Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, his counterpart from Edo, Mr Godwin Obaseki, and the management of the University of Benin, UNIBEN, yesterday, joined other prominent Nigerians and institutions, in mourning the demise of a renowned mathematician, Prof. Grace Alele-Williams.
This is even as the authorities at the UNIBEN have ordered that the institution’s flag be mounted at half-mast to mourn the death of the late professor.
Alele-Williams, who passed on Friday evening in Lagos at the age of 89 years, was born in Warri, Delta State. She obtained her PhD degree in Mathematics Education at the University of Chicago, United States of America, USA, in 1963, thereby becoming the first Nigerian woman to be awarded a doctorate. She was also the first female Vice-Chancellor of a Nigerian University, UNIBEN.
The governors, in separate statements, said the death of the erudite professor was a great loss to the country. They described her as an Amazon, who tread where others dreaded, hailing her unmatched devotion to national development.
Okowa in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, stated that the late Alele-Williams was a great role model to the female gender whom she inspired with her brilliance and diligence.
Okowa said: “We received the news of her passing with shock, but thanked God that she lived a life of great impact.
“She was a great role model and worked assiduously to stamp out cultism at the University of Benin where she was Vice-Chancellor. Her drive and love for knowledge earned her many recognitions and awards in Nigeria and across the globe.
“Prof. Alele-Williams was an illustrious daughter of the state, and only recently, we honoured her and other illustrious Deltans during the state’s 30th-anniversary celebration.
“She would be greatly missed by those whose lives she impacted and inspired in very many ways.”
Obaseki on the other hand described the late Alele-Williams as 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 in Mathematics, Prof. Alele-Williams was a woman of many firsts. She shattered the glass ceiling and didn’t look back thereafter.
“She 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.”
UNIBEN mourns, flies flag at half-mast
The institution In a statement by the Public Relations Officer, PRO, Dr. Benedicta Ehanire, described the late former and first female vice-chancellor of the university as an iconic giant who broke the glass ceiling for other women to blossom.
The statement said the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lillian Salami, has spoken with the deceased daughter, Orode Doherty, to commiserate with the family, even she prayed for the peaceful repose of the soul of the late professor. The institution noted that a condolence register would be opened for the public at the UNIBEN where Alele-Williams was a vice-chancellor.
Meanwhile, the university is flying its school flag at half-mast to mourn the death of the late mathematician.
A visit to the university yesterday showed that the school’s flag which was in front of the Senate Chambers was flying at half-mast.
Security personnel who was not officially qualified to talk said: “We were directed this morning to mount the school’s flag at half-mast in honour of our late Vice-Chancellor”.