Teacher, Principal, Administrator
Winnie Aifie Alagoa was a formidable educationist that contributed immensely towards the development of education and also women in the Niger Delta.
Dame Winnie Aifie Alagoa (1935-2018) was from Nembe town in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. She was an exceptional educationist during late the 60s to 90s. As principal at some notable secondary schools in the old Rivers State, her reputation as a disciplinarian sent chills down the spine of all students/teachers throughout the school. She was a home builder also ensured that the women folks in the old Rivers State had their right place in the society through the government’s pet project in the mid-80s (the Better Life Programme). She lived a fulfilled life and died as an Anglican in 2018 at the age of 82.
Early Life and Education
Dame Winnie Aifie Alagoa was born on August 15, 1935 in Rumueme town, Eastern-Nigeria (now Rivers State) to Mr. T.A Francis and Mrs. Comfort Atonbara Francis (nee Ockiya). Her parents are well educated personalities from Nembe town in Nembe Local Government Area of now Bayelsa State; Mr. T.A Francis was once Headmaster of St. Cyprians School, Port Harcourt and was later an employee of United Africa Company (UAC) Port Harcourt and while her mother was a trained educationist at St. Monica’s Girls School, Onitsha Eastern Nigeria.
In addition, Madam Comfort Francis was a granddaughter of the famous Rev. D.O Ockiya, an Educationist, Author, Priest and Translator of the Bible, Pray book and Sankey Sacred Songs into the Nembe Language.
Winnie Aifie Alagoa was well brought up by her parents in a disciplined way and exhibited Christian values.
She had her primary education at St. Cyprian’s school Port Harcourt from 1942 to 1948 and got the First School Leaving Certificate. Afterwards, she sat and passed the entrance examination to study at Archdeacon Crowder Memorial Girls School (ACMGS) Elelenwo but unfortunately she couldn’t proceeds probably due to lack of funds.
In spite of her predicament of funding, she was never deterred to acquiring her education. Therefore, she adopted the slow, winding teacher training route; so she was at the Women’s Training College (WTC) Isiokpo, Eastern-Nigeria (now in Rivers State) for the Grade III Teachers Certificate from 1952 to 1953 and she performed excellently at the college.
Thereafter, she attended St. Monica’s College Onitsha Eastern-Nigeria from 1956 to 1957 and obtained the Teacher’s Grade II Certificate in 1973.
She proceeded to the Rivers State College of Education (now Ignatius Ajuru University of Education) to study English/History and graduated in 1976 with a National Certificate of Education (NCE). It was adjudged that she made the best result in her year class with credits in all subjects.
Subsequently, in 1981 she went to the United Kingdom to further her education at the University of Hull, England, where she bagged a B.A (Ed) degree in 1982. Due to her academic performance at the University, she was offered a placement to study for her Master’s degree in 1983 but she declined the offer for the sake of her immediate family back home in Nigeria. This is a decision, she never regretted in her lifetime.
Winnie Aifie Alagoa was a quintessential tutor from the 1960s. She started-off as a pioneer staff of the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) Port Harcourt, Eastern-Nigeria, she was the first Headmistress of the YWCA Nursery School which was the first Nursery School in Port Harcourt; at that time, the school had only 18 pupils, but due to her diligence and professionalism the population of the pupils grew to 200 in one year.
Subsequently in the 1970s, she progressed to the primary education sector as a teacher and later became a headmistress par excellence at the following schools: St. Luke’s School, Nembe, old Rivers State (now Bayelsa State) as a tutor, Township School, Moscow Road, Port Harcourt, River State as a teacher and later as a headmistress, St. Peter’s School Yeghe, Rivers State as a teacher, Mary Slessor Memorial School, Arochukwu, Abia State as a classroom teacher and also Holy Trinity School, Calabar, Cross Rivers State as a teacher.
Thereafter, she further progressed to the post-primary school system as a teacher and later a principal at the following schools from the 1980s:
She was a proficient Literature in English and History teacher at Stella Maris College,
Port Harcourt; Subsequently, she was made Vice Principal at the Holy Rosary Secondary School, Port Harcourt and later post to same school as Principal; she was the Principal, at the Government Girls Secondary School Isiokpo, Rivers State; later posted again as Principal of Government Girls Secondary School Nembe.
Winnie Aifie Alagoa was a formidable educationist. She kept her footprints on the sand of time at the various schools she administered as Principal. She was diligent, a good disciplinarian and above all, very neat.
Dame Winnie Aifie Alagoa had the greatest riches of life due to a long list of students she had impacted on her sojourn as a tutor and a mentor. Some her students are now Managers of conglomerates, Directors, Permanent Secretaries, Proprietors of Schools amongst others.
Afterwards, she left the school system in 1992 and was promoted as a Deputy Director /Head of Planning Research and Statistics department in the Ministry of Education old Rivers State. Winnie Aifie Alagoa finally retired on October 1, 1993 meritoriously from the Civil Service of old Rivers State.
Life was no doldrums for Winnie Aifie Alagoa. She took to business and found WAIFIE (NIG.) LIMITED as its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Her firm was into consultancy services to some reputable international Non-Governmental Agencies (NGO) in Nigeria such as International Foundation for Education and Self-Help and the Education for Africa.
She coined the National Council of Women Society (NCWS) in the old Brass Local Government Area (comprising Brass, Nembe and Ogbia) in the old Rivers State in the late 1980s. Winnie Aifie Alagoa was the once a President of the Women Council Brass LGA. She was instrumental towards the formation of co-operative societies for women in the Brass Local Government in view of alleviating their lives. Better Life programme was a government pet project at that time for supporting women in the rural areas. Winnie Aifie worked with this project and impacted many women in her Local Government as she was the coordinator.
In her home town Nembe, she was never dormant. She was the first Secretary of ilate Women’s Club, Nembe which was a famous philanthropic socio-cultural organization. Winnie Aifie Alagoa also helped bridged the gap between Ogbolomabiri and Bassambiri by forming a cultural dancing group comprising of the two town.
Dame Winnie Aifie Alagoa was recognized as one of the distinguished Past Principals of The Holy Rosary Secondary School’s Golden Jubilee celebration held in Port Harcourt in 2007.
Sometime in 2011, Gospel Friends Association honored her excellence in Motherhood, an award for her motherly roles and also as a virtuous woman.
Winnie Aifie Alagoa was a staunch Anglican who drank the Anglican doctrines profusely from her parents. She was a committed member of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church Mile One Diobu, Port Harcourt till its relocation to the St. Cyprians Church compound and also at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, Nkpogu, Port Harcourt, and several others.
In August 2006, the Niger Delta West knighted her as Dame of St. Christopher. Between 1987 and 1991, she served as a member, Parochial Church Committee (PCC), St. Luke’s Church Nembe.
Winnie Aifie Alagoa was married to late Mr. McLean Joe Alagoa and they had Five (5) excellent children. She was a loving mother, but a strict disciplinarian who ensured that her children had the highest moral upbringing. In addition, she was an excellent cook and hostess that had kept a lasting impression on the minds of guests who came visiting her home.
It was reported that Dame Winnie Aifie Alagoa died in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on April 24, 2018 of natural causes. She was buried at her home town, Nembe (Ogbolomabiri) on the 8 of June, 2018 according to the Anglican Communion burial rites. She was 82 years old.