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Honour for the Homeboy

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Only a few people have lived such an impossible, remarkable life as Kenneth Imansuangbon.

From a humble background, he rose to make a different in a world full of inequality and injustice.
Clearly, the story of Imansuangbon, a lawyer, educationist and politician who is also the Chairman of Pace Setter Schools confirms that man indeed is the architect of his future.

His determination to succeed against all odds started with his growing years, when every day was a struggle. But that struggle to eat and the struggle to find tuition to be able to go school have metamorphosed into a story of greatness.  Indeed, Imansuangbon’s life is a good lesson for the youths.

The success he struggled to achieve has become a platform through which many leaders are now made.
For instance as the Proprietor of Pace Setters’ Group of Schools, Abuja, federal capital city, he has been impacting quality education  on  the youths who are the leaders of tomorrow.

In the past 10 years, he has been hosting the annual Kenneth Imansuangbon football competition, a programme aimed at catching future international football stars at a tender age.

He also instituted the Kenneth Imansuangbon Essay Competition and Prize Giving Day.
Apart from cash prizes, winners of the competition are entitled to laptop computers, while winners of the tertiary institution category go home with ipads and cash gifts.

As a result of his contribution to the educational development of Edo State and Nigeria, last month, leaders in Edo State gathered to honour the son of the soil.

Opening the floodgate of encomium, the Esama of Benin Kingdom and founder of Igbinedion University, Okada, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, who won the 2014 edition of Kenneth Imansuangbon Essay Competition said words are not enough to thank the Imansuangbon and his wife, Kate, for all their support for humanity.

“When I see you every year feeding the poor, I say to myself, this man has a good heart. You should not be discouraged even in the midst of criticism because people must criticise in spite of the good things you are doing to uplift the poor in the society.”
Also, the Edo State Commissioner for Education, Mr. Washington Osifo, thanked Imansuagbon for championing a course that enable the average child in the state to grow and be a good leader of tomorrow through the kind of empowerment giving irrespective of their parental background or political affiliation.

According to Osifo, “we celebrate you today for delivering one of those things that will lead our children in the right path”.
Osifo noted that besides the material gifts, Imansuangbon’s essay competition has succeeded in exposing the inadequacies of the competitors and also bring out the best in them.

“We all are defined by the content of our characters. It does not have to be measured by where we come from because if you are good, you are good. And if you are bad, you are bad. Your tribe has nothing to do with whether you are good or bad. Therefore, let us de-emphasize political affiliation but what is good for our state, Edo which is what Imansuangbon is doing”, Osifo stated.

Also speaking, the  Chairman, People’s Democratic Party [PDP], Edo State chapter, Chief Dan Orbih said the “the Rice man”  as Imansuangbon is fondly called should not relent but should continue the good work as God will not fail to reward his efforts.
The Chief Imam of Benin Central Mosque, Sheik Abdulfatai Enabulele, praised Imansuangbon for his honesty and contributions to the welfare of the poor.

And while speaking about the leadership challenge in the country, he tasked the people of Edo State to give people with good character like Imansuangbon the opportunity to lead them.
Also, the Bishop of Benin Anglican Communion, Rt. Rev. Peter Imasuen, pray to God to sustain the life of Imansuangbon to enable him continues to do more good for humanity.

He also admonished winners of the competition not to use their computer gifts for negative activities, but apply them to find solutions to the challenges confronting the state and Nigeria in general and to the glory of God and for the benefit of mankind.
The President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria [PFN], Reverend Felix Omobude appreciated Imansuangbon for his philanthropic gestures.

Earlier in his remarks, the National Coordinator of Kenneth Imansuangbon Essay Competition, Mr. Segun Awogbade, described the initiator of the essay contest as a mighty tree with countless branches where other creatures come to shelter and draw water.
He said the essay competition which started seven years ago, and was brought to Edo State was to create the ingenuity among young ones to enable them take over the mantle of leadership in Nigeria.

However, train of honour later moved to Ewohimi in Esan South-east Local Government Area of Edo State, which is the hometown of Imansuangbon.

After the thanksgiving which took place at  St Matthias Catholic Church, Imansuangbon  said the  success of a leader is not measured by the public office he or she occupies, but how he or she has been able to impact positively on the lives of the people who looked up to him for leadership and direction.

Fondly referred to as “The Rice Man” following his adoption of the late Moshood Abiola style of  meeting the people at the point of their needs, said he believes that education is the only way to build a man’s future on a solid footing hence he set up scholarship scheme to take care of indigents.

He also found the famous Pace Setter Schools located in Abuja, the Federal Capital City. Imansuangbon had won the hearts of the people in Edo State through his regular free distribution of food items to the less privileged and spurred by his beliefs in Maslow’s philosophy that “once you remove hunger from the list of wants of a man, poverty is half solved.”
He also continues to identify with the people through what he was known for: philanthropy- which he said was a movement and a train of change that could not be stopped.

For instance, before the last Christmas and New Year, Imansuangbon was involved in an accident that nearly maimed him but nevertheless, he ordered from his sick bed in  London that food items should be distributed to the less privileged in the three senatorial districts in Edo state; a gesture he claimed was to put smiles on the faces of the poor during the festive period. 

“This is my own commitment to fighting poverty in my state. I came from a home where there was no rice to eat but now that I can afford rice, my commitment is that to the extent God permits, I will always give food, every time, to the poor in Edo State and if I had enough money, I would send it to other parts of the country to put smile on the faces of the people.”

He was quick to note that his gesture was not politically motivated but the manifestation of the humanitarian spirit in him. “I have seen poverty and I have seen comfort now. I know that comfort is better than poverty. My own is that every Edo person must have comfort during Sallah, during Christmas and New Year.

“So, my commitment is to the people and a way of thanking God and my little contribution to fighting poverty because it does not matter, 50 years down the line how much money you have in your bank account. As a matter of fact, I gather money throughout the year to save to buy food items at the end of the year to put smile on the face of the man on the street. If I go on the streets now, people line up to greet me with nostalgia and to me- that is better than if I had billions in my account.”

While suing for peace in Edo State, Imansuangbon cautioned leaders against playing ethnicity and religion cards.
“Edo State needs people with entrepreneurial antecedents; proven managers of human and material resources to co-operate so that Edo can be great again” 

On whether he would seek political office  in the future, Imansuagbon said he would always offer himself for the service of the state. “It is possible for Edo State to become a model for other states in job creation, robust economy with solid public private partnership, meeting Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target in health care delivery, becoming a food sufficient state, science-based 21st century education and human capital development, tourism, sports and above all, a secure state.”

At the thanksgiving,  Imansuangbon  raised over $20 million for the construction of residential house for the church parish priest.
He later paid a courtesy visit to the traditional ruler, Enojie of Ewohimi, HRH Lords Peter Ojeifo who offered prayers for him and his family.

Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 4 Years ago

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