In the Political Configuration

15TH EDO NATION ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE, TORONTO, CANADA ON SAT. 1ST SEPTEMBER 2006.
THE PAST: Before Nigerian Independence THE PRESENT: From Independence to the present. THE FUTURE:- Nigerian/Edo Diaspora participation in Home Politics
The configuration of any system is its arrangement which determines the smoothness of the working parts and the relationship of these parts to other parts that interact with it continuously or intermittently to form a society or community living in peace or disharmony depending on the interaction of the components parts. A system can work effortlessly if it is well lubricated and its authority is supported from the lowest economic rung of the ladder to the landing with the components parts happy to play or carry out their role for the total harmony of all. When there is neglect of a component part or parts or the highest economic rung treats the lowest economic rung as if they are irrelevant to the whole system, there will be discordance and this usually results in riots, armed robbery, protests and wanton destruction of state property which are avoidable in a harmonious society where the rulers are real leaders of the people and constitute pillars of society.
In our part of Nigeria, there has been a well laid system of governance which is indigenous to our people and very well respected. There were sanctions for deviant behaviour and reward for excellence. There were agreed behaviours depicted as taboos whereas others were acceptable as societal norm. The people were happy and progressive and in spite of our war like attitude, we were progressive until this well oiled and well constituted system of authority was disrupted from the outside without having another acceptable system in its place. This disruption led to things falling apart and the hold on the population weakened. The situation was further weakened with the introduction of different ways of life which has been difficult to imbibe as they were alien to our people, while the old system lingered on. Orderliness gave way to survival of the fittest and the worship of money crept in from the side with total collapse of the value system. Our traditional ways of worshipping our heroes like great wrestlers, brave soldiers, good farmers, good traders; worshipping our God, celebrating birth and mourning deaths and the various festivals that make us unique as a people have been disrupted. Commercial churches devoid of the way of true Christianity have sprung up everywhere with proportionate rise in armed robberies and adulteries by these numerous dubious pastors in every corner of our towns. Normally our people gave names like Omosigho, Omosukpon, Omoregbe, Omorede which showed our attachment to life and procreation. The child exceeded everything. All that has changed now, as I heard some work men saying in Benin recently, that the dollar has no taboo (e dolla mwen awua). This statement that is pregnant with meaning as the love of money now reaches the most sacred institution amongst our people which is marriage. I will not dilate on the topic as it does not edify us as a people. I am sure you will understand as an Edo man in whom one word turn into millions in his mind analytical process.
To do justice to the political system of today, we should trace from the colonial era and pre-independence. During that period, our people who were very nationalistic had a reference point as the source of our problem; the colonialist. Thanks to appropriate scheming and understanding, our country gained independence without having to go through the likes of Mau Mau war as in Kenya or the fight against the apartheid regime as in southern Africa.The fight for the independence especially of the Southern protectorate of Nigeria was a continuum initiated by
the Edo which resulted in the restoration of the monarchy in 1933 and the crowing of Oba Eweka 11 as the Oba
of Benin.
On Independence, power was seceded to the north with the Premier being Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
in spite of the fact that the north did not really want independence. The second anomaly was the
result of the first census which gave the majority of the population to the north. All subsequent
distribution of the national wealth has been based on that erroneous census to the detriment of the
people of the south. At independence the northern region was given more seats in parliament than the two
southern regions put together. This meant that no meaningful governmental decision affecting Nigeria could be
taken without the consent of the north.
To correct some of these obvious anomalies, Major Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu a man born
before his time struck in January 1966.
The coup was so complex that one needs to understand the political situation at the time to appreciate the
reasons for the coup. After Nigeria gained independence from the UK, its domestic politics TRIED to emulate
those of its former colonial master by adopting a Westminster style parliamentary democracy. There the
similarities ended. Instead of the cultured debate and sophisticated party political culture of the UK, Nigeria’s
politics fragmented on regional and ethnic lines.
Due to the splitting of the country into three geo-political regions, party politics (and political parties) took on
the identity and ideology of each of the three regions.
The northern region was represented by the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) who’s motto of “one north, one
people” gave a realistic and accurate assessment of its objectives. Southerners viewed the NPC as the party of
the Hausa-Fulani.
The western region’s dominant party was the Yoruba led Action Group (AG) and to the east the National
Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) was controlled by the Igbos.
These regional based parties assured two things: firstly that none of the parties could govern Nigeria on its own,
and secondly that ethnic conflict was only a matter of time away.
When Nnamdi Azikiwe won the Premiership of the old Western Region, he could not govern the region as by
the swearing-in time most of the ministers had crossed carpet to join the Action Group making it impossible for
him to form a government.
This was the birth of ethnic politics in Nigerian political life.
Today there is complete replication of the Nigerian political situation in the three senatorial districts of Edo
State where the Southern senatorial districts has few local government areas as a ratio of the total population of
the state.
Secondly no senatorial district can effectively rule Edo State without the co-operation of the Southern senatorial
district due to the larger population.
(http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/content/view/1842/55/)
Prior to that January 1966 coup, as a result of marginalization, and starvation from government patronage of the
old Benin and Delta provinces by the then Western Region Government, the late Oba Akenzua 11 of blessed
memory led the campaign for the creation of Mid West Region which became the fourth region of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria after a referendum.
The campaign which was intense was ably supported by all especially late Dalton Asemota and totally opposed
by Tony Enahoro in keeping with his party political position. Benin City became the headquarters while late
Jerreton Mariere who was Governor was from the Delta and Dennis Osadebay was premier from Benin
province.
One will be right to say there was equity and fair play at that time looking at the disposition of the three
industries in the region during the period.
The Okpella cement factory at Okpella, the textile mill at Asaba and Ughelli glass factory located to satisfy the
geopolitical areas that made up the region.
Do I remind you as we speak that the old Western Region is yet to give the Mid West Region her share of the
assets and liabilities that accrued to her on the creation of the region.
At the end of the civil war Lt. Col. Osaigbovo Ogbemudia was made the governor of the region and his
administration transformed the region economically, infrastructurally, educationally, in sports and healthcare
making Bendel State the envy of all other States in the federation.
Ogbemudia did no do this job alone.
He surrounded himself with capable, intelligent men with probity, foresight, honour and love of country.Men like late GNI Enobakhare, late OI Afe, Edwin K Clerk, Garrick Aghahowa, Engr Umweni, Engr Odaro,
Chief Pobeni, Tayo Akpata etc.
Some of these men went to their graves with only honour as their single asset as one cannot find the limousine
or marble or glass houses they left behind than a good name, honour and the immortalization of their names by
their good deeds.
We pray that our Heavenly Father grant them peace wherever they may be today? As we speak, there are no
roads or monuments to immortalize their contribution to the development of our state. A mockery indeed.
We had successive military Governors who merely came to enrich themselves without doing anything visible to
improve the lot, of our state. I am aware of one of them who left the state with 37 buses or lorry load. For a
soldier on military posting, that was excessive.
In the second republic we had Professor Ali who won Bendel State for the UPN while the NPN controlled the
central government in Lagos. In spite of his opposition to the Federal Government, he still left his foot prints in
the tide of time.
He will always be remembered for the policy of free and comprehensive education and the establishment of
Bendel State University now Ambrose Ali University Ekpoma.
The third republic came in after a most difficult time in Nigerian history during which period we had the first
ever letter bomb in Nigeria, the acceptance of the world bank loan with a lot of conditionality after a nation wide
debate which concluded Nigeria did not need the loan, attempted coups, imagined coups, palace coup and the
attempt to convert from a military head of state to civilian president and the annulment of the world acclaimed
fairest & freest election in the history of our nation. By the end of IBB regime which was described as the most
disheartening for our people the most dishonest & vague of all regimes in the history of our nation ushered in
another vicious leader after a palace coup that pursued a lot of Nigerians out of the country including some of us
here.
Abacha’s security system was described as second to none but God saved our nation when He intervened and
summoned Abacha
earlier to the great beyond ending the most vicious regime in the history of Nigeria.
Thereafter we had rearrangements that led to the adoption of a new constitution in 1999 and subsequent election
which ushered in the fourth republic.
After being under military dictatorship for so long the people found a new breath of fresh air at their new found
freedom.
The freedom of the press, freedom to hold political rally, freedom to associate and dissociate which were
hitherto suppressed by the military became the order of the day.
The nation was euphoric and the people expected so much in so short a time which was not possible that within
a short time the four years term was over.
The national President and most Governors of the states won a second term.
Two years into the second term more individuals including myself became restless as we were not seeing the
desirable changes we had hoped for in our state.
While at Federal level there are attempts to fight corruption and revamp the national economy, Edo State was
moribund.
Grassland were commissioned as fruit factories several times that some of us were wondering if those at the
helm of affairs in the state thought Edo people were blind or brain damaged not to differentiate a grassland from
a fruit juice producing factory in Ehor.
Was it that the political elders wanted a new direction that was not forthcoming from the executive or the
executive unilaterally stopped directing the state funds to appease political elders and godfathers in the state can
never be known?
One thing that is certain is that some of the political elders wanted total control of the state in a way that the
state governor would have became a figurehead.
They wanted total control from appointing to various boards at both national and state levels, to being the de
Facto leader of the ruling political party in the state.
It is true the present government of Edo State failed us but the government was also not given a free hand by the
party elders who refused to relinquish control from behind the scene.
This attitude is similar to what happened in Oyo State where we recall the role of Alhaji Adedibu the strong man
of Ibadan politics; so it was also in Anambra state with Chris Uba being the manipulating godfather. We are
lucky in Edo State as we have been able to manage the situation so far without bloodshed as in other states. For
this we must be grateful to God and our monarch Omo n’ Oba n’ Edo Uku Akpolo kpolor Oba Erediauwa who
has been invisibly moderating Edo State situation to avoid total chaos and bloodshed.I do not wish to go into the details of the woes of Edo people today as the state problems of poor roads, lack of
pipe-borne water, electricity, poor healthcare, poor educational infrastructures, flooding are well known to all of
us gathered here today.
The primary role of Edo in Diaspora is to change the direction and course of events in Edo State government for
the benefit of our people.
There is no group better placed that can do that for the down trodden but hard working and de-enfranchised Edo
people whose ballots do not count for anything due to serious rigging at elections.
Do we fold our hands and watch without doing anything and allow the continued free fall of the fortunes of our
state?
Do will rise from this meeting and set machineries in motion that will right the wrong that has been visited on
our people by subsequent military and civilian administrations.
Should we not say never again and recover our birth rights from those who have stolen it as they have not been
mandated to act on our behalf.
If the elections are not free or fair then the people are de-enfranchised and the politicians would have stolen the
people’s mandate.
Due to the nature of politics in our part of the world one cannot contest election without having a lot of funds
and sometimes raising a small army.
Consequently should we not work out ways and means of generating funds for supporting those we wish to
adopt as our candidates?
Should Edo in Diaspora not mount a strong campaign to educate our people about the ills of politics of bags of
rice and bags of salts especially amongst the illiterates and semi-illiterates in our towns and villages?
Should we not let the electorate know that accepting bags of rice and bags of salt, amounts to buying their
votes, and subsequently their voice, infra-structural and economic development of the state which is ultimately
to the detriment of the people?
That the practice of accepting bags of salt, rice and beans for votes are a tacit approval of subsequent
corruption in the body politics of Edo state.
Those who spent money to buy the rice and beans shared amongst the people usually would want to recover
their expenditures by directing government funds to their personal accounts at home or overseas.
Should Edo in Diaspora not fight crimes by fighting the causes of crimes by way of establishing enterprises,
recreational facilities setting up useful ventures to absorb school leavers and graduates of post national services?
Should we not organise ourselves into co-operative societies or investment companies and use the dividends to
fund these enterprises since it is impossible for one individual to provide the fund for these ventures?
We could also use the accruing dividends to support our candidates, award scholarship, put up infrastructures
like schools, modernise or build a new palace for our monarch, set up computer schools etc.
If we learn to work together we will appreciate quickly that we can achieve a lot and make good progress in the
shortest possible time. Those things we think are impossible will be achieved effortlessly if there is unity and
accountability in our ranks.
When we create jobs opportunities, we will simultaneously be fighting crimes, improving the social security of
our people, and above all have a voice in the scheme of things in Edo State.
If we continue as we are doing which the godfathers would want us to be do, we will never make any progress
in taking active part in revamping Edo State economy and fortunes. Most successful multi-national companies
started as either family enterprises or co-operative societies.
I refer you to read the Black Wall Street.
The setting up of these investment enterprises will generate the needed fund to implement most of our plans and
this can only be done if we trust one another.
In Europe and America where everything works smoothly; whenever there is failure in government, the people
shout and compel the government to perform.
If the government is unrelenting or arrogant, the electorate punish that government at the next general election.
In Nigeria apart from the wrong political appointments and the attitude of the winners takes all, our people are
too docile and undemanding.
For example when NEPA fail, we buy generators to generate electricity;
When the educational system fails we send our wards to private schools,
