February 28, 2014

Return of the Riceman: When Oshiomhole, Imasuagbon made peace

Return of the Riceman: When Oshiomhole, Imasuagbon made peace

It was undoubtedly one of the most visible acts of political grace when Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State joined many others to thank God on the miraculous survival in an auto accident of one of his most formidable critics, Barrister Ken Imasuagbon.

By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor

THE venue was the New Covenant Gospel Church in Benin City and the sight of the same man he had relentlessly pursued and pilloried attending the church thanksgiving held in memory of his survival was emotive for Barrister Ken Imasuagbon.

Imasuagbon1“It shows you’re a good man. May you not lose me or anybody from Edo State,” Imasuagbon told Governor Adams Oshiomhole has he made his thanks that memorable day earlier this month.
Dubbed the Rice Man on account of his yearly distribution of rice to the population in Edo State, few politicians like Imasuagbon and Oshiomhole could have put politics aside in appreciation of the goodness of God on one another as the two did that day.

Imasuagbon, a two-time gubernatorial aspirant in Edo State miraculously survived an automobile accident along the Agbor-Uromi road on November 14, 2013 when his convoy was hit by a truck belonging to one of the country’s largest industrial conglomerates.

Industrial conglomerates
His survival was in every respect miraculous given that the vehicle he was traveling in was visibly written-off. It has been speculated since the accident that the truck driver was on an assassination attempt given that the truck by-passed the other vehicles ahead of Imasuagbon’s vehicle in the convoy to hit at the vehicle he was seated in. Besides, the vehicle driver has not been seen since and not even by his employers.

Following the accident he was flown abroad almost unconscious in an air ambulance until his return to Benin in early February.
The return to Benin was a celebrated affair with well wishers of the man on hand to receive him at the Benin airport when he arrived Benin City that day.

If the ecstatic crowd that followed him on arrival was anything, then the outpouring of friends and “foe” at the church service was outstanding.
Comrade Oshiomhole who had been the object of Imasuagbon’s sharp tongue was the most prominent of the several well wishers that turned out to rejoice with the Rice Man.

The survivor was escorted by family including his wife, Kate resplendent in a blue lace blouse upon a red wrapper with a red headgear. Ken’s mother was also on hand to thank God for the survival of her son.
Following a bible reading from Psalm 116:9-14, Imasuagbon thanked God for His mercies.

“What can I say? What can I do? All I have to say is to say thank you to God that heard your prayers and cries. Only the living can praise the Lord. If I had died on November 14, you’ll not be celebrating today. I thank God for giving me a second chance. You all did well. I’m grateful to every one of you. God saved me. I am alive. I am back to you. I am back because of your prayers and tears. I know that all of you prayed for me. President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Tony Ahenih, HE (Governor Oshiomhole), everybody prayed for me.”

Fixing his gaze on the governor for putting aside their political differences to rejoice with him, Imasuagbon said:
“It shows you’re a good man. May you not lose me or anybody from Edo State,” he prayed.
Oshiomhole who aborted a trip to his own village to be with his political “foe” spoke in like manner. “All of us are Edo people. We’re not defined by the party we belong to. If anything, the party is defined by those who belong to it. What defines us is who we are- we’re Edo people.”

“We thank God for your life. We join your family to thank God because politics aside, you’re one of the main players and drivers in the Nigerian politics, economy and society. Many Nigerians are aware of your contributions in the education sector. You run not a mushroom school, but a school that is truly imparting knowledge in the finest tradition.”

“Many of our politicians get so desperate because they do not have any other business address. You have a flourishing business address, not just one that’s profit-driven, but also driven by a passion to impart knowledge, to contribute to the development of our human capital.”

Commending Imasuagbon’s gestures towards the people, the governor noted that it was remarkable that the celebrant would put his wealth to help the needy in the midst saying that such acts ought to be emulated by many others in the political class who only accumulate for themselves.

“That you choose to add to the life of the people is a testimony to the goodness of your heart and if political aspiration inspires men to do good, then politics should be the only business in town.”
In his message, Rev. Felix Omobude, president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN urged the political class to put make truth a central policy in their aspirations.

Given that Oshiomhole is not due for another term in office, it was remarkable that Imasuagbon seized the opportunity of the goodwill demonstrated by the governor at the thanksgiving to negotiate a handover, to him in 2016 when the governor leaves office.

But Oshiomhole was shrewd in his response saying that whoever he hands over to whether ‘Ken or Imasuagbon or by whatsoever name called”, would be the person as chosen by the masses. “My prayer is for God to direct Edo people to help us in finding that man or woman.”