Prof Iyahen: One Tree That Made The Forest

by Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
Prof Iyahen

God Has Done Me Well: Sunday Osarumwense Iyahen (A Renowned Mathematics Professor and Senator); Published by West Africa Resources Management Global, Lagos, Nigeria; 2022; 285pp

Let me start with this confession: I have discovered that the saying “A tree cannot make the forest” is not true. After reading the account of the life and times of Professor Sunday Osarumwense Iyahen, the renowned Mathematics Professor and Senator, I have come to this one conclusion: A tree can indeed make the forest. QED.

In the posthumous biography entitled God Has Done Me Well: Sunday Osarumwense Iyahen, the personable luminary is passionately brought back to life with all his munificent dimensions from the memories of family, friends, former colleagues, academics, politicians, and multi-dimensional associates.

Prof Iyahen book coverBorn on Sunday, October 3, 1937 to the Ogbed’oyo family of Benin, Peter Sunday Osarumwense (PSO) Iyahen, who can trace his noble ancestry to the very roots unlike some Nigerian personages, started out as a star student of St. Matthew’s CMS School, St. Peter’s CMS School, and the esteemed Edo College – all in Benin City – before moving to the prestigious Government College, Ibadan for his higher school studies.

Iyahen obtained a 1963 First Class (Hons) degree in Mathematics at the University of Ibadan. He would in due course earn a PhD degree in Mathematics at the University of Keele, England in 1967 and a D.Sc in Mathematics at Keele in 1987.

For a master of a hard subject such as Mathematics is adjudged by most students, PSO as he was fondly called, showcased the soft side of himself when he met Miss Veronica Aigboduwa Osagie in 1959 and fell in love. In the words of the charming lady whom PSO affectionately called Vero, “I told him straight away that I wasn’t one of those girls boys toyed with and trashed as soon as they’d had their way.”

After obtaining his PhD from Keele and returning to take a job at the University of Ibadan, PSO proposed to marry his beloved Vero but there was the religious faith problem of the groom being an Anglican while the bride was a Catholic. PSO consented to a “mixed marriage” that would entail agreeing “that the children of the marriage would be Catholic.”

It was a modest Nigeria-Biafra wartime marriage in Benin City, and the couple settled for life in Ibadan, but the first fruit of the marriage took some anxious time in coming when Vbanye was born on February 20, 1969. Then Osadolor was born quickly after on May 7, 1970 while Ewaen followed on July 25. 1971.

It was after the birth of Ewaen that PSO transferred his services to his home state of Midwest “at the prompting and insistence of the Oba of Benin, Oba Akenzua II, and the Governor of Mid-Western State in 1971, Brigadier Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia.” PSO thus helped “to lay the foundation of the University of Benin as the first Head of the Department of Mathematics.”

PSO was involved in deep research aimed at making Mathematics popular for students which “led to his writing six graduated books on Mathematics entitled: Step By Step Mathematics For Primary Schools.”

A much sought-after social being, PSO was a founding member/president of Aduwa Club of Benin, a member of Ewaen Group of Benin, and a member/president of Cedar Club of Benin. He was indeed a proud defender of his Bini heritage.

Much to the chagrin of some of his academic friends, PSO threw his hat into the political ring and was elected a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1983. During the ill-fated General Ibrahim Babangida transition programme, he joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and won election into the Senate again, representing Edo South Senatorial District from December, 1992 to November, 1993.

An all-round achiever, PSO was born on a Sunday, and died on Sunday, January 28, 2018. A highly principled giant, he stoutly refused to be compromised through gifts or bribes in his duties as an Academic, Administrator and a Senator.

The eponymous title of this well-written and well-packaged book, “God Has Done Me Well”, directly translates to: Osarumwese! God has indeed done PSO well, a genius who enjoyed solving mathematical puzzles while humming, singing and laughing heartily.

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