When there is no pipe borne water we sink bore holes or buy pure water,
When Police fail, we hire private guards.Why would any government officials strive to serve a people who seem to always find an alternative to a poor
government performance?
As Edo Diaspora, we should lead the protest for not only good governance but good services as well.
Nobody, I repeat nobody is going to agitate for our rights for us.
We have to agitate for our rights, our peoples’ rights, our children’s rights ourselves.
Our language is being eroded primarily by Pidgin English which does not help our children in the school or
facilitate the survival of our language.
It is our duty to emphasis the need to teach our language to our children in Diaspora. As our people say if you
cannot speak your language, one is completely lost so every effort should be made to sustain our language, our
tradition and our culture or we will disappear as the UN has forecasted for many African languages.
It is our duty to facilitate its teaching and learning to the SS 3 level and encourage graduate and post graduate
training in Edo linguistic structures to keep our language alive.
As most Diaspora Edo do not depend on Edo State government patronage to survive, they are therefore better
placed to criticise the ills of the government in a constructive way. Teachers or civil servants under the thumb of
the government cannot do anything to protest their situation unless they do so collectively and usually their
leaders are hand picked for punishment by the State government.
The issue of God sons as gubernatorial candidates and godfathers’ desire to impose candidates on the people of
Edo land is still very rife.
It is this perpetuation of hegemonic tendencies that is causing Edo people heebie-jeebies including my very self
as I am perturbed that our state may go into moribund for another four to eight years again.
It is this fear brothers and sisters that will guide my thoughts as we go through the next part of this speech to
produce an effective framework to wrest power from those who govern for the sake of self interest rather for the
interest of Edo people.
There have also been e-mail postings on numerous Edo list serves that a God –fearing Diaspora candidate may
put the state on a better footing compared to what anyone else can do.
My Brothers and Sisters, can this be done?
Can we really have the courage to take the bulls by the horns by nominating one of us to contest positions in
Edo land and back him up spiritually, financially, morally and physically?
You do not send a general to war without a supply line was Collin Powell quote in declining to run for
American Presidency.
Can Edo in Diaspora manage an effective supply line and install a governor in Osadebey’s Avenue?
Working together we will beat any group hands down as everyone here is a representative of an extended Edo
family in Edo State.
The alternative to the above plan is to come out courageously and support one of the gubernatorial candidates
after listening to them or reading their manifesto and plans for revamping Edo State economy and fortunes and
discussing and digesting same.
Such individual will give assurances in the public that his primary aim will be to serve the people of Edo State
with total commitment and without financial allegiance to any political God father.
That he or she will listen to good suggestions and facilitate the creation of an enabling environment for Edo
Diaspora and all others to invest in Edo State economy without having to go through too many doors to achieve
the investors’ desire.
That he work to remove arbitrary clogs in the wheel of progress and facilitate rapid development of Edo Land.
That he will set up an all embracing government including seasoned technocrats in his/her government even if
from the opposition political parties so that at all times we have square pegs in square holes so that Edo State
reaps the utmost dividends of democracy.
Having set the above goals which I think are achievable, we will as Edo Diaspora needs to cross the many
Rubicons on our path to achieve these set goals.
The first Rubicon will be establishing a viable constituted body for all Edo in Diaspora.
This all embracing constituted body will have a well defined constitution, that will incorporate its aims and
objectives, incorporate these numerous isolated Edo Organizations in Diaspora to create a body with a teeth and
a smile by which I mean a human face and a long arm through which we shall have a strong influence in the
scheme of things at home in Edo Land.
A detailed analysis of how to do this can be seen at
http://edoglobalorganization.org/talking_without_words_2.htmThere is nobody who can create what he or she have not seen or imagined. What is baffling is that our present
crops of rulers do not imagine nor do they see when they travel in Europe or America or else they would have
seen what civilisation is and work to transform Edo State in like manner.
As one of us suggested, it is conceivable that they become blind on arrival in Europe or America.
Therefore a well oiled and organized Edo organization in Diaspora will have influence in the scheme of things
in Edo State enabling us to take our place in the centre of affairs and steer Edo State to fulfilment, progress and
economic viability and revert it to the envy of other Nigerian States as we were about thirty years ago.
The second Rubicon is unity of purpose.
This is essentially possible as we already have the unity of heritage.
During our time as Benin Province, we had the same unity which cemented the Benin and Delta provinces as
Bendel State after its creation in 1975. There is no one here who does not know that all of us in Edo State are
from the same quiver as we trace our origin to one point and same lineage.
In the poem EDO…….
They were one in origin;
Yet they are one in Diversity.
Softly and tenderly we rehearse and remember;
That Edo came out of one quiver.
There was a centre, from where they rallied;
Scattered they became, ‘kos of no boundaries.
From Benin, later called a city;
Unto Ogbese, and Udo, beyond Ovia.
From Urhokuosa, and Ehor to Uromi,
unto Auchi, Ibillo beyond Irrua.
From Oka, and Sokponba to Evbokabua,
Unto Ugo, Orogho, Obagie near Ethiope River.
Igueben, Evbohimwin, Ososo, Ora or Irrua,
And Owan, Agbede, Afuze, too near to forget
Our kingdom once touched Idah, Kwara, Jebba,
And dominated Owo, Ifon and Igbo country.
Edo people were one in origin,
Edo are still one in diversity.
Nigerian territories cannot Edo confine,
For thousands migrated within West Africa.
Some in Dahomey now Benin Republic;
Others in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Dakar, or so.
Even Spain retained earlier ambassadors;
If not, where are their descendants today?
Rooted in tradition, their traces are clear;
Traditional ruler ship of kings, Princes and Enogies;
If in doubt, watch their lineage greetings;
They go from one to another, the same.
Cultural artefacts, and foods and attires
Depicted by names or customs and norms.
If marriage does not summarize our oneness,
The rites of passage do settle the matter.
Who argues our personalities are not one and same,
The Bini, Esan, Ora, Owan, Etsakon, Akoko Edo,
Extending to Eka, Urhobo and Ijaw beyond the Delta;
These later groups also remember their roots.
Our people are one in Origin;And also one in Diversity..
When all is said and done,
My brothers and sisters;
One thing we need, to reach perfection;
UNITY, UNITY, UNITY, we need.
Edo was one in Origin,
Yet one in Diversity;
And shall continue to be one forever.
(Abridged and Author unknown)
The newly created senatorial districts in the history of our people are arbitrary lines
which should not remove the truth of our oneness as Edo Nation.
A lot of politicians have now capitalised on this issue of zoning which borders on fear of
domination and corruption in government perpetuated by the political godfathers.
All we pray and hope for is to revamp the socio-economic status and viability of our state
in the community of Nigerian States. Therefore to achieve this sole objective we need a
candidate that is de-ethnicised totally, God fearing, truthful, has innate intelligence and
can represent the interest, the yearning and the aspirations of Edo State and her people
in Nigeria and anywhere in the world.
Such a popular candidate will not only be representing all the senatorial districts and
facilitating the placing of square pegs in squared holes to enhance simultaneous
developments of all areas of Edo State but will banish the fear of domination and of not
having my person as governor of the state from the minds of our people.
Zoning of positions brings ABOUT mediocrity and the wrong ruler ship which will be to
the detriment of the socio-economic growth of Edo State. Zoning is retrogressive and is
an anathema to effective and simultaneous development of all areas of any country
anywhere in the civilised world.
Look at the largest democracy on mother earth India, look at the United Kingdom, the
United States of America, and ask yourself if they practice zoning of positions; this non
practice of zoning accounts for why they are where they are today.
The best person should be voted for a post which he or she is well suited so that the
people get better results. Being Benin or Esan or Esakon or Owan is not a qualification
for governorship of Edo state.
The attribute should include, qualifications, exposure, track record, honesty, visionary,
being detribalised or de-ethincised with progressive ethos for our people and originality
in thinking.
We should fight to remove from our body politics the use of money to buy positions and
simultaneously the sale of political positions to the highest bidder because whosoever
buys a political position will want to recoup the money for the purchase which is the root
cause of corruption in our body politics and government.
In the speech of the senator representing Edo south during the 3rd term debate she
effectively stood astride the fence supporting simultaneously her political party position
on one hand and the position of her husband who financed her election on the other.
The first part of her statement completely neutralised the second part of her statement.
That is a typical example of the ill of godfatherism and the effect purchase of party
political positions can have on the performance of elected or selected officers. They
cannot act or speak independently and that is to the detriment of our state.
As Edo Diaspora, we have to fight to break the cycle of money politics in Edo State to
ensure the progress of our people.
The Nigerian Diaspora has assumed a lot of importance. The government of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria under Olusegun Obasanjo is determined to improve the economic and living standard of our
people and believe the Nigerian Diaspora have a huge role to play in this process.
Since 2002 I have been preaching the same thing amongst Edo people who cared to listen.It is this strong belief that led to the formation of Edo Global Organization an umbrella organization
that effectively champions the wishes of Edo in Diaspora. In spite of our few international conferences
and huge investment in traveling expenses we have made very little impact in the scheme of things in
Edo State partly due to in-fighting, lack of unity and partly due to lack of trust and the unwillingness of
our people to commit their finances to achieve any objective without immediate and obvious gain.
The true gain of the success of such a venture as Edo Global Organization is not on individual basis
but state wide as our people will benefit from the provision of basic infrastructures, provision of
satisfactory healthcare, social security and security of life and property in the state if our organization
can ensure the right person is voted into government and continuously advocate for Edo people
fearlessly at every level of government.
Edo Diaspora can work as a team or learn to work as a team.
If we are committed to our course, we will not work to thwart each others’ effort as we are doing
presently.
We will be consistent with our efforts to produce the desirable changes in our home state.
You are all witness to the fact that in seven years of his government the President of our country is
yet to pay an official visit to Edo State and Edo State is yet to benefit from Federal government
patronage.
The reason for this is not far fetched considering the in fighting going on for the control of the soul of
the political life of Edo State and the poor performance of government of the day.
This is detrimental to our people and that is why all Edo Diaspora must be united in attacking this
decay and replacing the current system of purchasing elective positions to a more transparent system
where the vote of the people count and the voice of the electorate are heard and their desires are
respected.
In the northern hemisphere if a politician is arrogant and does not listen to the electorate, he is
punished at the pools at the next election but this is not the case in Nigeria where godfatherism,
purchase of positions, thuggery and election rigging is the order of the day.
.
According to the president, who spoke while declaring open the second Diaspora Day in Abuja on the
25th of July he said there’s no quick fix or short cut to the issue of development, pointing out that
Nigeria was yet to realise its full potential and as such still requires assistance of those in the
Diaspora for growth and to manage its affairs while promising a 10% growth in the national economy.
This tells us the importance people place on Nigerian Diaspora.
If anyone is still in doubt of our importance ask Western Union and Moneygram who will inform that
Diaspora Nigerians sent home up to 5billion American dollars in 2005 and a large portion of that
amount went to Edo State considering our number and family attachment.
If we help to support our family, we are helping Edo State, and when we build Edo state, we are
helping to build Nigeria.
The president also added that those in the Diaspora should emulate their counterparts from other
countries like Israel and India by using our leverage to attract foreign assistance to Nigeria.
In similar vain Edo in Diaspora should use our influence to attract investment into Edo State.
It is gratifying to note what we have since written and suggested for Edo State government has now
been implemented by the Federal Government but it is not too late for Edo State government to
implement such a scheme for the upliftment of Edo people.
For us to be relevant in Edo State politics, we should make our presence felt by the people of our
state by staging the inauguration of this mega Edo Diaspora organization in Benin to show solidarity
with our traditional rulers and the poor people of our home state and emphasis that we shall be with
them all the way until our political leaders plan a new course for our people and make their voice
heard and their vote count.
In this way our activities will be coordinated and duplication of efforts will be removed.
I refer you to http://edoglobalorganization.org/talking_without_words_2.htm to explain step by
step how such organization can be started and sustained.
What is the take home message?
That there is the problem of underdevelopment in Edo land and lack of accountability in Edo State
government.
That the political godfathers are ruining our progress as their godsons run our state like a private
enterprise.That they impose and depose rulers over Edo people as they will. That these posts are practically sold to aspiring godsons for a fee and other promises when they get into government. That Edo in Diaspora has the capacity to influence activities and events in Edo Land if they can act in unison. That Edo in Diaspora should mandate as a matter of urgency the formation or amalgamation of Edo Association in Diaspora for effective representation at state level. That every extended family in Edo State is represented by a son or daughter in Diaspora. That as enlightened people we should de-emphasize our differences and play up our unity of origin and heritage s That our undoubted unity of origin and heritage should be transformed into unity of purpose for the benefit of all.
That we should agitate for our rights always, the rights for good governance and good services always and accountability on behalf of our people. That government should jettison the attitude of the winners takes all and place someone from the opposition party in a post if we believe he or she is capable of doing a better job for the people.
That best individual with the interest of his people at heart irrespective of his village of origin or senatorial district should lead our state and should be supported. In the light of what we know about our state, we should pray that Edo State does not go into moribund for another 4-8 years.
Finally I would like to thank the President and members of Unic Club of Toronto, members of the COP and all our brothers and Sisters who have traveled from far and wide to attend this conference. I wish all of us a safe journey home.
For the representative of the government of Edo State and the Benin Monarch & Edo traditional council, I also wish you safe journey home and implore you to take our message to the people of our state so that they are made aware of our feelings about our homestead.
Thank you May God bless all of us. Oba ghator Okpere. Ise. SEO OGBONMWAN. © September 2006.

