The salient Witness

This report Between Culture and Poverty: The Queen Mother Phenomenon and the Edo international sex Trade is another distortion, misrepresentation and misguided chronicle of our way of life, but I was not offended by this ‘exercise in intellectual laziness’ of this commercial writer. Who funded this report? The only heroine in this report is Sister Lucky Igbinedion, maybe she did, but why? I suspected that Mrs Igbinedion was only testing the troubled political temperature of Edo south south so that the Igbinedion political clan in Edo state will know what political strategy to adopt. This brown envelop report is probably an attempt by sister Eki to know what colour of rice, beans, oil, yams, garri and brown envelops to distribute to Edo people in 2011. Remember Hilary Clinton almost became the President of America if not for the eloquent Brother Obama and her husband who was a liability. I am sure there are no silver-tongued champion of women and
people of Edo state than Mrs Eki Igbinedion, after all she was the fist lady for eight years.

I doubt if Mrs Igbinedion ever encouraged her husband to invest in our community assets, for eight years. Our star heroine abandoned her root for a state house life of privileges. Sister D Ehanire-Danjuma was in the same league; let these prodigal and improvident daughters of Idia be told that the current politics of Edo state transcend the politics of brown envelops, rice beans, yam and palm oil. The Bini/Edo people who were scavenging bins for survival in the early 80s and 90s have been empowered not by political means vis- a- vis good leadership in Edoland but by the true daughters of idia from Torino. The proper daughters of Idia sacrificed everything - their honour, dignity, pride including the ultimate price for the current financial boom and boost in Benin, thereby laying the foundation for the advent of financial institutions in Benin city. Benin City is emerging as ‘The City’ in Nigeria. The ancient city is the highest foreign exchange
market in Nigeria and yet a western region minister said he was going to shut down the only aerodrome of our final journey home.

After painstaking considerations here in the city of Dublin, we concluded that Oluwakemi A. Adesina was bias and ignorant of our recent betrayal. Maybe she is a misogynist. We were victims of this era. Nonetheless what was the purpose of your research? Please tell us, did you defamed, ridiculed and sneered on the people of Bini/Edo just to excise your intellectual prowess? what for? Your report is a wayward recipe for disunity and mistrust. instead of yu to examine the abject neglect and the sociological effects of Federal government neglect of Benin/Edo people, in a fail economy monitored by IMF, you went on a war part with a people who cannot fight back. The Edo woman that was the object of your vile and noxious report was shy, traditional and conservative prior to 1988 During the economic boom of the 70s and early 80s, Edo woman did not know Iyaro let alone Lagos or Verona. Our women were in their villages with their very closed knit family commune.
The Benin men started this exodus in the early 70s. they started emigrating to study in the USA, which was one of the gains of Dr Ogbemudia prudent administration. In 1974 Udoji award induced many people from our various villages to find better life in the city. In 1979, 80 and 81 student bursaries were paid to both Edo national and international students by Professor Ambrose Ali.

My peers and I have been direct victims of the Nigerian state.We were often referred to as the wasted generation. The last bursary was paid in 1981, student loan board was abolished, and we heard of scholarship but only restricted to our western cousins. Out of patriotism we listen to President Mohammudu Buhari, but the professionals gained during the Shagari administration started emigrating in drove. Majority of us who went into higher institutions became apprehensive about the economic downturn of the 80s. In 1983, Mohammudu Buhari named emigrant Nigerians ‘Andrews’ ‘that we had no other country than Nigeria’. But the Nigerian Professionals snubbed Buhari in the absence of bread and butter. One royal prince, a lecturer, who was the model of many of my peers in many faces of religion abandoned his people. I wept when I read about his departure. Santana - akpu - a stereotyped food of our eastern brothers became the staple food of the Edo
people. Edo graduates became robber tapers and cassava farmers. They were laughed and jeered at. By 1984, 86, 87 the level of joblessness in Edo State was the highest in Nigeria, We produced the highest graduates in the 80s. That human resources was only necessary for industrial revolution, but we only had two industries in Benin- Coca cola and Bendel brewery; the Bini/Edo parents lost their authority in their own homes in the absence of job.

The destination of most Benin early 'Andrews' was America. Most of us were old enough to start our own family but we could not. The total failure of political leadership in Edo state was responsible for the exodus of most Benin men to Europe from 1986, and by 1988 our women had joined the bandwagon. The military administration continued to send non-Edo natives as military administrator or plunderers to the state. Brother Hilary, you asked one vital question ’ are we the only ones the deplorable economic condition in Nigeria affected?’ I will say yes. The administrations after that of Dr S.O Ogbemudia were irresponsible governments except that of Professor Ambrose Ali. The others were in government for themselves. For years those middle military officers were offered Edo states as a presence for their loyalty.

