Agriculturist, Physician, Politician
Dr. Vincent Keniye Kalaiti was a man of two professions. He was an Agriculturist and later a Medical Doctor. His immense contributions towards the agricultural sector and health services in old Rivers State are veritable and undisputable in the 1960s to 80s.
Who was Dr. Vincent Keniye Kalaiti?
Vincent Keniye Kalaiti (1932-1990), VK as fondly called was an astute Agricultural officer in the then Eastern Nigeria administering Yenagoa and Degema provinces, much later he became a Medical Doctor in the 80s. They knew him for his stellar qualities, dedication, professionalism, and thoroughness during his sojourn as Chief Medical Director at Niger hospital Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Vincent Keniye Kalaiti’s Wife and Children
Vincent Keniye Kalaiti was married to Mrs. Ibarafakumo Kalaiti a retired Nursing officer with Bayelsa State Hospital Management Board and he had ten children.
When and where was he born?
Dr. Vincent Keniye Kalaiti was born on April 4, 1932, in Tombia in Ekpetiama clan in Yenagoa Local Government Area Eastern Nigeria (now Bayelsa State).
Family and Early life
Vincent Keniye Kalaiti’s father was Mr. Eneruwe Kalaiti of Tombia, Ekpetiama and his mother was Mrs. Kerenke Kalaiti, an adventurous and industrious woman from Igbedi in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area, all of Bayelsa State (then Rivers State). His mother had a huge impression in Vincent Keniye Kalaiti’s life, she saw him through his early education at Tombia-Ekpetiama and Amassoma.
He had his primary education at Mr. R.P. Indo’s Private School, Tombia and left after passing the highest class in the school (Standard Three) at the end of 1944. His quest for completing the primary school education took him to Group School Obunagha, Taylor Creek, for Standard Four, and St. Stephen’s School, Amassoma, where he got his First School Leaving Certificate.
He attended the renowned Okrika Grammar School, Okrika, from 1948 to 1952, where he was known as VK. He was a handsome and brilliant shape. In 1953, he got admission into University College Ibadan to study Agriculture Science and he graduated in 1956.
In the 1960s, He secured a scholarship and attended several higher institutions abroad such as Huddersfield College of Technology, United Kingdom, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and Warsaw Medical Academy, Poland. He was an erudite scholar.
He returned to Nigeria after his sojourn overseas in pursuit of higher education which was remarkable and brilliant. A Polish trained Medical Doctor that he was and Agriculturist served as Agricultural Officer in charge of Yenagoa and Degema Provinces before General Yakubu Gowon created Rivers State in 1967. While serving in Degema, he represented the then Senior Divisional Officer in charge of Degema Province in conducting the 1963 census and later elections in the area.
Industrious, tireless and hard-working, Dr. Kalaiti served as the Medical Officer in charge of Niger Hospital, Port-Harcourt from 1985 to October 1990. He retired as a senior civil servant.
After his retirement from civil services, Dr. Kalaiti was said to have got a desire to serve his fatherland in another capacity, hence his close friends and associates could not prevent him from retirement when his deep and seasoned experience in the functioning of government was needed for the development of the state. VK was a motivator. He heeded the call in 1990, when he ran for the office of Governor of the then Rivers State, on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), with the likes of Sergeant Awuse (SDP), Bekinbo Soberekon (SDP), Zebulon Abule (NRC), etc., like his contemporaries in the Guber race. However, the hands of death cut his political ambition short.
Vincent Keniye Kalaiti’s Public life
Dr. Vincent Keniye Kalaiti could appropriately be described as a “man of the people’’. He belonged to many Associations and Clubs. These were his veritable sources of grassroots acceptance and popularity. He was chairman in some; secretary in others and an effective and functional member in the ones he was not an official. Some of the various organizations in which he was a member include: Okrika Grammar School Old Boys Association; Fish Farmers and Aqua-culturists Association (Rivers State Chapter); All Saints Anglican (Izon) Church, Port-Harcourt; Wo-Ibe Social Club; Izon National Forum; Nigerian Medical Association; Eastern Block Graduates Association; League of friends, Niger Hospital; Heads of Rivers State (Doctors) Hospital Association and so on. In fact, he was widely known in Rivers State. Some knew him as Guber aspirant.
His Major Achievements
He fought to bring development to his people. Some of his modest efforts were seen in employment; where he was responsible for the employment of many from Ekpetiama and Gbarain clans, and Igbedi community, into the State’s Agric Sector, and in education; where he tried to establish a Commercial School in Tombia-Ekpetiama, his hometown. He was also paramount in the struggle to cite the Headquarters of the Yenagoa Local Government Area, in Akaibiri-Ekpetiama, which was aborted due to the outbreak of the Nigerian civil war. As a medical practitioner, his services were almost always free, for his people.
Vincent Keniye Kalaiti was a member of the Anglican Communion. He worshipped at All Saints Anglican (Izon) Church, Port Harcourt.
Based on the Anglican doctrine he imbibed, Dr. Kalaiti lived his life without fear or favour. He was a principled technocrat, a man of transparent honesty and integrity, an astute defender of truth, a man of action, and one committed to the service of humanity. VK was an embodiment of a sound mind in a sound body.
Vincent Keniye Kalaiti’s death?
Vincent Keniye Kalaiti had a chronic stroke and died thereafter in Port Harcourt, (circa December 1990). He was buried at his hometown Tombia-Ekpetiama in February 1991, aged 58 years.