Abiola Ajimobi, Governor of Oyo State, has suspended Niyi Ajao, his Special Adviser on Information and Communication Technology (ICT), without pay.
SaharaReporters understands that this was a tough decision for the Governor to take, as he liked and trusted Ajao a lot, and he was one of the few special advisers who had such unhindered access to the Governor that he was exempted from security checks when going to see him.
Ajao, a former Shell employee, has the ears of the Governor, whom he always refers to as “daddy”. But he has since lost his place in the Governor’s good books on account of his mismanagement of funds meant to provide “logistics” to the party’s leaders and foot soldiers during the general election. These days, Ajao can still be found in and around the Government House, “but no salary for him”.
“He did not get money out to the right quarters for logistics, and this messed things up during the elections,” one party source told SaharaReporters.
Independent findings by SaharaReporters revealed that in one of his many efforts to divert election funds to his own pocket, Ajao underpaid the 40 people employed to man the Situation Room of the Oyo State All Progressives Congress (APC) during the elections.
The Situation Room staff were billed to be paid N40,000 for their working during the presidential and national assembly elections; however, Ajao suddenly cut it to N10,000 each, which didn’t even come until two days before the election. It was only after the money was rejected that he raised it to “more than N20,000”.
Ajao, SaharaReporters also understands, has a long history of using the Governor to dishonestly enrich himself by under-complying with the Governor’s payment instructions. Someone who encountered this during Ajimobi’s first term spoke of a meeting between Ajimobi and some clients, during which the Governor ordered the clients to be paid a certain amount, only for Ajao to pay them just 8.3% of the figure.
Following Ajao’s refusal to release the funds during the first election, funds for the governorship election were not channelled through him.
He was involved in the organising of the Oyo State Science and Technology Summit (OYSTS) on Monday, but SaharaReporters understands that the event was one of the efforts to ensure the Governor “doesn’t get too angry” — since the money had been released since last year to the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, headed by Professor Adeniyi olowofela.
A Government House source confirmed Ajao’s suspension to SaharaReporters but declined to go into the details, simply saying: “Ajao is very close to the Governor. His wife, Deola, is very close to the first family as well. So, you must know that whatever Niyi has done must be serious.”
SaharaReporters succeeded in establishing that Ajao’s wife, Deola, currently has a contract from the state government to renovate the Lekan Salami Stadium, but it hasn’t been done yet.
SaharaReporters also found out that Ajao handles anything IT in Oyo State. For example, the Safe City CCTV project he suggested to the Governor has been embarked on. Only that instead of covering Ibadan and Oyo towns as planned, the project only takes care of 10 crime-prone areas in Ibadan — despite Femi Oyedipe, Executive Secretary of the Oyo State Security Trust Fund (OYSSTF), confirming in December that a whooping N300million was expended on the project.
“Ajimobi was not happy about it, and that was one of the reasons he took a while after completion of the project before the Governor accepted to launch,” a source familiar with the project confirmed to SaharaReporters.
Despite falling out of favour with Ajimobi, Ajao remains powerful, although still young, in Ibadan. Around this time two years ago, he was installed by the Olubadan of Ibadan as a ‘Mogaji’ (compound head) of Ayegun Compound of Inalende — a feat SaharaReporters understands Ajimobi was instrumental to bringing to fruition.
At the time, Ajao was the youngest Mogaji in Ibadan, at 37. However, he has since been overthrown, first by the son of Adeniyi Akintola, who became Mogaji at 21, and later by Solomon Oluwatenilola Adegbola, a Business Economics undergraduate of University of Warrick Coventry, United Kingdom, who, at 20, became Mogaji in February 2018.