Ogbemudia Samuel Osaigbovo; Soldier, military regime apologist and two-time governor of the defunct Mid-western Region and Bendel State with an enduring legacy, hardly surpassed by any of his successors, either military or civilian. This reputation earned him the sole administratorship of the problematic Nigerian Railway Corporation. There, he failed to live up to his billing. His failing nevertheless did not put him out of reckoning as he was later to be appointed labour and productivity minister. To his erstwhile admirers back home and pro-June 12 activists, accepting this position was an error of judgment which he was later made to pay for. During the pro-June 12 riots of August 17 and 18, 1994 in Edo State, he had his properties vandalised by irate mob comprising students and hoodlums. Yet, Ogbemudia, who retired as a brigadier and has an honorary doctorate degree, remained an unrepentant loyalist to the course of the military junta. He served as a national leader of the United Nigeria Congress Party, UNCP, and the man who calls the shots in Edo State, never hiding his support for the Abacha-for-president campaign[i].
Ogbemudia was born September 17, 1932, Benin, Edo State. He got married in 1955 and had two sons, eight daughters. He schooled at Benin Baptist School, 1940-45, Government School, Victoria, British Cameroon, 1945-47, and Western Boys’ High School, Benin, 1947-51. Ogbemudia enlisted in the Nigerian Army in 1953. He was promoted Major in 1964 and became Chief Instructor, Nigerian Military Training College in 1965. Ogbemudia was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel and later Military Governor, Midwest State in 1967 till 1975[ii]. During the crisis in the North, some people met and they said they were going to kill Ogbemudia, then a Major. Abacha refused and he protected Ogbemudia with his family, ensuring they left the North in one piece. His family and he were given what they called “safe conduct pass”. This gesture, according to Ogbemudia influenced his declaration in 1997 that he could die for Abacha, in the year he came on the front line to campaign for the continuance of Abacha rule. Ogbemudia professed his indifference to June 12 but conceded it is a tragedy that must be corrected. Ogbemudia died in 2017.
Nigerian Medical Association, NMA in 2013 commended the University of Abuja new Governing Council, headed by Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia for taking bold steps to end the recurring accreditation problem confronting the institution’s Medical School[iii].
[i] TELL September 15, 1997
[ii] Newswatch Who is Who
[iii] Guardian June 17, 2013