For philanthropist and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chieftain in Edo State, Kenneth Imasuagbon, no other time during the year is the spirit of giving and sharing more alive in his heart.
The eloquent businessman and educationist, who delights in putting smiles on the faces the less privileged, poor and downtrodden across several towns and communities in the spirit of the season has not only become a ‘Messiah of sort’ to the poorest of the poor but had kept faith with his mission to reduce poverty and hunger in the state.
The legal luminary turned political colossus in his magnanimity of distributing free bags of rice in almost two decades at Christmas along the streets of Edo State has endeared himself to many residents and families, and for his kind gesture, he undoubtedly earned the nickname, ‘The Rice Man.’
Imasuagbon, admired by many of his allies have made it a tradition to celebrate and distribute bags of rice as a show of love to the poor and needy who have little to celebrate the season with.
The ‘Riceman,’ as he is fondly called is in his own efforts of complementing the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki to reduce poverty in the state, is saving many from going hungry, while other well to do Nigerians feast at Christmas without remembering the poor in their environment.
Like the undisputed leader and Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki had made efforts to ensure families enjoy the season, following his early payment of December salaries and pension of workers and retirees to ensure Christians celebrate the Christmas festivities in high spirit.
In furtherance efforts by the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration to meet its obligations to Edo workers, Kenneth Imasuagbon in his goodwill over the years has continued to support the poor and the needy.
While Obaseki’s decision to pay workers, mid-way into the month, was to support Christians who are set to celebrate the Christmas festivities, Imasuagbon has made it a duty and tradition to remember always to feed the poor in the state and country at all times without failing especially at Christmas season.
Obaseki hinted that the residents in Edo would not have a bleak Christmas hence he went all out to pay salaries and pensions of workers and retirees in the state earlier than the usual payday to enable families visit the market and shop for the season.
Quoting the State government copiously in a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, “The Edo State Government has today, December 14, 2021, paid salaries and pensions of workers and retirees in the state.
“The early payment is a way for the government to identify with Christians in the state during the Christmas celebrations. Edo workers can now visit the market from today and shop for the season.”
The Rice man whose free rice distribution commenced early in the Month of December this year, in Agenebode, Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State and his home town, Ewohimi in Esan South East Local Government Area is expected to cover the 18 Local Government Council Area of Edo state before Christmas day.
Imasuagbon’s free rice train is expected to go round the three Senatorial districts of the state as it would arrived in Edo South today as expectant recipients are eagerly waiting for the arrival of the tons of rice and other gift items to be shared among prison inmates, streets, orphanages, hospitals and passersby.
Imansuangbon who started this philanthropic gesture 17 years ago has been sharing rice to the entire local government in Edo North and Edo Central in the past 3 days making sure the common man and woman in the streets have a 10kg bag to take home for the yuletide.
In one of his interviews, he called on other wealthy individuals in the society and politicians to emulate the good deeds of Late Captain Hosa Okunbor who was well known for his uncommon philanthropic gestures.
He added that no Edo State citizen should go to bed with hunger saying that from his experience during this sharing exercise, “it is obvious, without being hyperbolic, that there is so much hunger in the state and everyone who is better off should do the much he or she can do to help in managing the dire situation.”
At Irrua in Esan Central Local Government Council Area, where the free rice train had earlier berth, a young lady who identified herself as Beauty Orugbe said: “ I want to thank the rice man for coming to our aid at this Christmas season. We pray that God will continue to bless you and meet your heart desires.”
Another young man who received the freebies courtesy of the Rice Man said: “ We are happy with Ken Imansuagbon for always thinking about the plight of the poor. We pray God grant to him his ambition of governing Edo state someday since you have the interest of Edo State people at heart. God will surely be with you”. An elated Imansuagbon described the gesture at Irrua town as a way of identifying with the people. He said, “ Nobody should be scared of Christmas that is why rice giving is significant to me and all Edo people because for me, no Nigerian should go to bed with fear of what he or she will eat.” According to Imasuagbon, We should learn the true Christmas lesson of gentle, thoughtful kindness to those we love and to all we meet in life. “Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone by showing love to them particularly the less privileged who have nothing to celebrate and beyond that, the Christmas is more than a time of festivities, it is a season of generosity, gladness, and gratitude,” Imasuagbon stated.
Imasuagbon admired for his humanitarian works and philanthropy has posited that Christmas is meant for sharing, and showing love as well as appreciation for those around us in need across our various communities.