Police Officer, Politician, Elder Statesman
Morungbe Yeipeigha Waritimi was a notable Ijaw breed that lived a life of integrity and served the Nigeria Police Force with professionalism and due diligence. His deeds were towering in the Politics of old Rivers State and the Ijaw National Congress.
Who was Morungbe Yeipeigha Waritimi?
Morungbe Yeipeigha Waritimi (1928-2001) hails from Aleibiri community in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
He was a quintessential Police Officer that brought pride to the Ijaw nation. In politics and activism of the 80s and 90s, Waritimi held on to integrity and fairness and this sterling quality of his endeared him to many in the Niger Delta. He was one of the founding fathers of Bayelsa State, the only pure Ijaw state in Nigeria. Morungbe Yeipeigha Waritimi a moralist; died in 2001 at the age of 73.
Who were His Parents?
Morungbe Yeipeigha’s father was Pa Waritimi Tombo of Aleibiri community in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa state, and his mother was Mrs. Eremoleigha Waritimi of Diriowei family, Opomuware Quarters, Tamigbe town in Burutu Local Government Area, Delta State.
When and Where Was He Born?
Morungbe Yeipeigha Waritimi was born in December 1928 thereabout at the sprawling riverine brave Aleibiri town in Southern-Nigeria (now in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State).
Young Waritimi had his primary education at the Native Administrative (NA) School in Aleibiri community from 1940 to 1947 and got the First School Leaving Certificate in 1948. Subsequently, from 1960 to 1962 he enrolled and sat for the London Ordinary and Advanced level programme via correspondences and got certificates in English language, Economics, Government and English History while he was in the Police Force.
Firstly, Waritimi had a brief stint as a teacher after his primary education under the Colonial Native Administration of the Former Western Ijaw Division with Headquarters at Forcados. Afterwards, he was enlisted into the Nigeria Police in 1950 thereabout as a recruit Constable. He had a remarkable conviction for his job as a police officer and its invaluable purpose in society. Being a police officer was all he wanted, it was his calling, and he loved his job.
Waritimi as widely known rose through the ranks, attended several courses within and out of the country. He served in many states in Nigeria such as Enugu, Sapele, Onitsha, Umuahia, Benin, Apapa-Lagos amongst others from the 60s to 70s.
Waritimi was the Head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Jos, Plateau State from 1977 to 1978.
He was also Head of the CID in Port Harcourt, Rivers State from 1979 to 1982. Nevertheless, he rose to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP). In 1982, Waritimi voluntarily retired from the Nigerian Police Force on a clean slate. He was a man of integrity and honour during his sojourn as a Police Officer.
The 1983 Politics
After Waritimi retired from the Police force, he went into politics. He joined the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in 1983; he admired the ideals and manifesto of UPN at the time and also saw the party as a platform to serve and advance his Constituency in 1983. So, Waritimi contested for the seat of a Senator against Chief Dan Lauzia Etete of National Party of Nigeria (NPN), but unfortunately, he lost the election.
Subsequently, on December 31, 1983, the Military overthrew the civilian government of Nigeria, and Major-General Buhari the then Head of state instituted a ban on all political activities in Nigeria from 1983.
Waritimi also worked for Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) from 1985 to 1988 on contract arrangement. He was the Head of Security in the Eastern Division, Port Harcourt. Chief Waritimi diligently enhanced and transformed the Security Division of SPDC with over thirty years of stellar work experience and ethics from his time in the Nigerian Police Force.
The 1991 Politics
After the lifting of the ban on all political activities in 1990 under Major General Ibrahim Babangida’s military government, Waritimi joined the Social Democratic Party and was elected the state’s party Chairman Old Rivers State in 1991. In his usual demeanour, he served with dignity and integrity.
The advancement of the Ijaw Nation and its people was one of Chief Waritimi’s fervent pursuits. He was one of the founding members of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), an umbrella organization for the identification, articulation, protection, and promotion of Ijaw (Izon) interests in Nigeria. Chief Waritimi was elected as the National Treasurer of INC, a position he held for five years from 1993 to 1997.
Bayelsa State Creation
Chief Waritimi was actively involved in the struggle for, and the eventual creation of Bayelsa State, which he referred to as the only “pure’ Izon (Ijaw) state in Nigeria. He was very proud of the fact that the Izons (Ijaws) finally had a state of their own. His dreams were that this oil-rich Izon (Ijaw) state would one day look like Amsterdam, the capital of Holland, where networks of bridges and roads crisscrossed creeks and rivers, linking towns and villages.
Even though, He had limited formal education, Chief M. Y. Waritimi was a lifelong learner, who was highly intellectual and philosophical. He was a man of vision, integrity, wisdom, courage and nationalistic fervour. These qualities stood him out as a rare gem in the Ijaw (Izon) Nation and the larger Nigerian State.
Chief Waritimi was a frontline Community Leader deeply involved in traditional institutions and development. He was the first chairman of the General Assembly of Aleibiri Federated Communities and held this position from 1996 to 1997.
Subsequently, in 1996 he chaired the Constitution Drafting Committee of Aleibiri Federated Communities, and also authored the 1996 constitution of the territory of Alei, which the community still uses, although with some amendments in recent times.
He was made a reputable Chief in 1997 to saddle the affairs Gbogbai-Ama, in the Alei Council of Chiefs, Aleibiri.
Being an avid reader, he established a modern Reference Library in his houses at Aleibiri Town and Aggrey Road, Port Harcourt, to encourage students in the community to read and to boost government mass literacy drive in the educationally disadvantaged rural areas. He believed that education was the key to the socio-economic and political advancement of the Ijaw Nation and its people.
His favorite quote
One of his favorite quotes was:
Chief Morungbe Yeipeigha Waritimi was a polygamist with many children and grandchildren. Amongst his children are, renowned artist/sculptor and lecturer, a Chief Judge of Bayelsa State; retired Permanent Secretary of Bayelsa State, a Commissioner; a Medical Doctor; Engineers, Academic Doctor. Chief Waritimi was a family architect that demonstrated his belief in the transformative power of an educated mind by ensuring that all his children aspired to have at least an undergraduate university degree. As at the writing of this brief biography, twenty-five (25) of his children have at least a first degree.
Chief Morungbe Yeipeigha Waritimi died on June 12, 2001 in Port Harcourt and was buried at his home town Aleibiri on December 1, 2001. He was 73 years old.
Clues from Dr. Ekpos Waritimi-daughter