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Asue Ighodalo: Beyond Academic And Professional Competencies, By Chris Ojeikere

  • The AI Edo People have come to know

IT is so easy to let Dr Asue Ighodalo’s imperious and larger than life academic and professional profile dazzle us into forgetting to do a meticulous, if you like, psychoanalysis of his person, or at least, his revealed person. But we must do it, as also we must necessarily do with others who are contesting candidates for the Edo 2024 guber election; considering what is at stake. Academic and professional competencies are objective criteria, skills, and, or tools for dealing with the official domain of governance and the economy of the State. And they are to that extent, indispensable conditions! However, beyond academic and professional competencies are other sine-qua-non that are highly influential for effective and smooth performance in Office towards goals achievements. For all intents and purposes, Edo State people will do well to ensure that these vital virtues are characteristic of the candidate we will eventually vote for next year. I will be examining these virtues vis – a – vis the revealed personality of Asue Ighodalo esq in his outings among Edo people so far. AI was somewhat of a mystery before he was activated on our political landscape. Every one knew his academic and professional profile, so it was natural to expect a far removed Professional pundit, whose outlook to life would be mercantile, business dealings and return on investment inclined. And, indeed only so! It was this subconsciousness that gave birth to the ” Homeboy” ace card(?) The proponents felt a very smug satisfaction that they had a magic phrase to drive Asue Ighodalo back to his ‘Wall Street’ alienation!

So, you can imagine the rude shock they got, when AI came blazing with inimitable responses to the now quickly redundant home boy failed ace. AI spoke in Pidgin, his voice strong. He fangs bared like a prancing lion. He told them “Home lived in the heart!” He revealed his roots and his familiar interaction with home, with so much passion, that even his detractors could not agree more that home was indeed in the heart! Then he concluded: ” I am a proper Esan man” . When he finished, the usually fastidious Esan people nodded their convinced agreement. Esan has at last found a worthy son to represent them on the Edo political space.

But he is not seeking to be Governor of Esan land alone. He wants to administer Edo State as a whole. So ” Man Around Town” dragged him to his morning radio programme. “Let us see,” he seemed to say,” how much this ‘ Lagos boy’ knows about Edo State.” But, my goodness! Was AI a revelation? If you have not listened to clips from that interaction, you owe your self that duty. I listened to the original version. AI was as fluid in Pidgin as ice-cream on your tongue. He was so fluid, one of the presenter confessed how he was ” taken aback” by his Pidgin fluency. He said: “I thought you were coming here to speak oibo to us…”


Fluidity would have been good enough, if AI did not dazzle with his total grasp of the nitty gritty of Edo politics, social living and economic needs. He was talking of immediate ideas to fix our roads, small support loans for our market women, bases for electing political leaders, their attitude after being elected into Office; all with the most knowing ease and passion that will make him a dread to face in a debate. In fact, I wondered if he didn’t sometimes visit those ” pepper soup joint” afterall!

He had the answers so complete on his finger tips that at that moment he made other aspirants who had been involved in such discourses before then, to look like young antelopes who started to dance themselves lame, when the real dance was yet to begin. In both scenarios and at other places of interactions with him since then, AI’s personality has come through to Edo people vividly. And those are the findings and testimonies of Edo people. First, we note his Emotional Intelligence. In the radio programme, I referred to there were a few, not so pleasant interruptions that actually did not serve much purpose, but he handled them with the pacifism of a priest and continued without a qualm. He was even made to apologize one time, also to no useful purpose. But he did, adroitly! I tell you people, that man has some mastery over his emotions! Also, what an Orator!? He is glib, demonstrative and shows an unusual presence of mind in conversations. He answers questions as if he already had them before they were asked him. He is definitely an intellectual; who philosophizes on some relevant issues. For instance , he so cleverly debunked the “we” against “them’ mentality and let us know that governance
is a shared responsibility with such logical posture, that the reporters had no choice but to concede to him. He referenced a particular point, (the nerve centre,) so pointedly, when he was discussing the value of Arts, Culture and Tourism, that you could tell that he truly understood the routes and how to do the navigation. As AI mixes with Edo citizens daily, we are seeing a man that is down to earth, has interpersonal relationships skills, unpretentious. We are also seeing a dogged man, who doesn’t shy away from challenges. But takes the bull by the horns. So, beyond the academic and professional profile, AI possesses qualities that are indispensable for the season we are entering in 2024. His intelligent quotient, Social quotient and emotional intelligence will all be needed to face our new realities! This is the reason some enthusiasts named him Man Wei Sabi!

Chris Ojeikere, Spokesperson, Ighodalo/ Ogie Campaign Council

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