Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia (born September 17, 1932) is a Nigerian former army officer and politician. He was military Governor (1967–1975) of the Mid-West State, later renamed Bendel State, part of which in turn became Edo State. After the return to democracy in 1999, he became a power in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In September 2009, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state and others attended his 77th birthday celebration in Benin.
Samuel Ogbemudia was born in Benin City. As a youth he lived with his elder cousin, Mr. FS Uwaifo, a Benin-based businessman. He attended Benin Baptist School (1941–1945), and then the government school, Victoria, in the Cameroons (1945–1947). His secondary education was at the Western Boy's High School, Benin City (1947–1949).
He joined the Nigeria army in 1957, training at Teshie, Ghana and at Netheravon and Salisbury Plain in England (1957). He attended the officer cadet school at Aldershot, England in 1960, and was commissioned second lieutenant in 1961. He attended the United States army special welfare school at Fort Bragg, South Carolina in 1962. Ogbemudia served with the United Nations peacekeeping force in the Congo for 16 months, and served in Tanzania in 1964. He was appointed as an instructor to the Nigerian Military School, Zaria in 1964.
In January, 1966, a coup d'état overthrew the civilian government of Nigeria. In July 1966 the military ruler Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi was deposed and killed in a counter-coup led by Lieutenant Colonel Murtala Mohammed. Ironsi's chief of staff Yakubu Gowon became head of state. Major Samuel Ogbemudia played an important role in the counter-coup by disarming his troops in Kaduna at the suggestion of artillery commander Lt-Colonel Alex Madiebo. In August that year he was transferred to the area command, Benin City, fighting with government forces in the Nigerian Civil War.
Ogbemudia was appointed Military administrator of Mid-West state in September, 1967 following the liberation of state from the secessionist Biafran forces. Promoted to Lt. Colonel, Ogbemudia was appointed Military Governor of the state on 26 October 1967. A populist, dedicated to reconstruction after the war, he initiated improvements in the areas of sports, urban development, education, public transportation, housing and commerce. He built the Ogbe sports stadium, now named the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, and in August 1973 he commissioned the three-story National Museum in Benin City. Other projects included the Agbede Mechanized Farm, Rural Electrification Board, Bendel Steel Structures, Bendel Pharmaceuticals, Bendel Boatyard, the University of Benin and the Bendel Line.In later years, people looked back on his governorship as a time when much was achieved, followed by stagnation in later administrations.
In July 1975, when Murtala Mohammed became head of state, he retired the twelve military governors who had served under Yakubu Gowon. The retirement of the governors found guilty of corruption was converted to dismissal. Among these was Brigadier General Samuel Ogbemudia, whom Murtala had appointed eight years earlier, and whom he replaced by Colonel George Agbazika Innih. Ogbemudia was tried for abuses while in office, but acquitted.
During a brief return to civil rule, Samuel Ogbemudia was elected governor of Bendel State in Oct 1983 as candidate for the National Party of Nigeria, replacing Ambrose Alli of the Unity Party of Nigeria. However, he lost his position in December that year when Muhammadu Buhari became military ruler after a coup d'état that overthrew civilian President Shehu Shagari.
General Sani Abacha, military head of state from November, 1993 until his death in June, 1998, appointed Ogbemudia as minister for Labor and Productivity. Samuel Ogbemudia was quoted as saying he would die for Abacha. Ogbemudia supported a move to have Abacha stand for election, saying "The nation has made wonderful progress under General Abacha ... He is, no doubt, the only answer to Nigeria's progress and development".
After the restoration of democracy in 1998/1999, Ogbemudia was one of the founders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo state, and a member of the party's Board of Trustees. Ogbemudia and Chief Anthony Anenih between them controlled PDP politics in Edo State for the next decade, at first working well together but later coming into open conflict.
In December 2004, Ogbemudia was said to have agreed that Anthony Anenih should nominate his choice of governor for Edo State. He said he did not want a situation where one senatorial district in the state had a permanent hold on the position of governor. In November 2007, at an enlarged meeting of the PDP at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin, Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia spoke strongly against proposals by Anthony Anenih to change existing zoning arrangement of offices, then walked out of the meeting.
In December 2006, Samuel Ogbemudia expressed support for the presidential bid of Dr Mohammed Buba Marwa.
On 20 March 2008, a tribunal nullified the election of Oserheimen Osunbor (PDP) as Edo State governor due to voting irregularities, and declared commrate Adams Oshiomhole of the Action Congress as the winner. In an interview in November that year, as a prominent member of the PDP board of trustees Ogbedmudia said he would have preferred a PDP member to have won. However, he accepted the tribunal result, and described Oshiomhole as a man of strong character. He spoke critically of earlier governors, such as Chief Lucky Igbinedion.
In July 2009, Sam Ogbemudia was leader of a PDP faction that was supporting Prof. Julius Ihonvbere as candidate for the Edo State governorship in 2011. A rival faction led by Tony Anenih favoured Senator Odion Ugbesia as candidate. In October 2009, Samuel Ogbemudia failed to attend the unity rally of the party in Edo state organised by Anthony Anenih. A month later, Dr. Sam Ogbemudia praised Oshiomhole's accomplishments in his first year of office, leading to speculations of a possible political alliance between the two men.