BENIN CITY – Nigeria’s former Military Head of State, General (Dr.) Yakubu Gowon, yesterday, paid glowing tribute to Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia as he celebrated his 80th birthday anniversary which culminated in the launch of Osaigbovo Ogbemudia Foundation at a well attended gathering in Benin City.
Dr. Gowon, represented by chief John Odigie Oyegun, described the celebrant as “a selfless, resourceful and versatile gentleman who worked and still working for the upliftment of mankind”.
General Gowon pointed out that Dr. Ogbemudia displayed bravery and resourcefulness during the Nigerian Civil War when the Midwest was invaded by the rebel forces and he managed to escape; went into hiding and sent a note to him as Head of State through one of his relations.
He added that Ogbemudia’s mastery of military strategy was at play when he joined forces with the 2nd Division of the Nigerian Army led by Col. Murtala Mohammed to rout the rebels from the Midwest.
He further said Dr. Ogbemudia was one of the action governors of his administration as he did his best and got his people emotionally committed to keeping Nigeria as one and evidence of his achievements stand as worthy testimonial that he served his people to the best of his ability.
General Gowon made conspicuous reference to the training centre at Afuze, even in its current state, stands out as a tribute to excellence in sports administration; the University of Benin which Dr. Ogbemudia founded but stylishly and gladly handed over to the Federal Government to cover cost which he noted remains a legacy of excellence in education administration and so many other accomplishments. He noted that the record of service in the Midwest/Bendel State which is only being matched by the government of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is giving Dr. Ogbemudia a run for his achievements.
He then prayed that God grants the celebrant more life on earth for him to complete his heart’s desire for the people of Edo State and the country.
In his response, Dr. Ogbemudia said the growing call for confederation with many advocating zonal autonomy may seem germane but that in his view, the country is better as a federation, adding that no system is perfect as further autonomy can be given to the states with corresponding increased fiscal allocation.
He advised that the derivation principle should be based on 50 per cent to encourage local enterprise and if confederation and zonal aggregations are favoured, there should be Midwest Zone for Edo and Delta states.
He said sports has the capacity to gainfully and productively engage half of the unemployed youths and that the country should take a cue from what Europe and America have done with sports which China has discovered and is tapping its dividends.
Dr. Ogbemudia then called on the government to take the lead and encourage private sector participation and also look into the agricultural sector as well.
He thanked the people for felicitating with him on the occasion of his 80th year birthday celebration.