JETHRO IBILEKE, Benin
Former Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon and prominent Nigerians, including State governors on Monday paid glowing eulogies to Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia who clocked 80 years Monday.
General Gowon who was Chairman of the well-attended birthday party held in honour of the two-time governor of defunct Bendel State, paid tribute to Ogbemudia as he recalled his exploits during the Nigerian civil war.
“I always like to remember Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia as a versatile and resourceful officer and gentleman. He was a living witness to coups and counter-coups in Nigeria and was much vilified.
“During the Nigerian civil war, he once more displayed bravery and resourcefulness. When the Mid-West was invaded by rebel forces, he managed to escape, went into hiding and sent a note to me, as Head of State, through one of his relations.
Gowon whose speech was read on his behalf by Chief John Oyegun, former governor of Edo State, said Ogbemudia’s mastery of the military strategy was at play when he joined forces with the Second Division of the Nigerian Army, led by then Colonel Murtala Mohammed to rout the rebels from the Mid-West.
The former Head of State described Ogbemudia as one of the action governors of his administration, adding that he did his best and got his people emotionally committed to keep Nigeria one.
“He was and remains a true man of the people, and he was a man who served (and still serves) with total dedication,” Gowon said.
He listed the numerous achievements of Ogbemudia as governor of Bendel State, to included the great University of Benin, Bendel Line, Agbede Mechanized Farm and Bendel Steel Structure, adding that “his record of service in the Mid-West\Bendel state is perhaps only now being matched by the government of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.”
In his remark, Chief Host of the birthday party, Governor Adams Oshiomhole who said he declined President Goodluck Jonathan’s invitation to the National Awards in Abuja in honour of Ogbemudia, thanked God for using Ogbemudia “to build a solid foundation for Edo and Delta States from the then Bendel State,” adding that every Bendelite has always been proud of the octogenarian.
“Every part of the then Bendel State including my own village that is not on the map felt the impact of your government. All of us Edolites have every reason to be very proud of you,” Oshiomhole said.
Governors of Osun, Katsina, Delta and Bayelsa States were represented at the birthday ceremony at which Ogbemudia Foundation for Diabetes was launched.
President Goodluck Jonathan in his message congratulated Ogbemudia for clocking 80 years.
In the letter conveying his birthday greetings, President Jonathan praised Ogbemudia’s “enduring patriotism, courage, productive leadership and uncommon administrative acumen”.
“Decades after you left active office, your astounding achievements as Governor and Federal Minister continue to be acknowledged with reverence and nostalgia. It is a testimony to your abiding faith in Nigeria that you continue to willingly give of yourself in the service of our Fatherland, and avail the younger generation of your wise counsel,” the President wrote.