BY GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE
AFTER losing the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for the recent gubernatorial election in Edo State, Kenneth Imansuangbon famously known as the Rice Man on account of his distribution of Christmas rice was expected to stop the five year practice. Last Sunday he disappointed critics after he commenced another round of rice distribution.
“When I was growing up, I never had rice to eat especially during Christmas,” Imansuangbon said last Tuesday at the end of the 2012 yearly round of rice distribution.
When he started the gesture five years ago, his motive was believed to be shadowed with political considerations as a result of his gubernatorial ambitions.
Four years after, and having failed to secure the ticket of the PDP ahead of the July 2012 gubernatorial election in the state, not a few critics supposed that the rice man as he is fondly known would go into oblivion.
On expectations that he would stop the rice distribution?
Giving is an action, if you don’t love you cant give. It is not as if I am that rich, I am not the richest in Edo . You see what we are doing is partly because of the way our pasts efforts have been appreciated, people kept on calling me, ‘make sure you do it.’
On the state of the polity and criticisms against President Jonathan?
Nigerians must support Jonathan, if Jonathan fails, Nigeria fails, if he succeeds, Nigeria succeeds. Let every department, police, military, school children, farmers everyone, let us support Jonathan. When we support any president it is the country we are supporting.
Each time an America holds election, the country is normally divided, the Republicans and Democrats but the moment an American president emerges, all Americans see the actions and inactions of the president as the American people’s job. So, in the same way, Imansuangbon says, lets support the president. The president needs support to succeed.
On Edo election
I have put that behind me, I am looking forward to God and towards the future with great hope and prayers.
Why share rice?
It is my own commitment to fight poverty in the country. I came from a home where there was no rice to eat but now that I can afford rice, my commitment is that to the extent God will allow me, I will always give rice every Christmas season to the poor in Edo State and if I have enough money, I will send it to other parts of the country to put smile on the faces of the people.
So, the rice sharing is not a result of politics, but the manifestation of the humanitarian spirit in me. I have seen poverty, I have seen comfort now and I know that comfort is better than poverty. My own is that every Edo person must have comfort during Sallah, during Christmas and if I have money in 2013, I will do the same thing during sallah.
So my commitment is to the people and a way of me thanking God and my little contribution to fight poverty because it does not matter, 50 years down the line what money you have in your bank account. As a matter of fact I gather money throughout the year to save to buy rice at the end of the year to put smile on the face of the man on the street. If I go on the street now, people line up to greet me with nostalgia and to me, that is better than if I had N1 million in my account.
I don’t dream to be Dangote or Femi Otedola, but I dream to when I walk on the street to be able to fight hunger. If one Edo person is able to feed as a result of my gesture, that satisfies me. To that extent, we must all support the Jonathan administration and I am calling especially to the senior citizens to make supportive statements to strengthen the administration.
Senior citizens must come out and make public pronouncements to support Jonathan, to encourage him, Nigerians must through their actions and inactions, support the president. Jonathan is there today, he may not be there eight years down the line. If you desecreate the office of the president and make it non-sanctimonious, then the man who comes after him would also be worse off.
So, it is good we support this president, this president is serious but he needs the support of Nigerians. He is not getting the support of Nigerians. We must give him total and full support especially now that we are having security challenges. Lets come together we are one people. We must make sure that we build a country that we will all be proud of.