Chief James Onanefe Ibori has described the late Brigadier-General Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia, who died Friday morning at age 84 as a nationally respected trail-blazer and superlative State Governor, and an inspired and inspiring leader.
In a press statement signed by Chief Ibori’s Media Assistant, Tony Eluemunor, the former Governor of Delta State said that whether as a soldier, administrator, politician or bureaucrat, Chief Ogbemudia was always a trail-blazer who set the pace for others to follow.
He said that Ogbemudia’s achievements when he was Governor of Midwest and later Bendel state (comprising of Edo and Delta States), between 1968 and 1975, have remained a challenge for governors after him to meet. When he later contested a governorship election on the platform of the defunct National Party of Nigeria, in 1983, he won rather easily – but the January 1st 1994 coup d’état truncated that administration.
Ibori said: “Ogbemudia turned Bendel into a super-state with intra-city modern bus service, first class education system that led other states in sports and examinations. The Bendel school system was serviced by its own central book acquisition centre, the Bendel Book Depot, and Ethiope Publishing Company and a Bendel Library whose trailers and boats went round the state twice a month taking books to borrowers in even the remotest parts of the state.
By 1970, Ogbemudia’s administration provided television viewing centres in remote villages, powered by small generators.
According to Ibori, road construction, in fact anything that enhanced the quality of life of the people of Bendel, was a priority to Ogbemudia who introduced the Bendel Line (with Mercedes Benz buses and cars and both male and female drivers to ferry Bendelites to and from major cities across Nigeria. Within Bendel itself, a fleet of Hino buses provided a luxury inter-city transport service across the state while equally top-class boats serviced the riverine areas.
Ibori said that though Nigerians do remember that Ogbemudia made Bendel first in sports in the nation, he would want them to appreciate the fact that Ogbemedia actually made Bendel the number one state state in the country and would be remembered in superlative terms. As a nationalist, Ogbemudia provided the first seats and desks to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, immediately the Civil War ended.
Ibori said he is happy that Nigerians actually appreciated Ogbemudia while he was alive as a superstar administrator who left remarkable achievements as state Governor, national sports administrator, Nigerian Railways head, and a conscientious politician. Ibori added that “Nigeria advanced considerably simply because General Ogbemudia was here”.
May his name never be forgotten!
(Media Assistant to Chief James Onanefe Ibori.)