Permanent Secretary, Elder Statesman, Orator
Alabo Samuel David Eke-Spiff was a Permanent Secretaries and recipient of a National honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).
Who Was Alabo Samuel David Eke-Spiff?
Alabo Samuel David Iroumfamokuma Ayebaotonyemiete Eke-Spiff, OON, JP (1923 – 2009), was from Twon-brass Island of Bayelsa state.
“S.D” as he was widely known, became the first Nigerian Chief Labor Officer (in an acting capacity) of the federation and later was among the first Permanent Secretaries who laid the administrative framework for the civil services in old Rivers State in 1967.
His popularity was elevated in 2002 when he won a legal case: “Administrators/Executor of the Estate of Abacha v. Samuel David Eke-Spiff & ORS” based on the premise that “He who owns the land owns the property in it”. Thence, the court ruling became a landmark and milestone in Nigeria’s judicial system.
Alabo Samuel David Iroumfamokuma Ayebaotonyemiete Eke-Spiff niche for himself as an orator, and he was also a staunch Anglican, who fervently supported the building of Saint Barnabas’ Anglican Church Twon-brass. He died in 2009 at the age of 76.
When and Where Was He Born?
Alabo Samuel David Eke-Spiff was born on 16 July 1923 in Twon Brass Island, Eastern Nigeria (now Bayelsa State)
Samuel David Eke-Spiff’s mother was Madam Elizabeth Eke-Spiff, and his father was Elder Edeh Eke of Gbobokiri, Twon-brass, and Oloibiri in Ogbia kingdom. He was the last child of his parents.
Education and Working Career
Samuel David Eke-Spiff attended St. Barnabas’ Anglican Primary School, from 1931 to 1937. Shortly after, he enrolled for the Senior Cambridge Certificate Program and got his certificate in 1942.
Afterwards, in 1943 Samuel David Eke-Spiff started his working career as a trainee engineer with United African Company (UAC).
In October 1944 thereabout, He got recruited into Nigerian Public Service as a Clerk. He was later appointed Assistant Labour Officer-in-Training in September 1949.
Samuel David Eke-Spiff attended Factory Inspection course at Plymouth Polytechnic in the United Kingdom from 1957 to 1958 and got a diploma in Administration and Industrial Safety.
Subsequently, he got promoted to Inspector of Factories in April 1958. In 1961, he attended another factory inspection course at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States of America and got a Diploma Course in Industrial Relations, Industrial Safety and Occupational Health. Therefore, he was promoted Senior Inspector of Factories in April 1963.
He attended 4th World Congress on the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases at Wadham College, Oxford, in June 1964. Eventually, Samuel David Eke-Spiff got promoted to an Assistant Chief Inspector of Factories (Federation) in April 1968.
Member of the British institution of industrial Safety Officers and the American Society of Safety Engineers.
Incidentally, He transferred from Federal Public Service to the Old Rivers State Public Service in February 1969 and got promoted Administrative Officer Class I in January 1971.
Subsequently, He was again promoted to become a Permanent Secretary in May 1971.
Later, again he got promoted Permanent Secretary (Super Grade) in October 1974.
However, Samuel David Eke-Spiff retired meritoriously from the public service in May 1976 after working for 32 years.
After when he retired, his sterling qualities and dexterity found expression, and he was appointed to serve on the Board of Federal Housing Authority during the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida the then President of Nigeria between May 1991 and December 1992.
Samuel David Eke-Spiff left behind legacies of strong administrative leadership in old Rivers State, which are veritable to this generation and subsequent ones to come. He was appointed a Member of the newly created Rivers State Interim Advisory Council, which operated (at the onset) at Ikoyi, Lagos state, between May 1967 and September,1968, owing to the fact that Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Capital (and its envious) was still under rebel occupation during the Nigerian Civil War.
In 1968, he had the singular privilege of being one of the 5 Senior Civil Servant on the Governors’ (Diete-Spiff) entourage that landed in Port Harcourt in September, (following its liberation by Federal Authority) to begin the arduous tasks of State-building, as it were.
His administrative acumen and handiness found expression when he got drafted as Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Establishment, where he drew up the administrative rules and guidelines for the civil services business.
Also, at the Ministry of Lands and Survey as a Permanent Secretary, a member of the Eastern States Interim Assets and Liabilities Agency (ESIALA), and also Chairman of the Abandon Properties Committee, he superintended over the allocation of plots of land at the GRA Phases II and III as well as the remnants of plots at the Oromineke, Coronation, and Reclamation Layouts Port Harcourt.
As the man in the driver’s seat, he allocated the entire GRA Phases II and III; by providing a conscious leeway to many Ijon-ibe elements to own titles in the layout as testified by their noticeable presence especially along Onne road and Orogbum crescent, Port Harcourt, Rivers state.
