Ken Imansuagbon is a household name in the politics of Edo State. His name penultimate week reverberated again with honour since after the 2016 governorship primary in the state. PATRICK
In a clime where politicians, in a desperate bid to hoodwink the voting populace stop at nothing and pretend to be kind hearted philanthropists by embarking on all manners of humanitarian works for votes.
It is very common when election approaches to see politicians sharing loaves of breads, salts, bags of rice, slippers, clippers, wheel barrow and most often sprinkle naira notes during campaigns.
While other pretenders flung open the gates of their mansions to give the impression that they are accessible and pro-people.
However, little did Edo State born, politician and Educationist, Barrister Ken Imansuagbon, knew that while holidaying in faraway United State of America his towering humanitarian gestures in the last 20 years will come to the fore.
Imansuagbon, who contested the 2016 Governorship election under the platform of the All Progressive Congress, (APC) claimed he was scientifically rigged out of the party’s primary in favour of Governor Godwin Obaseki.
The popular politician after the party’s primary has gone back to his striving business and abandoned activities of the party in anger. It is however no clear what his next political move would be.
However, if fillers from political circle and permutation are anything to go by, the philanthropist may be positioned as the likely candidate and a rallying political figure for the governorship slot which will be ceded to Edo Central in 2023.
At a time when those who had contested the last governorship primaries in the state had literarily gone underground, Imansugabon’s name reverberated at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, and unlikely place for any politician.
It was the occasion of a valedictory recession for the outgone Chief Medical Director of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Prof. Michael Ibadin.
Two years ago, Barrister Kenneth Imansuangbon (aka Rice man), while thanking the management of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) under Prof. Ibadin, for the role the facility played in bringing him back to life after a ghastly auto crash that nearly claimed his spinal cord in 2013, promised to give back to the hospital as a mark of appreciation some people felt he was just sweet talking.
Imansuangbon, while recounting his sordid experience at thank you visits said “God Almighty used UBTH and the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the hospital, Professor Michael Ibadin, to save my life in 2013.
“After the truck hit my vehicle, my spinal cord was almost gone but Professor Ibadin said my spinal cord must not crumble. The hospital resuscitated me and I am alive today. So, I made a promise to myself that I will always donate to this hospital annually to show gratitude to them.”
However, doubting Thomases were opportune to hear how Imansuangbon has kept to his promise when Professor Ibadin recently disclosed, while bestowing an award on the former guber aspirant that “for his philanthropic gesture toward indigent patients in the hospital and providing financial support for the hospital.”
Explaining the reasons for the honour, Prof. Ibadin said the recipient provided exceptional support for the hospital in times of need adding that Imasuangbon has lived up to his promise to provide annual financial support since 2013.
“Imasuangbon had an accident in 2013 and we managed him successfully here before he was flown abroad. He was taken abroad not because we couldn’t take care of him but he made a self-referral.
“Imansuangbon came back and commended us and said that as mark of our ability to manage him, he will make some money available and he has kept to his promise,” Professor Ibadin disclosed.
He stated that Imasuangbon has also helped to pay hospital bills of indigent patients as part of his promise.
At the occasion he was represented by Dr. Obehi Akoria, he thanked the hospital for the honour and promised to do more to uplift the poor and needy.
Most people who are familiar with the philanthropic gestures of the politician cum school proprietor will always talk about a horde of his yeoman efforts to make life meaningful for the needy.
On a yearly basis the Ewohimi born Imansuangbon’s foundation organises an essay competition for students in secondary schools and tertiary institutions across the 18 local government areas of the state where prizes and gifts ranging from educational materials to money and scholarships are offered to successful participants. The programme has been on for about ten years.
His Pacesetters Group of Schools situated in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory provides qualitative education to pupils at affordable cost.
It’s also public knowledge that every Christmas season and for close to 10 years now, Imansuangbon traverses the nooks and crannies of Edo State with trailer loads of bags of rice shared out to whoever desires it irrespective of their political affiliation, religious leaning and ethnic grouping.
For someone who grew up in a humble home he describes his actions as “a call to service.”
Mr Osato Raymond, a staff of UBTH described Ken as a rare breed politician whose primary concern is how to add value to humanity and urged other politicians to emulate him.
In his words: “What else do you want me to say having listened to the glowing tributes from people about our rice man? It just tells you that whatever we do in this life people are watching you. This is a man politics or no politics have been sharing rice across the state, offering scholarship to students and caring for the sick in hospitals.
“So what is happening today is not strange and that is why he is been honoured for his humanitarian gesture. It is my prayer that at the appropriate time God will grant him his political desire”
Digging deep into reasons for his philanthropic gesture, the law graduate from the Prestigious University of Ife, (now Obafemi Awolowo University) was reported to have gone through difficult times.
Going through life’s hurdles even became hell after the death of his father leaving the responsibility of caring for his other sibling entrily on their mother, a petty trader in Benin. He once stated that rice was then eaten once in year in his family
“I remember those days I used to jump molue in Lagos. My father died early; my mother brought us up. It was difficult living without our father, but I thank God for the Christian values, which helped us stay focus. It wasn’t really easy, but God was on our side.”
“Do you know how it feels to come back from school and there’s nothing to eat. Notwithstanding, It was also very comforting because it makes you to work hard in school; you don’t want to remain where you were.
“Those days, I used to see the children of the rich flaunt their father’s wealth, and that was when I resolved to be a successful man. So, it was more like a propelling factor for you?
“Of course, what was at stake for me then was to fight poverty; I wasn’t ready to transfer poverty to my children. With that in my mind, I was very focused; failure was never in my dictionary. To me, it is possible to achieve success playing according to the rule.”