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The Great Life of A Pioneer

Igbinedion as a Benin family name is now a household word. It has become synonymous with Aviation, Industry, Education, Finance, Medical Care and Rural Development at local, national and international levels. The man who has made this possible in Africa is Sir (Dr.) Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion, the Esama of Benin Kingdom.

Chief Igbinedion has attained great heights in life reminiscent of great achievers. He is a philanthropist and and a humanist of national dimensions and an industrialist of international fame...read on





Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion started his private business concern in the late 1960s and has since developed that spirit of giving with which he is still associated to date. Even before he rose to prominence, there was hardly any fund-raising occasion to which he was invited, where he did not donate something, no matter how small. Indeed, donation from Chief Igbinedion assumed a routine phenomenon and with the years his donations increased. His contributions also became so frequent that it has not been possible to keep track of them all. In fact it is only a few such donations on record that Chief Igbinedion himself remembers.

In January 1974, Osawaru Igbinedion donated a television set as well as some sanitary materials to the Military Base Hospital Benin City in aid of the in­patients of the hospital. Within the same month he made a gift of a Hino 30 Seater Bus to Okada Grammar School to alleviate the transport difficulties of the staff and 230 students of the school. Chief Igbinedion had earlier donated the building to the Bendel State Government.

During the same year, 1974, Chief Igbinedion contributed N10,000 towards the University of Ibadan Endowment Fund, and another N1 million to the University of Ibadan Endowment Fund in 1989. A bus, a car and two motor cycles were donated to the International Festival Committee on the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture and to the Oghada and Ubiaja Communities he gave financial assistance in support of their development projects. Earlier in 1973, the University of Ibadan had received a 30 seater Hino bus from Mid-Motors Company Limited of which Chief Igbinedion was the Managing Director. Also in 1973, Chief Igbinedion awarded a scholarship to one Miss Roseline Okungbowa, a form one student at the Okada Grammar School as part of the scholarship scheme run by the Mid-Motors Company in pursuit of its programme of services to society. Five similar awards had earlier been made to deserving students. In 1977, Chief Igbinedion made his first international oriented donation when he made the highest financial contribution to the Bendel State Chapter of the Southern Africa Relief Fund in support of the freedom of Nelson Mandela and the dismantling of apartheid.

In 1982, Chief Igbinedion donated to the Edo State Movement to facilitate its objective, and in 1983 he gave various sums of money to several local organisations including the Iyi-Ewuare Union of which he was the patron. In 1984, the Esama contributed N200,000 (two hundred thousand naira) to the Bendel State Development Fund launched in Benin City and made further contributions of over N1 million (one million naira) at the Ovia Local Government Area Chapter of the Fund. At the end of the exercise, Chief Igbinedion's contribution to the Fund amounted to nearly N2 million (two million naira).

In 1986, the Esama of Benin gave financial support to the development fund organised by Marymount College Agbor, and in 1987 he made an unspecified financial contribution to the Benin Association of the Royal Ambassador to facilitate their camping at Okada. Also in 1987, he contributed handsomely to the Bendel State Government Primary Health Care Programme and N1.2 million (one million two hundred thousand naira) to the University of Benin Accident Centre Fund. During the same period, at the request of the Enogie of Ekpoma,
he donated over N1 million (one million naira) for the release of late Professor Ambrose AlIi, an ex-Governor of Bendel State from prison and paid for his subsequent medical treatment abroad. In 1989, Chief Igbinedion donated two Skoda saloon cars to the Bendel State Police Command. Lawrence Chenbap, the State Commissioner of Police, thanked the Esama for his "magnanimous generosity coming at a time when the going is really rough and tough for most Nigerians". The National Youth Council also benefited from the kind gesture of the Esama who assisted them with N10,000.00 (ten thousand naira) towards their Silver Jubilee celebrations. In the same year the Esama donated to the Benin Chamber of Commerce and sponsored the Bankers' Week Celebration of the Nigerian Institute of Bankers. In 1989 the Esama of Benin contributed the sum of N250,000 for the new church building fund of the St. Judes Church, Ebute Metta, Lagos. In the same year he donated N2.5 million to the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) in aid of the Institute's Endowment Fund.

Chief Igbinedion does not always publicly display all his philanthropic gestures, particularly those that have direct personal connection with persons in great need. On a number of occasions he made anonymous financial and other assistance to needy persons and families. Some of those persons who benefited from the magnanimity of the Esama are so overwhelmed by his gesture that they are hardly able to maintain sealed lips. A case in point was that of Mr. Tony Iyoha an Esan student of the Obafemi Awolowo University Ife-Ife, who was granted a two year scholarship award by Chief Igbinedion to complete his University education. Stunned by the Esama's kindness, the recipient of the scholarship award wrote to the Bendel State Governor informing him of the offer. The Governor thanked Chief Igbinedion on behalf of the lucky student, who had earlier applied in writing, without success, to the Governor for help. This was in 1990. So far, Chief Igbinedion has awarded scholarships tenable both within and outside the country to over 1,000 Nigerians.

Earlier in 1989, Chief Igbinedion became involved in a mass-oriented philanthropy in which he offered food to the needy directly. He established a "soup kitchen" where 500 people were fed daily free of charge. At week ends, particularly Saturdays, patronage of the Igbinedion Soup Kitchen was usually high averaging between 1,500 to 2,000 persons. Investigation revealed that in one month alone over 124,000 were fed at the centre.

The concept of the soup kitchen developed from the 55th birthday anniversary of the great philanthropist, and the entire package of the philosophy behind the concept evoked keen interest in both ordinary and academic circles...READ ON















A great son of Africa who has become a towering international success. This is the powerful moving biography of one man's determination to win- H. R. H. Oba Lamidi Adeyemi lll, The Alaafin of Oyo
This remarkable biography weaves the story of an endlessly fascinating man, his family and business empire- Dr. Brian Aghedo PhD
Do you have what it takes to be an industrialist, businessman and philanthropist? Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion's life story tell how, withouth mortaginng your soul- Chief Pearnel Charles, Jamaica
Sir Igbinedion is a great man of trmemendous and unqualified resources. His humility and great service to humanity coupled with his willingness to help the less-privileged has earned him respect and admiration the world over- Prince Abubakar Audu, former executive governor of Kogi State, Nigeria.
Igbinedion does not believe in failure, he says, "don't be afraid, everyone has them and sometimes they can be resurrected with resounding success- Alfred Eghobamien Esq.SAN

Afew Acknowledgement of Chief Igbinedion's Sense of Philanthropy

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