Not many people will believe that renowned accountant, businessman and politician, Chief Ndutimi Alaibe has turned 60. It is no fault of theirs but nature. Alaibe in stature looks smallish and in appearance boyish. But that cannot be said of the size of his pocket and friends.
On Friday June 10, was officially his 60th birthday, thus, making him officially join the league of sexagenarian.
The former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), literally shutdown Lagos, the nation’s center of excellence with one of the most talked about birthdays. It was a roll-call of the who-is-who in business, politics and so on.
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, led the rich guest list to honour a man whose rise from grass to grace can only be attributed to an extraordinary divine arrangement. The birthday was soaked in opulence from the food, drinks to choice music. Also in attendance were, Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, Chief Atedo Peterside, Allen Onyema, Musa Danjuma and Ifiesimama Sekibo.
Others were; Tundun Abiola, Austyn Ogannah, Nina Adimora, Sholaye Jeremi, Scott Tommy, Bola Awosika, Terry Waya, Olumide Akpata, Julie Pinnick, Chief James Ibori, Donald Duke, Fidelis Anosike, Rita Dominic-Anosike, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, Tony Elumelu, and a host of others.
From the tributes by some of the guests, it was obvious that the former bank chief has made very remarkable impact in his sojourn on earth. Obasanjo who presented Alaibe with a book written for him by 29 of his friends described him as an amiable and industrious man who is committed to nation building.
Like Obasanjo, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief OCJ Okocha believes that Alaibe is worth celebrating because of how well he has affected the lives of people. He said “Timi is a good man, an original Port Harcourt boy, a dynamic character and a man who is very focused”.
Also, the Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (retd), opined that Alaibe has continued to play the role of a peace builder in the Niger Delta and a mentor to many, saying “as one of the pioneers of the amnesty programme we wish him more fruitful endeavors in making Niger Delta the most peaceful place to live and do business in Nigeria”.
For Mike Igini, the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State, the calibre of guests at the event defines the man Alaibe. He said despite not holding any public office in over ten years, the philanthropist is still shining like a star and has maintained his friendship across the globe. According to him it is an indication that Alaibe represents some of the core values that are rare in Nigerian politicians.
As the pioneer Executive Director of Finance and Administration on the board of the NDDC, Alaibe left no one in doubt about his capacity to deliver on the job. He served diligently and impressed all those who helped him into that office including the late Senator Ibrahim Mantu. Little wonder, it was easier for the Obasanjo administration to elevate him to the position of Managing Director. Again, he did not disappoint as till date his tenure remains one of the most successful and unarguably the best.
Alaibe, fondly called “The Principal”, replicated same feat in 2009 when he was appointed Special Adviser on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. He was saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the demobilisation, rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-militants. He left that position a fuflilled man, having again contributed to the peace and development of the Niger Delta region.
Despite the success that has trailed his private and public lives, Alaibe has been unable to fulfill his long time ambition of occupying Creek Haven, the seat of power in his home state of Bayelsa. In 2023, he gave the first shot by contesting the gubernatorial primary election with Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha who defeated him. In 2007 and 2011, he also made attempts but again was unsuccessful.
In 2019, Alaibe threw his hat in the ring
against the incumbent governor but like the previous attempts he was unable to succeed. Even though his efforts to challenge the process that produce the governor did not end in his favour, many people applauded him for his courage to seek redress over the outcome. Like a statesman that he is, he decided to put the past behind him and today has formed a formidable force with Governor Diri for the interest of the state and her people.
He said of the reconciliation “I finally considered it necessary to put an end to the ugly past, drop political differences, and re-establish an age-long friendship with my brother and state Governor, Douye Diri. That happened on Sunday, January 16. Let me state here that Diri and I have come a long way. We have not only been political partners, there is a deep sense of brotherhood in our relationship. Somehow, in 2019, political differences threw a sharp knife into that bond; and as the late Chinua Achebe would say, things fell apart and the centre could no longer hold.
“But then, blood is thicker than water. We both knew that what happened was temporary. Our mutual friends decided to wade in; especially those who knew what happened and believed that Governor Diri could not be held directly responsible. He only had favour thrust upon him. I must admit that out of a deep sense of humility and friendship, Governor Diri had, at several times, shortly after taking office, personally reached out to me. I chose to remain silent as I reviewed the situation. But all that is now history.
“Time has healed the wounds and I have chosen to do the right thing. There is no doubt that the reconciliation will surprise a lot of people, particularly some political jobbers who profited from our temporary silence. What has happened might also be misinterpreted and given various coloration by different people. But the truth is that I have chosen to listen to the voice of wisdom and re-establish a cherished relationship; which politics tried to destroy.
“To demonstrate the sincerity of my intentions and reciprocate the same humility, which Governor Diri had displayed previously, I refused to meet him on a neutral ground. Instead, in company with close friends, I went to the governor’s official residence in Yenogoa and I was warmly welcomed by him and his team.
“I am thoroughly impressed by the sincerity displayed by the governor. So, the past is behind us. Politics has taken the backstage. Friendship and the collective interest of Bayelsa people are in the centre stage now. We are back to work together in love and unity. Join us”, he said.
No doubt, in his quest to become governor of Bayelsa State, Alaibe has been very unlucky and unfortunate. He has been betrayed by even close associates. But political analysts opined that his frequent defection to one political party after the other has equally not helped him. In addition to reading the political tide in an election year.
It is also the opinion of many that his refusal to take up any other elective position worked against him. He had always set his eyes on the governorship and not even a Senatorial seat which he was said to have been offered could change his mind. It is not certain if he can ever be addressed as His Excellency but nothing is impossible. He has so much to offer and for a state like Bayelsa, his experience, exposure and contacts will help change the face of the Glory of All Lands.
Surely, at 60, his biggest regret will be losing his wife Alaere on January 31, 2009 to lung cancer. She was everything to him and their children. She was an embodiment of peace committed to the development of underprivileged women in the Niger Delta. Her non-governmental organisation (NGO), the Family Reorientation Education and Empowerment programme (FREE) lifted many women out of poverty.
At 60, the future is still very bright for him as he still has sufficient years ahead of him to continue to positively affect humanity. One lesson about Alaibe that most people especially politicians should learn his the art of not burning bridges or removing the ladder when you climb. It is a legacy that the famous “Port Harcourt boy” has maintained in over two decades.