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The many ‘sins’ of Asue Ighodalo

Let me make this declaration that if Asue Ighodalo belonged to any other party outside of the PDP, I would still have written this material as a proud Esan man just to address some issues so manifestly manipulated by politicians who trade on falsehood to earn some advantage.

From the foregoing, please, understand that this is not about a party but a people who with all humility so proudly declare themselves as a proud tripod of the Edo people benevolently planted at Edo Central by the Creator, and blessed with the capacity and capability to aspire to any position in the State as a common heritage.

I write in support of Asue Ighodalo who, penultimate Wednesday, declared his readiness to contest for the number one position in Edo State in the elections coming up later this year. It is within his rights to do so but so are the other aspirants who are perfecting their plans to outsmart each other in a race which usually they hardly give to the most reasonable or the most qualified, who can change the desperate situation of their people.

I write this material because if the good people of Edo State do not try to rechannel the political conversation that will be thrown up within the intervening period leading to the governorship election, the very mundane will occupy the centre of discourse, leaving the people short by miles and wishing for another messiah that may emerge in the horizon after four years.

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No. This shouldn’t be allowed to happen. The mundane is already being played up by some politicians who claim ownership of the truth and even stronger ownership to a State as their birthright to rule forever.

The reality gets a beating when they start to list the many sins of Asue Ighodalo which include: not a proper Esan man because of his inability to communicate in the Esan language, a political outsider who has not contributed to building his party in the State, an imposition by the current governor and therefore, a third term in disguise for the governor, and so many other allegations that politicians weaponise against their opponents.

In Asue, deja vu enjoys some ignoble comfort. Back in 1979, when Prof Ambrose Folorunso Alli, a professor of Morbid Anatomy at the University of Benin, wanted to run for the governorship position in the old Bendel State, now Edo and Delta, his traducers said he wasn’t Ishan because he couldn’t speak the language, and that, in fact, he was a Yoruba man because of his middle name.

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For a State with cosmopolitan understanding of contemporary developmental trends, that blackmail didn’t wash. Ambrose Alli won the elections and became one of the best governors that ever ruled Bendel State. Some giant strides recorded at that time are still noticeable in the area of his domain, to the extent that his political enemies  conspired to put him in prison when the soldiers came. But for Alli who took a page out of the free education policy of his party, the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), led by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, some of us would not have been so fortunate to smell the crumbs of western education, not to even aspire to full blown education robust enough to pay bursary to students. Alli demonstrated why knowledge is superior to the reasoning of political area boys.

In contemporary Nigerian politics, the qualities and services of area boys are needed to over awe opponents. Asue comes with none. At least from what I have observed becasue he is somebody I have not met. Surprisingly.

Here is one of Asue’s major sins in aspiring to the top position in Edo State. Few months ago, there was suddenly a groundswell that Edo Central, whose turn it is to produce the governor, did not have men and women with capacity to occupy that position. Some said the Senatorial District doesn’t have the population to go into such a contest, with some even making short films in Bini language to demonstrate their warped knowledge of the State. Death to zoning, they raged in their political battle cry.

Asue comes with a background and an elevated reasoning that overwhelm such  mundane myopia, flaunting a corporate pedigree that is as intimidating as it is real. A corporate lawyer and former chairman of Sterling Bank, Nigerian Breweries, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Director,  Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), head of the Edo State Economic Team, just to name a few, Economic Adviser to former governor, Adams Oshiomhole, now a Senator, and a confidant of Governor Obaseki, Asue has credentials and connections that can intimidate his opponents into spilling gibberish as political campaigns to beguile a people much wiser in their political beliefs.

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Has Asue responded to any of the cardinal sins listed against him? He hasn’t, and is not likely to. He is standing on higher grounds, beyond platitudes and base expectations.

Making a formal declaration at the PDP office in Benin City, Asue preferred to remain on the platform of ideas as a way of reaching the hearts of the people.

“As governor, by the grace of God, my mission will be to create an Edo where quality education is accessible to all, where hard work is rewarded and where our talented youth can turn their dreams and aspirations into reality.

“I believe in the promise of an Edo where every person, regardless of their start in life, can write their own story of success, if we take the right steps, together,” he added.

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Demonstrating his understanding of the State, Asue made a commitment: “No part of Edo will be left behind. From the high plains of Kukuruku to the lush vegetation of Ilushi; from the rich, red sands of Sakponba, to Esanlands’ incredible biodiversity, we have all that is needed to make our State a mesmerising destination for progress and wealth.”

Those who grew up in Bendel State and later Edo State, will understand Asue’s trajectory. Under the administrations of Samuel Ogbemudia and Ambrose Alli, each part of the State was known for something – farming, palm production, solid minerals, transportation; the State was a major hub for everything and the people were at peace, with manifest love for each other.

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Which is why those who made the short film about Benin and Ishan are so daft that they probably never heard of the name, Esangbedo (the family grew to be very prominent in the State) – the Esan person doesn’t fight a Bini, with all subscribing to the overarching supremacy of the Oba of Benin. How does somebody use politics to destroy such a relationship?

By way of demonstrating that he has not fallen for such cheap tricks, Asue said on Arise TV, ‘’The people of Edo State are clear, just and fair.”

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Yes. That’s who we are. A fair and just people who are very clear about who and what they want. Like Ogbemudia.  Like  Alli. Like Odigie Oyegun. And permit me to add, like Adams Oshiomhole. Very grudgingly.

Asue confessed being a native son of Edo State. His father lived in New Benin in Benin City, and his uncle, Aguele, from Ewohimi in Esanland, was a former PDP chairman in Edo State, with whom he discussed local politics. Somebody lived his growing up years in the heart of Benin and is taken as an outsider just because he would later move to Lagos. What will politics not do to corrupt the minds of those who make themselves cheap candidates to falsehood!

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Asue stated that there was so much to do in Edo State which requires creative thinking, creative financing and love for the people, pledging that if given the opportunity, he was prepared to attract the most brilliant, the most creative and the most adaptive of Edo people, anywhere in the world, to return and regenerate the fortunes of the State.

For me, I believe Asue has more than enough capacity to sit at the head of the table concerning the affairs of Edo State, but so are the other distinguished sons and daughters of Esan extraction, which include: Prof Osariemhen Osunbor (former governor), Dr Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi (a respected diplomat), Dr Mike Onolememen (former Minister of Works), Kenneth Imansuagbon (the rice man), Dr Dorry Okojie and Col. David Imuse, just to name a few.

So, those who speak about capacity apropos the Esan people either do not get the dictionary meaning of the word or they are just wretched candidates for mischief. But whatever their lot, I appeal for the politics of ideas and strategic thinking that can deliver our dear State from her present morass.

Okoh Aihe writes from Abuja.



Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of TheCable.
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