Opuala-Charles Moves to Re­place Mur­ray-Br­ruce

A for­mer Com­mis­sioner for Fi­nance in Bayelsa State, Silva Opuala-Charles has in­di­cated his de­sire to con­test for the Bayelsa East Se­na­to­rial Dis­trict. Se­gun James takes a look at his cre­den­tials


When he was ap­pointed as Bayelsa State Com­mis­sioner of Fi­nance and Bud­get in 2007 by Gov­er­nor Timipre Sylva, Dr. Silva Opuala-Charles was faced with man­ag­ing the econ­omy of a state with abysmal in­ter­nally gen­er­ated rev­enue.

A state that is 100 per­cent de­pended on fed­eral gov­ern­ment al­lo­ca­tions and deriva­tion fund, both of which are tied to oil pro­duc­tion and un­sta­ble prices of oil at the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket.

At the time, militancy in the Niger Delta was at its height and oil pro­duc­tion from the oil fields of Bayelsa was at its low­est. While the econ­omy of the coun­try groaned un­der heavy strain, and most states in the coun­try were un­able to pay salary or em­bark on any devel­op­men­tal project; Bayelsa State, un­der the fi­nan­cial engi­neer­ing of Silva Opuala-Charles, did not owe any worker in the state’s labour force. It was a no mean feat!

This was at a time when the state’s for­tune has taken a turn for the worse. It had moved from be­ing the sec­ond high­est oil pro­duc­ing state in the coun­try to num­ber four be­hind Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Delta states!

The state fell from pro­duc­ing over 250,000 barrel of oil per day to less than 30,000. The state was in a dire straight. Every­body was rest­less and the mil­i­tants were re­lent­less in their at­tack on oil pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties. It was a hard time for the coun­try; it was the hard­est time for Bayelsa State. Yet the state man­aged to sur­vive. It could only have taken an ex­tremely as­tute and gifted man­ager of men and re­sources to have achieved this feat. This was what Opuala achieved.

Un­der his watch as the state’s Com­mis­sioner for Fi­nance; and later Com­mis­sioner for Bud­get, Plan­ning and Eco­nomic Man­age­ment, he en­sured that through com­mit­ment and team work, Bayelsa State was brought out of the fi­nan­cial woods at that crit­i­cal time.

In fact, this sin­gu­lar feat helped bring the state into the global arena as ev­i­denced in sev­eral frame­works that en­abled the state to part­ner with the Euro­pean Union, the World Bank and UNICEF among oth­ers.

To­day, Opuala-Charles has in­di­cated his re­solve to go to the Se­nate to serve as the se­na­tor rep­re­sent­ing the good peo­ple of Bayelsa East Se­na­to­rial Dis­trict un­der the All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC). With this, he plans to take over from Se­na­tor Ben Mur­ray-Bruce of the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) who will serve out his one term next year un­der the ro­ta­tional ar­range­ment of the dis­trict.

Un­der him as the Com­mis­sioner of Fi­nance, he suc­cess­fully ini­ti­ated and con­cluded the Bayelsa State 50 Bil­lion Bond Is­suance. Be­sides, he de­vel­oped the pub­li­ca­tion of Bayelsa Facts; a mag­a­zine that gave de­tailed in­for­ma­tion of the sta­tis­tics in terms of de­vel­op­ment in the state. He started the pub­li­ca­tion of Prag­ma­tism Mag­a­zine; an­other pub­li­ca­tion de­voted to pub­lish­ing issues re­lated to eco­nomic man­age­ment and helped achieve the rat­ing of the state with Fitch Rat­ing, an in­ter­na­tional rat­ing body and sys­tem based in Lon­don.

Since leav­ing gov­ern­ment, Opuala- Charles, a PhD holder, has been in pri­vate busi­ness and is to­day, the Chair­man of Al­phas­tar Group, which en­gages in Paint Man­u­fac­tur­ing, Real Es­tate, Con­sul­tancy, Oil & Gas and Busi­ness Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­mo­tion.

Silva Opuala-Charles was born on the 13th of May, 1967 in Bas­sam­biri in Nembe Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of Bayelsa State. He at­tended State School, Bas­sam­biri, Nembe from 1975 – 1982 for his pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion, be­fore pro­ceed­ing to Nembe Na­tional Gram­mar School, Nembe from 1982 – 1986.