Edo Unity before Edo Agenda

Dear Edos.
The quality of contributions in the last week on Edo Nation’s forum was wonderful that I wish we continue to have such fruitful and high level discuss in the future.
The last time I commented on Prof Omoruyi’s posting was to ask him to stop singing old songs as such songs have not helped our cause over the years. That observation obviously did not endear me to the Prof. That looks like light years away, but Prof. are very intelligent people, quick to forgive and may be forget due to many research topics up their sleeves.
His last postings were very well balanced, stimulating and thought provoking and I join him to ask all those who think of the progress of the Edos to read all the postings for their information and criticism as well. Although the discussions at the London Round Table Conference have been reposted several times by different individuals, the comments on the issues raised have been scanty. Mr Evbayiro’s response posed several questions which to me are very important. These questions raised fundamental issues to the success of any organization or movement originating or that will originate in Edo Land.
While deliberating on what should be the Edo agenda which the Prof. is professing, and which organization should move that agenda forward, we should answer the question ‘How united are we? Prof Omoruyi clearly stated that correspondences from two icons in Edo politics did not acknowledge each other and both icons are supporting the same political party in their own ways and at different levels without interfering with each other. His essays carefully demonstrated at what levels both were playing. Whereas Brigade-General Ogbemudia has danced at home on several occasions with continuous forays into the national scene, Chief Enahoro has persistently danced at the national level. Prof Omoruyi went further to say that my most respected Chief will not win an election at Uromi his home town if he should contest with Chief Anenih but ‘Edo okpa ma khin’ is his brain child. Truthful as it seems there is no doubt that the Chief is a huge force in Nigerian politics. This lack of co-operation amongst our political icons is a dis-service to the Edos in general. It is for this reason the thorny issue of unity amongst the Edos must beresolved first before embarking on any agenda or else such
efforts will end in quicksands.
The name ‘Edo okpa ma khin’ is right, all embracing, original,
traditional, could be unifying but can the Edos unite under this
name when some of us are already humming it that ‘Edo okpa
mahia te khin’ As the Edo word ‘te’ has come into it, it foretells
it’s ultimate demise in the future and this may be a matter of
time. Note the word may be. As very traditional people, we Edos
respect our elders and lineage. In Prince Robson Momoh’s recent
interview, he stressed this brotherliness and common origin of
the Edos. He described the problem in the traditional council in
Edo State as a disagreement between brothers. If that is the
case, our sons and daughters everywhere including the political
icons amongst them should as matter of priority address this
issue critically and resolve it immediately so that the Edos can
move on as one indivisible people. History tells us that all the
Chiefs and Enogies in Edo land, some part of Delta state and even
Ondo state are of the same blood lineage as our inheritance laws
are based on the primogenitoral system as in the UK. If we
acknowledge this fact, then the Edos can easily solve this unity
problem. Do we see ourselves as brothers and sisters? The
answer is likely to be NO. It is for this reason one section of the
Edo community will not nurture what the other has started. There
are the problems of lack of trust and greed. We do not trust each
other as we believe there is always ulterior motive in any
conceptualisation by one section or the other in Edo land. The
problem of greed derives from poverty as the leader tries to
enrich him/herself before executing projects for the general good.
To progress and to become relevant in the context of the nations’
politics, we have to bury the hatchet and pull the same string.
This will be easy to achieve if all of us still believe the concept of
our ancestral origin as told in our history lessons.
Edo Unity should surpass all our differences. We should work
together as one though of many parts. There should be mutual
agreement , harmony or concord which will produce uniformity or
constancy in our demand for example from the federal
government for our need or meeting the need of our people.
According to Aristotle there should be unity of action, as there is
unity of place and in our own case in Edo land unity of origin.Edo unity should symbolize, that in spite of our differences, we
understand each other by overcoming prejudices, respect each
other by recognising the good in one another, actively care for
each other and ultimately work together towards a common goal
for the good of our people. If we try to establish a respectful,
caring relationship we shall be making giants strides towards the
goal of achieving the set objectives of empowering our people
economically and in addition realize our shared values and goals.
It is time to forgive and forget errors of yesteryears and move on
as that is the only means and way of actualising our desires in
the Nigerian nation of today. Digging too deep into the past to
understand the present and plan for the future sometimes can be
counterproductive and therefore should be avoided.
We may not accept it, ENA is a giant of a forum through which we
can actualize our unity. It has succeeded in the Americas and I
am sure if we globalize the concept it will succeed ultimately
everywhere. The only problem today is the leaders are sacred of
dragging ENA into politics hence we have not heard from the
President or Secretary in spite of prodding from members of this
forum this last week. Their action is understandable but for any
organization to succeed in leading a people like the Edos, it must
not be partisan i.e. It must not be seen as being part of a political
party or organization. The hierarchy should show probity and be
bold enough to talk without fear or favour, for or against any
individual or group trying to slow down the progress of all in Edo
land. The leaders should be those who have been true it all and
have demonstrably served our people in various capacities in the
past. During the creation of the Mid West Region Oba Akenzua
the 11 of Blessed memory played that role. It is for this reason
some think Omo n’ Oba Erediauwa should play that role like his
father did. Before accenting to such call we should remember the
events and actions of the penultimate government in Edo land vis
a vis our traditional ruler. It is for this reason and the fact that
times and attitude have changed that some of us should not
clamour for such a role for the custodian of our culture. In view of
this let him who the cap fits take up the mantle of leadership. Let
there be a new born without blemish or adverse history under
whose leadership the Edos, these various organizations in
Diaspora and those in Nigeria will unite for a common purpose of
creating an Edo land that will be a paradise on earth throughguiding and assisting the government of the day in Edo land. It will not be enough to unite and sit on the fence, there must be total commitment to the Edo cause by all.
I shall be back. Stephen Ogbonmwan.
If we are only for ourselves, what are lives for? Make a difference, make the world a better place.

