BY OROBOSA OMO-OJO JP
Chief Sam Iredia, started off early as an achiever, perhaps ahead of his time. He was about 24 years old when he had the political breakthrough that saw him becoming a Civil Commissioner in 1979.
While serving as Commissioner under the late Professor Ambrose Ali in the old Bendel State, he was moved around eight different ministries, to lend his skills and impact on governance.
Like every other young men that were drafted by that administration, Iredia was not a politician at that time but became a close friend of Prof. Ali after the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, had prevailed on the governor to tap from Iredia’s intelligence and experience so Bendel could run smoothly.
Yes, Iredia performed in those eight ministries he served and Bendel State was better for it.
Unknown to many, Sam played a pivotal role in the election of Mr. Adams Oshiomhole as governor, before and on April 14, 2007. The big gentle Sam played a unique role in the financing of the political struggle in the quest to enthrone equitable leadership.
Like several others, Chief Sam Iredia was the first to taste from Oshiomhole’s bitter bile.
Before then, he chaired the campaign committee for the reelection of Mr. Lucky Igbinedion’s second term in 2003, a job he did so excellently well.
History has it that he expressed interest in the governorship race in 1999 on the platform of All People’s Party, APP but dropped his aspiration for the bugger picture.
Sam was a master political strategist of note.
For historians, Sam will be remembered in the record books as man who knew how and why Professor, Ambrose Folorunsho Ali was framed up and incarcerated for the infamous Nine Hundred and Ninety Nine Thousand Naira donation to the Unity Party of Nigeria from that Ibadan businessman.
The relics of that fact goes with Sam, the calm, unassuming master strategist.
The man Sam, brought the same savvy manner that brought him success in those ministries into golf.
From the moment Iredia joined the game, it became clear that a new dawn would come the game’s way. Iredia did not keep anyone in doubt that he was out to perform all golf rites after the game was wrestled from the grip of white settlers.
From the formation of Nigeria Amateur Golf Association (NAGA) to that of Golf Union of Nigeria (GUN), Iredia worked tirelessly to ensure that unity prevailed among golfers and that the rules and ethics of the game were adequately upheld.
He touched so many lives in golf. Through GUN, a union that is made up of all Club Captains across the nation, Iredia was able to formulate basic rules for all golf courses in the country.
Severally, Iredia served as the Captain of Benin Golf Club and even President of the Benin Golf Club. When the Nigeria Golf Federation was concessioned to Otunba Olusola Adekanola’s CMCL, Iredia was brought in as President.
Before his death, he was representing the South-South zone on the Board of the Nigeria Golf Federation. Besides, he is the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the UBTH Golf Club in Benin and a foundation member of the IBB Golf Club in Abuja.
Through careful tutelage, Iredia was able to turn many indigenes of Bendel to great golf players, especially in the professional cadre.10