On September 11, 2016, the Great Esama of Benin Kingdom and the Proprietor of Nigeria’s Premier Private University, the Igbinedion University, Chief Gabriel
Osawaru Igbinedion will clock 82 years on the planet earth. Even at 82, Chief Igbinedion has continued to subdue and dominate the earth as the Holy Bible commanded mankind. For over four decades the celebrations of the birthday of Chief Igbinedion, popularly called the lion of Okada, have remained the most celebrated event in Edo and Delta States, particularly in the city of Benin.
Over the years, world class personalities had graced the birthday ceremonies of Esama the Great, no need to call names;however, it is worthy of note that we always have fair representation of the guests from all social strata, ranging from great kings across the globe, Heads of states, clergy and leaders in entertainment of world.
Another thing note-worthy of this great Achiever of our generation is the recognition of the place of God in his life in all his actions. Every year, the major highlight of the celebration remains the early morning interdenominational thanksgiving service held at his residence, numbers 1-13 Okada Avenue, Benin City.
In 82 years, Chief Igbinedion had built and donated well over twenty churches and cathedrals to denominations aside from his place of worship which was equally built by him.
Very soon, different sessions of the media will begin to run jingles to herald the 82 nd birthday of this patriotic Nigerian. This has come to become an annual fun in the City of Benin.
In this article, intended to highlight some of the achievements of the Esama of Benin, especially how he has used the birthday celebration to better the lives of the poor in Edo State. Obviously, Chief Igbinedion is not the richest Nigerian, but he is probably one of the very few Nigerians whose wealth has continued to touch lives across all the social and economic strata of the country.
Surely, this accomplished patriot is the first Nigerian to establish a Private Airline (popularly called the Okada Air), of course heis the founder of Nigeria’s Premier Private University-the Igbinedion University Okada;established since 1999. This University is and remains the first private University in the sub-Sahara Africa to graduate medical doctors, pharmacists, Law graduates, Engineering graduates and many more. From records, I gathered that this University has injected over ten thousand well-trained graduates into the Nigerian workforce. This is no mean achievement and service to our country. The Esama of Benin is amongst the first set of Nigerians to establish a Private Radio and Television stations Known as the Independent Television/Radio, (ITV) Benin City and lately the Independent Television Abuja; to mention but a few. In these organizations, over two thousand Nigerians of different social and economic status earn their living including professors. This is why the world, particularly Nigeria rises in respect of this Great entrepreneur each time he celebrates his birthday.
It may not be out of place if Edo State declares 11 th September a public holiday annually in recognition of the great contribution of Chief Igbinedion.This, no doubt may motivate some other rich Nigerians to think of serving the country with their resources rather starching the money in foreign banks. The occasion of Esama’s birthday annually has continued to provide the opportunity to wipe away tears off the eyes of the poor and down-trodden in the society; who knows what this year
Precisely a decade ago, Chief Igbinedion started free health care delivery for Nigerians. He usually invites foreign consultants in different areas of medicine to display their expertise in health management,using the world class facilities available at Igbinedion University Teaching Hospital Okada and the Benin annex.
The hospital through Chief Igbinedion’s philanthropy, had conducted free major surgeries on thousands of indigent Nigerians and as well treated several kinds of diseases. I am sure that the beneficiaries of this gesture will remain eternally grateful to the Esama.
Again, September 11 is now a date indigent children look up to for scholarship opportunities usually announced by the Esama of Benin. Just about five years ago, Chief Igbinedion announced scholarships offer to triplets born within the month of his birthday celebration that particular year. How else can you assess a man whose heart is after God? The world is watching.
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