Ambassador (Dr) Godknows Boladei Igali is a famous Nigerian diplomat, public servant, author and scholar who hails from Eniwari town in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
He was born on April 4, 1960 in Oporoma town, headquarters of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. He holds a Ph.D in Political and International Studies from the University of Venezuela, Masters in International Law and Diplomacy (MILD) from the prestigious University of Lagos and a B.A. (Hons) History from the University of Port Harcourt.
He also has a Post-graduate Diploma in International Relations and undertook professional studies at the Nigerian Foreign Service Academy and the Foreign Service Academy, Islamabad, Pakistan.
In his quest to have a deep knowledge about the Bible and Christianity in general, he underwent theological studies under late Bishop Harford Iloputaife at the Bible Faith Training Centre, Lagoa in 1989.
As a career Diplomat, he served all around the world since joining the Foreign Service in 1982.
Igali has distinguished himself as an expert in economic diplomacy and served as secretary to about ten Nigerian Economic Missions abroad between 1986–1991. He also served severally as secretary, committee on export to West Africa and as Special Assistant to honourable ministers of Foreign Affairs.
He was appointed the Nigerian Consul General to Cameroon (1999–2005). In Cameroon, he played a key role in the Bakassi Peninsular peace effort following border dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon and the subsequent International Court of Justice judgement of 2002.
Between 2004–2005, he successfully initiated, negotiated and along with United Nations High Commission for Refugees, (UNHCR) supervised the return of over 60,000 Nigerian Fulani refugees who had, for years, been displaced into Cameroon following inter-ethnic crisis in the Mambilla Plateau. One of his notable achievements is the regularisation of the immigration papers of Nigerians living in Cameroon.
Later, Igali served as the Special Assistant (special duties) in the Nigerian Presidential Villa (2005–2006) under the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration, during which he was also secretary to the presidential committee on money laundering and financial crimes.
In addition, he also served as secretary to the presidential subcommittee on review of the public service rules (2005).
Not done, he was appointed secretary to the Bayelsa State Government in January 2006 and was concurrently named honorary adviser and peace envoy to the President on Niger Delta (2006–2007).
Igali, last served as Nigeria’s ambassador to the Scandinavian countries, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway (2008–2010). Thereafter, he was appointed as the Federal Permanent Secretary for Water Resources in 2010 and then redeployed to the Federal Ministry of Power by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013.
During his stint as the ambassador to the Scandinavian countries, Igali was concerned about the influx of Nigerian migrants from Italy to the region following a heavy crackdown by the Italian authorities and he campaigned for a rehabilitation programme.
He was responsible for the exchange of 12 Economic Missions, with visible impact on foreign investment inflow into Nigeria. He also successfully hosted Nigeria’s 500-man delegation to COP 15 Climate Change Summit in December, 2009.
Igali has been actively involved in the issues of the Niger Delta and took part in the discussions that led to the formation of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
He remains engaged in Niger Delta issues as one of the leaders of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF).
On September 3, 2019, he contested the Bayelsa State Governorship primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) alongside others and lost to the incumbent governor, Senator Douye Diri.
He moved to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2020 and in December of that year failed in his bid to fly the party’s flag for the rescheduled senatorial by-election for Bayelsa Central.
Igali is an author and publisher of three books. In 2005 he received the national honours of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON). He is married to Tokoni Igali and they have four daughters and a son. He also holds a chieftaincy title, the Ibetariowei “Guardian of the Interests of Izon”.