Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion is the Esama of the Benin Kingdom in Nigeria. The title Esama traditionally means the “godfather of the people”, with responsibilities including assisting the poor in medial, monetary and private venture forms.
The Esama of Benin’s business empire includes an international property portfolio and a private TV and radio station. He owns a private bank, oil refinery, diamond, gold, marble mines over Africa, a private university (Igbinedion University, the first private university in Nigeria) and a large number of hotels. He previously owned the now-defunct private airline, Okada Air, of over 40 aircraft (planes and helicopters). He has built numerous churches including a Grand Catholic Cathedral, and has set up and owns a number of private hospitals across Nigeria.
One of the Esama’s sons, Lucky, was a two-term Local Government Chairman and two-term Governor of Edo State, another, Charles, was a Local Government Chairman and one time Edo State Commissioner of Education, while yet another, Peter, was the Managing Director of Nigerian Aviation Authority.