All through his pe­riod of stud­ies in the sec­ondary school, Opuala-Charles was an out­stand­ing stu­dent who main­tained the over­all po­si­tion in his class. This no doubt earned him the po­si­tion of se­nior pre­fect of the school in his fi­nal year.

He gained ad­mis­sion into the pres­ti­gious Univer­sity of Port Har­court in 1990, where he ma­jored in Eco­nom­ics. He went back to the same univer­sity later and grad­u­ated with a Masters of Science De­gree in Mone­tary and Bank­ing in 1999. He later capped it with a Doc­tor of Phi­los­o­phy in 2005.

At the univer­sity, Opuala-Charles emerged the over­all sec­ond best grad­u­at­ing in the grad­u­at­ing year while also cart­ing many univer­sity, de­part­men­tal and fac­ulty prizes. He was the best grad­u­at­ing stu­dent in his fac­ulty and depart­ment where he won many pres­ti­gious awards.

Opuala-Charles also at­tended Trium Global EMBA pro­gram of the Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics and Po­lit­i­cal Science, Lon­don, The HEC Man­age­ment School, Paris and New York Univer­sity (Stern School of Busi­ness), New York.

De­sirous of im­pact­ing knowl­edge that he had ac­quired from around the world and busi­ness in the next gen­er­a­tion, Opuala-Charles is to­day a vis­it­ing scholar at the Claude Ake School Gov­ern­ment (Univer­sity of Port Har­court) and a mem­ber of the Univer­sity of Port Har­court Busi­ness School Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil.

He started out as a banker soon af­ter leav­ing the univer­sity. A broadly skilled in­di­vid­ual, he has over twenty eight years of multi in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence span­ning eigh­teen years in the bank­ing in­dus­try, over five years in the pub­lic sec­tor as Com­mis­sioner of Fi­nance/Bud­get and cur­rently over five years as Chair­man of Al­phas­tar group which is into man­u­fac­tur­ing/ con­struc­tion and con­sult­ing ser­vices.

As re­gional man­ager, Port-Har­court, for the First In­land Bank, he was re­spon­si­ble for the ad­min­is­tra­tion and ef­fi­cient op­er­a­tion of the re­gion, in­clud­ing op­er­a­tions, lend­ing, prod­uct sales, cus­tomer ser­vice, se­cu­rity and safety issues in line with the bank’s ob­jec­tives.

He started his bank­ing ca­reer as a teller with the United Bank for Africa Plc, from 1988 where he worked till 1993. From there he joined EMB Mort­gage Fi­nance and worked as mar­ket­ing man­ager be­fore join­ing Fi­delity Bank as a se­nior of­fi­cer – Credit and Mar­ket­ing, in April 1999. He left the bank in Novem­ber 1999 and moved to First In­land Bank as As­sis­tant Man­ager and Head Oil & Gas at the Port-Har­court Branch and was later pro­moted to a branch man­ager and opened the Warri of­fice in 2001.Due to his im­pres­sive per­for­mance he was moved back to Port Har­court in 2003 and he be­came the re­gional man­ager in charges of south-south busi­ness.

It was at the peak of his suc­cess in trans­form­ing the south-south mori­bund busi­ness of the bank that he was in­vited by the Bayelsa State gov­ern­ment to help en­gi­neer the state’s fi­nances and econ­omy in 2007.

To­day, Opuala-Charles, who is mar­ried with chil­dren, is a Fel­low of the In­sti­tute of Char­tered Econ­o­mists of Nige­ria (FCEN), Fel­low of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Cer­ti­fied Com­mer­cial Diplo­mats (FCCipl), Fel­low, In­sti­tute of Pub­lic Man­age­ment of Nige­ria (FIPMN), Fel­low, In­sti­tute of Strategic Man­age­ment of Nige­ria (FSM), Fel­low, Char­tered In­sti­tute of Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FCIA) and Fel­low, Nige­ria In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment (FNIM).

He be­lieves that those who have had the priv­i­lege and ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing in both pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors owe it a duty to men­tor the next gen­er­a­tion by im­pact­ing them with knowl­edge that would help shape the fu­ture.

Un­der his watch as the state’s Com­mis­sioner for Fi­nance, and later Com­mis­sioner for Bud­get, Plan­ning and Eco­nomic Man­age­ment, he en­sured that through com­mit­ment and team work, Bayelsa State was brought out of the fi­nan­cial woods


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