The premier web site of Edo speaking people.
Nation of people who are mostly located in the Midwestern part of Nigeria, Western Africa.
OPENING ADDRESS DELIVERED BY OBOMA ASEMOTA, MD, ON THE OCCASION OF THE 2004 CONVENTION OF EDOKPAMAKHIN HELD IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, ON JULY 3, 2004
The Governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Igbinedion
The representative of the Oba of Benin, Chief Nosakhare Isekhure
Distinguished and Honorable Legislators
My Lords, Spiritual and Temporal
The Press Corps
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to the 2004 Edokpamakhin Convention christened �Edo State of Nigeria: The Way Forward�. I am pleased to see so many guests who have created time out of usually crowded schedules and those who have traveled across the globe to honor our invitation today. Your presence testifies to the uniqueness of Edokpamakhin. It also lays credence to your interest on the important need for Edo sons and daughters to come together to chart a united course as implied in the convention theme. With pride I recognize all members of Edokpamakhin whose untiring efforts and unflinching commitment culminated in this event. Several committees worked long and strenuous hours daily for several weeks towards the success of this convention. My appreciation goes to all of you, particularly members of our host chapter in Boston.
Edokpamakhin, a Pan-Edo social-political organization with branches in the United States, United Kingdom, Austria and Nigeria, was founded on the cardinal premise of uniting all Edo sons and daughters across the globe for the overall purpose of advancing the Edo nobility, dignity and welfare. Edokpamakhin remains committed to fostering the unity of all Edos by developing and promoting the teachings of a standard common Edo language. No nation in the world has achieved that advanced technological development on learned foreign language. A cursory look at the list of developed and recently developing nations makes our case. We want to promote research into the authentic history and culture of Edo people. Most of what we know today about our history had to be taught to us by non-Edo authors and historians. Implicit in the name, Edokpamakhin, is our realistic value of oneness. Whether Benin, Esan, Etsako, Ora, Akoko-Edo, etc., we are all one and the same brethren. Our familial and cultural affinity is and must be seen to unite us more strongly than our feeble and circumstantial disparities that portend to divide us.
Edokpamakhin also wants to protect and advance the interest of Edos and their nation in order to promote a better and more humane state. Recently, we have heard to our chagrin, of enlarging gulf of disenchantment among some of our people. Unsavory phrases like �Esangbe Edo� and �Edogbe Esan� have been used. These are reminiscent of the �Airengbeason� political terrorism in the era of the 1950s and 1960�s. Political assassinations and muggings have become rife. Political factions bent on eliminating their perceived rivals even within the same party have left a sense of war atmosphere. These events certainly have dissuaded prospective investors in our state. It is commonplace to read about Foreign Agencies warning their citizens and representatives of the dangers of investing in Nigeria and Nigerians are painted as lawless people. With regards to our state, we should be able to keep our heads when others are losing theirs. It appears that the fear of the laws of the state is the beginning of development.
It is gratifying that Edo State has, in the past, accomplished rare feats in the economic, social and political development of Nigeria. Besides oil, through our rubber, timber and services we have contributed immensely to the Gross National Product of Nigeria. Social-politically, we are known to be a people of resolute determination, honor, dignity and unparalleled administrative prowess. With pride I recognize our elder statesman, chief Anthony Enahoro who at the age of 30 fearlessly moved the motion for Nigeria independence in the colonial House of Representatives in 1953; I pay tribute to Omo N�Oba N�Edo, Uku Akpolo Kpolo, Akenzua II of blessed memory, who championed the vanguard for the creation of the then Midwestern Region; I salute the courage of Chief Michael Imoudu the veteran labor national leader; and I honor the statesmanship of Dr. S. O. Ogbemudia, the two-time governor of Midwest/Bendel State for his unsurpassed accomplishments in the development of our state. These were then, but what about now?
We have since continued to take a rightful place in the mainstream of events in Nigeria. Edo state has produced two military vice presidents: Admiral Augustus Aikhomu (rtd.) was the second in command in the Babangida administration; and Admiral Mike Akhigbe (rtd.) was the second in command in the Abdusalam Abubakar administration. Our daughters have also done us proud: The First Lady, Stella Obasanjo, is our daughter; and the wife of the Senate President, Felicia Wabara, is our daughter.
At various times we have produced principal officers of the upper legislative arm as well as ministers who have directed the affairs of sensitive federal ministries: Senator Albert Legogie was the deputy Senate President; Senator Rowland Owie was the Majority Chief Whip of the Senate; Gaius Obaseki held the plum position of Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, a federal prime agency that had no Minister; and a long list of Ministers the most recently appointed being Hon. Odion Ugbesia, the serving Minister of Solid Minerals.
