Prof. Ambrose Folorunsho Alli (October 1979-September1983)

AmbroseAli Professor Ambrose Folorunsho Alli was the first Executive governor of {Bendel state} now split into Edo and Delta states , was born in Idoani, Ondo state, on September 22, 1929. His father hail from Emuado quarters of Ekpoma. Professor Alli had his primary school education in Ondo and Edo state.He began his education at Mary’s catholic school, Oka-Odo, Ondo state in 1937. 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 swedenbourg 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}. 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}.

Professor Alli served as a house office at the Adeoyo hospital, Ibadan before proceeding overseas for further studies. On his return from England, he was a lecturer at the university of Ibadan from {1966-1969}. {1969-1974} he was senior lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Before his election as governor of {Bendel state} now Edo state professor Alli was for five years {1974-1979} head of the department of pathology, university of Benin, Benin City.

He was a member of the constituent assembly {1977-1978} that drafted 1978 Nigeria constitution.

Having won his governorship election on the platform of the unity party of Nigeria {UPN}. The party election manifesto promised free education at all level; free medical service, integrated rural development, and full and gainful employment. The main thrust of the four-year administration professor Alli was the liberalization of educational opportunities for all. Hence at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the {Bendel state university} now Ambrose Alli universityEkpoma name after him. 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”

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 kilometers from his home to attend a secondary school.

By the new dispensation, some local government in the state with just six secondary school before he was elected governor in 1979 got as many as 16 additional day secondary school in two years. Bomadi Local Government Area, which had only six secondary school for the period between 1979, got nine secondary schools within two years.

Other areas, which had many educational institutions before 1979, got more secondary school to meet 100 per cent transition of pupils from primary to secondary schools. Ethiope Local Government Area for example, which had ten secondary schools before 1979, got additional 25 secondary schools´ Similary.Oredo Local Government Area which had 16 secondary Schools before 1979 had additional 40 day secondary schools. Etsako Local Government Area got additional 32 secondary schools, Ndokwa 31, Okpebho 32, Orhionmwon 43, Ovia 32, and Ughelli 39, during the first two years of Governor Alli’s administration.

The various communities, hitherto barred by government control measures from establishing their own secondary schools to supplement those of the government demonstrated their support for the leadership provided by governor Alli by building and donating blocks of classrooms to government. 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.

It must be stressed, however that the rationale for the establishment of day secondary school was the need to place pupils in the secondary schools nearest to their homes, so that while prof. Alli government make a significant cut-back on student housing provision, enough ground is created for the release of resources to develop learning facilities and programmes and for pupils to socialize simultaneously in both school and domestic environment.

The growth in the number of secondary school in the state stimulates a corresponding growth in the num of tertiary educational institutions to train teachers urgently needed for the secondary school system. Four tertiary institutions for the training of NCE teachers were established in the state. This was in addition to the college of education, Abraka, which was already in existence thus bringing the number to five.

The financial generosity of governor Alli’s administration to the course of education in the state was enormous. All students in the state’s colleges of Education were place on special bursary. Serving teachers admitted into any of the colleges, continued to receive their salaries in full while civil servants similarly admitted were placed on study leave with full pay. Other who was not in employment were given monthly allowance while in training. As govern Alli himself once remarked, this generous financial policy was to enable all those admitted into the colleges fend for their dependants and buy their books as well as essential equipment. Within three years, the first set of graduates from the four colleges of education, numbering 3,000 joined the NYSC programme.

In order to liberalise opportunities for tertiary education in the state the government of professor Alli went further to establish two new polytechnics at Ozoro and Ogwashi-Uku, in addition to the existing one at Auchi, five school of agriculture to offer OND and HND courses one school of forestry and a new university, Bendel state university now Ambrose Alli university Ekpoma, at the apex of these institutions of higher learning. “The educational programme of my government is a complete one starting from the primary level to the university level,” professor Alli once gladly recalled during the ceremonies marking the laying of the foundation stone and launching of the endowment fund for Bendel state university (Ambrose Alli University) in March 1982. The kernel of his philosophy of liberalised 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”. Governor Alli firmly believed that the development of intellectual capacities of individual’s capacities could promote a more reliable and enlightened public opinion, which could be used to plan for rapid social and economic development.

Professor Alli’s concept of liberalised opportunity for the individual was not confined to the educational sector alone. Services and drugs at state-owned hospital were free from October 1, 1979. More money was spent on the purchase of drug than ever before. The perennial problem of shortage of doctors, especially in the rural areas, was solved, while the hospitals recorded more patronage. In private hospitals and clinics, delivery charges high per person whereas in state-owned hospitals, all forms of medical care were free.

Furthermore, the payment of flat rate tax, which, hitherto, had been the greatest threat and source of defeat to the rural dwellers, was abolished. Flat rate tax had been used as a tool of political oppression in past civil regimes, but professor Alli abolished it to eliminate ones and for all, its use for negative ends
He travelled widely in Africa and Europe and his hobbies were reading writing and listening to music.

Professor Alli passed away at LUTH on 22/09/89 his 60th birthday, before his death he was married and has four children.