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Esan outline criteria for endorsing aspirants, make strong bid for governor

By Seye Olumide
20 April 2023   |   4:05 am
Ahead of the Edo State governorship election scheduled for 2024, the Esan ethnic nationality in Edo Central Senatorial District is making a crucial move aimed at presenting the best among its citizens that will succeed the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki.


•Plan engagement with other Senatorial Zones
Ahead of the Edo State governorship election scheduled for 2024, the Esan ethnic nationality in Edo Central Senatorial District is making a crucial move aimed at presenting the best among its citizens that will succeed the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki.

To achieve this, critical stakeholders from the community have listed some conditions, which aspirants from the zone must meet to enjoy overwhelming support.

Although such criteria are not outside the 1999 Constitution, it included standards such aspirants must meet to enjoy the backing of the community and not necessarily the idea of every Tom Dick and Harry.

This, the stakeholders said, is to ensure that only viable and capable aspirants, who can attract support of the Northern and Southern senatorial zones of the state, will be endorsed to contest for the governorship seat as Obaseki’s eight year term winds down in November 2024.

Rising from a meeting of the Esan Assembly held over the weekend, under the auspices of the Esan Okpa Initiative (EOI) and attended by some Esan groups in the country and the Diaspora, it endorsed the criteria presented by a six-man sub committee headed by acclaimed Constitutional Law scholar, Prof Mike Ikhariale, which makes the possession of a bachelor’s degree, as opposed to the constitutional provision of a secondary school certificate, as the minimum for persons of Esan extraction contesting for any political offices.

Other members of the sub committee earlier set up by EOI’s Political and Strategic Committee, which comprised largely of egg heads, include, Prof. Friday Okonofua, Prof. Ekeikhomen Ejele, Prof. Sylvester Odion-Akhaine, Dr. Roseline Etiti Okosun and Dr. Onoohomen Ebhohimhen.

The meeting, which discussed and wrapped up details of the criteria, according to a press statement by EOI’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Tony Iyare, was also attended by representatives of Esan Liberation Movement, led by Mr. Prosper Iyere, Esan Descendants Assembly headed by Prof Oyawizo Aluede, Okisemabhegbe coordinated by Mr. Mark Akhuetie and leaders of the Esan World Congress (EWC) in the US and Canada.

The criteria cover critical areas such as education, social and political exposures, personal gravitas, and emphasises that the would be aspirants must be imbued with “a strong association with Esanland through past and current activities in ways that are demonstrably focused on the promotion of the wellbeing of Esan people.

“Accordingly, the individual must have a positive image and untarnished reputation that openly speaks for themselves, and such perception must have received the general acknowledgement of the people,” the group says.

The criteria are divided into three broad categories – Mandatory Requirements, Esan-centric Requirements and The People’s Specific Demands.

Under the mandatory requirements, the individual must meet the eligibility requirements that are clearly set out in the 1999 Constitution for elective political offices as well as those that are specifically drawn up by EOI exclusively for Esan politicians.

Esan centric requirements include: the individual must be a strong believer in Esan values as amply evidenced by an unbroken track-record of enthusiastic association with Esan issues, Esan concerns and Esan cultural challenges and those matters pertaining to the general development of the Esan nation.

The aspirant must be evidently enthusiastic about Esan matters and actively makes his contributions whenever called upon, must be a generous contribution to Esan development, be it materially, physically or intellectually and must also be a proud communicator in Esan language with demonstrable understanding, or possesses a verifiable evidence of genuine willingness to acquire the requisite proficiency in the language.

The high point is that the aspirants must possess a minimum of a university degree (excluding honorary degrees) or equivalent tertiary qualifications from a recognised institution(s). “We acknowledge that certain disciplines like Law, Engineering, Medicine and others require compulsory post-university certifications to be complete; and the absence of such certifications would raise questions that demand further investigation.”

The criteria laid out also include Integrity and moral Uprightness, Health Status, viability of political platforms, political visibility and electoral viability, resource and material capacity and urbaness and gravitas.

The criteria further stated that the individual must not have been criminally tainted or have actually been convicted for crimes involving fraud and dishonesty and must be a good mentor and example in moral issues. Not a bankrupt or a person of dubious reputation.

The individual must be physically and mentally sound; he must not have any past and present medical records that indicate otherwise; he must evidently be in good health and has never been associated with drugs-related rehab.

The individual must be reputed for his civility, charisma, enlightened worldview and broadmindedness; not given to pettiness or deep-rooted grudges and anti-social behaviours.

An individual vying for an elective position in Esan land should possess reasonable personal capacity to prosecute a viable campaign. This must not be misconstrued as limiting the search to moneybags only or even aspirants with the backing of wealthy godfathers.

The two-hour weekend meeting presided over by President, Esan Okpa Initiative, Rt Hon Matthew Egbadon, also disclosed plans to engage other senatorial zones with the hope of getting them to concede the governorship ticket to persons of Esan extraction on the basis of justice, equity and fairness.

Stressing the altruistic nature of the group’s intervention, Egbadon, also a lawyer, says, “we are non-partisan, we are only interested in putting forward our best hands. We appeal to unserious aspirants, who have joined the hordes of contenders for the governorship ticket to quit the race.”

While Edo Central’s reign under Prof Oserheimen Osunbor was cut short after 18 months in office, Edo South, which produced Mr. Lucky Igbinedion and Mr. Godwin Obaseki, will be completing 16 years in the governorship by November 11, 2023. Edo North has also had two terms of eight years under Mr. Adams Oshiomhole.