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.