The Esan agenda conundrum

[Comment]
Tony Abolo

It was thought that from over a year ago, from after the 2020 Edo Elections that it was a given that the next Governor would be of Esan extraction and from the Edo Central Senatorial Axis. Not so much because of the stepping down of Engineer Godwin Ikhine and Barrister Ken Imasuagbon, to Godwin Obaseki in the PDP, but it was felt that in a family of the Edoids, that fairness, equity and providing a sense of belonging dictated that it be so but was not disregarding other the Senatorial ambitions in any way but in the spirit of Okpamakhin.

FILE-L-R: PROF. AMBROSE ALLI (RIGHT); TRADITIONAL RULER OF EMU KINGDOM, HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS (HRH), PROMISE IMHANSIEMHONJIE (LEFT) DECORATING THE EDO STATE GOVERNOR AS CHIEF AKOMU-INYEHEN, DURING THE GOVERNOR’S COURTESY VISIT TO THE TRADITIONAL RULER IN ESAN SOUTH EAST LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF THE STATE AHEAD OF SEPTEMBER 19 GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION IN EDO STATE.

However as in all things in life, with the anticipation of Esan Agenda unraveling, due to what one may regard as the inordinate ambition of some individuals in the other zones, and a Press Conference, suspected to be sponsored by strong interests by other contenders from Edo North and Edo South Senatorial Districts, no one wants to doubt the human feelings at play.

Of course the important question often asked would be, what competency does someone from Esan land have that would propel Edo State, beyond the new technological and digital levels, Obaseki has enabled the state to achieve? That would be answered, shortly. But let us first dismiss simpler issues. Given our ethnicities and tendencies, how would Edos feel if yet another Benin man emerges from whichever party as the gubernatorial Candidate? No matter the trade offs, the other zones could gang up and “shoot” him down.

Something the Edo South Senatorial District tends to forget, is that Edo South is not homogenous quite anymore. It is extremely cosmopolitan in both the urban as well as its rural configurations. The Esans in reprisals and the Edo Northerners whose residents are spread in the South, can upset the Edo South voting demographic calculus. Whether people realize it or not, the level of political awareness and consciousness is very high. Anything is possible to upset any contest.

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The Esan people are conscious of this and would rather be on a diplomatic route, canvassing for consensus and appealing that after Professor Ambrose Alli and he short lived tenure of Professor Osarheimen Osunbor, it is their deserved turn. Come to think of it, in hindsight, the Esans have always put their best foot forward, only Professors came forth. Who knows if given a chance, what level of professionalism and academic credentials next, would the Esans provide?

There is an issue we have to contend with in all of this whether Esan or not in 2024. That Edo State political leaders have failed to fashion out a formula of transitions unlike a sister state, like Delta State. Delta has an easy formula of moving from one senatorial district to the other, this evades rancour and produces an equity of a kind. This makes it all the more imperative that Esans should have it this time. This ensures, power moves round. It would be unthinkable for Edos to want an Edo Northerner, having given free reign and collective support to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. It would also be unconscionable to have a Benin to get into office in 2024, after Obaseki, no matter how much an outsider or a Lagosian they consider him.

Perhaps it was time to think of ethnicity rotation. This is a debate that must soon hold. This would give vent to the ethnicities being left out in the Edo power fairness distribution. This formula would accommodate, the Owans, the Akoko-Edo people who have been snuffed out for too long. This is not fair. And because they have always been treated as a minority, they may not be vocal on their concerns for now. But you never can tell, when an ambitious son, or a wealthy daughter may demand a new form of equity and power sharing.

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But for now, the more vocal group is the Esans. And they are parading a galaxy of distinguished personages – of wealth, experience, education and political pedigree. Since they have been loud in their agitation, denying them this opportunity would create a backlash and resistance in a manner not foreseen by the other two zones. That is a political battle other zones should avoid by being politically savvy and strategic. Conceding to the Esans for now could be a master stroke. This is why we miss Tony Anenih, at a time his mental strategy in politics always saved the day and made ambitions fertile and in check, as he traded off dexterously. Had Tony Anenih been around now, these ugly contestations for power may not have been handled at a level where you hear people in some zones are placing contestants in a position of feud.

Edo has been homogenous. Okpamakhin should be an all round statement with the fullness of meaning. Being Edoids is a great homogenous advantage. Apart from sharing a common root language, ancestry and cultural history, this is the time when Okpamakhin should be translated into, it is only fair to give Esan a chance to emerge from whichever party in 2024.

There may be a hidden battle ahead. What is Obaseki’s preference? Of course who can transcribe his foundational development into the long strategic 30 year plan for Edo State, which he has envisioned. He more than anyone else set the Esan Agenda aloft and aglow.

He it was who made a deal back in 2020 that should be backed by the Esans, for which reasons, Engr. Gideon Ikhine and Barrister Ken Imansuagbon stepped down. It is merely gentlemanly, and in the character of Godwin Obaseki, to fulfill his avowed hope of four years ago; to give Esans the chance to go for the gubernatorial prize. I am not going into his rumored preferred choice. Let us stay on the one. Let us resolve the gubernatorial conundrum, in favour of the Esans. This is the time, not tomorrow.

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