Biography of Chief Thomas Ajayie Osigbemhe JP
Chief T.A Osigbemhe (nicknamed FLAMES), Principal Edo College from March 1973 to September 1977. At Edo Co1lege he revived discipline staff and students and maintenance of high academic standard in the face of dwindling resources of the period.
Chief Inspector of education of all schools in the Unified Teaching Service Board.
Sole Administrator/Chief Executive officer of Bendel State Health Services Management Board 1978 -1980
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education on 21st November, 1980, even though he was one of the most junior officers among the Chief Inspectors of Education in the Ministry
Retired voluntarily on 17th January 1984, after 38 years in the Education Industry of Bendel State.
Chief Osigbemhe was called upon by the Ogbona community to take up position of the Head of the Village – OKPHE·UKPI OF OGBONA in August 1994
Chief Thomas Ajayie Osigbemhe J. P. the Okphe Ukpi of Ogbona was born in 1930 the exact date not being recorded because his parents were not literate. However from events that occurred during the period his birth was between January and March of the year. His father Osigbemhe was the son of Omokpo who hailed from lvhiavhe quarters in lvhiarua Village, one of the villages that make up what is today referred to as Fugar town. His Mother Omugha also hailed from lvhiarua. He was the second son of Omugha but the third Child. His father like all able men of his time was polygamous.
Chief Thomas Ajayie started working as a Pupil Teacher in January 1945 as a Probationary teacher on a salary of 15s (fifteen shilling.) equivalent of N1. 50k a month of today. He taught as a pupil teacher in Roman Catholic Schools at lviukuwe, lbie Nafe and Uzairue, before proceeding for Training as a Grade II teacher in St Thomas College lbusa. He was the School Senior Prefect in-his final year.
In 1951 he obtained Grade II Teachers Certificate and returned to teaching under the Roman Catholic Mission at St. John Bosco’s College (Teacher Training) Ubiaja from January 1952 to September 1957. At St. John Bosco’s College he taught Arithmetic, History, and School Methods at various times, depending on the vacancies available and the scarcity of versatile teachers. In addition to our Teaching load he was required to be ready to teach Religious and Moral Instruction conduct and supervise teaching practice, and performing the duties of Housemaster when called upon to do so. In spite of this heavy schedule he found time to undertake private studies through postal Tuition through which he was able to pass the G.C.E. (Ordinary and Advanced Levels), which enabled him to gain admission in 1957 to the premier and only University at the time in Nigeria, University of 1badan.
In June 1960 Chief T.A. Osigbemhe graduated with Bachelor of Arts, London degree from the University College, Ibadan under special relations with the University of London, three months before Nigeria gained political independence from Britain. Realising at this time that his calling and vocation as education he returned once more to teaching and took up appointment as a Graduate Teacher at Western Boys’ High School Benin City, a private Grammar School founded by the pioneer education Proprietor, and Chief Airewele.
His Civil Service career started ln January 1961 when he was appointed an Education Officer under the Western Region Government and posted to Edo College and later in April 1961 was posted to Government College Ughelli.
At Government College Ughelli he taught English and History in both the School Certificate and Higher School Certificate Classes from then on till October 1967. He also introduced the teaching of Economics into the H.S.C. curriculum. During this first tour to Ughelli Government College, (according to the Civil Service usage) he also performed the duties of a Housemaster from 1962 – 1967 and in this capacity he contributed his quota to the Spartan
Discipline for which the college was noted. In 1966 he also became the Acting vice Principal of the School and got his first official initiation into the details and intricacies of Secondary School Administration and Management.
He joined panels of inspectors in inspecting Secondary Schools and writing reports of such inspection a regular exercise which, to a great measure enabled Government College spread its method and high academic standards among such neighbouring schools as Anglican Girls’ Grammar School, Ughelli; Urhobo College Effurun; James Welch Grammar School Emevor; Hussey College Warri, and Notre Dame College Ozoro etc. These schools became centres of excellence in their own rights both in academic work, sports and discipline. Any old student of these schools will proudly point to the years 1962 -1966 as their finest years of achievement in all fields.
In 1968 he was promoted to the rank of Senior Inspector of Education, and his transfer to Benin City to take charge of the field inspectorate as Principal Inspector of Education Benin Province (in charge of the present Edo State and Delta North senatorial District minus Ndokwa Local Government Areas of today Delta State). This area was later zoned into three Education Inspectorate Areas of Auchi (covering the present Edo North and Central senatorial Districts}; Benin City and Agbor. He was then posted to take charge of the Auchi inspectorate area in August 1968. In January 1970 he was again posted to the Ministry’s Headquarters to take charge of Examinations as Registrar, by September 1970 he was sponsored by the Government to do a post graduate Diploma in Education Course at the University of Ibadan. On successful completion of the course in June, 1971 he was posted back to Government College Ughelli as Duty Principal to the last expatriate head of the institution, Mr. J .E. Jones. His duties were more of administration and little of teaching. Mr. Jones left the discipline of the School entirely in his hands. It was the success of his methods of maintaining discipline at Government College Ughelli that led the Ministry to nominate him as the officer to head Edo College following the wave of indiscipline that engulfed the college after the departure of its last Expatriate Principal Mr. C.V. Alonso, and the movement of the College to its new site on third East Circular Road Benin City. He was transferred to Edo College in March 1973 as the Principal.
