Benin City - Few expected Kenneth Imansuangbon, famed as the Rice Man to engage in his annual ritual rice distribution exercise after the intrigues that knocked him out of the All Progressives Congress, APC governorship primaries earlier in the year.
Imansuangbon, however, proved sceptics wrong when he decided to continue with the distribution of rice to the less privileged members of the society irrespective of his political bearing.
“My love for Edo people is natural, it is not defined by political consideration, religion or tribe or economic status of the people,” he said when asked why he continued with the distribution despite his recent political travail earlier in the week.
“I have been to mosques, churches and the open streets to give rice to the people. So, my love for Edo people is from God and deep from my heart. Politics will come and go, my love for my people remains,” Imansuangbon who has shared rice for ten years to the poor in Edo State for ten years said.
He said that if he had won the party’s governorship primary and the election, he would have ensured the establishment of communal farms across the state to provide food security but lamented that he was stopped by a cabal in the party and government.
This year’s distribution of rice took the “Rice man” and his team to the 18 local government areas of Edo state. The tour took off from Igarra in Akoko- Edo local government area through Owan West and Owan East to the three local governments in Etsako Federal constituency on Monday. The following day, he was at Ekpoma, Irrua, Uromi, Igueben, Ubiaja and his home town, Ewohimi all in Edo Central Senatorial zone.
Barr. Ken Imasuagbon (The Rice Man) presenting some items to the co-ordinator of Internal Displace Persons (IDP) during his visit to the camp at Ohuogua near Benin City.
The climax of the distribution was in Edo South Senatorial district when he visited the seven local government areas in the zone. His visit to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp at Ohogua in Ovia North East local government was remarkable. Tears flowed freely from the eyes of the philanthropist when he saw the condition of those in the camp. He subsequently mingled and danced freely with them.
Receiving the food items and other consumables, Pastor Solomon Folorunsho, the coordinator of the IDP camp expressed gratitude to Mr. Imansuangbon for the gift of the items. He said his visit to the camp was a moral booster to the inmates as they would commemorate a “Christmas” in a way that they would not ordinarily have done.
What may be a fitting cap for Mr. Imansuangbon was the decision of the management of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Benin, to name Ward B4 of the Male Surgical Ward of the hospital after him because of his outstanding contributions to the hospital.
The Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Prof Mike Ibadin who disclosed this when Imansuangbon visited the hospital to give bags of rice and the sum of N1million, said the gesture became necessary in view of the fact that since he was hospitailised and discharged from the hospital about three years ago, he has continuously fulfilled his annual vow of assisting the UBTH.
According to Ibadin, “Imansuangbon is not the only patient who has benefited from the services of the hospital, but he is the only one who has kept his promise after the accident he had and was discharged from the hospital”.
He used the opportunity to appeal to others who have benefited from the services of the hospital to emulate Imansuangbon by contributing to the development of UBTH.
Earlier, Imansuangbon while presenting a seven figure cheque and food items to the hospital said he remained grateful to the medical personnel of the hospital who took care of him when he was brought to the hospital after a truck belonging to a major cement company in the country ran into him along the Agbor – Uromi road. He praised the hospital staff for their competence and care.
Imansuangbon who was full of emotion when he visited the ward named after him, offset the N200,000 medical bill of Stephen Imoholemen, a patient who had occupied the very bed he laid on three years ago as an accident victim to the hospital.
Responding, Imholeme, a native of Auchi, and a National Diploma holder in Computer Science who had a perforated stomach ulcer, said he was grateful and confused because he had been calling for help to offset his bill before Imansuangbon came
On the ward named after him, he said “I am very excited because this is coming from an unusual quarter. I am now fired up and forever, I will live my life in the service of society “.