Teacher, Principal, Administrator
She was best known as a staunch Anglican and educationist that impacted the education sector of old Rivers State from the early 70s.
Dame Florence Inara Spiff was born into the family of late Venerable Alfred A. Dandeson Spiff and late Mrs Rose Matilda Spiff (nee Alagoa) on the 7th of March, 1936 at the St. Luke’s Vicarage Nembe, she was the Ninth of Twelve children. Only Eight grew up to adulthood out of the Twelve. She had a good upbringing in her formative age as her parents were well-to-do at the time.
Inara, as she was popularly known, attended St. Barnabas primary school, Twon-Brass. From there she spent a short period at St. Cyprian’s school, Port Harcourt, (then Eastern Nigeria) before she was sent to the prestigious Mary Hanney primary school Oron (Eastern Nigeria), a boarding school for girls, where she completed her primary education. Thereafter, She attended Union Secondary School, Ibiaku, Ikot Ekpene where she obtained her west African school certificate.
Inara Spiff was off to boarding house when she was barely ten years old, by her grandmother who she was staying with in Twon-brass.
In one of her write ups, she said her grandmother woke her up early one morning and told her that they were twelve years apart. Her grandmother was at 6.00am while Miss Inara was at her 6.00pm and that she wouldn’t Inara to suffer looking after her, so off to boarding house she went. It was much later in life she understood the implication of her grandmother’s words and action.
After a two year stint as a teacher at St. Michael Girl’s primary school Aba. Inara went back to school. She attended Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha, an all boys school for her higher school certificate (HSC). It was narrated, She was one of the only two girls at the school at the time. She taught again at Zixton Memorial Grammar School, Ozubulo for two years, then proceeded to the Federal Advanced Teachers College Yaba-Lagos. There, she obtained National Certificate of Education (NCE) in 1964. Armed with her NCE, she taught at Anglican Grammar School, Umuahia, and also at Queens College, Enugu until the war broke out in 1966. It was during this period, Inara joined the Red Cross helping to ferry foods to the war front at Ofume along with other teachers.
Subsequently, She got admitted into the Plymouth Marjon University, Plymouth, England, where she graduated with Bachelor of Education degree in 1979.
Her public service experience includes working at the Custom and Excise in 1961. Eastern Nigeria Sports commission Enugu from 1966 to 1968 and briefly at the National Sports Commission, Lagos in 1968.
After the war, she was re-absorbed into the Ministry of Education in old Rivers State and started teaching at Stella Maris College, Port Harcourt in the early 70’s. She was later transferred to Holy Rosary Secondary school, Port Harcourt as Vice Principal to assist late Mrs. Wanjoke Ekpebu. After Mrs Ekpebu’s demise, Inara was made the acting principal of the school. In 1975, she was sent to head Saint Jude’s Girls school, Amarata Yenagoa. During her spry period, she was a notable disciplinarian and a prolific teacher that knew the teaching job.
While she was at St. Jude’s Amarata, Inara made up her mind to upgrade her statue from trained non graduate teacher to trained graduate teacher from 1976 to 1979. Then, she went to the United Kingdom for further studies.
On her return from England, she was absorbed into the Schools Management Board, Port Harcourt as a Member. When the Board was dissolved, she was moved to the Ministry of Education, Port Harcourt as Director of Inspectorate division. As Bayelsa state was created on 1st October, 1996, she was among the first set of civil servants that moved to Yenagoa.
On the 31st of December, 1996, she retired from the Bayelsa State Civil Service. In 2007, she was appointed Commissioner in the Bayelsa state Civil Service Commission. She served on the Commission for two and a half years.
Aside her education feats, Dame Florence Inara Spiff was actively involved in the social development of society. She was a leader in many women’s organizations, among them: Gbobokiri Erema Ogbo of Twon-Brass of which she was the foundation President. She was also a member of the National Council of Women Societies.
Inara, daughter of an Archdeacon, was a devout christian, participating actively in kingdom activities. She was a member of the Women’s Guild; a Patron of the Boys Brigade; the Diocesan Youth Fellowship; Patron of St. Peter’s Choir (a group that consistently participated in all her celebrations).
In 2006 thereabout, she was Knighted as a Knight of blessed Virgin Mary. A soldier of Christ.
Dame Inara spiff was Chairman of the St. Peter’s Nursery and Primary School Board where she brought her great wealth of experience to bear. Her knowledge, exposure and influence contributed immensely to the growth of the school in the academic and non-academic areas. She was also a member of the building committee.
Very compassionate and hardworking, Inara Spiff was involved in the development of society and people. She mentored many who have become prominent in our society today, including, Heads of Service, Principals, Members of Judiciary, but to mention a few.
Dame Florence Inara Spiff a very huge and elegant looking lady was never married, but she had a daughter (Mrs Aifie Akpotabor) and a host of many other relations.
She was a pillar in her family and as she will be missed by all. Also, She frequently sponsored the Ada-Spiff family descendants meetings at her Bay Bridge -Yenagoa, Bayelsa state residence and attended such meetings hosted by others in the family.
Last days/Her death
Dame Florence Inara Spiff at a time was out of circulation, she could barely walk because of her mass and thereon she stayed indoors. Consequently, it was reported, she died of natural causes in Yenagoa on 30 September, 2021 at the age of 85.