Furthermore, the much celebrated Town Planning Design Layouts for the proposed 18 New Towns conceived by the Diete-Spiff’s Administration was initiated during this period.
Most profound however, was Eke Spiff’s supervision and subsequent sales of Abandoned Property Houses – a program that attracted (still does) deep sealed, criticism from the other side.
Notwithstanding, he brought to bear the overriding philosophy (quash-official policy) of the Rivers State Government and indeed the Riversman “…. we cannot be tenants on our Land…” He executed this onerous assignment with candor and diligence, such that even in retirement (1976), the call to duty had him go to defend the position of the Riversman at the Major David Mark Commission of Inquiry set up by the Murtala/Obasanjo Regime to look unto the grievances of the other side.
In addition, as Principal Secretary in the then Ministry of Works and Housing and indeed, a member of the State’s Tender Board, Samuel David Eke-Spiff ensured that the Brass Local Government Area communities got their own fair share in educational and infrastructural facilities such as Secondary Schools at Twon Brass and Okpoma, Teachers Training College, Egweama (later taken over by the Federal Government); Catering Rest House, Brass; General Hospital, Brass etc. Most significantly, the construction of the Brass – Okpoama Road (ultimate termination, Akabeleukiri- Odioma) and Airport.
However, if the regime was widely adjudged to have done well; then it was also because icons in the mould of “S.D”, played their assigned roles pretty well, silently and diligently behind the curtains.
Chieftaincy and Other Awards
In 1997, His Royal Majesty King A. P Diete-Spiff, OFR, Seriyai II, Amayanabo of Twon Brass bestowed a Personal Chieftaincy on Samuel David Eke-Spiff, a rare honour within the Nembe Community.
In December 2002 thereabout, President Olusegun Obasanjo the then President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria bestowed a National Honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) on him December.
In 2004, he was Interim Chairman of the Twon Brass Chiefs Council, following the demise of HRH. Temple Berenengia Sambo.
Estate of Abacha v. Eke-Spiff
The then Head of State of Nigeria in the person of General Sani Abacha unlawfully assumed a landed property belonging to Alabo Samuel David Eke-Spiff the said property (Plot 228 Diobu, GRA Phase II) is at 167 Aba Express Road Port Harcourt. The Estate of Abacha went ahead and erected an eight-storey building on the said property.
Alabo Samuel David Eke-spiff fearlessly sued Abacha estate to court to seek redress (Suit No. CA/PH/331/99 and SC.344/2002). The legal fireworks between the two parties lingered for a while, but on the 15 April 2002, justice was given in favour of Alabo Samuel David Eke-Spiff where the court ruled that “he who owns the land owns the property in it”.
Subsequently, Alabo Samuel David Eke-Spiff took possession of the Eight-storey building based on the court’s judgment.
Saint Barnabas Church Building
Alabo Samuel David Eke-Spiff was a steadfast Anglican, and he worshiped at St. Barnabas Anglican church, Twon-brass Island.
He was avidly worried about Twon-brass community, not having a befitting church house. So, he and other Anglican faithful from Twon-brass financially and prayerfully supported the building of a new St. Barnabas church edifice.
As a result, the new St. Barnabas church edifice was completed and dedicated on November 1, 2003.
As A Social Engineer
- Alabo Samuel David Eke-Spiff amongst friends was known for his oratory. He was also a prolific writer and a voracious reader. Therefore, he was Twon-brass’ speechwriter and spokesman for over two decades.
- In 1990 thereabout, he authored: “The founding of a Community and the Church in Brass, 1868”, which chronicled the history of St. Barnabas Church, and the bravery of Kings, and Chiefs from Nembe kingdom in the 19 century.
- Alabo Samuel David Eke-Spiff was Appointed Justice of the Peace in February 1985.
- He was Chairman, Co-ordination Committee Brass/Okpoama Urban Council from 1981 to 1982.
- Also, he was a Chairman Education Committee. Brass/Okpoama Urban Council from 1982 to 1983.
- In 1991, he was appointed, Caretaker Chairman, National Republican Convention by President Ibrahim Babangida, for Brass Local Government Area and alongside Chairman Twon Brass, Community Development Committee.
His Wife and Children
He was a polygamist, and he had Twenty (20) children who are positively impacting the society.
“It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not of importance, it lasts so short a time”Samuel Johnson
His Last Moments and Death
After his retirement from public services and other national assignments, Alabo S.D. Eke-Spiff left the city (Port Harcourt) to his home in Twon-brass and was actively involved in community affairs and developmental matters of his faith (St. Barnabas Church) and Anglican Church Dioceses of Niger Delta West.
On 19 October 2009, Alabo S.D. Eke-Spiff passed away peacefully in his home in Twon-brass, Bayelsa state.
In 2019, Alabo S.D. Eke-Spiff’s 10th-year remembrance will be marked by his children, grandchildren and family friends.