Teacher, Accountant, Elder Statesman
He was a quintessential gentleman and Elder statesman that made his mark in the financial sector of Nigeria. Late Newton Amie Aron Igali was a foremost Bursar at the Rivers State College of Science and Technology (now Rivers state University).
Who was Newton Amie Aaron Igali?
Born on 27th July, 1926 at Eniwari community. Yenagoa district area, old Eastern-Nigeria (now in Southern Ijaw of Bayelsa state). He was a dutiful Teacher and Headmaster at several schools in the Niger delta.
Later he went on to qualify as an Accountant in the United Kingdom. In the 70’s, he was calling the shots in the financial sector of government agencies of old Rivers state. Newton Amie Aron Igali was no mere accountant; he knew his onion and even so, he was a role model in the Accounting Profession of Nigeria.
His sterling qualities inspired many persons to practice the profession in the Niger delta. Most germane, he went in and out of government untarnished. He lived a fulfilled life and empowered the Ijaw nation. Newton Amie Aron Igali a fine gentleman and staunched Anglican died in 2012.
Newton Amie Aaron Igali was born on 27th July, 1926 into the families of Mr Aron and Clarice Igali, both of Eniwari community in the then Eastern Nigeria (now Southern Ijaw of Bayelsa state). It was recounted, He was the first child to survive after many failed pregnancies and still births his mother endure. His father thus named him “Amiepamoyefa” which in Ijaw language means there was nothing his antagonists could bring to fruition.
Mr Aaron Igali, Newton’s father was a precursor of Christianity among the Bomo people of Ijaw ethnic nationality history recounts that Aaron Igali himself was a great wrestler who continued the rich tradition of brave and renowned Ijaw champion wrestler. This legacy should be noted has steadily continued till this day as Pa Aaron’s younger cousin, late Chief Pater Brigidi (father of late Sen. Bridigi), became a renowned wrestling champion both in Ghana and Nigeria. Similarly, Hon. Daniel Baraladei Igali, has since further gone to achieve more international laurels as he undefeated common wealth, Olympic and world champion of our time (recently, he is the Commissioner for Youths and Sports Bayelsa state and President Wrestling Federation Nigeria)
Those days times uncles were valued even more than parents and at about the age of nine, he went to live with his uncle, late Mr. Mathew Ogbianaowei, where he started his education in St. John’s School Eniwari. Sadly, Mr. Mathew Ogbianaowei passed on 1939 and young newton returned to his parents.
St. Micheal’s Anglican College, Oleh
At the time, when most parents preferred traditional occupation to education. Mr and Mrs Aaron Igali believed strongly in education and sent their son, newton in 1939 to the St. James’ School, Ekowe, headquarter of Bomo clan, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area. During the second world war, he was forced to return home from school due to wide-spread epidemics. When the war situation subsided, he continued his primary education in the same school, finished in 1944. He then proceeded to St. Stephen Primary school, Amassoma in 1945 where he completed his standard six and obtained the First School Leaving Certificate.
On completion of his primary education, he was employed as a teacher and posted to Oporoma, main administrative town of Southern Ijaw council area (now Local Government Headquarters) from 1945-1946. thereafter in 1947, he was transferred to his Alma-Mater, the St. Stephen’s Primary School, Amassoma as a Teacher.
Subsequently, he thought it wise to further his education and Pa Newton Igali went to St. Micheal’s Anglican College, Oleh in Western-Nigeria (now delta state) for his Grade III Teachers Training from 1947-1949. On completion of the Grade III program, he was posted to St. Peter’s School, Yenagoa as a Grade III Teacher.
Still not satisfied with his feat as a Grade III tutor, he proceeded to the St. Paul’s Anglican College, Akwa, Eastern Nigeria, (now Anambra state) from 1952-1953, where he obtained the Senior Cambridge and Higher Elementary Certificates. On his return from Akwa, he was posted to the Proctor Memorial School, Kaiama as Headmaster.
From 1957 – 1958, he was at the Teacher’s Training College, Okodia for another academic exercise. Thereafter, in 1959, he was transferred to St. Nathaniel’s Primary School, Otuan as Headmaster.
On the 4th of June 1954 at Kaiama, Pa Newton married his sweetheart Fanny, the daughter of late Mr. Tumoi a much respected moralist of the time and late Mrs. Helena Yogo both of Oporoma town in Southern Ijaw L.G.A. of present day Bayelsa State. Fanny was Seventeen year old at that time and before he passed away they had been married for Fifty-Eight (58) and a half years.
Newton and Fanny were blessed with Nine (9) children, three of who died at tender ages. The Six (6) surviving children are all grown up and have raised families of their own. They are Mrs. Ebidei Kumuokou, Dr. Miepamo Igali, Amb. Dr. Boladei Igali, Mrs. Timidi Agada & Ms. Kuroakegha Igali(Twins) and Mr. Iyegoe Igali.
Typical of an Ijaw man of his generation and the societal expectations at that time, Newton also had three (3) children outside wedlock. They are Mrs Ebieri, Mrs. Inegbegha Sims and Mrs. Tari Udo-Davies. Mrs. Fanny Igali, took up and raised all her step children as her own, uniting the whole family in love and oneness. Fanny a virtuous woman passed on peacefully on July 28, 2022 in Yenagoa, Bayelsa capital.
