Late Prof. Ambrose Folorunsho Alli’s Legacies

Late Prof. Ambrose Folorunsho Alli’s Legacies

A Review By Prince Kelly O. Udebhulu.


Ambrose Folorunsho Alli was born in Idoani, Ondo state on 22 September 1929. In his childhood he moved between Oka-Odo, Ekpoma, Owo, Efon-Alaye, Benin City and Asaba, where he completed his secondary education in 1948.

Between 1938 and 1939, he was a pupil at the Catholic school Ekpoma. He returned to Oka-Odo Ondo state in 1939 where he attended St. John’s (C.M.S) school until 1940. He was also a pupil of Swedenborg Memorial School (SMS) Owo and St. Stephen’s School Efon – Alaye both in Ondo State from 1940-1943. In 1944, he gain admission to Immaculate Conception College, Benin City and completed his secondary school education at Patrick’s College Asaba in 1948. Other educational institutions attended by Professor Alli are the school of agriculture Ibadan (1948) and school of medical technology, Adeoyo Hospital Ibadan (1953-1960). Professor Alli served as a house office at the Adeoyo hospital, Ibadan before proceeding overseas for further studies in 1960.

In 1960, he proceeded to the United Kingdom where he did a post-graduate course in neuro-pathology at the University of London. He also studies at the university of Birmingham from (1971-1974). Among his academic qualifications are the MBBS, (1960), D path. (1965); D. C. Path (London), (1966), FMC. Path. (Nigeria), 1970 MRC. Path. England) (1972) and FWACP, (1975).

On his return from United Kingdom and before his election as governor of Bendel state now Edo and Delta states, professor Alli was for five years (1974-1979) head of the department of pathology, university of Benin, Benin City.

Political career:

Professor Ambrose Alli was a member of the constituent assembly that drafted the 1978 Nigeria constitution. He joined the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and ran successfully as UPN candidate in the Bendel State governorship election of 1979 and became the civilian governor of Bendel State.

His main thrust as governor was to increase educational opportunities derived from the party election manifesto that promised free education at all level; free medical service, integrated rural development, and full and gainful employment.

Between October 1979 and March 1980, professor Alli’ administration established 80 new secondary school in the state in addition to 187 already in existence. Approval was also given for the establishment of 338 new secondary school in all part of the state in such a way that no pupil would thenceforth, travel more than five kilometres from his home to attend a secondary school. Therefore in less than three years, the number of secondary schools in the state rose from 187 in October 1979 to over 850 in 1983. School fees and entrance examinations to secondary schools were abolished with effect from October I, 1979. This made it possible for every pupil who had completed primary six to attend secondary school. All these were at a time when some state in Nigeria had less than 50 secondary schools charged high fees per session as in secondary schools and primary schools yet had problems with the payment of teachers’ salaries.

He also established four teachers training colleges to supply staff to the new schools as well as several other higher educational institutions.

In 1981, he laid the foundation of the Bendel State University, which is now named the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma. At the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Bendel state university, Professor Alli said:

“When you educate a child, you educate a nation. When you educate the body and mind you have an effective instrument for social and economic development. Education is the platform for progress. It is the foundation of life itself”.

The kernel of his philosophy of liberalized opportunity for the individual was embedded in the concluding part of his address on that occasion:

“By the establishment of the Bendel state university {Ambrose Alli university}, we will ensure the development of intellectual capacities of individual to understand and appreciate their environment and the acquisition of both physical and intellectual skill which will enable individuals to develop into useful members of the community”.

Other reforms included abolishing charges for services and drugs at state-owned hospitals and eliminating the flat-rate tax.

His administration carried out massive construction of roads to open up the rural areas.

Later career.

When Professor Ambrose Alli left office in 1983, he retired to his family house.

After the military government of Major-General Muhammadu Buhari took power, he was sentenced to 100 years in prison by a military tribunal for allegedly misappropriating N983,000 in funds for a road project.

He was later freed when the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, paid a fine to the government.

Before his death, he was married and had four children. He died on his 60th birthday on 22 September 1989, at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital in Lagos.

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