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TOS Benson is dead

Posted by By CHRIS ANUCHA on 2008/02/15 | Views: 2566 |

TOS Benson is dead


Otunba Theophilus Owolabi Shobowale Benson CFR, Nigeria's first Minister of Information, Broadcasting and Culture is dead. The flamboyant politician cum lawyer fondly called TOS passed away on Wednesday at about 6PM at the age of 90 at his Ikoyi, Lagos home.

Otunba Theophilus Owolabi Shobowale Benson CFR, Nigeria's first Minister of Information, Broadcasting and Culture is dead. The flamboyant politician cum lawyer fondly called TOS passed away on Wednesday at about 6PM at the age of 90 at his Ikoyi, Lagos home.

A staunch Zikist, the late TOS who was the brain behind the setting up of the Voice of Nigeria (VON) is a native of Ikorodu Lagos..

He is survived by his beautiful and talented widow, Opral, Liberian-born Nigerian icon, who has been by his side since 1962.

Born on July 23, 1917, TOS Benson began his public service career at a youthful age of 20, when in 1937 he joined Her Majesty's Customs and served in various capacities, traversing major cities of Nigeria. He left the Customs in 1943 and thereafter proceeded to London for his law education and by 1947, he had qualified as a lawyer, having been called to bar at the Lincoln's Inn London.

He began his political activism in 1947 when he formally joined then National Council for Nigeria and Cameroun (NCNC). In 1950, he was elected into the Lagos Town Council, emerging then after as the Deputy Mayor of Lagos.

From 1950 to 1959, Benson held various elective positions under the NCNC, the last being member of the House of Representatives and Government Chief Whip. In between this period, he had joined the Constitutional Conference delegations to London in 1953, 1957, 1958 and 1960, which heralded Nigeria's independence in 1960.

He also distinguished himself in his legal career and thus has been conferred with the coveted honour of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), having also held such positions as Chairman, Body of Benchers and himself a founding life member of the Body.

TOS Benson was among Nigeria's foremost legislators from pre-independence to the First Republic era. In fact, he had at a time acted for the first Republic Senate president, Nwafor Orizu in that capacity.

TOS Benson was a humanist, a philanthropist, a true Nigerian patriot with no tribal or religious bias, advocate of Nigerian unity who has deliberately distanced himself from all tribal and regional political establishments. TOS was until his death a versatile commentator on current affairs and a prolific writer on issues of national unity and good governance. He was a recipient of various chieftaincy titles cutting across the federation, some of which are: Baba Oba of Lagos, Majeobaje of Yorubaland, Asiwaju of Ikorodu, Ochendu of Igboeze North etc.

Meanwhile, Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) issued a statement last night expressing heartfelt condolences over the death of the elderstatesman, describing him as a foremost nationalist whose contributions to the state and the nation will remain indelible. He prayed for the repose of the soul of the late Benson and prayed God to grant the family the fortitude to bear the loss.

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