Penultimate weekend, Ewohimi, a community in Esan South East Local Government Area of Edo State played host to the creme de la creme of the society in Edo Central Senatorial District and even beyond as Timothy Okojie Ave, Publisher of National Chronicle magazine, convened Esan Leadership Summit 2021 which Barrister Kenneth Imansuangbon (aka Riceman), a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain and school proprietor hosted in his magnificent mansion.
Popular News went round to get the views of some of the participants.
Timothy Okojie Ave(Convener)
The dream behind organising the Esan Leadership Summit and the Hall of Fame is borne out the desire to ensure that Esan nation as part of Nigeria speak with a voice. But there is need for us to come together as a people. We need each other. Unless we develop the least among us the best of us cannot survive. It is against this backdrop we say that no way other communities, other tribes in Nigeria are congregating, talking about the way forward in Nigeria.
There is need for us to talk. If you look back you will discover that in the history of Nigeria it was an Esan man that moved the motion for independence. Moving motion for Nigeria independence then was like you were plotting a coup. So, we as Esan people are warriors. Why are we behaving like chicken? But when you look at Nigeria today nobody talks about Esan again. That’s why we say there is a need for us to congregate, to articulate the way forward for Esan nation so that we can regain our lost glory.
Let me come to the issue of the Most Influential Hall of Fame. When you look at Esan history there are men and women who have contributed immensely to the development of Esan nation. We believe that if we don’t honour these people we are not setting good example for others to follow.
Barrister Kenneth Imansuangbon (Host)
It is double glory for the people of Esan and Edo State. One, we are celebrating of Godwin Obaseki’s victory(at the Supreme Court). The announcement of the Supreme Court that the will of the people is sacrosanct. For Esan people Obaseki’s victory is the reason why we have gathered here today in Ewohimi. All Esan men, daughters and sons we are here to say God, thank you for making Obaseki’s victory total. In Obaseki’s victory comes the Esan Agenda. The year 2024 for Esan is sacrosanct. It is not negotiable because it is our turn. 2024 is the turn of Esan people. It is our turn to produce the next governor of Edo State. Who the next governor of Edo State would be is in God’s hands but it is the turn of Esan man. We’ll negotiate with our brothers, the Benins and the Afemais.
Of course, the Benins are wonderful people. The Benins are one of the finest species created by God. They are not greedy people, they’re selfless people. They’re people that will balance the equation. It is the turn of Esan people. Today, we have just issued a communique that on 2024 we stand. It is the turn of Esan man to be governor of Edo State. Since the time of Professor Ambrose Alli we have never had a governor because in law Professor Oserheimen Osunbor was not a governor. I am a lawyer. I was called almost thirty years ago to the Nigerian bar. In law Osunbor was not a governor. If that’s correct therefore, it is only proper that Edo State must adopt the Delta example where power rotates from senatorial zone to senatorial zone. In 2016, I lost to Godwin Obaseki in APC primaries. In 2020, I stepped down for Godwin Obaseki. In 2012, I came second to General Charles Airhiavbere. In 2007, I stepped down for Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. So, it is now the turn of Esan people. That’s why we have said that this is the hour, the period and the time for Esan people. We are doing it peacefully, begging our brothers and sisters across the state. Now that the Supreme Court have made the greatest pronouncement ever in history that Obaseki won freely and squarely, that he has results. In any case, it is only a mad man that will say that Obaseki doesn’t have results. Obaseki is very cerebral. A man who worked in the stock exchange; a man who have worked in the USA you will now say he doesn’t have result. He has result. Now, I call on every Esan man, Edo man, Benin man, Afemai man, APC, PDP etc to join hands together let’s support Obaseki to succeed and by 2024 we know God willing that it is the turn of Esan. And God will bless Edo State. That’s why we are here to celebrate Obaseki.
Barrister Friday Ibadin(a retired Commissioner of Police)
We are here today to celebrate the victory just recorded by the governor at the Supreme Court and to also see how we, as Esan people, can come together and move ahead. He who needs equity must do equity. It is a maxim in law. I strongly believe that the Esan people have done equity and they deserve equity. So for us 2024 is sacrosanct and that’s why we are trying to gather all our brothers and sisters, tell them the need to support the incumbent governor so that at the end of the day we would be able to achieve our aims.
Mrs. Stella Alli Okeregbam(late Professor Ambrose Alli’s daughter)
I want to congratulate our governor for the well deserved victory given by the Supreme Court. I also want to congratulate Edo Central for the victory of Governor Godwin Obaseki. It is a victory most especially for the Esan people because we are here again today at the summit to talk about Esan Agenda, the way forward. Esan Agenda come 2024 must be accomplished. We are using this medium to plead with the Benins and Afemais to join hands with us so that come 2024 the Esan man or woman will become the governor of Edo State. This is our decision.
I am also begging, as a woman, that women affirmative must be inclusive. We are pleading with our fathers and brothers not to forget this because we are beautiful at heart, beautiful as people, have good cultural heritage. With this we beg that every Esan man and woman should join hands together and make this agenda workout. It is like in the Bible in the book of 1st Chronicle chapter 24. It talked about the children of Itamhar. They were few in number but powerful. We, the Esan, should not look at numbers we should look at God at our side. By the grace of God we have come and we’ll achieve Esan Agenda 2024.
Josie Ogedengbe, former chairman of Igueben Local Government Council of Edo State
I am here to attend the Esan Summit which is talking about leadership, Esan Agenda and other things that pertain to Esan people. First of all, let me congratulate Edo people and Governor Obaseki for the victory at the Supreme Court. Esan people must come together as one to take collective decision, position and march forward to get the Esan Agenda 2024 to work. We have over the years not produced a governor. The short period of Professor Osunbor was declared by the court as null and void meaning that the Esan man was never in government house. We have another opportunity to run for it in 2024 and we believe that the entire state will for once come together to join the Esan people to produce the governor in 2024.
Comrade Roy Orhibabhor(Convener, Concerned Edo Citizens Forum)
We are here today for Esan Summit and we believe this summit is a preamble to what’s going to happen come 2024. We are mobilising our people. We are discussing with all the senatorial districts. We believe that after the end of this tenure of Obaseki Esan nation must be represented at the government house. We are not just demanding for it because it is our turn we are convinced that we have men who have the capacity, ability, intellect to develop Edo State.
You will recall that in the old Bendel State we produced Professor Ambrose Alli, one of the best governors that ever happen in the history of the state. For people now reducing us in terms of numbers that we don’t have numbers. That’s the issue that some of us are bothered about. If we can do it in the old Bendel State now in Edo State I think it is even very easy for us. There is no tsunami that has happened to Esan nation that has reduced our number. We are doing well in terms of numbers. In terms of ability; in terms of capability we are doing well. Great men of vision are from Esan nation. We are not just demanding for it we are saying that we have men who have what it takes to take Edo to the next level and that’s our demand. All necessary arsenal would be deployed. Strictly, it is going to be highly guided, high level of intellectual sagacity.