His greatest achievement in Edo Co1lege was the revival of discipline of staff and students and maintenance of high academic standards in the face of dwindling resources of the period.
On his request he was posted in September 1977 to the Ministry of Education Headquarters where he assumed duty as Chief Inspector of education following the Government transfer of all schools to the Unified Teaching Service Board.
While performing the duties of Chief Inspector he was suddenly jolted on the 15th of March 1978 by a deployment to the Health Services Management Board as Sole Administrator/Chief Executive officer. The dissolution of the Board was due to mismanagement. He was jolted because that was the first time at the age of 49 that he ever left the work of education for another job this was on March 15, 1979. He straightened up the affairs of the Health management Board (HMB) from then on until he handed over in April 1980. The only accepted Nursing Seniority list without any complaints from any group of Nurses in the Board was produced when Chief T.A. Osigbemhe was Sole administrator.
He returned to the Ministry in April 1980 and was posted to take over the Secondary Education Division. This was a time when the Ministry was battling the implementation of the civilian administration’s policy and programme of “Free Education at all Levels”. The greatest problem was how to place the inflated enrolment into secondary schools within the existing accommodation. This problem was most acute in Oredo Local Government Area. The places given to pupils were contested by their parents most of who wanted the old prestigious schools like Edo College, l.C.C., ldia College and Maria Goretti even when they had one of the new Schools close by their dwelling place. Several proposals were tried but each turned out to unworkable unless more classrooms were built. The government tried to meet the needs but with limited resources it could not cope with the Situation. Anyone suggesting that the programme be phased out was regarded as a political saboteur. He toiled night and day with his then D.C.I.E (Mr. P.E. Ozako now a reverend of the Anglican Communion) and finally muddled through in placing all the eligible pupils in class One Secondary in Oredo Local Government Area). The Ministry and the Government appeared to have appreciated his contribution in this exercise. That is the only explanation that can be thought of for his appointment as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education on 21st November, 1980, even though he was one of the most junior officers among the Chief Inspectors of Education, then in the Ministry.
Some two weeks before his appointment one of his officers, Mrs. Elizabeth Akpomudiare, had informed him that there was a rumour that the appointment of Permanent Secretaries was being contemplated and it was understood that professional officers should be considered. She wondered why he was not canvassing for the post as some of his professional colleagues are doing instead of staying in the office late everyday arranging placement of pupils in Secondary Schools. His reply was “Who wants to be Permanent Secretary? We wish them good luck”. Thank God that the appropriate authority was not there to hear him say so.
After 38 years in the Education Industry of Bendel State he felt it was time to throw in the towel and he retired voluntarily on 17th January 1984. Thomas Ajayie Osigbemhe community services dates back to his early days as a teacher in various locations in Etsako. Due to his unending lists of achievements in developing communities, he was conferred with the title of EVBOITA OF AVIANWU CLAN by the Ogieavianwu, Chief Alao of blessed memory on the 6th September, 1980. He was appointed Justice of Peace (JP) in Etsako Local Government Area in 1986.
After retirement, he served in the Board of Governors of Ayue Teacher College in Etsako Local Government Area. In 1986 he was appointed Electoral Officer for Etsako Local Government in the then Bendel state.
While serving as Electoral Officer, he was appointed first Commissioner in the Civil Service Commission in the Bendel State in 1989. He serve the board full term as a Commissioner in the Civil Service from 1989 – 1999 before becoming a member of the first Civil Service Commission inaugurated after the creation of Edo State. While still serving as a member of the commission, Chief Osigbemhe was called upon by the Ogbona community to take up position of the Head of the Village – OKPHE·UKPI OF OGBONA in August 1994. Although his appointment at the Commission gave him not a lot of time to perform his traditional duties, he had to performed this at weekends and other days when the Commission was not seating on petitions, promotions and appointments into the Civil Service.
His last meeting as the OKPHE-UKPI OF OGBONA was on the 14th of October 2008 before he was called by his maker on the night of 15th of October 2008.
He was appointed GRAND COMMANDER OF THE CATHOLIC EVANGELISATION MINISTRY, ARCHDIOCESE OF BENIN by the Spiritual Director, Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Theophilus Uwaifo 1994, a position he also held till his call to glory.
He was nicknamed FLAMES by Government College Ughelli Boys. Finally Flame has quenched.
ADIEU CHIEF THOMAS AJAYIE OSIGBEMHE Grand Commander of
Catholic Evangelization Ministry, Archdiocese of Benin, the Okphe Ukpi of Ogbona, Our Brother, Husband, Father, Father-in-law, Uncle, Grandfather, Teacher and Principal.
CHIEF TA OSIGBEMHE WAS
MY PRINCIPAL IN EDO COLLEGE FROM 1973 TO 1997 AND THEN CANNON AYENI TOOK OVER DURING MY HSC YEARS. MAY FLAMES SOUL CONTINUE TO REST IN PEACE.