As a teacher, he was meticulous, thorough and cheerful, insisting that the best was the only thing good enough. He influenced many people of his clime to appreciate hardwork, discipline and self-reliance. No wonder, some of his product later became icons in their professions. Just to name a few of his best products, the Hon. Justice K.D Ungbuku- the Late Chief Judge of Old Rivers state and Bayelsa state; HRM King Igodo of Atissa; HRM King Kikile of Yenagoa; HRH King Brutolu of Kaiama; late Chief Taribi; General Maxwell Appah; Prof Angaye, Prof Buseri – former NITDA Boss; Prof. Stephen Odiowei – Former VC Rivers state University of Science and Technology, Chief Bukazi Etete, Chief Dauziah Etete; Elder A.O Egberipou former Permanent Secretary Old Rivers state; Dr. P. Egbenbau- business mogul etc.
As a teacher, he had colleagues and lifelong friends such as: Emmanuel Ebisco, Melford Okilo and Temeketin all of blessed memory. His notable mentors in the teaching profession were (Rev.) Bishop Dimieri and the veteran Pa (HRM) King Fredrick Agama (Father of Mrs. Daiezani Allison Madueke).
Old Rivers State Union london, England
His adventure into politics was quite brief as he got elected in 1956 – 1958 along with Chief Melford as pioneer Councilors into the Brass County Council and served as a Councilor whilst they were still serving as Teachers. Further efforts to pull him into politics proved abortive.
However, he encouraged and sponsored scores of politicians at the grassroots level and never hesitated to make available his words of experience, especially it pertained to management of resources.
In the year 1960 with Nigeria becoming an independent Nation, Pa Newton moved to Lagos and continued briefly as Headmaster in some schools in Ebute Meta and Ajegunle. It was narrated, from 1960-1961, he was Headmaster, only schools for Ijaw people & minorities in Ajegunle, Lagos, late Chief Odumgba of Yenagoa was his ‘Second Master.
Thereafter, he left the teaching profession and opened another chapter of his life. Equipped with his education qualifications, Mr. N. A. Igali applied to the famous United African Company (U.A.C.) in Lagos and got employed as a Publicity Manager from 1961 – 1963. During this period, he also served as a Board member of the then newly established Nigeria inland waterways.
On the 1st of October, 1963, being the day of Nigeria’s Republic, the Federal Government rolled out foreign scholarships and Mr. N.A. Igali was a beneficiary. That same year, he proceeded to Glasgow, Scotland for his studies and he finally completed his professional course in Accountancy (A.C.C.A) in 1969 at London. He worked briefly as an Accountant in London and returned home on the 1st of December, 1970.
While in England, he was an active member of the Ijaw People Union and later Rivers state Association, having played a key advocacy role for the creation of old Rivers state. He held these positions:
• Secretary, Ijaw Union, United Kingdom 1962-1966;
• Vice President, Rivers State Union, UK 1967-1969;
• President, Rivers State Union, UK 1969-1970;
When he returned home with professional foreign qualifications, qualities that were highly sought in the then young Rivers state, the State Government engaged him as Chief Accountant, in the Rivers state Transportation Corporation (RTC) from 1970 – 1972. He served with one Chief S.N.A Uzor, who was the General Manager. The duo played very critical role in the operation of what was later to be acknowledged as the most efficient Government Transport Corporation among similar agencies of the time. Then, in 1973, he moved over to the newly created College of Science and Technology (now Rivers state University), Port Harcourt where he was employed as the Bursar.
In 1976, he left the public service of Rivers state untarnished. He went into private accounting practice with the Mie Igali & Co. (Chartered Accountants) registered in 1978. He however teamed up as a Senior Partner with Dele Dina & Co. (Chartered Accountants). Pa Newton split roles with the late Otunba Dele Dina, becoming responsible for the Northern operations based in Maiduguri, Boron state, he was charged with managing the firm’s business in the North Eastern states, Plateau and Kano. This afforded him the opportunity to travel all over the region, contributing his skill to building businesses, establishing relationships and erecting bridges of friendship.
In 1981, he became a Fellow of the Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants of England and Wales (FCCA). On the death of Otunba Dina, he returned to re-establish Mie Igali & Co. (Chartered Accountants) with branches in Maiduguri, Calabar, and Port Harcourt respectively. Upon the creation of Bayelsa state in 1996, he teamed up with his professional colleague, late Chief Charles Amiebe, to form a new firm, Amiebi Igali and Co, which was intended to be a strong platform for nurturing young professionals of the new state. With this in Port Harcourt, where he functioned as the managing partner, a position he retained until his health began to deteriorate. The partnership was to be expanded later on to include Fredrick Sowho, a younger Chartered Accountant in the 2000s.
Pa Newton was a product of the Anglican communion. He was baptized along with his childhood friend, late Chief John Atte (father of Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs John Atte) at St. John’s Anglican, Eniwari but were confirmed at St. James’ Anglican Church, Ekowe in June 1943. All the rest of his life, he was closely associated with the church. During his sojourn as a Teacher in the 1950s, he became ordained as a Lay Preacher, later in life, he played leadership roles in Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Maiduguri (he headed the Parochial Church Council) and St. Barnabas Anglican Church Elekohia, Port Harcourt. Much late in life, he was also a regular worshiper at the Deeper Life Church to which his beloved wife belonged.
Pa Newton Amie Aaron Igali passed on 22 September, 2012 of natural causes, and he was 86 years old.