor was comfortable with that because he never raised any issue despite that he was aware, it means that his contribution to the government wasn’t appreciated. And instead of wasting his time, he needed to take a walk”.

It was learnt that in the letter Akerele presented to the governor, he had stated his grievances. But when it was torn, he had to hurriedly write another one which he personally circulated for public information since the governor had rejected what was officially communicated to him. “So, I’m aware that the governor is aware that the man has not been happy arising from what he had been complaining about that his position has been usurped by some other persons” the usually reliable source said.

Reacting to the development, Washington Osifo, a lawyer and one of the members-elect of the state House of Assembly shut out by the governor, congratulated the former chief of staff “for having the courage to take the right decision he has just taken”. Osifo, former commissioner for education, predicted that now that somebody like Akerele has left “I believe in days to come, others will also see reason and go. We are not the one doing it. It’s just God that is opening the conscience of men and the eyes of men to really see and take the right step that will make the people happy and make God happy’.

 He believed Akerele was sidelined in government because they suspected he was close to the immediate past governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole under whom he served as senior special assistant. Osifo who described Akerele as a “very gentle young man who over time had sided on the part of truth” also shed more light on what could have led to the strained relationship between him and his boss. He said though the chief of staff, “he has tried his best to make friends for his former boss and all he had been doing was that we needed a united cohesive party to be able to do whatever we want to do and that represented all that he stood for. But in an attempt to tell them the truth, that look, we need to settle; you don’t need to be in this crisis. We don’t need to fight one another; we need united party. But some people took advantage of that to start lying against him to say okay, he’s on comrade’s side; he’s on the other side, you have to be careful when you are with him; he cannot be trusted. All those kinds of comments are not the ones that would edify a man who truly believes in the truth”.

Osifo believed that those who were hitherto envious of the close relationship between Akerele and the governor “because they were behaving like brothers who understood each other and they had always been working together” took the opportunity to widen the gap between them and the governor was swayed by what they were telling him. The former commissioner for energy and water resources posited that “one can now understand the reason why it was convenient or it was comfortable for the governor to allow some other persons to be doing his job. And the man was just there as if he wasn’t there. So, he took the right decision. If you cannot add value to a system, then what are you doing there? So, he took a walk and that is exactly what he has done”.

The magazine however learnt that jolted by Akerele’s decision, Obaseki made last ditch effort to save the situation by sending emissaries to him to pacify and persuade him to have a rethink but Akerele remained adamant. The same fire-fighting effort continued on Saturday until it became obvious that Akerele had crossed the Rubicon, and unlike Lot’s wife, he was not about to look back.  Osifo said he was aware of Obaseki’s desperate move to save his face, stating that he tried as much as possible to see how he could use some persons in the system to talk to him.

“Some commissioners, I’m aware, and some persons in government, were trying to reach out to him. They were there last night but that didn’t work because the man also knows that in politics, political enemies can never be fully reconciled. If he has chosen to take a walk on the governor, the governor would only wait; not because he loves him, that’s not the reason why he’s telling him to wait behind. He’s thinking that why should it be that you have had the first bite and walk away. Why not me who fired you?”

Warning of the consequences of Akerele yielding to pressure, which he believed he was not contemplating having made up his mind, Osifo said “there is a huge possibility to believe that once he gets back for instance, they would fire him so that they can take the glory”.

Asked if Akerele was reaching out to his former boss, Oshiomhole, for the purpose of reconciliation, Osifo said he had not seen the sign that “he’s thinking of reconciling. I am talking of signs because Comrade has not told me that he reached out to him”.

Francis Taiwo Akerele and Godwin Obaseki Photo
Francis Taiwo Akerele and Godwin Obaseki

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