Obaseki, Okowa, UNIBEN, ASUU mourn first female VC, Alele-Williams

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Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has mourned the passage of a renowned mathematician and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin, Prof Grace Alele-Williams.

The governor, in a statement on Saturday, described Alele-Williams as an Amazon, who treaded where others dreaded, hailing her unmatched devotion to national development.

He said, “It is with a heavy heart that I received the sad news of the passing of renowned academic and administrator, Prof Grace Alele-Williams.

“She was a thoroughbred academician, who throughout her life, left an indelible mark of dutiful service, hard work, diligence and determination.

“As the first female Nigerian to earn a doctorate in Mathematics, Prof Alele-Williams was a woman of many firsts. She shattered the glass ceiling and didn’t look back thereafter.

 “When she became the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin – at the time the first ever female vice-chancellor of a Nigerian university – she shone brightly as a fearless administrator and restored sanity to the higher institution during a period of social upheaval.

“Prof Alele-Williams will be remembered for her insight, dedication to duty and courage as well as her commitment to breaking barriers limiting the advancement of women in uncharted territories.”

Similarly, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has condoled with the Alele-Williams family over the death of the scholar and administrator.

In a condolence message by his Chief Press Secretary, Olisa Ifeajika, on Saturday, Okowa said Alele-Williams was a great role model to the female gender, whom she inspired with her brilliance and diligence.

The governor joined family members, the academia and the Itsekiri nation in mourning the renowned scholar who, in 1963, earned a doctoral degree and became the first Nigerian female to attain such academic height.

Okowa noted that the late scholar’s drive and love for knowledge earned her many recognitions and awards in Nigeria and across the globe.

Similarly, the Vice-Chancellor, UNIBEN, Prof Lilian Salami, has described Alele-Williams as an icon.

In a statement on behalf of the governing council, management, staff, alumni and students of the institution, Salami mourned the passage of one of her predecessors, whose death occurred on Friday at the age of 89.

Salami described the late first female vice-chancellor of UNIBEN as an iconic giant, who broke the glass ceiling for other women to blossom.

She said having spoken with her daughter, Orode Doherty, to commiserate with the family, she was consoled that the deceased was being celebrated rather than mourned.

A condolence register will be opened at the vice-chancellor’s office, while the institution’s flag will fly at half mast, according to the Public Relations Officer, Benedicta Ehanire.

A former president of the University of Benin Students’ Union Government and current Resident Electoral Commissioner in Cross River State, Mike Igini, on Saturday, paid glowing tributes to Alele-Williams.

Igini, who recalled the positive exploits of Alele-Williams and his encounter with her when he was Speaker of UNIBEN Students’ Union Parliament, said she contributed all her energy and time in the advancement of the university and the development of society.

According to him, Alele-Williams broke many career ceilings that were biased against women in Nigeria when she became the first female vice-chancellor of UNIBEN and the first female vice-chancellor of a university in Nigeria.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities, UNIBEN branch, on Saturday described the demise of Alele-Williams as saddening.

The UNIBEN Chairman of ASUU, Dr Ray Chikogu, said this in Benin.

Chikogu told the News Agency of Nigeria that the late former vice-chancellor was at the helm of affairs of the institution at a time that it was clearly in need of direction and strong leadership, which she provided.

He said, “She left an indelible footprint and we are hoping that God will give her immediate family the fortitude to bear the loss, and hope that God will grant her eternal repose.”

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