WHY BAKASSI PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE MOVED FROM BAKASSI PENINSULAR

WHY BAKASSI PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE MOVED FROM BAKASSI PENINSULAR. SEO OGBONMWAN. steveogbonmwan@aol.com
The truth and enormity of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision was brought home to all Nigerians by the recent Greentree Accord to reinforce and implement the ICJ verdict.
We have seen scholarly legal arguments for and against the ownership of Bakassi Peninsular without taking the reality of the situation into consideration which is that the
Bakassi people are indigenous to the peninsular before the coming of the Germans, the British or the French; before any treaty was considered, written or signed and before the ICJ ruling.
These people have a strong cultural, historical and ancestral tie to their land and therefore should be given an opportunity to make an informed judgement of what they should do; to either leave Bakassi or stay put in Bakassi as the case may be. So far the Nigerian or Cross Rivers State government in conjunction with or without the UN have yet to do that. This argument is premised on UN declaration of Indigenous Rights in the Articles of the United Nation.
More importantly the Greentree agreement carefully stipulated the following which I would like to refer people like Senator Ita Giwa, Mr Erin Chairman of the Bakassi local government council and their colleagues who are arguing for relocation to read the Greentree agreement again before misadvising their people into relocating. I have wondered why they are in support of this relocation and could find no reason other than personal desire to keep their positions in government. to the detriment of future happiness and satisfaction of their people.
Article 3 of the Accord states that Cameroon shall not
a, force Nigerian nationals living in Bakassi Peninsular to leave the Zone or to change their nationalityb, respect their culture, language and beliefs
c, respect their rights to continue agricultural and fishing activities
d, protect their property and their customary rights
e, not levy in any discriminatory manner any taxes and other dues on Nigerian nationals
living in the zone
f, take every necessary measure to protect Nigerian nationals living in the zone from any
harassment or harm.
Nigerian Bakassi citizens by remaining in the Bakassi Peninsular are therefore not breaking
any law that is why we are concerned that their leaders are pleading with the President
that they be relocated. How can any government in Nigeria relocate about 4 million
human beings in less than sixty days? It is not humanly possible if they intend to do a
good job of it. Even in a year there will still be problems. They are just not facing the
reality of the situation. Are we just going to move them into tents in virgin land like
refugees when they have a choice to remain in their decent homes in Bakassi
peninsular?
One wonders why Senator Ita Giwa should be leading her people astray as she is doing in
pleading for re-location within Cross Rivers’ State. Their continued stay in the area
administered by the Cameroonian government will not change the status of 99% of
the people apart from the Senators and members of House of Representative and the
local government chairman who will loose their posts as their local governments
cease to exist. This personal interest may account for their choice of moving the
Bakassi indigenes to a virgin land. This decision which is bothering on self interest
rather then the interest of the larger Bakassi community is totally wrong.
The most appropriate thing to do is not to destabilize these people by moving them to any a
virgin land; but for the Federal Government to maintain a consular office in Bakassi
Peninsular in co-operation with the Cameroonians, the United Nation and other
interested parties. Or better still to argue for a permanent Mixed Commission as
agreed in Article 6 of the Greentree agreement. After all Nigerians are in Togo,
Ghana, the USA and many other countries for that matter. One therefore wonder why
this senator is pushing her people to relocate to within the geographical position
called Nigeria.
Technically speaking, the land neither belongs to Nigeria or the Republic of Cameroon but to
Southern Cameroon People’s Organization who are presently clamouring for their
statehood. Ceding the land to Cameroon would be a mistake and clamouring for themovement of the Bakassi people to a virgin land will be a heinous crime against
humanity.
Although I am not arguing for disregarding the decision of the ICJ there are many nations
including Israel, South Africa, China etc that have at some point in the life of ICJ
disregarded its decisions. Nigeria government is just running even when we are not
being pursued and the Senate spokesman seems not to be in tune with the problem at
hand at all.
Considering the utterances of the Senate Spoke person that the hands of the Assembly men
are tied; is another good reason for looking critically at the Nation’s constitution. I
supported the constitutional review but as result of short sightedness and party politics
and the link of the constitutional review to Obasanjo’s third term, the attempt was
killed. It is better not to have a constitution at all than to have one with so many flaws.
Do you ever consider or imagine what will happen to Nigeria if we have a President
with minimal brain damage who signs ungodly treaties on our behalf? That Nigerian
Constitution needs tidying up seriously.
Senator Ndoma-Egba at his recent briefing said that under the constitution the senate has
been left with little or noting to do in determining the content of any treaty between Nigeria
and a foreign country and he did not proffer any solution to the serious problem or how best
to remedy the unacceptable situation.
Our biggest problem is that our leaders allow their personal interest to over-ride national
interest. Sani Abacha went to the ICJ because he wanted international recognition when
Nigeria was a pariah nation without listening to his Attorney General. The speed with which
OBJ signed the Greentree accord may be as a result of a rebound of the failure of his third
term bid in trying very hard to maintain the status quo of a Statesman.
What we do not understand as Nigerians in international politics is that there are no
permanent friends but permanent interest. To subjugate national interest to personal interest is
a hollow judgement but critically speaking OBJ alone should not take all the blames as he has
a retinue of advisers of all sorts and yet so many blunders are being made.
Nations have gone to war for national interest like the UK in the Falklands, Spain in Basque
Region and many countries are occupying disputed land from Israel on Palestinian land, to
through UK in Gibraltar in Spain to the USA in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and there are many
more examples, the only difference from the Nigerian case is that they were sensible enough
not to go to the ICJ. Respecting a constituted authority like the ICJ as we are doing is good
but to now move our people from their ancestral land will be adding salt to injury.Can I use this medium to advice our President, Obasanjo, Donald Duke (Governor of Cross Rivers State) and all members of the movement implementation committee that they should leave the Bakassi people in their ancestral land and support their ultimate self determination in due course democratically. Letting them be in Bakassi peninsular does not break any international law whereas moving them from their ancestral land breaks many natural laws.

SEO OGBONMWAN ©

THE ROLE OF OLD BOYS ASSOCIATIONS IN NATION BUILDING WITH EMPHASIS ON EDO STATE

The National President of ECOBA, Principal Edo College, Benin City, Chairman ECOBA of the Americas Chairman & Members of the Executive of the UK Chapter. Distinguished Ecobites and their Spouses,
It is a pleasure to be amongst friends and alumni of our alma mater Edo College Benin City. (ECBC). ECBCCCCCCCCC. The occasion of this annual dinner is timely, as it gives us the opportunity to reflect on ourselves, our progress, and the progress of our alma mater, our city, our state, our nation and our individual relationship with these institutions. I would therefore like to thank those who are physically oiling the wheel of the UK chapter of Edo College Old Boys Association (ECOBA) without which we would not be here today and for asking me to be the guest speaker of this august occasion of our 2006 annual dinner party.In 2004 in Detroit, Michigan I was present at the first ever Diaspora inaugural
meeting of Edo College Old Boys Association. We had consulted behind the
scene to make that meeting happen. I am sure some of you must have read the
minutes by the General Secretary, Mr Obasuyi on our ECOBA web site. During
that meeting, Obasuyi and Felix Omorodion contributed immensely as the
defacto Secretary and Chairman respectively. Their positions were normalised
and I recall moving that motion. When it was finally agreed that what we were
inaugurating was the North America Chapter, I knew we had to go back to the
drawing board.
Did we have to?
No. Thanks to our brothers on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Barrister Aihie
was the first to inform me that our brothers in the UK had put something
together he called the UK chapter. Today we are celebrating the second annual
dinner party. I was unable to attend the first annual dinner as Chief Launcher
because I had to give the toast at a childhood friend’s birthday celebrations.
Can we say a big thank you for the efforts of the organisers? The dichotomy
between the UK Chapter and the North America Chapter should be healthy. But
it is a call for a challenge; I mean a healthy challenge, as it will boost our
Nigerian National chapter considerably. The ultimate beneficiary will be our
alma mater and the national ECOBA.
Our alma mater contributed immensely to our development physically,
educationally, and morally. Our attitude to work and our general attitude to life,
which has contributed in no small measure to our success in life, derive
immensely from our passing through ECBC. Look around you in this hall and
you only see happy and satisfied faces; you will not be here in the first place if
you have not excelled in your area of endeavour in life. All these successes is
due to our grilling in our alma mater and our ability to absorb and effect
changes that made us better human being as we were being put through that
crucible in the preparation for life in the future. Gladly that future of our days at
ECBC is now with us. Do we look back with pain or satisfaction or do we
sometimes go into reverie and wish we were again back at school. On many
occasions, I have felt like going back to ECBC when there was no worry in the
world except completing assignments.ECBC was a town within Benin City with her system of laws and order, which
had to be obeyed. We were brought up to be respectful, to obey constituted
authority, to regard our fellow human beings as equal hence we frowned as such
terms as seniors or juniors amongst our ranks which were largely used in the
other schools. The care we received was not only academic but idyllic, physical
and sometimes spiritual. Our warm-men like elder brothers; gave academic
guidance; mine was the late Bishop Gordon Osagiede. May his soul rest in the
bosom of the Lord. Amen. The Head of Akenzua then Engineer Paul Idemudia,
later Azike and much later Dr Aimighemen. We looked up to some of the HSC
students Barrister Agho, Pa Igbinedioon from Eweka, Paddy Iyamu from Speer
House, Dr Edomwonyi also from Speer and Engineer Nosa Eguavoen from
Ozolua, Engineer Ogbeifun transferred to Nana House when the New house was
built.
I recall when Dr Henry Asemota (Akenzua House) made aggregate six, all in
my year changed gear in our swotting outfit and started work in earnest that all
in Five Science one (5S1) had a distinction at the WASC examinations the
following year. The question then was not if we would pass WASC
examinations but at what aggregate level?
What did we learn as Old Boys of Edo College?
Our grilling was to produce citizens of character and integrity committed to
social justice and service to humanity.
We were prepared not only to withstand the rigors of tertiary education but to
excel in our chosen career with the sky as the limit.
We were prepared to excel in academic activities and curricular studies to
enable us to become men of competence, compassion, conscience, and
consideration who will assume leadership roles in transforming the societies we
lived.
Have we been able to do that?
Have we not all checked out like Andrew when the kitchen became warm and
nowhere near being hot to greener pastures in Europe and America?
The combination of our checking out and the attitude of incompetent and
corrupt leaders have pulled back the march of civilization in our part of theworld for hundreds of years. Those who dared not look at our faces during
school days now bestride the narrow world of our state like a Colossus and we
like ‘mean men’ have to hide, finding ourselves in dishonourable places to
disguise our whereabouts whenever we go home to the land of our birth. Should
that be the case?
How do we reverse this trend? I mean how do we stem the decay?
When a civilization declines, it goes into reverse with all the wealth, power and
wisdom realised by its rise being discarded. The quality of goods and services
falls as the cost increases and this corruption extends into every aspect of
existence. Incompetence and injustice will reign as delusion triumphs and the
community dissolves into impotence.
Such a society is no longer engaged in creating a human heaven on earth, but is
earnestly constructing the very opposite where the worst people are rewarded
while the best are penalized, education system spread delusion and bureaucracy
becomes a liability rather than an asset and the courts promote injustice because
the richest buy justice.
However this trend will always be denied because truth will be vanquished by
lies as poorly paid reporters publish articles in favour of the highest bidder.
Even in this desert of decay, there are oasis of descent gentlemen like Edo
College Old Boys who will show respect to elders and senior citizens on the
highway or the office, they make it a ladies first in disposition before
gentlemen, they will correct children by smacking sensibly and with
explanation, abhor corruption and sharp practices and will answer to their
family name. At school I was called Ogbonmwan S like you were called
Idemudia, Osagie, Ero, Aihie, Ikifa, Ojebuoboh, Habibu, Akpata, Ayuba etc.
Given names or pseudo names were unheard off. As we answered to your
family names, we never, ever did anything that brought disgrace to our family
names. We were taught to believe that marriage is permanent unless one partner
dies or betrays the other sufficiently for divorce. In my time we did not really
have a sister school until Idia college was established in 1971. We competed
healthily with ICC boys for Maria Gorretti girls and with Eghosa Boys for
AGGS girls. We heard then from the grapevine that these girls actually
preferred ECBC because we were described as being disciplined, being
gentlemen, having clout and having a lot of respect for these future mothers.
On our way from the Ogbe Stadium now Samuel Ogbemudia stadium one day,
we stopped to visit Ikponmwonba’s mother. I greeted her in English and sheanswered ‘ ẹrhe ovhiẹ ẹdo ukhin?’ I now genuflexed and said ‘la tọsẹ’ without
thinking. She jumped from her seat and embraced me like any mother would,
shouting ‘this is my son Oh!’ At the end, she gave her son Ikponmwonba five
shillings and gave me two shillings. She told us we were relatives and that we
should not ever quarrel. That incident has been indelibly etched in my memory
especially when Ikponmwnba started teasing me with la tọsẹ; that was home
and Edo College molding. Why should we throw our culture away without
effectively replacing it? Whatever good we have we should hold. Our culture is
our life, we should not discard it.
To stem the societal decay, we have to go back to our roots of honouring
academic and notable achievements, community service, sporting excellence,
exemplary and other service achievements rather than wealth obtained by fraud
and corrupt practices. We have to show transparency in our dealings and show
team spirit at work as well as play. We have to move our society from where it
is to where it has never been. That is from a familiar present to an unknown
future is a challenge that political leaders cannot meet alone. We have to lead
from the front.
We as old boys of the premier school in Edo State have to be in
the forefront of removing this decay in our system and act as
beckon for other old boys/students association in our state and
country of birth. We should therefore not sit on the fence; we
should engage in active participation in the political life of our
people. If something is good we should applaud it, if it is bad
we should criticise it. But we should do so constructively. To be
indifferent is no longer an option. We have to come out and
take our place in society building or we chance becoming a lost
generation forever with the link handed to us by our ancestors
broken forever.
To re-orientate our people, we have to start from school age i.e. catch them
young. ECOBA should be in the forefront of supporting high flyers to reach
their ultimate in life by supporting Best Students Scholarship award, support
sporting activities and team work by supporting the provision of materials for
team sports like football, volleyball, cricket etc. Competition improves
competitive spirit. Joy when you win and being cheerful when you loose. This
attitude will manifest in later life as a magnanimous winner at elections and a
cheerful loser as well. We should also support school clubs, the Red Cross, the
Boys Scout, the Man ‘o War Bay, Debating, Quiz and Science Clubs. Engaging
students in school activities removes their mind from nocturnal cult activities,
which has spread from tertiary institutions down to secondary schools level. If
possible we should go beyond ECBC and assist youth clubs, leadership andcitizens training, youth sports and all other youth viable activities and thereby
reduce the number of young men who end up as ‘bush inspectors’ youth gangs,
local thugs that act as clogs in the wheel of development in Edo State especially
in the area of procurements of land and erection of buildings in Benin City and
its environ.
ECOBA cannot achieve all the above alone hence ECOBA must
reach out to other old boys, old girls and old students
association at home and in Diaspora to have a meaningful base
to launch this drive for change in our society. If we do not
provide the answers to our problems, who will? My suggestion
is not new and every new theory encounters opposition and
rejection at first. The adherents of the old, accepted doctrine
object to the new theory, refuse its recognition, and declare it
to be mistaken. Years, even decades, must pass before it
succeeds in supplanting the old one. A new generation must
grow up before its victory is decisive. To understand this, one
must remember that most men are accessible to new ideas
only in their youth hence all our efforts must be directed to
students at their most receptive age.
Another evil that has grown massively in our society recently in addition to
corruption is tribalism and ethnicity. At Edo College we were completely
detribalised. Your age, size, tribe were grossly irrelevant. As we used to say
‘immaterial’. What were relevant were your academic prowess, extracurricular
activities and sporting excellence. Today some miscreants in our society have
brought tribe and ethnicity to the fore in every level of human endeavour to
further their parochial political desire; officials now ask where are you from?
My usual answer is that I am a Nigerian of Edo State origin. What relevance
does it make if I am from the south or north senatorial districts as all Edo people
are from the same quiver? As I have said elsewhere, quota system, zoning,
rotational positions such as being paraded in our state breed mediocrity. The
best suited and most qualified for a post should have that post no matter where
he or she is from. He should also see himself as representing all and sundry and
should be fair, firm and friendly. ECOBA should now go forward to translate
this detribalised attitude inherited at ECBC to our people starting from the
school age.I will abridge this speech so as not to spoil your dinner, as the dinner is getting cold. I hereby challenge all of us present to live by our house motto, Aim at the Highest (Akenzua House), The Best or Nothing (Speer House); Forward Ever, Backward Never (Eweka House), Forge ahead (Esigie House), etc
Having checked out like the proverbial Andrew, let us now like the salmon have a strong bond with our birthplace. Now that we have grown big and strong in the wilderness of the Atlantic Ocean like the salmon, let us return to our birthplace periodically like the salmon does to its original waterways several times in its life cycle and contribute our quota to the system that gave us life. Let us remember always that it is only in participating that we can effect desirable changes.
Once again thank you for the opportunity for this address.
© SEO OGBONMWAN. June 2006

