Tribute to the late Prof S O Iyahen by Emeritus Prof Ray O Elaho
Tribute to the late Prof S O Iyahen
The news of the passing on of Prof Senator S O Iyahen, barely three months after the celebration of his 80th birthday anniversary came to me as a rude shock. I nevertheless take consolation that he was alive to witness and read about all the good things said about him by relations and friends.
What I wrote about him on that occasion is still largely relevant as we celebrate his dignified exit from mother earth.
"I knew Prof S O Iyahen as far back as 1970 when I was an undergraduate student at the University of Ibadan where he was a young lecturer. He occasionally attended the meetings of the students of Edo State origin to advise us to take our studies seriously and avoid unnecessary distractions.
I can still recall his refrain then: "Ebei gho mwan", meaning "Book does not kill". He would tell us emphatically that there is time for everything insisting that, if we excelled in our studies, all other good things of life would follow. He has since those days been my academic mentor and model.
As a renowned Professor of Mathematics, Prof Iyahen's exploits were not limited to academics. He was very active socially and politically as he was always passionate about the well-being and progress of the Benins in particular and the Edos and Nigerians in general. It was therefore not surprising that he was twice elected Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It was at the University of Benin that I worked closely with Prof Iyahen. I saw him as my role model in academics and administration. Punctuality was his watchword. He strove for excellence. He was the second Benin (after Prof E U Emovon) to deliver his Inaugural Lecture entitled "Nearness in the Language of Nature". The lecture which was delivered on 20th November 1980 was the 11th in the Inaugural Lecture series of the University of Benin. It was due to his inspiration and encouragement that I became the fifth Benin in the University of Benin to deliver an Inaugural Lecture in 1995 (coming after Prof J O Ayanru and Prof V O Oviasu of blessed memory).
I also worked closely with Prof Iyahen in the turbulent days of Bendel State politics when he was President of the Aduwa Club (a Socio-Political Pressure Group). I was privileged to serve as the Secretary of the club at the time.
The Newsletters and Press Conferences of the Aduwa Club which sought for justice and equitable distribution of the commonwealth put the Government of the day on its toes. Aduwa papers, as they were called, served as the conscience of the people.
Even after retirement from active service, Prof Iyahen continued to contribute to the development of the society through counselling. We will continue to cherish the virtues of hard work, discipline and humility which Prof Iyahen taught us."
Adieu our dear Prof, the great mathematician, I pray God to grant you eternal rest in his bosom.
Emeritus Prof Ray O Elaho, JP, FUFTAN