Kennedy Ikantu Peretei
Mrs Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, wife of the Ondo State Governor ranks amongst wives in the corridor of power who know exactly what to do with the enormous influence and lush funds available to their husbands.
Addressing wives of military officers, Mrs Maryam Babangida, wife of the former Nigerian Head of State who arrogated to himself the title of “President”, told the women that, they were one rank higher than their husbands, even though they were civilians. She said if their husbands were Colonels, *they were* BrigadierGenerals.
The glitz and glamour Maryam brought to bear on her pet project, Better Life For Rural Women cannot be forgotten in a hurry. She was reported to have influenced the capital of Delta State to be located in Asaba (her birthplace) which is at the Anambra fringe of the State. She proved over and over again that, she was the woman behind the throne.
Mrs Akeredolu has also demonstrated that she is one rank ahead of her husband. As a matter of fact, she does not mince words by saying she is three years older than her husband, who is the Governor of Ondo State.
Last week, Betty Akeredolu officially joined the Senatorial brace for Imo East bunder the All Progressives Congress (APC). In her address to journalists in Owerri, Mrs Akeredolu said “I am vying for the Senate of Imo East to change the narrative about Owerri Zone. Yes, l am married to the Governor of Ondo State but that shouldn’t deprive me of the right to seek to represent Imo East, which is my maiden Senatorial District. I am proud to come from Emeabiam in Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State. Our biggest challenges are roads and hospitals but l am happy that l have been able to attract a 10.5km of roads to Emeabiam at the cost of N16bn. I am grateful to the NDDC… l know my going to Senate will attract huge development for the people of Imo State”.
Few questions immediately come to mind. Was Betty trying to brag about her status of being a Governor’s wife or trying to reconnect with her roots as being part of the Emeabiam community? Has she ever been involved in development activities or politics of Imo State before her husband became Governor? How many of such NDDC Projects has she influenced Ondo State?
In 2012, when Rotimi Akeredolu first contested Governorship elections in Ondo State, his biggest challenge was that he never registered as a voter in the State. It took some re-engineering from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to relocate himself and his wife, from where they registered in Oyo State, to Owo Local Government, where they now vote. If Betty is to contest elections in Imo State, this ritual has to be repeated if not perfected already.
Betty’s Senatorial aspiration has been clinically conceptualised immediately after Akeredolu was sworn in as Governor. The first sign was that some of the Free School Shuttle buses bought by the Dr. Olusegun Mimiko government for easy movement of school children were sighted in Owerri. Of the over 95 buses, not more than 20 are parked at the premises of the Ministry of Works at various levels of decay. The Ondo State government has not told the people the whereabouts of the remaining buses. If the government says it has no money to run the buses, one will expect to see the buses on the ground. The missing buses may have been used to oil the “back to my roots” project.
On Friday, 29th December 2017, the Ondo State Government literally shut down and moved to Emeabiam in honour of Mrs Betty for the title Ada Emeabiam ll. The Governor himself led the delegation. Then, on 14th August 2021, all the monarchs in Owerri Federal Constituency, covering about 150 autonomous communities conferred on Mrs Akeredolu the title “Ada Owere” meaning the first daughter of Owerri. Betty is the first recipient of this title.
Again, on Sunday, 26th December 2021, the same woman was honoured with the title Nwanyiwuihe (a woman is valued) by the Ihiagwa Town Management Committee during the 2021 Ihiagwa Clan Day celebration in Owerri West Local Government.
There are none of these ceremonies that did not cost Ondo State Tax Payers huge resources that could be channeled to the welfare of the people. If you have received any such traditional title in Nigeria before, you will appreciate what is at stake here. Political appointees and traditional rulers all struggle to be seen during these ceremonies, taking selfies and smiling reminiscently of what legendary Afrobeat King Fela referred to as suffering and smiling.
Mrs Betty Akeredolu is desirous of joining the league of wives of former governors in the Nigerian Senate. The first was Senator Zainab Kure, wife of former Governor of Niger State, Engr. Abdulkadir Kure. Zainab was elected to represent Niger South Senatorial District in 2007 at the end of her husband’s second term as Governor. The other person is Senator Oluremi Tinubu, wife of APC leader Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a two-term Governor of Lagos State. Senator Remi was elected to represent Lagos Central Senatorial District in 2011. She was re-elected in 2015 and 2019.
While l wish Ada Owere the very best of luck in the 2023 Senatorial election, she must remember that those former governors’ wives who contested Senatorial elections did so, where their husbands reigned as governors. Akeredolu will be unable to do anything in the Imo contest apart from squandering our leann resources to service some politicians in Imo State who will never tell Ada Owere the truth. There are speculations that Betty was encouraged to contest by *Ebere* Obiano who intends to contest Senatorial elections in Anambra State.
This series will continue shortly.