A PRESENTATION BY MAJOR GENERAL CECIL ONOSOLEASE ESEKHAIGBE (Rtd), PhD.
DATE OF PRESENTATION: MAY 13, 2020
ESANLAND, modernly referred to as Edo Central Senatorial District, lies in the areas of 2800 square. kilometres, with 5 Local Government Areas of about less than a million people. According to the 2006 population census, Esan Central is 105,242, Esan West 127,718, Esan North East 121,989, Esan South East 166,309 and Igueben LGA 70,276.
ESANLAND is bounded by the West of the bank of River Niger, Delta State and Edo North and South Senatorial Districts.
It is dominated by the Esan/Asaba Plateau which is the source of many streams that promotes agrarian economy. The Esan people are culturally homogenous, with the main occupations as farming, fishing, and hunting. The homogeneity plays a key role in the ruggedness and indomitable spirit of an Esan man.
In 1897, when the British empire attacked the Bini Kingdom, the Esan held their own until they were invaded in 1899. The first attack on Esanland was at Ekpon in April 1899 with a fierce resistance by Esan people who led an ambush against the British forces at Okueme. The British also failed at the attempt to conquer Irrua with the adoption of guerrilla warfare by the people of Irrua. Other kingdoms adopted this guerrilla warfare until the final invasion by the British in 1901.
In 1901, the British people attacked Uromi under Onojie Okolo. Uromi’s resistance was led by Prince Okojie with the use of guerrilla warfare.
The murder of His Highness Okolo at Amedokhian led to a retaliation by Prince Okojie who murdered a British captain. It is instructive to note that the British forces had to enlist local sympathisers like Onokpogua, the Ezomo of Uromi, who betrayed Prince Okojie. The resistance by Esan towns was legendary until they submitted to the British in 1906. The 34 kingdoms became the Esan division.
The reason for this introduction is to underscore the variables that come to play in security calculations. Security has mostly been defined as the absence of fear or a state of being secure. The tool for this security has mostly been war-centric. It is widely expected that the various security agencies would hold this key to security.
Security has gone beyond the narrow prism of military- centric or physical approach. Security encompasses the variants of political, food/economic and socio-compartments.
Therefore, human security aggregates the military or physical security and the other variants mentioned above. Interestingly, the primary responsibility of government at any level is the provision of welfare and security for the citizenry. Here lies the cocktail of the various strands of security. In the absence of an effective government to discharge the social contract of welfare and security for the Esan people, what are the options left for Esan people in the face of the myriad of security challenges confronting the nation in general and Esan in particular?
The Esan people have since independence shown their political astuteness with the likes of Tony Enahoro and Shaka Momodu. Even in contemporary times, two Esan men (Tony Anenih and Tom Ikimi) headed the two political parties – SDP and NRC.
However, very recently, Esan fortunes nosedived in political arrangements with an orchestrated attempt to reduce Esan fortunes through the illusory truth syndrome of Esan being the smallest in size and population in the state. Our political security lies with the Esan Agenda, supported by unity of purpose and ability to win elections. Esan leaders must eschew personal aggrandisement and present a common front in negotiating for political power.
The Esan plateau with the attendant streams had always supported our agricultural exploits. The Esan people need to take this agrarian nature from the subsistence scale to the mechanised level. The cooperative society approach to farming needs to be resuscitated as a step towards mechanised farming. Our worthy Esan men and women must now think globally and act locally by coming home to invest. Interestingly, political security will aid economic security.
Physical security is about the freedom from fear or the state of being secure. Confronted with the gamut of security challenges in the form of farmers/ herders clashes, armed robbery, kidnapping, insurgency/terrorism, the Esan people must take their destiny in their hands by re-enacting the strength and valour they used during the colonial invasion. The failure or inability of government to eradicate these security challenges demands a homegrown solution by the Esan people. The use of vigilante system with active collaboration of our great hunters will be a first layer of a security architecture. There are abundant Esan men and women both serving and retired from various security agencies that can help in organising this first layer of defence. This will be followed by an active participation in community policing that is being proposed by government. The use of villagers as a veritable source of intelligence cannot be over emphasized. The axiom of if you see something say something is an important element of intelligence gathering. So also, is watch my neighbourhood. While understanding the human factor plaguing the performance of security agencies, it suffices to say that a cohesive platform like this populated by great ESAN men and women can form a broad support base for the security of ESANLAND, at the same time forming a virile pressure group for negotiations with the government of the day for the security of ESANLAND.
I conclude with a humble opinion that the greatness of ESANLAND is our collective responsibility and the first step is to overcome the fear of being afraid. We cannot promote ESANLAND by getting scared of going home. The time to act is now. Choose ye this day whom you shall serve. For me and my family, I will serve ESANLAND.
– Major General Cecil Onosolease Esekhaigbe (Rtd), PhD. The Okanlete of Esanland.Τ