40 INSIDEPOLITICS

Weekly Trust - - News - Us­man A. Bello, Benin

Late Pro­fes­sor Am­brose Folorun­sho Alli was the first ex­ec­u­tive gov­er­nor of old Ben­del State now split into Edo and Delta states.

The med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­er­turned-politi­cian won the gov­er­nor­ship elec­tion for the then Ben­del State on the plat­form of the Unity Party of Nige­ria (UPN) in 1979.

He is be­lieved by many to be the best gov­er­nor the Edo and Delta states ever had, as his de­vel­op­men­tal strides are still very vis­i­ble in the two states.

But de­spite Prof. Alli’s per­for­mance, he was jailed 100 years in 1983 by the then mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment led by Gen­eral Muham­madu Buhari for cor­rup­tion re­lated of­fences.

How­ever, af­ter sev­eral wellmean­ing Nige­ri­ans in­ter­vened and due to ill health, he was re­leased from prison, but he died not long af­ter he was re­leased.

Af­ter his death, some prom­i­nent mem­bers of the state had asked the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to grant Prof. Alli a pres­i­den­tial par­don.

In­ter­est­ingly, Gov­er­nor God­win Obaseki re-ig­nited the call for a pres­i­den­tial par­don for the late Prof. Alli.

Obaseki, dur­ing a memo­rial ser­vice held in hon­our of late Prof. Alli at Ekpoma, said he had met with Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari over grant­ing the re­quest.

“I had an au­di­ence with Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari and dis­cussed the is­sue of pres­i­den­tial par­don for late Prof. Alli and the pres­i­dent asked me to meet with the At­tor­ney Gen­eral of the Fed­er­a­tion. This I have done and have also writ­ten to him.”

“The pres­i­dent has sub­se­quently in­structed the At­tor­ney Gen­eral of the Fed­er­a­tion/Min­is­ter of Jus­tice, Abubakar Malami, to be­gin the process. I am op­ti­mistic that at the next meet­ing of the Coun­cil on Pre­rog­a­tive of Mercy, the pres­i­dent will of­fi­cially grant the par­don,” he said.

The gov­er­nor lauded Alli’s de­vel­op­ment strides as the gov­er­nor of what is now Delta and Edo States, say­ing that the feats he achieved are not just in­tim­i­dat­ing but showed how much can be achieved in just one term in of­fice.

But Alli’s son, An­drew Folorunso Alli, lamented that his late fa­ther was still termed a crim­i­nal de­spite his con­tri­bu­tions to the de­vel­op­ment of Delta and Edo states and Nige­ria.

Pun­dits be­lieve that the pres­i­den­tial par­don is long over­due be­cause of Alli’s achieve­ments. They ar­gued that no other gov­er­nor has sur­passed his achieve­ments in the cur­rent Edo and Delta states.

Speak­ing with the Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, Africa Net­work for En­vi­ron­ment and Eco­nomic Jus­tice (ANEEJ), Rev. David Ugolor, de­scribed the call for pres­i­den­tial par­don as a wel­come de­vel­op­ment.

He said Nige­ri­ans and the old Ben­del State ben­e­fited from his in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment and good gov­er­nance.

“It would be com­mend­able if the fed­eral gov­ern­ment can give him a post­hu­mous par­don.

A res­i­dent of Benin, Moses Akhere, said “Dur­ing his ten­ure as gov­er­nor of old Ben­del State, school fees and en­trance ex­am­i­na­tions to secondary schools were abol­ished and this made it pos­si­ble for ev­ery pupil who had com­pleted pri­mary six to at­tend secondary school. We all en­joyed his free ed­u­ca­tion. Stu­dents in Higher In­sti­tu­tions were placed on spe­cial bur­sary.”

An­other res­i­dent who only gave his name John won­dered why Obaseki was chan­nel­ing his at­ten­tion to the strug­gle for pres­i­den­tial par­don for Prof Alli.

“What will pres­i­den­tial par­don do for late Alli who died over two decades ago? If he wants to hon­our him, he should de­velop the area in terms of in­fra­struc­ture. I think late Alli would be happy if he does that be­cause his area has been aban­don by suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments. If he thinks he can use the par­don to get sym­pa­thy from the Edo Cen­tral sen­a­to­rial dis­trict, he is jok­ing,” he said.

Late Pro­fes­sor Am­brose Alli

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