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Edo State @25

By Benin Congress

Aiyamenkhue Edokpolo is my name, a real estate broker, a politician, and Chairman, Edo Forum of Patriots Inc.

1. Who should Edo celebrate as her her hero at 25?
For me there are many perspectives to defining the hero Edo should celebrate on her 25th anniversary Day; be it politics, education, sports, business, human rights, cultural advocacy, youths development etc. On the overall, good governance aptly comes to mind- as the centre of socioeconomic gravity.

Dr. S. O. Ogbemudia stands out in this regard. Yes, he was not not a Governor under Edo State polity, but his works as Midwest and Bendel State Governor remains the cornerstone of today's Edo and Delta States hood governance benchmark. As an octogenarian, he has not abdicated as a rallying point galvanizing sociocultural and economic consciousness.

Although my beloved Dad (Late Archbishop Dr. John Enoyogiere Edokpolo JP) with the royal blessing of Oba Akenzua 11 spearheaded the Midwest creation initiative through the Midwest Democratic Front that he birthed, nurtured and financed as a registered political party alongside Chief S. Otobo, Mushesehe and other legendary politicians, which became the navigating-path for Bendel State creation; but the struggle of pre-Midwest era is fundamental against the backdrop of their tedious journey leading to the Midwest referendum of 1963.

Although my Dad became Minister for Trade, Commerce and Industry, it is enlightening to acknowledge the Indefatigable sacrifice and interventions of the era, yet, Dr. S. O Ogbemudia still stand as a colossus in hall of fame in the posturing of contemporary Edo State development.

2. Where were you when Edo State was created?
In 1991, I was in form 1 of the Senior Secondary School cadre of Niger College, Benin City. I was the Secretary of the Nigeria Economic and Political Enlightenment Club. I had a grasp of the elementary issues of politics and the driving underpinnings of cultural interplays between major blocs or regions of Bendel State. So, when Edo and Delta States were created, it wasn't a huge shock to me as it where.

3. Do you think Edo State has something to celebrate?

Yes, I think the State has so much to celebrate in terms of its cohesion despite some secessionist expressions, bickering, and hostile tendencies of border neighbors, we have remained one indivisible people. Edo is the only State whose nomenclature aptly reflects the organic name of its pre-colonial people. It was the name of one of the admirers of Prince Ogun, who became Oba Ewuare. Politically, there have been chains of leadership succession from Chief John Odigie-Oyegun to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

There are interwoven success stories with the value chain of the successive administrations whether military or civilian. In terms of infrastructure, education, human capital and 'audacity of hope on leadership', our people have avalanche of success stories.

4. Are the Youths ready for leadership position as the founding fathers fade away?

The youths readiness for leadership position as the founding fathers fade away is a very intriguing question laced with epistemic contradictions. The way most youths behave in a given leadership position cast doubts in their understanding of the issues governance and global values appreciation.

However, beneath this contradiction in dysfunctional orientation of some Edo youths lies a burning agitation been waged by some of us within the prism - youths empowerment should not be done for the fun of it, but, must be directed at youths with informed orientation of developmental-leadership chain is ladder. On the overall, I see hope, I see a stars in the dawn of a new day from Edo youths who are currently recruited into a sought of mental reawakening.

5. What should be done to make Edo State survive better?

The thing to be done to make Edo survive as a State is, for me, a deliberate policy of youths reorientation within the context of a new social order. Once we realize that youths are the ideal leaders of any nation, it becomes sacrosanct to invest massively in their wellbeing and skills acquisition. Another intrinsically important dimension is the enhancement of peace in our socioeconomic and political lives.

6. What areas should future leaders focus on?
Future leaders should focus on industry. Our youths are largely unemployed, under-employed, and grossly under-equipped in terms of industrial wherewithal despite the preponderance of industrial opportunities in all parts of our State. Oil and solid minerals are abundant in our soils, so they need to be properly exploited.

7. Has Edo State fared better since creation?
Yes, Edo has fared better in many ways. As we speak, in spite of the higher oil revenues of Delta State, it is bedeviled with backlog of salaries areas to her State workers, but that cannot be said of Edo State. In terms of national and international debt profile, Edo is very good order, in other areas of education and human capital development, our State stands out in Nigeria. In every parameter of assessment of economy and condition of living, our State is not beggarly. For me, these are the most underlying scales of measurement on the health of any State.

Let me appreciate your erudite and community based newspaper for finding me worthy of this honor. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.