In a year marked by profound loss, the departure of several influential figures, including Ondo state governor Rotimi Akeredolu, has underscored the fragility of life within the political landscape of Nigeria. Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and ex-Attorney General of Ondo State, succumbed to an untimely death while serving his second term.
Known affectionately as “Aketi,” Akeredolu was recognized for his unwavering leadership and resolute convictions. As the Chairman of the Southern Governors’ Forum, comprising leaders from the 17 states in Southern Nigeria, his sudden demise leaves a significant void.
Reflecting on this unfortunate trend, a historical look into the lives of other governors who met a similar fate while in office reveals a pattern of tragedy.
Patrick Yakowa, who served as the governor of Kaduna State from 2010 to 2012, lost his life in a helicopter crash alongside five others in Ogbia Creek, Bayelsa state, in 2012. Yakowa, who had previously served as deputy governor, ascended to the governorship in 2010.
Mamman Bello Ali, representing Yobe South Senatorial District from 1999 to 2007, transitioned to the governorship in 2007 and held office until his death in 2009. His battle with leukemia ended while receiving treatment in Florida, United States.
Shehu Kangiwa, the ‘Smiling Governor’ of Sokoto State, met a tragic end in a polo accident in January 1982. Elected under the platform of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Kangiwa’s administration was cut short when he fell from a horse during a polo match in Kaduna. His legacy is remembered through The Shehu Kangiwa Cup, sponsored by the Sokoto State Government.
As Nigeria grapples with the inevitability of life’s uncertainties, the passing of these leaders serves as a poignant reminder of the risks associated with public service. The year 2023 will be etched in history not only for political shifts but also for the void left by those who dedicated their lives to public service.