By Kevin Okunzuwa
Benin, Edo State
Edo government has settled benefits and gratuity owed Prof. Ambrose Alli, the late governor of the defunct Bendel State, 34 years after his demise.
Gov. Godwin Obaseki, who announced this on Tuesday in Benin, said that the entitlements were paid last week.
Alli, the first executive governor of the former Bendel (now Edo and Delta States), governed the South-South state between 1979 and 1983.
Alli, who won the seat on the platform of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), was born on Sept. 22, 1929. He died on Sept. 22, 1989.
Obaseki made the disclosure in his remarks during the celebration of the award of the ‘Most Pension-Friendly Governor in Nigeria,’ bestowed on him by the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP).
Obaseki’s remarks focused on his commitment to the wellbeing of pensioners in the state.
“Last Saturday, the widow of late Prof. Ambrose Alli turned 80 years in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
“Since he made a lot of sacrifices for us as a state, we decided to celebrate with her and I asked one of the children what he thinks is an appropriate present for her mother.
“He said we should just do her the honour of paying my father’s benefits while in office. I asked him ‘you mean Prof. Alli’s benefits have not paid?’ He said yes.
“We went into the records, prepared the cheque and took it to her in England. This is to tell you where we are coming from. I’m glad we remembered him.”
The governor was represented by his wife, Mrs Betsy Obaseki, at the 80th birthday celebration of the late governor’s widow, Mrs Rosemary Alli-Walker.
He applauded the enduring impact of Alli’s tenure as governor, noting that the policies and programmes implemented during his leadership had continued to shape Edo’s progress.
Obaseki listed areas with the most impact to include education, urban and rural development, and healthcare.
He said that the former governor and his wife had a special place in the hearts of Edo people which informed the large number of people that attended her birthday celebration.
Obaseki also lauded Mrs Alli’s enduring commitment to values such as hard work, diligence and forthrightness.
“These values, which you upheld during your tenure as First Lady, have continued to inspire the state’s ongoing reforms across various sectors of the economy.
In her response, Mrs Alli expressed her gratitude to the first Lady for travelling all the way from Nigeria to join in her celebration.
She pledged to support free surgeries for children with cleft lips in an initiative named ‘Operation Smile’.
Obaseki had, in 2018, sought and obtained a posthumous Presidential Pardon for late Prof. Alli, a request that was ratified by the Council of State in 2020.