The tense political atmosphere in Edo State didn’t hold back a moment of celebration on Friday, September 11, 2020, when top dignitaries across the country gathered to celebrate one of the greatest son of the state, the Esama of Benin Kingdom, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, a Nigerian businessman and traditional aristocrat from Okada town in Edo State.
The industrious elder statesman turned 86 on Friday. In giving a remarkable celebration, a thanksgiving prayer service, which is done annually as part of events to mark his birthday was held at the Family Intercessory Ministry, Benin City, Edo State, and it signified the commencement of the celebration as the Esama of Benin reflected on his achievements and God’s blessings in his life.
The octogenarian has been described over the years as a philanthropist and industrialist of great repute.
Some of the dignitaries that graced the occasion include; Chief Lucky Igbinedion, former Edo State Gov, Dr. Danladi Bako former DG NBC and Sen Rabiu Kwankwaso former Governor of Kano State.
Born September 11, 1934, the title ‘Esama’ traditionally means the “Son of the People”, with responsibilities including assisting the poor in medial, monetary, and private ventures. He was suspended from participating in palace activities in 2008.
The Esama of Benin’s business empire includes an international property portfolio and a private TV and radio station. He owns a private bank, oil refinery, diamond, gold, marble mines over Africa, a private university (Igbinedion University, the first private university in Nigeria), and a large number of hotels. He previously owned the now-defunct private airline, Okada Air, of over 40 aircraft (planes and helicopters). He has built numerous churches including a Grand Catholic Cathedral, and has set up and owns a number of private hospitals across Nigeria.
Chief Igbinedion is married to Lady Cherry Igbinedion, a native of Jamaica. His children include a son, Lucky, who was a two-term Local Government chairman and two-term Governor of Edo State, another son, Charles, who was a Local Government chairman and one time Edo State Commissioner of Education, and a third one, Peter, who was the managing director of the Nigerian Aviation Authority. His daughter, Hon. Omosede Igbinedion-Akenzua is the wife of Avan Akenzua, a dynastic Prince of Benin Kingdom. She currently serves in the House of Representatives in Abuja as a representative of Ovia Federal Constituency in Edo State.
In addition to these four, Chief Igbinedion also has a number of other children.