Is it Timi Alaibe’s Time?

Timi Alaibe
Segun James wonders if Timi Alaibe will be given a chance to champion the change the Peoples Democratic Party needs in Bayelsa to consolidate its hold on the state
Ordinarily, the contest for the governorship of Bayelsa state on the platform of the  Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) should have been between Timi Alaibe and others, but the reality is that it has become a contest between him and  Governor Seriake Dickson.
Although Dickson is not on the ballot, he is however at the forefront of the fight to stop Alaibe from clinching the party’s ticket. Why so, given that at the inception of Dickson’s administration, it was Alaibe among few others who wrote the blueprint upon which the foundation of the government of Dickson was laid.
He was also the head of the committee of experts who looked into the activities of the government of Timipre Sylva, identified the pitfalls and looked at the finances of the state in order for Dickson to get a true picture of the situation on ground as the governor was a novice in the art of governance and was very ill-prepared when power was thrust upon him.
Alaibe has never hidden his ambition to govern Bayelsa state. He has been nursing this ambition since 2003 when he challenged Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha in a bitterly fought primary. The Governor was later to say that Alaibe was a formidable opponent. More attempts by Alaibe several years later to clinch the topmost public office in Bayelsa have not been successful due to forces and situations he has no control over. Yet he was not undaunted.
When a delegation of eminent Bayelsa state leaders both came to his home some months ago, he was surprised. Their mission was to encourage someone outside government to come out and speak on behalf of the Ijaw people, not just as the voice and conscience but as a leader at this critical political time in the country.
They told him that they have concluded that he should be that person. They urged or rather “ordered” him to lead the people out of the wilderness to the Promised Land and insisted that he could not afford to deny them.
It was not an unusual request but it is coming at a time Alaibe had given politics a wide berth to concentrate on his business. How could he say no to his people? This was his dilemma as he considered the people’s request and a return to the familiar terrain of politics.
In 2006, as part of the run towards the 2007 general election, Chief Nditimi Alaibe as the executive director finance and administration of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was clearly the leading and favourite aspirant to pick the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship ticket; after all, the state’s party structure were under his control and he was coasting home to victory.
But barely a few weeks to the party’s governorship primaries, a most bizarre thing happened. In a freak political mistake, the Bayelsa state PDP chairman, Chief Fred Agbedi, at a private gathering at Alaibe’s home handed the PDP flag to him in a mock show that suggests that is how he would be given the flag after the governorship primary.
It was a fatal mistake. His enemies immediately cashed on it. The video of the event soon surfaced in Abuja and before long the chairman was suspended and Alaibe lost control of the party structure, a situation which allowed the incumbent governor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to coast home to victory at the primary. Like a true party man that he is, Alaibe decided not to contest against Jonathan.
Following the turn of events, President Olusegun Obasanjo persuaded Alaibe who still had the advantage not to contest against Jonathan but shared all elective positions from the national assembly to the state assembly between Jonathan and Alaibe at two to one ratio respectively.
To further placate Alaibe, Obasanjo promoted him to Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). As the managing director, Alabe decided to concentrate his efforts at creating the Niger Delta master plan for development instead of the arbitrary development by his predecessors.
Since then, Alaibe has never seriously considered contesting again even though he did make one or two forays after that. This was the situation until the elders visited him with their request.
Now that Alaibe is in the race for the governorship, for the third time as a candidate, will luck smile on him this time? This is the question as he has become the issue in Bayelsa politics following his return, not only to the PDP but the race for the governorship.
The first indication of this occurred when Governor Dickson suddenly turned from a friend to a bitter foe. The Governor, since the events leading to the primaries tomorrow, has made it clear that over his dead body would Alaibe be the governor. Not even the intervention of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan that Alaibe is the best candidate for the PDP in the face of the onslaught from the All Progressives Congress (APC) has persuaded him. But will Dickson be able to stop Alaibe tomorrow? That is the question as PDP delegates decide.
