The Airport Road, Benin-City residence of the late Esogban of Benin Kingdom, David Uyunmwun Edebiri, who died last Thursday at the age of 93, has become a Mecca of sorts as prominent Edolites troop in to commiserate with the family. First to visit the family was Edo State deputy governor, Philip Shaibu, who traced his relationship with the deceased to the year 2003 when he first contested for the State House of Assembly election on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, and described him as a “mentor and political father”. Adams Oshiomhole, immediate past governor of the state and senator representing Edo North senatorial district in the National Assembly, said the late Edebiri was “a man of uncommon wisdom, a conscientious leader and a father figure” whose departure would no doubt create a vacuum that will take a long time to fill, while John Yakubu, a governorship aspirant in the 2024 governorship election in Edo, and former chairman, Esan North East local government area of the state, described the late Esogban as “an oracle, journalist of great repute, a traditionalist and an erudite politician who spoke truth to power always in the defense of the people”. Chief Edebiri, popularly called “the oracle has spoken” in declaring his political choices, died Thursday, July 20, 2023, at a private hospital following a brief illness. He died barely six weeks before his 94th birthday on September 2. Going down memory lane to recall his encounters with the deceased, the deputy governor said “Esogban was a father whom I had identified with ever before my elections into Edo State House of Assembly. That is almost two decades ago (2003) when I contested for a seat at the Edo State House of Assembly. According to Shaibu, “He personally came to my constituency then to join me in my electioneering campaign. l won that election but was later robbed of the victory after I had been declared the winner by INEC. I decided to challenge the result at the tribunal, but Esogban advised me to withdraw the case, describing it as a “baptism of fire” for me in my political career. He prayed for me, encouraged me, and assured me of victory if I contested again. I listened and withdrew the case. In 2007, l contested again, and true to his prayers, l won the election”. Continuing, he said “I’m here to extend my condolences to the family of late Chief David Edebiri. Beyond politics, I’m a son of the house. The family will attest to the fact that I always sneak into this house to see Daddy. When it was time for the former Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to contest the governorship, we visited Daddy and he asked if I was not going to contest for the House of Assembly election. I told him no, that I was just going to support Comrade for his aspiration. Daddy objected and asked me to go and contest, adding that Comrade contesting for governorship had nothing to do with me becoming a member of the house of Assembly because he would need the support of House members if he won. I eventually contested and won. Today, the rest is history. “Daddy is no more. I encourage those of us he left behind to keep those his virtues and sustain them. I have lost a mentor and a political father”. The deputy governor also acknowledged the role played by the Esogban in the quest by the government to reposition the state-owned football club, Bendel Insurance. He recalled that “When we were to rebrand Bendel Insurance and Edo Queens FC, I came to Daddy and I told him about our vision. Daddy objected and told me to first rebrand one of the teams, after which I would proceed with the other. That was how we were able to identify our errors and followed up on our plans. I can write a chapter of a book about Baba if given the opportunity”. Senator Oshiomhole, in a statement by his media aide, Victor Oshioke, said “It is with sadness and a deep sense of loss that I received the news of the death of my friend, the Esogban of Benin Kingdom, Chief David Edebiri. Chief Edebiri was a courageous leader whose ideology revolved around enhancing the welfare of our people. He preached unity at all times, fought for what he believed in, and was always willing to offer valuable advice, drawing from his wealth of experience”. The former governor described the late Esogban as a man of truth whose tenacity of principle was well demonstrated by his independent disposition, noting that this made it impossible for anyone to intimidate him over his political choices. He further described him as a stabilising force and a source of inspiration for all Edo people who looked up to him for guidance. Senator Oshiomhole recalled that “As governor of Edo State, I consulted with him on several occasions, and on each of those instances, I was always impressed by his deep knowledge, understanding, and frank assessment of the dynamics of our peculiar socio-political environment. “Chief Edebiri will be remembered as a man of uncommon wisdom, a conscientious leader, and a father figure who was always available to offer the much-needed counsel for the advancement and progress of Edo State. Certainly, he lived a long, fulfilled life and touched so many people in so many positive ways. His departure, no doubt, will create a vacuum that will take a long time to fill”. Expressing his sincere condolences to Edebiri’s immediate family, the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, and the entire Benin Kingdom for this great loss, Oshiomhole said while one cannot question God for calling him at this time, “Our prayer is that he finds peace and eternal rest in paradise”. Oshiomhole’s counterpart in Edo South senatorial district, Neda Imasuen, at the home of the deceased, described him as a unique Benin man with a father figure disposition to all, irrespective of race or belief. Senator Imasuen, a lawyer, said the Late Esogban was a man of many distinctive colours, noting that “As a Benin man, he rose to one of the highest positions the Benin tradition could bestow on any one as the most revered Esogban of the kingdom”. He said “As a politician, he became a national reference point and a deep well of political knowledge that many Nigerian politicians consulted regardless of your political affiliations, which made many to refer to him as the ‘oracle’. As a father, we all know that the late Esogban was a father to all beyond his biological children. He has his doors opened to all of us whenever we called to tap from his wealth of experience”. Yakubu, on his part, described the death of the Esogban as not just a loss to the Benin Kingdom and Edo State, but also a personal loss. The governorship aspirant described the Esogban as his father and confidant who he consulted before taking major political decisions. He said the Esogban was one of the few people he consulted before throwing his hat in the ring to aspire to run for Governor of Edo State in 2024. Yakubu, who was running mate to Osagie Ize-Iyamu during the 2020 governorship poll in the state, said he would always cherish the Esogban’s support and words of encouragement to go for it. He prayed to God to grant his gentle soul peaceful repose in his bosom and grant his immediate, extended families, friends, and well-wishers the fortitude to bear this great loss.