TALKING WITHOUT WORDS 2

I wish to thank all the contributors to the discussion ‘Talking without Words’ for taking it to this advanced stage so quickly.
A lot of wonderful ideas and suggestions were floated but unfortunately not
>all of them will be workable and so will not be included in this summary.
What came across strongly is the desire of all to work and sacrifice for the
benefit and good of all in Edo Land so that they are empowered socially, >economically, physically, culturally and morally.
>I therefore crave your indulgence to read through this proposal thoroughly
>and ask pertinent questions if necessary as such questions will be answered >to the best of our knowledge. THE PROPOSAL.
>We propose a Global Edo Community that is not limited by national boundaries,
>distance or ethnicity, talking with one voice for the good of all our people.
>Edo Global will be non-governmental, non-political charitable organisation with the primary objective of contributing to the overall improvement of Edo Land. This Charity Organisation (CO) will be all embracing and non-confrontational as our primary role will be to complement the efforts of the Edo State Government in all aspects. Membership will be strictly voluntary and open to allEdo State indigenes with the burning desire of seeing a better
economically empowered and thriving Edo people. The
organisation will be registered in all the countries were members
reside so that they can be free to generate fund, seek donations
and disburse funds as the case may be, for the common good of
Edo People. As there are numerous areas of lack in Edo Land,
priorities will be set after listening to presentations from different
committees at the two yearly conventions of members that will
be holding in Benin City. Where there is a tie the overriding
interest of Edo People will prevail and this will be decided by the
Board of Directors of the organisation. ORGANISATIONAL
STRUCTURE.
A Board of Directors made up of eight members and the Board
Chairman. (total9).
Three Directors each from Europe, Americas and Africa (Interest
from Asia is minimal presently). They will meet annually in Benin
City in January and work closely with the implementation
committee which will be based in Benin City. During this
formative years they will meet their travel expenses but as the
financial standing of the organisation improves, the organisation
will reimburse half of their travelling expenses. The meeting will
involve finalising and inspecting ongoing projects, presiding at the
two yearly convention and helping to raise fund on behalf of the
Organisation. The following career civil servants may be co-opted
into the Board of Directors meetings. Head of Service of Edo
State. Clerk to the State House of Assembly Secretary to the
State Council of Chiefs, Secretary to The Oba of Benin.
Their involvement will be advisory as regard area of need in Edo
Land but they cannot vote on any project implementation. The
following committees will be formed to administer specific areas
and facilitate implementation, carry out research so that the best
decisions are made in the interest of the Edo People. Finance
Committee, Culture and Social Welfare committee, Education and
Publicity Committee, Tourism Committee Legal and Safety
Committee Health Committee. Implementation Committee.
The Secretariat.
The Edo Global Charity Organisation will maintain a secretariat in
Benin with employed secretarial staff and an internet outlet. Itwill constitute the hub of the implementation committee. They
will operate the implementation account under the auspices of the
members of the Board of Directors and the implementation
committee.
The Implementation Committee.
Members of this committee will be based in Edo Land. They will
run the secretariat on behalf of the organisation. They will
physically supervise projects in any part of the state. They will
assist any committee trying to implement their projects in an
area of need in the state like arranging venues for lectures,
symposia, workshops and co-opting the D/Gs of the
corresponding ministry with any of the committee that have
organised a function in the state. For example if the Education
Committee has say 20 volunteer teachers for deployment, they
will contact the secretariat and the implementation committee
after approval at the Board level. The secretariat and the
implementation committee will discuss with the Director General
in the Education ministry. The D/G in turn will identify the state
schools where there is shortage for the deployment of the
Volunteers.
Education and Publicity Committee,
In addition to volunteer work, they will arrange seminars and
workshops for teachers in the state. They will actively publicise
the activities of the organisation as well.
Culture and Social Welfare,
They will carry out research into our oral traditions , organise
and transform this oral tradition into book forms, plays and other
means of storage of information. Our culture is our life we must
not lose it. They will seek to expunge the outdated tradition and
enhance the practices that gives us pride as a people. This
committee will also be charged with proper upbringing of our
youths and assist those with learning disability.
Health Committee,
The terms of reference here will be to reduce the morbidity and
mortality of our people after minor illnesses, reduce maternal andperi-natal morbidity and mortality’ and deaths on our roads. They
will strive to improve the state of our hospitals, arrange for
volunteer medical staff to man from time to time our rural
hospitals and train the medical staff on modern methods. They
will advocate and assist the completion of the State Specialist
Hospital since abandoned, purchase ambulances and help train
paramedic staff to man them.
Tourism Committee. Our travel to Edo Land for the two yearly
conventions will bring financial benefits to the tourist industry. All
Edos in Diaspora should help ”sell” the state as a tourist
destination for holidays to our friends and neighbours. Members
of this committee will find ways and means to revive the tourist
industry in the state.
Legal and Safety Committee,
They will be involved in drafting all the organisation’s documents
and act on the organisation’s behalf in legal matters when
necessary. They will also research on ways and means of
reducing crimes and getting the muggers off our streets.
Finance Committee,
They will collect all the funds on behalf of the Edo Global Charity
Organisation and run one account (the collection account) by
direct debit which will be based in the USA or the UK and the
implementation account (disbursement account) which will be
based in Benin City. They will have the power to invest a
percentage of our funds where capitals are guaranteed, operate a
savings account to obtain interest on our funds, as well as an
emergency account. A ceiling will be placed on the amount the
finance committee can disburse. Beyond that ceiling, the
signatories of at least one Director from the USA and one from
Europe will be necessary. The suggestion that the levy should
only be $20 was unanimous and will be collected by direct debit
for ease of accountability.
Audit Committee,
This will be external.
Edo Nation Association.Strong reference to this organisation came up repeatedly and was described with various adjectives which decency will not allow me to repeat here. I disagreed completely with those calling for the demise of this association. It is my believe that ENA is well placed to further the interest of the Edo People along their own line but paying for thugs to do dirty jobs on its behalf will make all of us look like thugs and that is not our yearning.
Conclusion.
The first Global convention will be planned for summer 2003 to allow for adequate time for committees to organise and produce proposals for implementation. What we have presented here is framework to initiate the foundation.
Your first action as a committed Edo individual is to indicate the committee where you will be keen to serve. This is the time to join the Edo Global Charity train. Do not be left on the platform. You must not be dissuaded by any of the proposal as they are subject to change on popular demand at the convention.
Thank you. Dr Stephen OGBONMWAN. MBBS, FMCOG(Nig,), M.MED. SCI (Assisted Reproduction), MFFP, MRCOG(UK).

