Twice unlucky with profs!
The heart beat of the nation, Edo state has been twice unlucky with two distinguished professors. In 1979, Professor Ambrose Folorunsho Alli emerged as the UPN flag bearer and eventually occupied the Dennis Osadebey Avenue Government House in Benin City for four years.
Those four years still remain memorable to some of us who benefited so much from the Prof. Alli golden years.
This writer would not have smelt the four walls of a tertiary institution if not for this Professor of Pathology who gave governance a new face in the old Bendel State.Alli touched lives; his administration distributed the goodies of democracy equitably to all nooks and cranny of the state.
Education wore a new look as he established Colleges of Education, Polytechnics and the then Bendel State University now Ambrose Ali University (AAU).The spread of the institutions made people not to raise eyebrows and there was no militancy then. While BENSU was sited in Ekpoma, the College of Education in Abraka was upgraded to a degree awarding institution and two polytechnics were sited at Ogwashi-Ukwu and Ozoro respectively. Also, two Colleges of Education were established in Warri and Agbor.
The man did all these despite the fact that the Federal Government did everything to squeeze life out of him politically and financially. The 3% derivation of the state was suspended, his allocations un-usually delayed yet the man forged ahead and performed exceptionally well. Lest I forget, education was free at both primary and secondary schools through his four years in government. Free textbooks were made available in all schools. Bursary was paid to all Bendel State students in Higher Institutions of learning all over the country.
In 2007 another Professor of Law, a first class graduate and a gentleman emerged as the flag bearer of the PDP and occupied Dennis Osadebey Avenue for just eighteen months due to the self suffocating antics of the PDP. For eighteen months Senator Oserheimen Osunbor worked round the clock trying to right the wrongs of the 8 years of his predecessor. He met a huge debt profile of well over N20bn and over $104m in hard currency.
This did not deter him instead he tackled the state problems headlong. In his first 90 days it was crystal clear to Edo people that there was a government in place. The drainages were disilted particularly in Benin City where they were not cleared for years.Within this period subventions to all tertiary institutions were reviewed upward. Contracts for 27 roads were awarded, salaries of civil servants were reviewed.
A year after, the Osunbor administration had touched virtually all segments of the state economy that was begging for attention. The roads were under going rehabilitation, colleges were renovated, hospitals in the three senatorial districts were equipped. The four farm settlements that were abandoned for years were revived and unemployed youths engaged to farm Salaries of civil servants were reviewed twice within this period. Car loans were given to both civil servants and teachers in the state. Pensions and gratuities that were not paid for years were almost cleared within Osunbor’s illustrious eighteen months in Government House.
The streets of Benin and environs wore a new look as the monthly environmental exercise was re-introduced by Osunbor. Osunbor guaranteed a loan package for both state owned transport companies Edo Line and Edo City Transport Service (ECTS) which resulted in the purchase of over 60 vehicles for both companies. The moribund Bendel Breweries was resuscitated by the Professor within this period.
Elctricity transformers worth over N450m were purchased and installed within eighteen months. The Osunbor months were months filled with actions and transformations that will remain in the memories of Edo people for years. incidentally, both Professor Alli and Professor Osunbor are from the same place. A friend of mine told me how they visited Prof. Alli at UCH where he was admitted after years of incarceration.
The Professor of Pathology had no shoes except a pair of sandals. He told them how he buried his head working in Government House and never had time to buy shoes for himself. He showed them the pair of sandals that he wore at all times because he was hungry to put smiles one the faces of his people. The Professor was detained for years because of N900, 000.00 which one of his opponents eventually paid back. He told them how he wept when he visited BENSU and what he saw was opposite of the proto-type university he wanted in Ekpoma because he was busy working in Benin he had no time to go on inspection at the university.
Prof. Ali was a man of substance who loved his people and came into governance to put miles on the faces of the people. Today, Edo people are still remembering that gentleman that was once the number one citizen. As for Osunbor, his eighteen months sojourn in Government House cannot be easily forgotten because he wrote his name in gold. Both profers or have left the stage . I have their succers ors will perform better than they did.