BY SIMON EBEGBULEM
When one gets to any gathering in Edo State and you see people talking about the Akara Parliament, you may not understand what it is until you get there. The parliament holds every Saturday morning at the residence of the Edo State Commissioner for Works, Barr. Osarodion Ogie, and it attracts powerful politicians across the three senatorial districts of the state. It is a Saturday ritual where politicians eat bread and akara (been cake). People come with different types of drinks to donate to the feast.
They start arriving as early as 6:30am and, before it is 10:30, everywhere is occupied. It is the only place you see aspirants drinking gin and eating bread and akara with their opponents in the All Progressives Congress (APC) without any form of malice. The parliament is gradually changing the face of Edo politics.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that Akara Parliament started like a joke when a former Commissioner representing Edo on the Board of the NDDC, the late Don Omorodion, was alive. Omorodion and two other friends always visited Ogie every Saturday morning and on each occasion, they would eat akara and bread. Their habit attracted many others, even their friends in the PDP, and the parliament started expanding. At that time, they were buying N10,000 worth of Akara but today they buy as much as N50,000 worth of akara.
The woman who sells is grateful to God for using this parliament to bless her. People passing through Adeiyan Road, GRA, Benin-City every Saturday morning would not believe that what the big men who park exotic cars, almost blocking the road, do inside is enjoy akara and bread. However, Sunday Vanguard observed that inside that akara and bread ritual, high wired politics is being played. With the akara and drum beats that go with it, those that come from the villages to participate in the Saturday ritual feel very comfortable with the setting. And whatever they hear politically spreads like wild fire in the communities through this medium. Aspirants for political offices sell their manifestoes at the gathering. Remarkable is that some of the APC aspirants assure the gathering that they would work with whoever emerges at the primaries of the party despite their personal interests.
One of the House of Assembly aspirants in Ikpoba Okhai, Aiyemenkhue Edokpolo, told Sunday Vanguard: “This is the gathering of all Edo people across the three senatorial districts every Saturday morning. It was initiated naturally by our brothers in Ikpoba Okhai at the residence of our leader, Osarodion Ogie. But as time went on, the entire 18 local government councils bought into it, thereby making Saturday morning a remarkable date in their routine to visit the Akara Parliament. It has strengthened sincere political discourse for the progress of the APC because it is a formal and informal issue sharing platform.
We crave for its sustenance and it must be noted that this uncommon attribute of Ogie has made him far more outstanding in any socio-political periscope of leaders in Edo State. There is no Saturday that we don’t purchase over N50,000 akara and in the last four years one woman has been supplying the akara. The woman has become an akara contractor. Another beauty of the Akara Parliament is that it has engendered reconciliation among warring leaders and members of our party.
Politicians should imbibe sacrificial disposition which Ogie embodies rather than self disposition. This parliament is bringing unity, togetherness. In this place, we share our feelings with the leaders and, at the end of the day, you go home happy and without fighting any body. People make sacrifices here and this is the kind of thing we want to encourage in Edo, so that our politicians will begin to see that we are one despite our political affiliations”.