Participants at the Esan Leadership Summit 2021 held at Ken Imansuagbon Hall in Ewohimi, Esan South East Local Government Area of Edo State last weekend, have spoken with one voice declaring that forty years after the last Esan man occupied the seat of power in Bendel State(now split into Edo and Delta States) it is the turn of the Esan people to have their own as the governor of the state in 2024.
Barrister Kenneth Imansuangbon, host of the summit organised by Timothy Okojie Ave, Publisher of National Chronicle magazine, in his submission said: “the sacrosanctity of 2024 governorship position coming to Esan should not be traded for piecemeal.
“The Esan interest come 2024 is the Edo interest. We must therefore jointly protect this interest. We must not for any reason demean ourselves or try to cast aspersions against our brothers for political gains.
“We must all come together like this to protect this Esan interest; we are jointly going to demand as part of negotiations with other people of the state. Yes, there is hope we shall negotiate in our favour, but we have to put our house in order first as Esan people.
“We have in the course of history stepped down through negotiations for others, it’s time for reciprocity. We have an army of talents that we can fetch from when the time comes.
“There should be private talks within our Esan caucuses to actualise our political unity as a people with common interest. Never again shall we become complicit. It will be a sealed indictment against us if this gathering ends up in talks without actions. It will be an act of wasted efforts and moral liability on all of us, especially this very generation.”
Going further, he said: “As leaders and followers, we cannot cease to recognise and embrace our mission of leading and following people right politically. Let words and actions, act at the very least, be used to mobilize towards the fulfilment of responsibilities by those who are charged with leadership or else, we shall be branded as collaborators and accomplices if we abandon our duties to the Esan people.
“Can we go into political extinction as a people? The answer is before us. We can grow if we convoke more of these kinds of unions to talk, and we can as well go down if we are divided. The choice is before us today. Every generation have their obstacles and challenges, if they have the will, they will surmount them. We must therefore rise today and call this the Ewohimi Declaration. Let’s rise up now and declare that 2024 is sacrosanct with the blessings of God and the approval of man.”
Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Marcus Izeagbeaya Onobun, charged the participants to be united and strive to do things that would promote the ideals of Esan people.
He also advised that efforts should be geared to ensure that the voting population of the senatorial district is enlarged whereby eligible voters of Esan extraction all around the country come back home to register so that their vote can always count in any election in the state.
He praised the efforts of the organisers of the summit and also commended the host, Barrister Imansuangbon, for making his facility available for use at no cost.
In his presentation, an academician, Professor Omo-Ojugo said: “Let it be noted that occupying the seat(Edo State governorship seat) comes through competition. It is not given or donated to anybody. The group that seeks to provide an occupant of the office must be ready to field or sponsor a credible candidate. We must look out for worthy candidates to run for the office and file behind them.
“We believe that we have many competent persons of Esan origin, who are willing and ready to compete with others for the position. Let us fish them out and get the best among them to contest for the office.
“What we are asking for is that fair opportunity be given to our people. By a fair opportunity, we mean that the position be zoned to our senatorial district by all the participating political parties. Given the fact that Edo South and Edo North have had their fair turns, it is only just fair that Edo Central Senatorial District be given the opportunity in 2024 to produce the next governor of Edo State.”
Going further, he opined: “This is where our youths and women come in. It is an established fact, that the youths and women are at the vanguard of all mobilization efforts. We expect them at this stage, in all their gatherings and through the social media to begin to drum support for Esan Agenda 2024.
“Today, we make a clarion call on all our people who are politicians to begin to reach out to their colleagues and associates in the other senatorial districts to buy into Esan Agenda 2024. In this venture we need hard work and concerted efforts. It is an agenda with a time frame unlike our overall Esan Agenda.
“Starting from now, we call on our youths, our women and elders to start the mobilization campaigns for an Esan person to ascend the number one seat of governance in Edo State. All hands must be on deck.
With God on our side, victory is sure. Esan is great and shall ever remain great. This is our time, we must not miss it.”
Convener of the summit, Timothy Okojie Ave, in his welcome address submitted: “We can still recall that it was one of our illustrious fathers, a bonafide son of Esan land, Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro, who moved the much celebrated motion for Nigeria’s independence. And indeed that brought Nigeria out of the shackles of dependence and servitude.
“However, we recognise that for the development that we seek to come quickly, the easiest way is to ensure that we all come together to say with one voice that the time has come for political power in Edo State to shift to Esan land, by allowing the zone to produce the next governor of Edo State, which indeed is our right, because having helped Edo South and Edo North to produce governor for eight years each, it is only imperative that the third part of the tripod, which is Edo Central be naturally allowed to produce the next governor in 2024 because nobody can love you more than yourself.”