On Wednesday, September 11, billionaire businessman, Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion clocked 85. On Sunday, September 8, ahead of his birthday, the Esama of the Benin Kingdom gave thanks to God for his new age at a thanksgiving service, followed by a party in Benin that was attended by two former presidents—Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan— among other dignitaries including traditional rulers, politicians, clergies, friends and well-wishers of the patriarch.
The huge turn out was expected as an influential businessman and philanthropist. His act of generosity is legendary. Afterall his title Esama traditionally means the “Son of the people”, with responsibilities including assisting the poor. At 85, he unarguably remains one of the most flamboyant Nigerians with fleet of vintage cars, including various models of Rolls Royce, in his Benin and London homes. The Esama has seen the best and the worst sides of life. Nothing should shock him again but many were aghast at the sight of the billionaire seated in a chariot with his beloved wife, Lady Cherry, with able-bodied human turned charioteers instead of horses to provide rapid motive power. This ugly optic really soured the mood of many who didn’t expect such mindless act from a man expected to dignify humanity.