In terms of logistics, strategy, and mobilization in the arena of Nigeria party politics, Edo state indigenes have not lagged behind. Several names loudly resonate in the national scheme: Chief Anthony Enahoro; Admiral Augustus Aikhomu; Dr. S. O. Ogbemudia; Chief John Odigie-Oyegun; Admiral Mike Akhigbe; Governor Lucky Igbinedion; Chief Gabriel Igbinedion; Senators Rowland Owie, Albert Legogie, O. Osunbor, V. Oyofor, and Daisy Danjuma; Chief Tom Ikimi; Hon. Odion Ugbesia; and Chief Anthony Anenih who is now the Board of Trustees National Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. In addition, an Edo son, Dr. Abel Guobadia, is the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission. Yes, it is safe to say that Edo State parades a strong national political representation! Yet the question remains, �Have we as a people been able to harness and utilize our resources and privileged strategic positioning to create opportunities for the overall good of Edoland and its people?� The much sought after federal presence is almost non-existent in Edo State. Today the major employing body in Edo state is the state government. We can do with a project like those in Aladja, Ajeokuta and Kaduna to name a few. Other states are envious of the privileged positions that Edo Indigenes have occupied in the nation. But we almost have nothing to show for it. The most outstanding �benefits� are perhaps the protracted wrangling and the sizzling conflict that exist amongst members of the political class stemming from selfish individual goals. This development is inimical to the progress of the Edos. The masses of Edoland have borne the brunt long enough, and now is the time for the existing political class to unite for the overall interest of the Edos or voluntarily step aside for others who are more sensitive and committed to our cause.
Back in the days, our society developed through communal efforts. This spirit of community remains latent in us to this day, and it is crying out loud for liberation. Our people are not expecting monumental development to occur overnight. We are a people imbued with persevering tolerance and elastic patience. What we need is the reassurance of hope perceived through the lens of albeit very minute success of phases in a well-articulated leadership vision coupled with an honest display of leadership credibility and competence. There is no security of life in Edo State. Edo state is at the verge of total political and moral ruin. Edo State is in dire need of a cooperative leadership premised on shared vision and accountability, and drawn from a selfless political class. This typical leadership has the potential to release and re-inject our latent communal energies to the building of a glorious Edo statehood and to help us preserve the gains of freedom and democracy.
As leadership is a collective responsibility, we as a society need to remodel our attitudes, perceptions, and values. We need to build a virile society where people can feel a strong sense of belonging, share a spirit of teamwork, an attachment and commitment to group goals as well as the ownership of the tasks and accomplishments. We must transform from a society where leaders have low credibility and are primarily motivated by money or feel unsupported and unappreciated. Today we must collectively reject a society where leaders publicly receive tons of accolades from palace jesters and sycophants who readily and sharply criticize them in private. Our leaders need to intuitively reflect on the differences and implications of these opposing systems, and seriously consider the rating of their credibility by their constituencies. This is imperative as the accomplishments and legacies of our leaders certainly depend on how they are variously assessed by constituencies in Edoland. If anybody is going to own the politician it should be the people.
It is never too late to change in areas including re-orientation of attitudes, remodeling of values, redirection of energies and focus, and re-engineering of the system of conducting the people�s business. We appeal to all and sundry � leaders and followers alike � to have a rethink and choose the path of honor and dignity that will lead us out of the doldrums. Edokpamakhin is ready, willing and able to assist in this direction when our leaders create the enabling environment.
The convention theme, �The Way Forward�, has been carefully chosen to provide opportunities for us to reflect positively and objectively on issues that would enable us achieve the mutually desired goal of developing Edoland to become economically viable, politically stable, and socially peaceful. The Merciful God has abundantly endowed us with the human and material resources needed to succeed. Only Edo people can effectively develop Edo State, and we shall not rest on our oars until we paddle our ship to a glorious shore. We owe this challenge to ourselves and to posterity. At this convention let us bare our minds and discuss intelligently so that we can help lay a platform for development.
It is very timely that this convention is being held now that the Nigerian democratic experiment is experiencing infantile vicissitudes. Many ethnic nationalities are expressing real or perceived marginalization; grave concerns of safety and security rent the air waves and fill the pages of the news media; poverty, disease and untold hardship plague the land; the spirit and welfare of the masses appear to have been sacrificed at the alter of anti-people policies; and ethno-religious crises abound. There is therefore a spirited renewal of the public outcry for an immediate convocation of a Sovereign National Conference where the various nationalities that constitute the amalgamated Nigeria would chart a mutually agreeable premise to peacefully coexist as a united Nigeria. Some secessionist groups are even clamoring for a disintegrated Nigeria, and they have gone as far as drawing their territorial landmass that would transform into individual sovereignties. Even the land and resources of the Edos have been integrated, without our consent, into the purported Oduduwa Republic, or the Ijaw and Ibo Republic.
My fellow Edos, in the event of the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference, are we united on who should speak for the Edo people, and do we have a consensus agenda that we would take to this conference? On the other hand, in the event of the better-imagined historical catastrophe that Nigeria disintegrates, what will be the fate of the Edos?
These and other issues form the bedrock of the convention theme, �The Way Forward�. Our keynote speaker and other speakers are expected to generally touch on the various aspects of this theme, and a number of workshops will be run on selected topical issues. Everyone is encouraged to fully participate in these open discussions
Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you once again to the 2004 Edokpamakhin convention. I urge all participants to display a good sense of maturity, sensitivity and respect for character as well as political and religious affiliations in freely exercising the right to freedom of expression. Whatever is discussed here today is not and should not be seen as an indictment of anyone. Yet we may disagree to agree or agree to disagree on issues. But the paramount objective is to find workable strategies to circumvent the barriers against the development of Edo State. At the end of this convention, it is my hope that we will emerge as better informed and united Edo people who are undauntedly committed vanguards of the Edo agenda. Let us do all we can, give as much as we can for us to benefit, as long as we can. I wish you all happy and fruitful deliberations.
God bless Edo State of Nigeria!
God bless Nigeria!!
God bless America!!!
Oboma Asemota, MD
Edokpamakhin, USA Branch
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