UNITY THE BEDROCK OF PROGRESS

It is a great honour to be invited as Guest Speaker at the Annual General Summit of Edo Community of Nigeria, Germany e.V. Unity is an appropriate and very timely theme for an occasion like this because unity is the bedrock of progress and development. It is timely because we need progress in all areas of human endeavours now than ever before in Edo State, the supposed heart beat of Nigeria. When the heart beat or the ticker stops, the man dies. So events in Edo State, a microcosm of Nigeria, have a far reaching effect in the outcome of the Nigerian Nation. It is therefore important that our state should be in the forefront of revamping the national economy like the old days of Bendel State, the foremost Nigerian State in the ninety seventies.
Why are we in Diaspora?
In the seventies we were not coming abroad with a one-way ticket, If we did, we went back home after completing our studies to take our place in the society. But nowadays the story is different. The situation and conditions of things at home are so deplorable that our people are no longer able to endure or cope with them. As a result, everyone is thus pushed or compelled to venture out into the Diaspora and become economic refugee in a foreign land.
 Each and every one of us here bears witness to the plundering of the government treasury at various times in our recent history.
 We bear witness to unexecuted contracts where mobilization fees have been collected to establish projects that would have created job opportunities for some of us and our people.
 We bear witness to the incompetence of governance and lack of statesmanship of the various Chief Executives of Edo State. We bear witness to non payment of workers salaries and pensions
of retired workers.
 We bear witness to retrenchment without economic and
progressive basis.
 We bear witness to our children hawking wares along Ikpoba slope
and around the Ring road in Benin City instead of being in their
classrooms.
 We bear witness to the reintroduction of school fees through the
back door in Edo state where other Nigerian States are paying their
indigenes to go to School.
It is as a result of the above circumstances and many more that we are in
Diaspora.
We left Edo State shores because we could not join them in propagating
this man’s inhumanity to his fellow being and plundering the government
treasury. We all arrived by various guises, as students, stole-away
refugees, on specialist or further training programme, to join husband or
to join wife. In spite of the varied way we all came into economic
servitude, we have one thing in common – that is our willingness to see a
better Edo State and Nigeria. It is for the same reason we are gathered
here today to find ways and means of providing a meaningful contribution
to the development of our homeland
While our critics will say we ran away because we could not bear the heat
in the kitchen in Edo, our coming into our new abode is actually a blessing
for our kin at home. All of us here have been contributing our widow’s
mite into Edo State economy annually. We have become the work horses
of the deprived Edo people. We have become the great provider of social
security, which the government is incapable of providing for the teeming
masses of our state. In effect, the government is making the masses to
become more dependent on their kits and kin in the Diaspora for their
health and emergency needs.
In Edo State today, the only thought of every average person is to go
abroad with the hope of picking euros along the pavements of Berlin. You
and I know nothing can be that farther from the truth. Most traditional
houses now have the NOT FOR SALE SIGN to deter family members from
selling family homes and using the proceeds for the passage abroad.
Unknown to our brothers and sisters at home, we wash plates in
restaurants, clean toilets, look after old persons, drive taxicabs, act as
guards and security men and do other menial jobs to raise the funds
which we send home as only a handful of us are working with our
professional qualifications.Those of us in Diaspora also contribute unknowingly to this frenzied crave
of our brothers and sisters to come abroad. We work very hard for twelve
to twenty months and take the money home to spend it in two or three
weeks creating the wrong impression of the way we live in our adopted
countries. This kind of attitude draws unnecessary attention to us at
home and it makes us easy targets and victims of armed robbery and
increases the desire for others to seek the proverbial golden pastures
abroad.
In spite of our hue and cry on the cyber space, our voices are not heard
and our warnings are not taken seriously. The reason for this is partly due
to the flagitious attitude of those in government in Edo State and their
unwillingness to listen to good advice. Another reason is that those in
government surround themselves with party members with the mindset
of the winners take it all without caring for the teeming Edo masses. Also,
the very fact that those of us in Diaspora are not well organized to form a
formidable group or body to cause the effectuation of the desirable
changes in Edo State or we have lost focus and forgotten home
completely accounts for the manner the government view our
contributions.
Diaspora Edo Making a Difference in Edo State.
The Edo people in Diaspora in spite of their training in law, finance,
management, political science, human psychology, medicine etc. have not
been able to make a substantial impact in Edo land due to lack of unity of
action and unity of purpose and lack of unity of heritage.
So far we have been involved in pockets of various activities in Edo State,
from scholarship award to deserving students to adopting wards in
Central Hospital Benin City. We need to do more. We need to be involved
in effective and visible projects in Edo land. As individuals we may be
respected by our friends but collectively we are not thought of much
because we are not included in the scheme of things in Edo State. This
should not be the case. We can organize ourselves into and form a
unifying group that can move mountains in Edo if only we choose to do
so. But can we make that choice and follow it up with sacrifice both in
sparing our time and financial resources? That is the question.
Working Together for the Good of Edo State:
Today we have Edo Global Organization, Edo Okpamakhin and Edo Nation
Association of the Americas (ENA) and a plethora of other Edo
Associations in Diaspora all pursuing different agendas without a meeting
point or a clearing house like our contemporaries of the other Nigeriannationalities do. The blessings and gifts of these associations differ
greatly. Acting separately, they will continue to make little impacts but
working together and pooling their different gifts and talents for common
use, the result will be awesome and Diaspora Edo will be surprised at
what they can achieve.
This cooperation that we speak about is envisaged to cut across party
political lines; it should cut across religious beliefs; it should cut across
ethnic divide; with the main focus being what is best for Edo State and
Nigeria. Then we can work together as one body, speak with one voice,
sustain a common agenda and take active part in the process of change
that will definitely come to pass in Edo State and Nigeria.
To reach that goal, we have to constitute ourselves into one front and
working together will ultimately strengthen the component parts. By the
components parts, I mean the various associations that form one unifying
group for all Edo people due to the centripetal forces at play. This will
improve output and facilitate progress and economic emancipation for the
benefit of our people.
The shine of the moon is different from the shine of the stars and the
shine of the sun. Together they light day and night whereas separately
they can either light the day or the night but never both simultaneously.
Secondly their beauty differs and the effect of the combinations of these
three celestial sources of energy will be awesome. It can be so for Edo
Associations or Organizations in Diaspora working together if they choose
to do so.
The worry is the strong lack of trust and suspicion of the motives of the
various individuals working for the team spirit to prevail. This may make
the desired unity virtually impossible to achieve. The luck on our side is
that those who think cooperation is the way forward are in the majority.
For example, Edo Global Organization as the union of all separate Edo
associations in Europe which forms its foundation and building blocks will
also ensure its stability.
Due to its broad base and solid foundation, like mount Zion, it will
weather any storm. This is what we seek for all Edo in Diaspora.
In practical terms, we have been cooperating with one another. We need
to take this to a higher level of cooperation to execute meaningful
projects for the benefit of all in the land of our birth. In that way we will
be regarded as messengers of good tidings and agents of change and
progress.In financing our projects, we all recall the arguments at Verona in Italy
where a small minority wished that we go cap in hand to source for
funds. I will repeat what I said then that we shall be regarded well and
respected and it is more honourable if we have done so much which we
can show as a testimony to our commitment to our course before asking
for any assistance. I recall the Chairman of the occasion agreed totally
with me as well as a lot of our brothers and sisters. Begging for fund
when the cup is half full will galvanize donors more that when the cup is
completely empty. That is why we need to make the initial sacrifice.
Emphasising Edo Unity in Diaspora.
I have defined unity elsewhere and would not dwell on it here again to
avoid repetition. I will refer you to www.edoglobalorganization.org
I cannot stress the need for this unity more as the result will be
overwhelming since there is total failure of the political system in Edo
State which is apparent even to the blind man in spite of what some
newspaper reporters try very hard to sell. A hard sell it has been indeed.
If a government without any opposition or hindrance to its activities
cannot make a visible impact to the lives of our people, then we are in
serious trouble.
There is no doubt that we need a strong platform from which we can
execute not only our projects but effect desirable changes in Edo State
collectively or by proxy. Behold, how good and how pleasant for brethren
to dwell together in unity, to achieve a purpose in unity and so edify our
heritage in unity. Those who think one brethren or one group is better
than the other or that one brethren or group should compete with one
another or do things separately because our individual endowments differ
are ignorant.
Where has a tree made a forest?
Aye iku rhie Udo, Oye loghor!!
Each of us is endowed with a different gift just like the shine of the moon
is different from that of the star or the sun. The utilization of the
combination of these gifts and talents brings out the best of the groups;
in this case Edo in Diaspora.
We should therefore endeavour to work together with one another and in
so doing keep Edo Unity of Purpose not only in Edo Land but in Diaspora
within the bond of peace, mutual trust, mutual understanding and respect
for our individuality, our respective religion, political affiliation and
ethnicity.We constitute many parts of a whole that is ancestrally, historically and
genetically linked and we shall function best as one body with one
purpose.
For example If a skilful writer from say Edo Global Organization writes a
prose to be delivered by a powerful orator from Edokpamakhin in a huge
gathering put together by ENA, the result will be overwhelming, and the
outcome most desirable for the benefit of all. The overwhelming result will
be the fruit of cooperation born out of unity of purpose and unity in
diversity. In this regard, the objective will be that the best among us will
be representing all Edo people in Diaspora in articulating our desire for a
better Edo State. In so doing, barking behind closed door will be banished
forever as we will take the bulls by their horns by our action.
Co-operating with the System on the Ground in Edo State.
Sometime ago, one of our brothers wrote in Edo Nation forum that there
was no government in Edo State for us to work with which implied we
should abandon hope.
I responded by saying that there are at least two parallel governments in
Edo State, the civil and traditional. No matter how badly the civil
government may be performing, they still represent Edo State and as
such we have to do business with them, cooperate with them and make
useful suggestions to them to enable them do better for the benefit of our
people.
The traditional Edo System of government is unrivalled in modern
civilization.
With the Omo n’ Oba as the head and custodian of our custom and
tradition;
We also have the palace chiefs and the town chiefs headed by the Iyase,
the ˜Prime
Minister’
In every district and now streets in Benin City for example is an
Odionwere or Okao who
administer the district or street on behalf of the supervising chief of the
area who in turn, is
responsible to the Omo n Oba.
Under the supervision of these Okao in various communities are the
Ikpolughe the youngest
group, followed by the Igbama who make things happen in the various
communities; then the
Edion, who take crucial decisions in the council of elders chaired by an
Odionwere or an Okao.This system is repeated in most Edo towns and villages with an Enogie or
Enigie or Onogie or
Onojie, as the head. In view of the above, we have a very effective and
virile administrative
system in place which any good civil government can draw upon and use
for its own benefit and
for the benefit of our people through effective and efficient mobilization of
people.
For us to be effective as Edo in Diaspora, we must connect with our
grassroots and identify with
whatever they are doing.
Political parties will come and go, party chairmen will come and go but
our traditional roots will
remain forever. It is for this reason that I consider them the most
effective vehicle to mobilise our
people for a good course.
Similarly an effective civil government in Edo State must connect and
work closely with our traditional ruler ship system who can reach farther
than party members who are more prone to congregate in urban centres.
Secondly, the traditional rulers know our customs and tradition well and
they can easily cut across party political divide, religious divide and divide
due to ethnicity.
The Edo people in Diaspora have assimilated other cultures and can weigh
the merits and demerits of various attitudes and adopt the best which
they can safely introduce into Edo culture. We therefore constitute a
special group that can be a catalyst for change not only in Edo State but
in Nigeria as a whole.
Our Oba has led by example by introducing some changes into our
people’s culture and tradition in keeping with modernisation; he has gone
further to present the true picture of the history of our people in his aeon
making book ‘I Remain Sir Your Obedient Servant’ which has caused
earthquakes in some quarters. He has led from the front, and our duty as
true Edo citizens now is to follow. And follow we must!
We can arrive at that critical point in Edo history where there is peace,
harmony, progress, economic emancipation, health, wealth and total
fulfilment of our people in the community of ethnic nationalities of our
country Nigeria.
In addition to the above, we must identify, associate and co-operate with
other cultural groups in Edo Land for example the Benin Forum as this will
facilitate the desirable changes we are hoping for and keen to introduce.My brothers and sisters, there is no one group that can do it all alone; we
must therefore cooperate with each other, unite for a common cause and
achieve that change or changes we all so desperately want. Those
advocating segregation are not speaking in the best interest of our
people.
Investing in Edo State.
In all we do, we should not forget the land of our birth, the land that gave
us life, the land of our ancestors, the only place we can truly call our
home on mother earth.
In happiness and joy – in despair and hope – even when the road of life
becomes a little too rosy, or a little curvy or a little too long, we should
always remember home in Edo Land. It is only in remembering that we
can work harder to make it better.
The idea of sending money home regularly which I have preached in the
past may not be a good solution in making Edo State progress like other
parts of our country. In fact, it may create a problem of over dependency.
We could go a step further by setting up small to medium scale
enterprises based on our skills or exposure here that could employ a few
individuals in Edo Land, then we would have contributed more to the
economic development of Edo State and in the same vein Nigeria as a
whole. We all recall the Chinese saying of teaching people how to fish and
feeding them for life rather than giving them fish which only feed them for
a day.
Our people are proud people and do not want handouts. They want to be
gainfully employed and earn a decent salary from a decent job for a
decent living.
It may not be possible for individuals to set up such a business; therefore,
a few of us could form co-operatives to pull our resources together to set
up business enterprises that will employ labour if we trust one another.
There are numerous areas yet untapped in our state which we can go into
and even make profits that will make us smile when we get the dividend
at the end of the financial year.
By providing employment, we will not only be improving the Edo State
and Nigerian economy, we will also be reducing crime rate as the idle
mind is the devils workshop.In spite of our bashing of the government and showing their
inadequacies, the truth of the matter is that the government alone cannot
provide all the necessities of life for our people. There is no where in the
world that is done. The people must also contribute their quota towards
their own welfare. Public spirited individuals who have must share with
those who have not. Our people must be mobilized to get involved in self
help development projects. We have done it in the past. We can do it
again with good leadership and effective publicity. Those who have no
money to donate can donate their expertise, and those who have no
expertise can donate their time and those who have time but no skills can
donate their labour.
While we are making this effort, the government must also contribute by
creating an enabling environment to ensure such small to medium scale
enterprises prosper. Good roads and security of life and properties are
important to success of such ventures. It is obvious therefore that it will
be the cooperation of the government or people on the ground in Edo
State on one hand with those in Diaspora on the other hand that will
ensure success.
We can also improve Edo State economy by projecting the image of Edo
and Nigeria in Diaspora and working to make it a tourist attraction and
destination. There are a lot to offer in Edo State. Tourism sustains the
economy of many nations. We can invite our friends to come on holidays
and be their tourist guide until the establishment of viable tourist
companies in Edo or improvement of the existing tourist companies.
Conclusion:
Finally, I call on all of us gathered here today to be law abiding, to be
good ambassadors of Nigeria and Edo Kingdom in particular in our abode
in Europe so that they will not regret our presence here and so prevent
other Edo from coming in for their post graduate training and further
studies.
You must see it as a duty to enhance the good name of our country
Nigeria in all you do at work, on the highway and in your various places of
study, in your homes and in your relationship with your spouses
especially those of European descent.
I have said a lot today but our people say you only tell an Edo man one
word and in his/her mind, it will form a million words, he/she will know
where you are going and where you are coming from; hence, the
knowledge of our ancestors is the knowledge of the ages.Once again thank you for this opportunity! Remember together we can make that Change we so desperately need. This is not the time to say it does not concern me as it does concern all of us. It is clear we cannot change our yesterday, we can unite and work hard today for a glorious tomorrow.
May the peace and serenity of our God, Osanoghodua be with us today and always and may the good spirits of our ancestors allow this address to take a firm root in our hearts and mind so that we can make manifest what we have heard to day.
Oba ghato Okpere Ise!
SEO OGBONMWAN KSC.

