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By Victor Ureshemi Akande Akoko Edo, Edo State

Mr. Taiwo Akerele resigned days ago from the government of his Excellency, Mr. Godwin Obaseki. And his story reminds us of the truth in a portion of the Bible in Proverbs 29 verse 2, which says, “when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice, but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn”.

Since the advent of democracy in Nigeria, Akoko Edo Local Government area which is the largest and oldest local government area has had its fair share of opportunities to serve both in elected and appointed positions. Mr. Taiwo Akerele is only the most recent. The leaders from Akoko Edo have, at their own level, done their best to represent the people and to attract development to the area.

However, in the recent history of Akoko Edo, never have we been able to produce a leader as visionary and focused as Comrade Taiwo Akerele. The man has gone the extra mile to show that he prioritizes the development of his people far and above his personal ambition as a politician. Within his 3 and half years period as the Chief of Staff to the Edo State governor, he proved, without a doubt, that he is about the best leader the Local Government has ever produced.

He was very much in touch with his people. He was accessible, simple and easy-going. He had listening ears, and he transformed all the genuine concerns he heard to policy actions. Comrade Taiwo Akerele demonstrated glaringly that government is a tool for development and not a vehicle for personal aggrandizement and hero-worshiping.

His visions were not parochial: from Ward 1 to Ward 10, Mr. Akerele’s handiworks were seen. Just like his forebearers- Professor Adebayo Akerele and Alhaji Omokide – he touched the lives of so many people, both infrastructure and social wise.

One very remarkable testimony to his commitment to good governance was during the 2019 electioneering campaign in Akoko Edo. On the visit to the palace of the Otaru Of Igarra, the Palace Secretary Chief Folorunsho described Mr. Akerele as “Mr projects” in the presence of His Excellency Governor Godwin Obaseki and other VIPs present at the occasion. This commendation testified to the many projects which were initiated by Mr. Akerele.

Note that the achievements of Mr. Akerele are a panoply of love and commitment to the improvements of the living standards of people in the state. To recount and for record purposes: Mr. Akerele through a methodological approach and with the support of the state government, He started with the construction of Ashipa Street, Old Palace Road, The New Palace Road (where the present Otaru palace reside), Rest House Road, Igarra Market Road, the Dilapidated Secretariat Road, Old Auchi Road, Domingo Street, and part of Lawani Street, all in Igarra.

Mr. Akerele did not stop there. With full appreciation of other communities, he put pressure on the government to remember the people of Ugboshi, Enwan, Uneme Osu, Ikpeshi, Ogugu, Ososo and Ibillo with at least two kilometers of roads each. In this regard, Special thanks also goes to Hon Emmanuel Agbaje and Hon. Yekini Idaiye for their complementary roles they have also played. As we know, a tree cannot make a forest, and two good heads they say are better than one.

Mr. Akerele has demonstrated that it is not how long a man stays in an office that matters but how impactful he was while there.

As it is customary in Nigerian politics, some persons may want to rewrite history and make a mess of the achievements of this young man but we hope that his works would speak for him. We hope that the spirit of truth and discernment will separate those who genuinely serve from those who rule for selfish purposes. Royalty, according to King George, is about those who serve and not those who occupied the throne. Akerele is a symbol of true royalty and humanity.

In his last six months in office, Akerele undertook a personal project to finance a health care facility for the people of Agbaneshumu community who are in want of a hospital, and this facility is at 80% completion stage.

As a youth-friendly leader, his time in government saw to it that many of our young people were employed into the State Civil Service Commission, Edo State Traffic Management Agency (EDSTMA) and the Public Works Agency (PUWOV) and other agencies of government. He was a man that went the extra mile to bring smiles to the face of his people.

His short stay in government resounds heavily, and has shown Akoko Edo what it can achieve with the right kind of leadership. No wonder, those who had had similar and even better opportunities to change the fortune of the people of the Local Government but failed have suddenly become envious of him. This is because he has shown how incompetent and uncommitted they were. They are now celebrating the voluntary resignation on grounds of principles of Mr. Akerele from the services of Edo State Government after 12 years of meritorious service to the state and Nigeria at large.

Salute to Mr. Akerele, salute to the people of his generation, salute to his parents who brought him up in a humble but strict and disciplinary manner, salute to his native Igarra community for producing a man that remembers his home, salute to Akoko Edo people for bringing forth its best for appointive position, salute to Edo State Governor for spotting talents and giving them opportunities to excel.

Akerele has resigned, but will forever be remembered for his services to his people. We pray that his good works will speak for him in his future endeavours, whether in the private or public sector.

Akerele’s story is a lesson to those who aspire for public service. It teaches that to occupy a public office demands selfless service and pious accountability.

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