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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




One conspicuous aspect of the life of Chief Igbinedion that can be said to have made him unique amongst all of his counterparts in Nigeria and outside is his rather consistent policy of giving to those in need. Rogets Thesaurus once defined philanthropism "as altruism, humanism, arianism, universal benevolence, cosmopolitanism, utilitarianism, the greatest happiness of the
greatest number commonwealth, public welfare socialism, communism, patriotism, civism, nationalism, love of country, public spirit, chivalry, generosity." Chief Igbinedion's own philosophy of "ask not merely what you can do for your country; ask what you can do for mankind," an extension of the late President of the United States, J.E Kennedy's, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country," his concept of "if we could all help someone else, maybe we would find help ourselves when we really need it" and his policy of "I donate in response to God's divine directives and appeal to my conscience," all contain some strands of Rogets Thesaurus definition of philanthropism or its simple dictionary description as, "Feeling of kindness and love for all people by giving help to people who are less fortunate or in trouble."

The uniqueness of Chief Igbinedion in philanthropic gestures is quite profound and dates back to the time when the idea of giving on a large scale was hardly a practice in Nigeria. Even more interesting is the fact that Chief Igbinedion shares his kindness both with the rich and the less fortunate. He helps both the government and the governed to help themselves. One of his earliest demonstrations of this was his donation of the Okada Grammar School to the Bendel State Government in 1972 and the sole rehabilitation of the Okada Primary School. At a later date, January 1974, he gave a bus to the Grammar School to ease its transport problems. In accordance with the philosophy of charity beginning at home, Chief Igbinedion was to do more for his home base, Okada. In 1984 he financed single-handedly a pipe-borne water supply scheme for Okada, commissioned by Lt. General J.T. Useni then the Military Governor of Bendel State; he built the Okada Village Trado Medical Centre and launched a N50,000 Trust Fund, the proceeds of which are being utilised in awarding university scholarships to deserving indigenes of Okada Grammar School. He established a Trust Fund for the best student at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital School of Midwifery in memory of his late mother Okunozee Igbinedion.

During 1985 he extended 100km NEPA electricity from the National Grid in Benin City, through Iguobazuwa, Utese, Ogbese and eighty seven other villages to Okada. Even individual electricity bill is paid by him for which he issues a monthly bank order to cover the whole town. Before this he had built a Town Hall for community conference at Okada and a Postal Agency which serves the adjoining villages including Usen and Okha. Quite in touch with his roots, the Esama of Benin built and donated to the elders of Okada, a Chamber for Elders (Ogua-Edion) where they meet to deliberate on traditional matters.
In the spirit of giving on to God what is God's and on to Caesar what is Caesar's, Chief Igbinedion built a 4,000 seat capacity Baptist Church in Okada to cater for the believers in the faith. All these mass-oriented philanthropic gestures comprise one area where Chief Igbinedion's concept of philanthropism excels all others; and they emanate from his motivation to improve the well­being of those not so privileged in life. To ensure a continuity of comfort he installed two 1,000 and three 350 KVA generating sets in 1985, the maintenance costs of which are still being borne by him.

With the years, Chief Igbinedion's public display of kindness became even more firm and widespread. In 1986, he built and donated to the Bendel State
. Government, a Customary Court Hall at Okada and during the same year, he constructed and handed over to the Federal Government, an entire Police Complex comprising Police Station, staff quarters and barracks. What is interesting in this development is the Esama's recognition of the need to institute the organs of law and order in the fast growing Okada. Chief Igbinedion's installation as a Justice of Peace in the same year 1986 is well­deserved.

The Esama of Benin took the next bold step in his determination to uplift the overall status of Okada, and this time to world fame. In this direction, he helped in the rehabilitation of individual households in order to facilitate the general beautification of Okada. He did this by supplying cement to all house owners in Okada to plaster their houses and went on to link Okada with the rest of the world by providing and maintaining a point-to-multi-point Microwave Telephone System in 1987, the first of its type in West Africa, commissioned by the Minister of Communication, Col. A. Tanko Ayuba on 10th August 1987.

Okada now houses a tourist village, Okada Wonderland, which contains 1,800 chalets of a high quality housing estate, world standard lawn tennis courts, an amusement park, a Garden of Fame and Heroes, restaurants and a shopping centre. Under construction are an 18-hole private golf course and an olympic size swimming pool. The complex also contains numerous fish ponds, and a zoo. Today, Okada has been transformed from a mere rural centre to a full­fledged city, thanks to the singular effort of the Esama.
But the great philanthropist almost forgot to provide for himself. In an interview, he admitted that it did not occur to him to erect a living accommodation for himself at Okada until he was reminded of the need to do so. Chief Igbinedion disclosed that the advice was given to him by Lt. General J,T. Useni, then Military Governor of Bendel State who, after commissioning the Okada Water Supply Project in 1984 asked to be shown the Chief's personal house.

He says,
"I only remembered that I had no personal house of mine after the Military Governor Lt. GeneralJ,T. Useni asked me to show him my house and I had none to show; except my father's. The Governor then remarked that he would no longer accept any invitation from me if he was to be entertained on the streets of Okada outside my father's home. I then realised my shortcoming and decided to build the first ten chalets in the Holiday Resort Centre. Three months later, the Governor paid another visit and spent the night in one of them. I remain ever grateful to the Governor for telling me the stark truth. He is a friend indeed."

This was how Chief Igbinedion who has provided so much for the people around him erected his first living accommodation at Okada. He almost forgot to cater for himself. In appreciation of the advice by the Governor J,T. Useni, Chief Igbinedion named the access road to the Okada Holiday Resort Centre after Lt. General J,T. Useni.















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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