Grace Alele Williams, a Professor of Mathematics and the one-time Vice-Chancellor University of Benin who died on Friday 25 March 2022 at the age of 89 is sorely missed by the academic community, women generally, her Itsekiri people and every Nigerian.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta issued a condolence message through his Chief Press Secretary, Olisa Ifeajika, on Saturday, saying:
“On behalf of the government and people of Delta, I condole with the deceased’s family, the academia and the Itsekiri nation and all Deltans on the passing of the renowned mathematician and scholar, Professor Grace Alele-Williams.
“We received the news of her passing with shock but thanked God that she lived a life of great impact.
“She was a great role model and worked assiduously to stamp out cultism at the University of Benin where she was Vice-Chancellor,” he said.
“Prof. Alele-Williams was an illustrious daughter of the state, and only recently, we honoured her and other illustrious Deltans during the state’s 30th-anniversary celebration.
“She would be greatly missed by those whose lives she impacted and inspired in very many ways,” the governor stated.
A former Governor James Ibori of Delta State, in a statement, said: “Alele -Williams’ life imparted greatly on mine as she was the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin while I was a student there. I remember her as an outstanding woman of integrity and one of those who showed my feet the way to follow. I regret her passing even as I thank God for the pace-setting life she lived as a high -achiever.”
Also, the Iyatsere of Warri kingdom, Chief Johnson Amatserunleghe who spoke on behalf of the Council of Chiefs of Warri kingdom, according to the Vanguard, described the late Professor Alele Williams as a great daughter of Itsekiri nation and the country at large.
Amatserunleghe added: “Until her death she was a Chief of Warri kingdom. We have lost a great soul. We have lost a great daughter of our country from Itsekiri.”
“As the first PhD holder in mathematics, she no doubt stimulated interest in core science subjects among females in Africa.”
“She also raised the bar for women when she became the first female Vice-Chancellor of a university in the country. A height many saw as an exclusive reserve for men “.
“She was a Chief in the palace. Her wise counsel will be missed by the palace. “
“Professor Alele Williams provided mentorship for both young men and women. PhD in mathematics is not a common area for even men. She was a reference for many who took up the challenge in mathematics and the sciences. “
“Itsekiri is very proud of her, our country Nigeria is very proud of her. May her soul rest in perfect peace “
Chief Edward Ekpoko, head of Itsekiri Leaders of Thought ILoT, also described her death as a big loss to the nation.
“It’s devastating news . She served Nigeria meritoriously. She was the First woman to hold a PhD in Mathematics, first female Vice-Chancellor in Africa”.
“She came from a very fine background. Her mother was among the first teachers in Nigeria .”
Chief Professor Alele Williams has left her footprint in the sands of time.”
“We will miss her. Her contribution to the development of Nigeria shows that our role in nation-building as Itsekiri is not only in the oil and gas sector. We are doing great in other areas too.”
Mrs Bunmi Awonaya of ThisDay newspapers wrote: “Prof Mrs Grace Alele Williams Former Vice-Chancellor of UNIBEN, Nigeria’s First Female Vice-Chancellor and First Woman to receive a Doctorate Degree dies at 89. Ma, you were an inspiration to me and many girls while growing up and we saw possibilities in life’s endeavours through the gateway of academics.
Goodnight mama. May your dear soul rest in peace profound.”