The Bini/Edo leaders in those various administrations were not interested in the plight of the their people and they never to these days, there were embargos for virtually everything for the common people. I can categorically say here that Edo people produced the highest graduates in history of Edo people in the 80s without a corresponding offer of employment opportunity; may be this new derogatory report will open floodgate of the re-negotiation of minority rights in Nigeria. Modern Bini/Edo person do not need those mobile phone companies and those parasitic financial institutions in Benin. If they must do business in Benin, they must employ 85% of the Edo people. In the 80s the lingua franca of UBA, first Bank, National Bank, Union Bank, Afric Bank was Yoruba, ACB was Igbo, the Hausa Banks was never even established in Benin for example Societe General and Habib Bank. The three ethnic groups always cheat when it comes to employment issues in Nigeria.
Our leaders who were themselves alien never border about our stakes in the Federal level to this day..

The Yorubas bordering our western side had the advantage of taking over the federal ministries and parastatals after the Ibos were recalled to Biafra in the mid-sixties. Those positions were used to their advantage when ever job opportunities opened up with the multi-national Oil companies even when they were situated in the Niger-Delta. This advantage may not have changed drastically in the 70s, 80s and 90s. The Yorubas had all the Bank jobs, more then 60% in the Federal ministries. Our neighbours to the south, the Deltalites filled the oil, steel, as well as Koko, Sapele and Warri ports including all the associated multi-national companies. The Hausas dominated the Army and 40% in Federal ministries and the Igbos were given priority in the baby project of RRR of the federal government. The Edo people who were exposed to the civil war and the swing of the prosperity of the 70s and 80s were economically schemed out. On the established facts generated by
Ms Adeshina’s xenophobic and prejudicial report, the federal government of Nigeria will be indicted for damages for what happened to the Bini/Edo people and reparation shall be demanded, did you know what happened to the Bini/Edo men of that era?

In the study of personality in psychology, it is quite noted that everyone cannot react in the same way to one situation, and so it is with ethnic groups. The Nigerian civil war raised the consciousness of our people, During the war and post war periods Dr Osaigbovo Ogbemudia had established many secondary schools within and outside Benin City. The huge number of high school graduates could only be employed as teachers mostly in the villages; the ambitions of these men were far above those jobs available. So send-off parties were held for our boys who had secured visas to read in the U.S.A. It was common in those parties to witness the girl- friends of the celebrants crying unreservedly. This was only to intimate the spouses not to forget them. I do not know of anyone man who fulfilled the dream of those women. Some who eventually came back more than ten years were already married to Americans. The few that came back for marriage would have four or more
wemen lined up for each of them. The Akaterian would sleep with all of the women and may end up choosing one or non of them but someone else. Imuentiyan an ex prostitute in Italy, who now resides in the Republic Of Ireland, said this experience broke her resistance to joined the bandwagon. She told me rather than to wait till eternity for a man that would take her and her family out of poverty in the absence of a job that would earn her a disposable income, she decided to choose the stigmatisation of prostitution against the stigmatisation of poverty as he who wears the shoes of poverty knows where it pinches.

After seven years in Italy, Imuentiyan had brought five of her siblings to Europe and America. She had a four-flat that earned fixed income for her family. She is now married with three children in Ireland. The daughters of idia dominates the local business, majority of them have been retrained as health care assistants, nurses, hair dressers and teachers. Imuentiyan revealed to me that what she earns in Ireland is peanut, compared to what she made in Italy, but the certainty and decent manner of earning a honourable living here is more than millions of Euros in Italy. She has crossed the Rubicon of poverty to the other side forever and this she did for her children and family. Imuentiyan for us therefore is like IDEN the wife of Oba Ewakpe who we regard as Heroes in the Epic of Gilgamesh of the Mesopotamia mythology.

The Edo people in Europe with European passports are more than one million and it is increasing every day. This is responsible for the boost and upsurge of financial institutions in Benin City. (Please stop selling our family homes to these financial institutions. The state government or EDPA should develop Ikpoba river banks and allocate the land to them for development, If they must celebrate with us, copy Canary Wharf) So how can we convert the foreign currencies pouring into Benin City into a vibrant political and economic power. We have paid the ultimate price and 30-40 years we may not be here to recount this experience.

Finally, what is manifestly missing in most views expressed on this subject is the root causes of prostitutes in our very close knit family unit. I have not read anything that genuinely represented what we endured. Most writers analysed the general features of the prostitutes; that general overview was used to make indiscreet statement and Bini/Edo woman have been streamlined into one straight jacket. Nothing has really changed much for the Edo people. Perhaps our leaders should put the interest of our people above their own interests.

Benson Osayomwanbor Ibude - Manchester - 07931912023
Emokpae Odigie - Dublin - 00353863980235

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