By Dwelleth Morountodun
The Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege have expressed grief and sadness over the passage of Prof. Grace Alele-Williams, the former Vice Chancellor (VC) of the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Benin City, who is a re-known Mathematician, Prof. Grace Alele-Williams, who passed on at the age of 89.
The Deputy Senate President, said Alele-Williams was a trailblazer, a true amazon who left indelible footprints in the sands of time during her 89 years on earth.
He said, the former UNIBEN VC, was an exceptional woman who bravely broke new grounds, excelled in intellectual accomplishments and consistently demonstrated concern for the access of female African students to scientific and technological subjects.
“In the tradition of the legendary amazons, Prof Grace Alele-Williams overcame many odds to become the first Nigerian woman to receive a doctorate degree in 1963, the first female Professor of Mathematics in 1976 and then made history as the first female Nigerian Vice-Chancellor of a Nigerian University in 1985.
“I feel particularly proud that at my Alma mater, the University of Benin where she served as Vice Chancellor from 1985 to 1992, Professor Alele-Williams’ tenure became an excellent test case to demonstrate the executive capability of the Nigerian woman.
“Much as we miss her, it is noteworthy that this Delta-born exemplar whose life story reflects positive impacts in boards, committees and other positions of service, left us an unforgettable legacy.
“I have no doubt that while her children and grandchildren find comfort in the fond memories she left behind, Delta State, Nigeria and the whole of humanity owe much to the pioneering spirit and pursuit of excellence by exceptional women like Professor Grace Alele-Williams,” he stated.
In the same vein, the governor, in a statement, described Prof. Alele-Williams as an Amazon, who tread where others dreaded, hailing her unmatched devotion to national development.
According to him, “It is with a heavy heart that I received the sad news of the passing of renowned academic and administrator.
The governor said Alele-Williams was a thoroughbred academician who throughout her life left an indelible mark of dutiful service, hard work, diligence and determination.
He said, “As the first female Nigerian to earn a doctorate degree 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 VC of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) – 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 advancement of women in uncharted territories.”
The governor commiserated with the Alele-Williams family, praying that God will grant all the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.