Edo Global Organization

EDO GLOBAL ORGANIZATION: A FOCUS FOR UNITY. Dear Edos, INTRODUCTION: Edo Global Organization (EGO) is an umbrella organization for all Edos in Diaspora and registered as a charity. The main objectives are as espoused in our web site. www.edoglobalorganization.org Principally it is to forge the unity of all Edos in Diaspora and make us
relevant to the fast changes taking place in Edo State and Nigerian politics
and above all act as a catalyst for economic emancipation, good governance, accountability, security and preservation of our cultural heritage. EGO was conceived on this forum about ten months ago as result of two
articles that were published ‘Talking without words 1 and 2’ The articles stressed a lot about the futility of talking too much without taking any
obvious action which we described as amounting to making noise in the forest
where it is of no effect. It was agreed that Edos in Diaspora should lead the
way in taking the destiny of all Edos in their hands and pulling us from this
quagmire so that we can make the desirable progress like other Nigerian nations.
Postings on the net then were aimed at the government who took no notice andas such were not accountable to nobody.
It was obvious then as it is now that write-ups no matter how elaborate
and
meaningful they are, make no desirable impact in the scheme of things in
Edo
land.
Rather than being confrontational and make no progress, EGO is setting
up a
body ‘the implementation committee’ to liaise with the state
government on one hand and actualise the
yearnings and wishes of all Edos in Diaspora.
This implementation body will advice, provide technical support, arrange
feasibility studies, provide professional exchange to Edo state to help our
people. This is not a new phenomenon in the world as the Jews, Indians,
Bangladeshis and Chinese are already facilitating progress in the land of
their birth
which translate into job opportunities and economic development.
We at EGO believe that setting up an avenue of constructive engagement
between the Edo State government and Edos in Diaspora based on trust,
mutual
respect and understanding will augur well for progress in Edo land. EGO
will
take a stand on issues affecting our people and it may be for or against
the executive as Edo people will be our first consideration.
CHARITABLE ACTIVITIES:
We at EGO believe that government alone cannot succeed in solving all
Edostate problems. There is no government anywhere in the world that can
provide
all amenities for her people. Social amenities and economic progress are
usually provided from partnership between the state or national
government on one
hand and the people on the other. For the government to succeed, the
people
have to be motivated. That is where accountability and communication
comes
into play. A successful government must inform the people daily on
progress
or failure so that the people are aware all the time of the true state of
affairs in the government.
Developments anywhere in the world results from efforts of national or
state
governments which is minimal presently in our state due to lack of
adequate resources, lack of accountability and the
loss of proposed good intentions between the drawing board at the
executive
level and implementations at the grass root. The popular parlance for this
is
‘you chop, I chop’ resulting in incomplete or abandoned projects which
litter
the landscape of our state. This of course is not peculiar to Edo state as
similar results can be found anywhere in Nigeria.
The second level of development is through personal efforts of members
of communities. This is traditional to our people to bear each others’
burden. That attitude of collective effort and responsibility is visible with
our mothers who collect ‘osusu’ to build houses, pay children’s school
fees and establish their trade. I am a living witness to my mother’s osusu
group.
There is no policing, no default, no complaints as the money moves from
onemember to the other. When I look around I wonder what has happened to
that
level of trust our parents had in dealing with each other in Edo land.
Brigadier Ogbemudia’s government exploited this to the fullest during his
tenure
in office. The results of people mobilization is visible in all
corners of the then Bendel state. This is an area that needs special
government involvement; if the people can be motivated by
any committed government in Edo state then they can be
made to provide for themselves through self-help developments projects.
The role of charity in community development is where EGO will play an
active
role in assisting our people as a non-governmental agency. As a child,
growing up, I
attended St Joseph’s Catholic primary school, set up by the
Roman Catholic Church. I am sure a lot of our friends and colleagues
attended similar
schools set up by Christian Missionary societies. These missionaries came
all
the way from Europe and America as Roman Catholics, Anglican, Baptists,
Wesleyan societies etc. They built schools, colleges, churches, hospital
and
social centres for the people. They facilitated socio-economic growth in
Edo
land. Today these schools are still viable, producing students for our
universities.
As Edos in Diaspora. it is time we started making pilgrimages to our
mother
land to facilitate it’s development. If the American and European
missionaries could act as facilitator for our people, we Edos in Diasporashould do it for our kits and kins in Edo land. This is not the time to be
pointing accusing fingers, rather it is time to harness all our resources
and in
unity pull Edo indigenes from the doldrums they are in today. Finally EGO
is
already liaising and inviting assistance from international sources to help
Edo state development programmes. Charitable organizations as NGO are
involved in cancer research, providing for the homeless, assisting in
disasters, help for the aged etc. The list is endless. If it is successful
elsewhere, we should make it successful in our country and in particular
Edo state.
EDO UNITY:
These laudable objectives are not achievable on individual basis. They will
require the collective will of everybody to make it successful. No single
individual has the answer and the means to make the desirable impact in
Edo
land. The problems are so numerous that one wonders where to start. It
is for
the above reasons we are requesting the help of all Edos through their
various organizations like Edo State community in the UK, Edo Nation
Associations of Italy, Germany, USA, Hungary, Austria, Japan and South
Africa. We know there will be other associations not mentioned. I will
appreciate passing this information of good intentions on to other Edo
groups not mentioned above. We are setting up a bigger office in Benin
for the use of members and member associations.
to facilitate their charitable activities and to act as a focus for
dissemination of information in Edo land.
For those who wish, they can join us as individual members, or join as
associations or contribute their widows mite to facilitate our goals.With the present problem in Edo Traditional Council and the claims of
Agadagba to our ancestral land, there is no better time to work together
for
the unity of all Edos so that we can speak and act with one voice for the
benefit of our people.
POLITICS:
EGO is completely non-partisan as we do not belong or support any
political party. We felt it is best to be completely neutral so that we are
able to work with any
government in place in Edo land. Insulting the governor or government in
place in Edo land will be counter productive. Disharmony and disunity
brings
about retrogression and inaction. We shall plead with the government in
Edo
state to show accountability and if such pleading is not heeded, we may
be compelled to pull all the strings at our disposal to bring that
government into disrepute.
SUGGESTIONS AND DONATIONS.
We will appreciate help in various form, expert advice in our projects,
suggestions on how best to achieve our goals, donations to run the
organizations
and achieve our charity objectives.
During our sojourn in Europe and America and while enjoying the labour
of the
past generations of our host countries, we should not forget the land of
our
birth. We have to make the sacrifices now so that our future generations
can enjoy the fruits of our labour and not seeking asylum orprostitution in foreign land.
Contribute to the success of EGO by supporting us as a volunteer, by giving generous donations and by providing technical support in our work. May God Bless you as you give.
My usual regard to all

