June 25, 2024

Of Barr. Asue Ighodalo, Esq. And Sen. Monday Okpebholo

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By Francis Ilenloa Igberaese

Dear Esan people,

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I write to address some vital issues in our campaign and the race to become the governor of Edo State soon. I must warn that it may be offensive to many people who have not really liked my approach. That is not unusual because as one of those who staked whatever time and resources we could to ensure that we get to where we are now; with two of our illustrious sons flying the tickets of the two biggest political parties in the EDO 2024 gubernatorial election, I have no option than to guild it jealously and protect it. We had wanted a situation where all the three major political parties gave their tickets to Esan persons so that the battle would be won at level. What happened with my former party, the Labour Party, is business for another day. I couldn’t just continue with them only for their big disappointment.

However, we are happy that after all, we still achieved 80% of our objective to guarantee the Esan governor (some say a governor of Esan extraction; it is okay). I am one who easily admit when accused of being with either candidate or “speaking from both sides of my mouth” (Ighodalo or Okpebholo). I should be proud of them both; for it is high time I did, irrespective of who I would eventually vote for.

For Ighodalo (I go in alphabetical order), his likes won’t even agree to come down and mingle with us, and this is not to say he is too much for us, but in reality, many of his type would prefer to be unconcerned or worry themselves about the poor who they wrongly believe are the architects of their own misfortunes. “Leave them in their self-inflicted unfortunate conditions”, they would say.

I have reasons to believe that he must be under pressure from his colleagues in the upper class, who by now, may believe that he is merely wasting his time, energy and resources condescending to a lower level. Let me leave it at that. I only imagine it.

Esan Language! How many of our kids growing up even in the sub-urban towns speak Esan Language today? I battle day and night to ensure that my children understand and speak Esan Language but to extent have I succeeded? I know many of my colleagues living in Uromi whose children neither understand nor speak Esan Language, and heaven has not fallen. So, will it be fair to, for that singular reason, deny our children their potentials (abilities) to contribute their quotas to our development efforts; simply because of their backgrounds, irrespective of their qualifications and standards? You know, it is so much resemblance that does not make the fowl swallow the egg of the bird. Let’s be careful of the precedence we lay for our future generations.

While it is undisputable that the language is our identity, I am very sure that it isn’t Esan Language that a governor would use to attract the “flying geese”, harass the “dragons”, and ensure that we overcome all our development obstacles. Come to think of it, don’t we think that his complete Esan name; “Asueilimen Ighodalo”, as in the case of his brother; “Itua Ighodalo”, is a strong indication that it had long been instilled in them that they are from nowhere but Esanland?

I now come to Sen. Monday Okpebholo (the Akpakomiza himself). This is a man who has from all initial natural (or even artificial) disadvantaged positions in life transformed himself to a very high advantaged position. He is a man who has summoned up the incredible courage to challenge his background, raised his head above the waters, and won battles, to the extent of being in a race with men of fortunate backgrounds and products of first class institutions. Just imagine he had elite parents too.

Continue to “yab” a man who has refused to allow his unfortunate background set his limits in life but has radically broken out of the intergenerational transmission of poverty, and now known by the low and the high, as if he were part of their elite upbringing.

Let me ask you some questions of sensitivity, to which you must be sincere in your answer: You who think you are so educated and can correct all the “Common Mistakes in English”, have you been able to conquer your world and come to such limelight in your career and vocation to be so called out? What impact have you made in your environment with all your education that can be compared to those of the man you insult everyday as if it were with English Language Gen. Ogbemudia established the great University of Benin (Ambrose Alli in the case of Ambrise Alli University) that produces Professors today?

I am very sure that the real educated people (even Asue Ighodalo who you claim to be supporting, not for the overall interest of Esanland and Edo State but because of your selfish interest for which you would be disappointed and start blaming everybody but you, if he becomes the governor), would never be so intellectually arrogant not to acknowledge the huge efforts of a naturally disadvantaged child, who has been able to say a capital “NO” to the small place nature and men wanted to allocate to him.

You must understand that it takes far more efforts to start from the horizontal line or below it, and still stand tall than starting from above the horizontal line to stand tall. Such men who had no positive beginnings are sure manifestations of vision you can’t even imagine. Such men may just be the reason why God sometimes decide to elect the foolish to shame the wise. They are configured to be highly sympathetic with the poor, be pro-poor and anti-poverty, because it is usually very difficult for them to betray their God.

So, my dear, we must be happy that at this point in time when some persons had blackmailed us (Esan People) as minority who do not deserve anything good, we have a person who volunteers like Jesus, to get out of his very comfortable zone to say “I will go” (Asue Ighodalo), and another, who did not only say “never again” for his people but also helped us to challenge the demagogues and unbelievably defeated them (Sen. Monday Okpebholo). Imagine our fate as a people by now if there wasn’t anybody to represent, and fight for us, and then, a Benin candidate emerged as APC candidate. Of course, I am sure you know just as I do that we would have by now swallowed our “Esan Agenda” story.

Sincerely, this is the same respect I have, and would continue to have for Gov. Godwin Obaseki, who first insisted that it is the turn of Esan people. Gov. Obaseki truly deserves the protection of, and award by, Esan people for many things. I sincerely think he has been every Pro-Esan and anything Anti-None Esan. That is a business for another day.

On the whole, I appeal to you, my brethren, to stop the name callings, because at the end, we would have no option than rally round whoever among our two sons who God would deem it fit at this point in time, and for the reason(s) only known to Him alone, to qualify (yes, it is by the qualifications He has set, not those we set) and be made our governor. It is never by might, it is never by the Esan “heavenly language”; it is simply what He wants.

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