Following the resolve of Mr. Segun Abraham to put his hat in the ring, a lot is expected in order to change the present narrative in the political firmament of Ondo State. The largely agricultural state is presently under the grip of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but the All Progressives Party (APC), which Abraham belongs, is poise to take the state.
The resolve of Abraham to take over the reins of power in a state which prides itself as the “sunshine state” is not unconnected with his determination to meet the yearnings and aspirations of his people, who have not been made to hold the short end of the stick since the advent of democracy 17 years ago.
Not a few may ask pertinent questions on the pedigree of Abraham as the race to the governorship election in Ondo State gets underway. For those who care to ask questions, the gubernatorial aspirant is not an ordinary man. He is a man of great intellect and business acumen. He is happily married. He married the love of his life and they are blessed with children.
Abraham has built formidable businesses in several sectors of the economy. Besides the fact that he is an accomplished technocrat and thorough leader, he is a passionate philanthropist both at home and abroad. This informed why not a few indigenes of the state regard him as the foremost champion of education for the less privileged, particularly in the Northern senatorial district, where he hails from.
An insight into Abraham background shows that he was born in the rustic town of Ikare-Akoko, on December 24, 1953. As it was the norm in this part of the country in the 50s, his father was a cocoa farmer and his mother was a cocoa trader. His grandfather migrated from Irun-Akoko to Ikare-Akoko due to the popular demand for his business as a blacksmith. Abraham and his siblings helped out in the farm daily.
In spite of the active involvement in the farm business with his parents, Abraham maintained high grades. He was always on top in his class every academic session. His parents were determined to educate him and his siblings. The difficulties aside, they worked hard, wasted nothing and were very resourceful. Many strongly believed that Abraham still holds these attributes in his endeavour till this day.
Abraham’s understanding of the agricultural potential of his state is not far-fetched. He was born in the midst of farmers. He also lived in the midst of farmers during his growing up years. He was brought up in an agricultural setting, where his grandfather had a cocoa plantation, his father had one as well and his mother sold agricultural produce. His parents were very religious, humble and accommodating but very strict.
The family had early morning devotions at 5.00 am daily, which was compulsory for all the children to take active part in the daily family devotion. In the evenings, there was always family devotion as well before bed at 8.00pm daily. There is no doubt that this had moulded Abraham’s views on discipline, godliness and family life over the years.
The Ondo State governorship aspirant on the platform of the APC is educated. He is a trained and experienced mechanical engineer with a Master’s degree in technology management, as well as several international trainings with notable institutions and organisations. To broaden his knowledge, Abraham also attended many short courses sponsored by the African Development Bank (ADB), World Bank and African Caribbean Pacific to mention a few.
He has experience and exposure in managing businesses as evidenced in his growing and managing Seg. Mahsen & Co. Nigeria Limited (SMC), along with his team, into a foremost engineering firm in Nigeria. SMC has a humble beginning. It started from a one-room apartment which doubled as his residence. His lifelong prudence in finance, the deployment of resources and his characteristic hardworking spirit propelled the many successes of SMC.
He is a technocrat, who has handled World Bank assisted projects both within and outside Nigeria. SMC is among the top few African corporations that have met Work Bank standards and qualification to carry out projects of a certain threshold in water and road projects.
For his efforts, he has been decorated with at least three honorary degrees. This was in recognition of his contributions to business, development and education. He was actively involved in the NADECO struggle in the 90s, which led to Nigeria’s transition from a military-led governing system to a democratic system.
The realisation of the goals of this struggle has spurred free speech and broader mass participation in the politics that define our nation and economic development. He served as the Chairman of the Investments Sub-Committee in the Economic Advisory Board of Ondo State, under the Adebayo Adefarati administration and was the Chairman of Owena International Hotel, Akure. His innovative ideas led to the transformation of the almost defunct Owena Motel into an international hotel, thus becoming the toast of investors thereafter.
It must be noted that Abraham’s service to his state and the people through the Economic Advisory Board and Owena International Hotel was done without receiving a salary or any compensation. All debts owed by Owena International Hotel prior to his appointment were settled during his tenure. It is also on record that he used his personal funds to assist in the capacities, where he served when necessary.
He was prominent in the formation of Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1998, participating in the 1999 general election of Ondo State through financing and support as required. His involvement in the party continued through the Action Congress (AC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and later APC. His philanthropy reaches the penurious and vulnerable in the society through two charity organisations.
For instance, the Abraham Foundation gives out annual scholarships to brilliant but less privileged persons as well as the physically challenged students in the state. This has been on-going for over 13 years and has recorded over 2,000 beneficiaries. Many of the beneficiaries have since completed their studies and have become lawyers, doctors, accountants, teachers and so on.
Trinity Foundation, another charity organisation, was set up to meet the needs of the often overlooked mentally challenged persons in our community amongst other charity works. The foundation has constructed two wards for the Yaba Psychiatric Hospital to provide the support needed for indigent patients, who were picked up from the street.
Abraham has a heart to serve God and humanity and to prepare him for the task ahead, he has almost completed his master degree in Christian Studies and Theology at the prestigious Tyndale University College and Seminary, Canada and presently serves as a member of the board of trustee of the Family Gospel Mission International. He has been recognised for his achievements and philanthropy by several bodies.
From the foregoing, it is crystal clear that Abraham is fully prepared for the task to lead his people to the Promise Land as the APC goes into the primary election to select its candidate tomorrow. There is no doubt that the pedigree of Abraham has shown that he has what it takes to clinch the coveted ticket of the party and lead it into victory in governorship election thereafter.
It is pertinent to note that the choice of who emerges the APC candidate will go a long way to determine whether the party will clinch power from the ruling PDP. Though it is not only Abraham, who is interested in the governorship of the state, his credentials and pedigree makes him to be miles away from other aspirants in the race.
But the question is: will the party leadership give him a chance? Will delegates select him on the day of the primary? Will he coast home to victory and eventually add the state to the list of states in the country under the grip of APC? The answers to these and more lie in the bowel of time.