Timi Alaibe was born on the 10th day of June 1962 in Opokuma, Bayelsa State, to the family of late Pa Emmanuel Mmadu Alaibe. He is the third of five children. His early life was quite tumultuous and difficult as his parents were of modest, but hardworking background. However, despite his humble beginnings, young Timi encouraged by his parents was very determined from an early age to get an education.
When not in school, Timi would accompany his parents to the farm a trip that entailed crossing the river in a crude wooden canoe. It was this experience that taught young Timi the importance of hard work, at an early age.
This invaluable work ethic has guided him all through his life. When he is not attending to chores or helping his parents in the farm, young Timi spent much of his childhood with his age mates frolicking in the village river.
His formative years were spent at the cities of Warri, Port Harcourt and Lagos. And in each one of these cities, Timi quickly gained popularity among the neighbourhood kids for his remarkable swimming skills.
Despite his having achieved great success in life, Timi Alaibe is a man who has not forgotten where he came from. He feels most at home in his village of Igbainwari in Opokuma.
He began his elementary education at Isoko Primary School, Marine Beach, Apapa, Lagos from 1967 to 1970. When his parents moved to Port Harcourt in 1970, he was enrolled at Christ the King School, Oromenike, Port Harcourt between 1970 through 1973. There, he earned his First School Leaving Certificate. Upon completing his primary education, young Timi returned to his village of Igbanwari in Opokuma.
He enrolled at the Government Secondary School, Kaiama in Bayelsa State for his secondary education from 1974 through 1979 where he earned his West African School Certificate.
Timi soon gained admission into the River State University of Science and Technology from where he graduated with a Bachelors of Science (BSc) degree in Accounting. After a brief professional career, Timi felt a need to enhance his academic credentials. He figured that a post-graduate degree would further equip him for the corporate world.
He applied to and gained admission into the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile Ife, Nigeria for his post-graduate studies in Business Administration. He obtained a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Obafemi Awolowo University.
Upon completion of his Master’s degree program, Timi Aaibe returned to professional life at Peat Mawick Ani Ogunde and Co (now KPMG) initially as a trainee accountant.
In 1986, he joined African Continental Bank as Head of Operations and rose to become Branch Manager at Okrika branch, in Rivers State. He worked at different positions at the Bank for several years, before deciding to move on to other professional challenges. He then soon secured a position at the All States Trust Bank in 1991, as Assistant Manager in charge of risk management and credit control.
A year later, in 1992, he was appointed as the Vice President of the Cosmopolitan Bancshares Ltd, a top tier finance and investment company.
In 1994, he joined Societe Generale Bank Ltd (now Heritage Bank PLC) as a Manager, Corporate Banking Division. He served as the Bank’s Assistant General Manager in 1998 and then it’s General Manager, Corporate and Investment Banking in 2000.
During his years in the private sector, Timi Alaibe has always known that at some point he would have to venture into the public sector of the country to contribute his talent in fixing the ails of the country. His foray into the public sector came in 2001, when the then Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo noticing his managerial and leadership capabilities, appointed him as the Executive Director, in charge of Finance and Administration, at the then newly created Federal Government’s Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Due to his passion and dedication to ending violence in the Niger Delta region through empowerment, Timi Alaibe was appointed as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Commission a position he held until April 2009 when his tenure expired.
He was soon saddled with the more challenging task of nurturing the Demobilisation, Rehabilitating and Re-integration of ex-militants from the creeks back into society. His immediate constituents were 20,192 warring youth who accepted the Amnesty Proclamation in 2009. He took the challenge with the zeal of a priest. Although he held the office for about one year, he put in place a five-year framework for the efficient implementation of the Programme.
Timi Alaibe stands tall as the midwife of the initial successes of this Federal Government programme. As PDP delegates in Bayelsa State determine the man who will lead the PDP into the future, Alaibe stands an excellent chance among the 21 aspirants.