One of Traditional roller of Benin Kingdom, Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion (born 11 September 1934) is a Nigerian businessman and traditional aristocrat from Okada Town in Edo State. He holds the chieftaincy title of the Esama of the Benin Kingdom.
Esama of Benin
The title Esama traditionally means the “Son of the People”, with responsibilities including assisting the poor in medial, monetary and private venture forms. He was suspended from participating in palace activities in 2008.
It is on record that the Oba of Benin did not declare Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion as an enemy as it was widely circulated. On 13 June 2012 a palace press release informed the general public that the suspension placed on Chief G.O. Igbinedion had been lifted. This was an affirmation that Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion is still the Esama of Benin Kingdom.
The Esama of Benin’s business empire includes an international property portfolio and a private TV and radio station, called Independent Radio (92.3 fm) and Television. He owns a private bank, oil refinery, diamond, gold, marble mines over Africa, a private university (Igbinedion University, the first private university in Nigeria, located at Okada town) and a large number of hotels. He previously owned the now-defunct private airline, Okada Air, of over 40 aircraft (planes and helicopters). He has built numerous churches including a Grand Catholic Cathedral, and has set up and owns a number of private hospitals across Nigeria.
Gabriel Igbinedion Early Life
Gabriel is the only surviving child of his parents. His mother was the daughter of the Ihaza of Usen, a descendant of the Usen Royal family with a proud history. He lost his father died when he was just nine years old and inherited a house in the village and six cocoa plantations. His mother was a big trader, selling fish. He sold kerosene for seven pence for more than three years when he was a houseboy and also went to fetch firewood from the bush five times a week.
Gabriel Igbinedion Education:
Gabriel began his primary education as a young boy at the Roman Catholic School, Okada, now known as St. Gabriel’s Primary School Okada. He then moved to Benin, where he enrolled at the Benin Baptist School, now known as Emokpae Primary School on Mission Road in Benin City, after short periods at Ezomo Baptist School and Ore Oghene Primary School all located in Benin City.
Gabriel Igbinedion Family Life
Chief Igbinedion is married to Lady Cherry Igbinedion, a native of Jamaica. His children include a son, Lucky, who was a two-term Local Government chairman and two-term Governor of Edo State, another son, Charles, who was a Local Government chairman and one time Edo State Commissioner of Education, and a third one, Peter, who was the managing director of the Nigerian Aviation Authority. His daughter, Hon. Omosede G. Igbinedion is the former wife of Avan Akenzua, a dynastic Prince of Benin Kingdom. She is a former member of the House of Representatives in Abuja as a representative of Ovia Federal Constituency in Edo State. In addition to these four, Chief Igbinedion also has a number of other children.
Gabriel Igbinedion Source of wealth:
The Esama of Benin’s business empire includes an international property portfolio and a private TV and radio station, called Independent Radio (92.3 fm) and Television.
He owns a private bank, oil refinery, diamond, gold, marble mines over Africa, a private university (Igbinedion University, the first private university in Nigeria, located at Okada town) and a large number of hotels.
He previously owned the now-defunct private airline, Okada Air, of over 40 aircraft (planes and helicopters).
He has built numerous churches including a Grand Catholic Cathedral, and has set up and owns a number of private hospitals across Nigeria.
Igbinedion is the founder of the most popular university in Edo state, Igbinedion University, Okada, a well known private university in Nigeria, which generate a lot of incomes for him.
Igbinedion started working at an early age and some of his earliest jobs were assisting his uncle in block moulding and trading rubber and timber in Benin. He served in Ogbomosho as a police officer in the early 1940s. He also served as orderly to (the late Chief Obafemi) Awolowo’s wife. He left the Nigeria Police Force in 1963.
Igbinedion joined the private sector in 1964 when he moved to Benin to become the regional sales manager of Leventis. He left Leventis in 1967 and established a motor sales and service firm, Mid-Motors which was partially funded with bank loans. In the 1970s, his firm began assembling Hino Trucks in the country and it is considered the first motor assembly plant in Nigeria. The firm obtained distributorships with Hino Motors, Yamaha, Nedion Fiat and Marcopolo buses.
Igbinedion later ventured into bottling with Okada dry with the help of Canada dry and Okada airlines which he launched in the early 1980s. He purchased his first private aircraft through Mr. Derek Lowe of Executive Jet Sales. The HS125, was launched and blessed at Benin Airport by His Royal Majesty Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Omo N’Oba Erediuwa, the Oba of Benin. Thereafter, in 1983 he boldly recorded the first private initiative in the fledgling industry when he established Okada airline Ltd. His next venture was the purchase of a BAC 1-11 executive jet which was formerly owned by the deposed President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines.
He also owns expansive real estate in Benin where he purchased the numerous estates of deceased Bini chiefs. He also owns the ITV television station in Benin and formerly owned an oil license under Moncrieff Oil. In the early 1990s, he was the principal investor in Crown Merchant Bank.
Igbinedion is today the Honourable Chancellor and Chairman of the Board of Regents of the first private University in Nigeria Igbinedion University Okada.
The Esama of benin Chief Dr. Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion is the current richest man in Benin, Edo state with an estimated net worth of $250 million. He is also the most popular figure and is highly respected by all in the state.