Teacher, Administrator and Entrepreneur
Dame (Hon) Mercy Gboribusuote Alagoa (JP) was best known for her spectacular services in God’s vineyard (the Anglican faith) and a savvy businesswoman of the 80’s and 90’s.
Who Was Mercy Alagoa?
Mercy Gboribusuote Alagoa was once a teacher, administrator and entrepreneur born on 11 May 1927, in Nembe, Bayelsa state. She was the first Nigerian who rapidly rose and became a Manager and Buyer at United African Company (UAC) in the late 1950s to 70s. She managed government agencies in old Rivers State. Known for sustaining the Anglican faith in her family and Nembe. She died in 2016 at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) Choba, Port Harcourt.
When and Where Was Mercy Alagoa Born?
Mercy Gboribusuote Alagoa was born on 11 May 1927, in Nembe, Bayelsa state.
Mercy Gboribusuote Alagoa grew up within the fold of a relatively well to do family. Her father was Chief Justus Awotongha Nyananayo Ogbari who was once a school teacher and later Head Master of schools in British Cameroons, Buguma, Oyo, and Degema. Her mother was Mrs. Ruth Ayibaiwokwo Nyananyo (nee Alanso-Iwowari) was a school teacher. They were both scions of Nembe Kingdom. She was the third child and only girl in a family of five children.
Childhood and Education
Mercy Gboribusuote Alagoa grew up in a family of Christian values, culture, and devotion to education, and developed a spirit of unyielding toughness in the face of challenges.
She attended St. Luke’s school Nembe and later enrolled for London GCE correspondents in 1950’s which she excelled.
Mercy Alagoa’s Work Life
In the 1940’s, Mercy Gboribusuote Alagoa taught at some prominent primary schools within the country and she did Journalism. In 1951 Mercy Alagoa joined “United Africa Company” (UAC). United Africa Company was the then biggest commercial organization in Nigeria. She worked diligently, assiduously and meticulously during her sojourn with UAC and she was rapidly promoted to Management level as a Senior Manager and Buyer, which made her the first Nigerian to achieve this position. This position and responsibility took her around the world purchasing the best of women and children fashion wares for Kingsway stores in Nigeria. She worked at the Kingsway Shops located in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano, and Ibadan.
After her retirement from the UAC in 1973, Mercy Gboribusuote Alagoa was appointed by the First Governor of Rivers State in the person of Navy Commander Alfred Diete Spiff to set up its state’s owned supply company, which was called PABOD Supplies Company.
One of the enduring achievements of PABOD Supplies was the establishment of standard Cottage Hospitals in every Local Government Area of the Old Rivers State. These hospitals served key roles in the establishment of Medical Services of Bayelsa State. One of such Hospitals are the Niger Delta Teaching Hospital at Okolobiri and Nembe General Hospital where her corpse was preserved at the mortuary. Mercy Alagoa also served in numerous Boards of State and Federal parastatals and companies such as:
- Member of Board Pan African Bank
- Chairman of Board Port Harcourt Flour Mill
- Member of Board Rivers State Sports Council
- Pioneer Board Member of the National Commission for Women (now Ministry Of Women Affairs and Social Development)
- Commissioner National Electoral Commission (NEC) for Bauchi state (1996/98) representing Old Rivers State
- Chairman of the Peace and Reconciliation Panel 2001
Mercy Gboribusuote Alagoa showed great affinity and interest in the affairs women associations in her vibrant age, so in return, the National Council of Women Societies” Rivers/Bayelsa Chapters honored her as life Chairman of the life members of the association.
She was also a pioneer Member of the Bayelsa State Elders Consultative Council and later was elected Chairman of its Peace and Security Committee, this committee was set up to settle problems between Government Leaders and Politicians.
She was one of the founding Members of ‘South-South People Assembly’ (SSPA), and also an active member of the Ijaw National Council (INC).
An Entrepreneur and Agriculturist
In 1977, Mercy Gboribusuote Alagoa established and administered a modern Bakery called “Sunblest Bakery” located along Kaduna Street, D/line Port Harcourt. Sunblest Bakery was one of the leading confectioneries setup to mitigate the shortfall of bread supply in Port Harcourt metropolis then.
She later veered into agro-business with a registered business name as “Ebisuote Enterprise”. Ebisuote Enterprise specializes in Livestock Production, Commercial Tree cropping, and Aqua-culture. She later added a packaged water plant, called “Emgee Water”. The business location is at Nneka Town Rivers State. Mercy Gboribusuote Alagoa also had at her University of Port Campus home a well-cultivated orchard.
Mercy Alagoa’s Faith and Works
She was deeply religious. She embraced the Anglican faith from a tender age until her death, and this has been credited to her parents who were staunched members of the Anglican Communion. In her sojourn as an Anglican, she achieved the following:
- Mercy Alagoa motivated many towards the building of the present cathedral of Saint Luke’s Church Nembe. She was instrumental for the roofing for the church. Thereafter, other members of the church volunteered towards building other structures.
- She was the Mother of the church and the Life Chairman of Harvest Committee.
- Mercy Alagoa co-sponsored and achieved the establishment of the diocese of Niger Delta West Bayelsa State. She became her first Treasurer over a decade.
- Similarly, she was among the Christians in the University of Port Harcourt, who built “Our Savior’s Chapel”.
- However, due to her sterling services in the Lord’s vineyard, Mercy Gboribusuote Alagoa was knighted as a Dame in 2001.
Who was her husband?
She was married to Emeritus Professor of History Ebiegberi Joe Alagoa OON, NNOM.
Mercy Alagoa’s Last Days and Death
In her last days, she became an ardent Bird Feeder which is hindmost for personalities of her age. She created a schedule of 6.00 am every morning and 6.00 pm every evening for feeding doves in the grounds of No. 11 Orogbum Crescent, Port Harcourt which was her “Trafalgar Square”. Feeding than a hundred birds, that was her joy and strength.
Dame (Hon) Mercy Gboribusuote Alagoa (JP) died after she went into a coma and attached to life support machines at University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital on 9 November 2016, at the age of 89.