Former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Timi Alaibe, said the death of former Deputy President of the Senate, Alhaji Ibrahim Nasiru Mantu, was one too many.
Alaibe said Mantu’s death was shocking and a “serious crack on the wall of never-give-up brand of politics”, adding that the former Senate number two man moulded great minds in leadership and affected several lives by lifting those who fell.
While commiserating with the family of Mantu, particularly his wife and children, Alaibe said he will be surely missed, especially his style of politics, which he described as the old school politics of persuasion, which always worked for him.
Alaibe, who went down memory lane on how he met Mantu, said he was a very reliable friend, quintessential politician, who was an embodiment of political activism and never failed to apologize whenever he was wrong or offensive.
“He lived politics. He spoke politics. He understood politics. He loved politics. That was Mantu! He had his weaknesses because he was human. But his strong points dwarfed all of that. The expression: I’m sorry was always close to his lips”.
Continuing he said: “The first time I met Mantu physically just about 23 years ago. He had a soft, almost inaudible voice. His eyes were sharp just like his intellect. His pace of understanding knotty issues was quite unimaginable.
“How did I know him? His nephew was my friend. He had secured admission to study abroad; but had no cash backing. He approached me. I helped out. After all, what are friends for! The young man went and told his uncle (Mantu) about me and what I did. From that moment, Mantu insisted on meeting me in person. He called, we spoke on phone. He sounded excited.
“In 1998, I finally met him in Lagos. It was a beautiful encounter. He radiated an unhidden friendly mien. We ate and drank as though we had met before. I was a banker. He was a politician. He asked about my future career aspiration. I told him I was tired of banking. I needed something in the public sector. He promised to keep his eyes and ears open as democratic governance was by the corner”.
The four times governorship aspirant in Bayelsa State, also narrated how Mantu gave him a breakthrough in the private sector which changed his career for good.
He said: “A year later just after the 1999 elections Mantu was now a senator. He called me to set up a meeting. He told me about a top opening at what is now NIMASA. I told him I was interested. He took my CV to Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who seemed obviously impressed by my profile. But he had other ideas.
“The VP told me about plans to establish the Niger Delta Development Commission. He said as someone from the Niger Delta region, I was fully qualified to occupy a higher position at the Commission.
“That was how the journey to my appointment as executive director, finance and administration, at the NDDC, commenced. Mantu volunteered and personally took me around to introduce to many senators for a buy-in and acquiescence to my Senate confirmation and approval for appointment.
“Beyond that little assistance I gave his nephew, I dont know what he saw in me that ignited his interest in my person. But Mantu’s love for me was instant. He unhesitatingly adopted me as a god-given son. He later told me that he saw in me what he would love his children to be. I was flattered; but I loved it.
“At every opportunity, I honoured him as a father. He respected and treated me as a beloved son. Anytime NDDC needed a covering fire from the National Assembly, I rushed to him. When we needed attention from the Villa, considering his close relationship with President Obasanjo, we knew who to talk to”, Alaibe added.