HISTORY OF BENIN

 

DR SEO OGBONMWAN KSC.
Dear Dr O, It is an impossible task to write a two page history of Benin; as I promised, I would try although the task is daunting.
Benin is the centre of the world ‘Edo ore isi agbon’ that is the belief in oral tradition. The history of Benin is woven with the history of the ancient Benin Kingdom which at the height of its power extended beyond present day Benin Republic to the Ewe speaking area of Ghana to the west; extended to the Niger River in the east and to the River Niger again in the north and bound by the Bight of Benin in the Atlantic ocean in the south.
The present day Benin is what is left after political manipulation and re delineation of the boundaries of the kingdom on restoration of the monarchy in 1914 by the British. Benin City proper (Oredo) is the area of Benin surrounded by the moat; the unexplored an unpreserved largest man made historic and defensive structure in the world.The present Edo State of Nigeria is home to Edo people. In spite of different variations in Edo dialects, the language is Edo. These people are all from the same quaver as they left Benin at different times in the history of the ancient Benin Kingdom. All Onojie or Enijie or Onogie or Enogie of towns and villages in Edo State are all blood relations of the Oba.
The history of Benin will be divided into three parts for this purpose.
The first period spans the arrival of Edo people from the Nile valley to Igodomigodo and the reigns of all Ogiso to the last one Ogiso Owodo
The second period spans from the end of the inter regnum to the annexation of the Kingdom by the British forces in 1897.The current period spans from 1908 when Oba Eweka the 2nd was crowned
and more precisely when the monarchy was restored and authority
bestowed by the British to the present day. There have been three Oba in this
period, Oba Eweka who restored the monarchy and power from the British
after the deportation of Oba Ovoramwen to Calabar; Oba Akenzua who
campaigned for the creation of Mid West Region and the present Oba
Erediauwa who is a product of Cambridge university, a seasoned civil servant
in the public services of Nigeria and a keen writer doing all in his power to
straighten the history of Edo people.
During the period of the inter regnum when Igodomigodo was difficult to
govern, diviners recalled that there was a surviving son of the last Ogiso
Owodo who was banished due to the treachery of the principal wife Esagho
and the messengers by altering the message of the diviners.
Ekaladerhan refused to come back to the city of his birth as he was very old
but sent his son Omonoyan in his place. He found it difficult to rule but had a
child from the daughter of the Enogie of Egor who gave birth to a son later
crowned Eweka the first.
We have had 38 Obas, most leaving their foot prints in the sand of Edo land.
Oba Esigie was the first to come in contact with Europeans (Portuguese) and
had an ambassador in the court of the King of Portugal. Oba Ewuare a
physician, magician, hunter and warrior constructed Akpakpava Road and
renamed the kingdom EDO.
The history of Benin is documented in wood carving, brass casting and oral
tradition and it is authentic.
The system of government is a mixture of autocracy, democracy and
gerontocracy. The Oba has absolute powers but there is an Iyase (Prime
Minister) who heads the town chiefs who can argue or disagree with him on
rare occasions, there are the palace chiefs and the Uzama ni Ihinron who are
the King makers. The title of the Edaiken (Edayi Ni Iken) has a long history
behind it; is the heir apparent who lives away from his father and is notallowed to use the title until the Oba joins his ancestors. Succession is by primogeniture hence there is no in fighting for the exalted position when the Oba transcends unlike in other communities.
The Edo excels in arts. The wood carving industry is located in Owina, brass casting in Igun and weaving in Ihumwunidunmwun. The Benin artist perfected the lost wax method which they still use till today. After the sacking of the Kingdom by the British forces, a large number of the art works were looted and can be found in major museums in Europe and America. The most popular is the Idia mask which was the mascot for Festac 77 and symbol to many Black and Edo groups around the world.
Edo people are farmers, hunters, traders, fishermen and great travellers. Today they live in extended family homes in the villages and towns and this forms the social security system where ‘everyone looks after everyone else’.
There are numerous festivals in Edo land to commemorate important events in the history of the Kingdom. The most popular is Igue Festival which takes place about Christmas time, the Ehor, new yam festival, Ikpoleki and the initiation of one age group into another.
Generally Edo people believe in the supreme God who is Osalobua (Osanoghodua) who they put first in everything. They also serve or remember their ancestors. In recent history there have been many deities introduced into the City from adjoining tribes like the Yoruba and Christianity by the missionaries.
Edo people are Pickwickian in nature, respectful, kind, friendly and ferocious in battle.
They greet with reference to their family which in a way identify them; for example la Emorę, la‘Giesan, La ‘Tose, la ‘Umogun etc, about 56 in all.
Due to the poor economic state of Edo land today, Edo people can be found in the remotest part of mother earth but one thing is certain, they never forget home as they cherish Edo land, the land of the red soil.
SEO

WHO ARE THE EDO

WHO ARE THE EDO? BY
SEO OGBONMWAN (a contribution to a discussion on Edo Nation) Dear All,
The answer to this question is a good starting point to start solving the various problems facing us as a people. Who are the Edo is the question. The answer will vary depending on various parameters. Our patriotism, our desire for unity, our upbringing to be truthful in the face of all odds will come into the equation in answering such a question in the present dispensation of Edo politics.
Nowa’s definition of who the Edo are is nearly sacrosanct but the use of the word Benin or Bini Kingdom or Empire has brought a flaw into it. By Ewuare Ogidigan’s decree on his assumption to the throne of his forebears that Ubini should be Edo negates the use of the word Benin or Bini Kingdom or Empire as the case may be.The Benin Empire is the creation of earlier of publication on our people. Our people are Edo and our Empire is the Edo Empire.
If the Edo wrote their history, then we would have not had this problem. We would safely have called our kingdom the Edo Kingdom or the Edo Empire. Unfortunately we did not write our history. Now that we are of age we should start correcting the mistakes made by foreigners who wrote our history on our behalf.
You all know and agree that our Oba is Oba n’ Edo Uku Akpolokplo. He is not Oba n’ Benin or Oba n’ Bini. Our Oba is the Oba of Edo land from beginning to the end. His jurisdiction in traditional terms extends throughout Edo land which is all of Edo State today and beyond. The English language translation of Oba n’ Edo to mean Oba of Benin is wrong and it’s use should gradually be discouraged. As Edos we should insist on the correct appellation which is Oba n’ Edo. It therefore follows that the correct designation for Benin Empire is Edo Empire.
The Edo who live in Benin City live in Oredo. Following that can we then say Oba n’ Oredo? The appellation will also be wrong in meaning and in dimension. My appeal is that those of us in a position in the appropriate university faculty should produce papers to correct this anomaly. It is our duty to do this now that Edo are catching up in educational terms with our colleagues in the West of the country.
We should follow Omo n’ Oba’s example in correcting our history for the future generation of our people in print and electronic publication
Thank you for asking the question in the first place.

 

Stephen Ogbonmwan

PROJECTING EDO CULTURE IN DIASPORA

he above assertion has been in the mind of a large majority of Edo in Diaspora for a long time and many have discussed it on numerous occasions. Edo culture is unique and a source of pride to many and many more are putting up props to prevent it sliding even amongst Edo in Diaspora. As Albert Schweitzer said, ‘’I am proud of my colour for any who isn’t proud of his/her colour is not fit to live’’ The extension of this is the popular saying that ‘’our culture is our lives, we should not kill it’’ rather we should sustain it.
Gone are the days when our people will only wear suits in a traditional Edo gathering when buba and shokoto will do; or better still agbada, buba and shokoto adorned with coral beads to the amazements of the non -Blacks on lookers. What is important is being happy and comfortable with your traditional Edo wear.
The Indians in the United Kingdom for example have now made curry and rice a national menu from the traditional fish and chips in the UK. Rice in the UK many years ago used to be the meal for those regarded as not ‘posh’; not any more as it is regularly served in most important gatherings considering the new phrase ‘multi culturalism’
It is for being a true Edo man that I serve Edo traditional cuisine of ‘ema and ogbonlor or egusi soup’ and the traditional pepper soup as the after to my guests. This I do to influence our people to keep being Edo, acting Edo and eating Edo meals as a delicacy in Diaspora. Children are taught to greet in Edo traditional manner and show respect to senior as done in our culture before rushing off to play their games..
My joy was boundless when in Kassel Germany on invitation as President of Edo Global Organization by Edo Community of Nigeria in Kassel treated the guests to Edo music and dancing in a very cordial atmosphere with a balanced audience of about 50% Blacks and 50 % Whites. Our brothers in Germany have been well accepted into the German society and they (Germans) are very supportive of what our brothers are doing, raising funds for a project in Benin City. Their outfit on that day and the complementary Edo music supplied by an Edo live band and the served Edo cuisine added glamour to the event and made all of us Edo to feel at home in far away Kessel.
In Vienna, Austria a few weeks later, we were treated to a true Edo carnival, an occasion organised by Edo Community of Nigeria in Vienna Austria. At the airport to pick me up to the event were two true sons of Edo in white buba and shokoto with the traditional sword and the scimitar embroidery on their outfit. Both of them caused a stir as they walked in my direction. There was further amusement when onlookers observed the traditional embrace between Edo brothers and ‘hand pumping’ in the airport foyer. On arrival atthe venue of the ‘cultural nite’ to my utmost delight all the male Edo were in the same attire. The women were not left out as they came out in befitting traditional wears as well.
After the thought provoking speeches from the chairman Prof Iro Eweka, my humble self and the Nigerian Ambassador to Austria we got a pleasant surprise from ‘Edo Ugho Dancers’ in their fascinating attire of marooned ‘igbe gbe’ and a top made of coral beads complete with white handkerchiefs stepping out gracefully into the dance floor. They sang and danced to the delight of everybody both Blacks and White. Melodious songs came one after another and even when they were done with this beautiful rendition of Edo songs and ugho dance, the audience shouted for more but the organisers of the programme had to move on. Thanks also to drummers who also were in traditional outfit and for a very good performance.
Edo culture is not just our mode of dressing, singing, dancing and what we eat, it includes our good neighbourliness, friendship, cordiality, generosity and receptivity of all and sundry. It also include our celebrations of birth and death, our spoken language and our numerous festivals including the Igue festival at the end of every year. Every Edo person at home and in Diaspora should take joy in speaking Edo language and teaching it to their children or we shall be lost as a unique cultural group in the Nigerian Nation. Teaching Edo language to our children does not interfere with their grasp of a second language or even a third language. The rate at which children process information can only be imagined so they should be encouraged to speak Edo language at home always.
I would like to thank my Edo brothers Mr Paul Ekhaguosa in Germany and Mr Felix Okoro in Austria for showing good leadership in putting up these Edo cultural activities. In not wanting to be left out, Edo in London will be staging a second ‘show for Akaba man on the 27th of August after an initial successful outing earlier in the month. Thanks to ‘Chief’ Ogbomo of London for putting these events together. Although Akaba man is a musician and the show may arguably be described as not being cultural, he will sing in Edo language, dance in Edo tradition and ultimately project Edo culture so he should be encouraged and supported.
When next you have an Edo outing, think Edo, speak Edo, act Edo, dress as an Edo and help prop up our customs and tradition. Thank you.
Oba ghator Okpere! Ise