Meet the Man: Osita Chidoka (Ike Obosi)
Ositadinma Benjamin Chidoka (born July 18, 1971), in Enugu, the then capital of old Anambra State, South-East Nigeria, to the household of Ogbueshi Ben Ejikeme Chidoka. He is also known by his traditional title, “Ike Obosi“.
He is a transport administrator and politician of repute, and considered to be one of the leading lights of the post-civil war generation of political intellectuals of Igbo extraction, driving the reformation of Nigeria’s political space. He was a Government Relations Advisor to American oil giant; Exxon Mobil; Corps Marshall and CEO of Nigeria’s Federal Road Safety Corps; and a one-time Minister of Aviation in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He is married to Chidinma Chidoka and they have four children.
Osita attended Union Boys’ Secondary School Awkunanaw, a suburb of Enugu. He received his school leaving certificate in 1988 and with it gained admission into the prestigious University of Nigeria Nsukka. He graduated with honours in Management in 1995.
He conducted his compulsory one year National Youth Service (NYSC) Programme in Abuja, where he won the FCT Award for the Best Corps Member in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for the year 1995. With the award came an automatic employment into the FCT administration, thus kick starting a long career in public service.
In 2002, Osita earned a Postgraduate Diploma in Marine and Port Management from the National University of Singapore. In 2004, he earned a Certificate in Global Strategy and Political Economy from the Mansfield College, Oxford University in the UK. He was then admitted to the George Mason School of Public Policy, Virginia, USA; where he gained a Master’s degree in Transport Policy and Logistics in 2006.
He is currently undergoing a degree programme in Law at the Baze University, Abuja.
All through his career, Osita has distinguished himself as a performer, a high flyer and result driven public official.
As a student of Union Boys, the young Osita was appointed the Deputy Senior Prefect by the school authority. During his one year mandatory National Youth Service Corps, he emerged the best Corps member in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) – an achievement which earned him an automatic employment into the FCT administration.
He started his public service career as an Administrative Officer in the Protocol Office of the Federal Capital Territory Minister in 1996. In 1997 he was appointed Personal Assistant to the Minister of State for Works and Housing on secondment from the FCT. He returned to the FCT in 1998 after the dissolution of the cabinet. In 2000 he was appointed a Personal Assistant to the Minister of Transport. In 2003 his performance earned him a promotion to the Special Assistant to the Senior Special Adviser to the Nigerian President on Legal Matters.
During his career at the FCT, he served on various committees that gave him an opportunity to contribute to the development of key national policies. In 1998, he was the Secretary of the National Committee that coordinated the visit of Pope Johnpaul II to Nigeria. He served as the Assistant Secretary to the 1999 Handover Committee, for the transition from Military to Civilian rule in Nigeria. In 2002 He was also the Team Leader for the Committee that developed Nigeria’s current Port Policy.
In 2002 Osita served on the Committee that drafted the non-motorized transport mode policy to provide infrastructure for safe walking, bicycling and other transport modes that are sustainable and environmentally friendly, He was also a team member of the committee on the review of Abuja master plan in 2000
In 2006, he was recruited by oil giant Exxon Mobil, to serve as its Government and Business Relations Advisor for the Nigerian Business.
On 28th May 2007, President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Chidoka the Corps Marshall and CEO of Nigeria’s Federal Road Safety Commission making him the youngest individual at 36 years to ever hold such a significant position in the history of the organisation.
In July 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan appointed Chidoka the Federal Minister of Aviation. He stepped down from the post after his party the PDP, lost the 2015 general elections to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
Chidoka is currently running to become the governor of his home state Anambra, under the United Progressive Party (UPP).
Chidoka is acknowledged to have within seven years, reformed the FRSC from a ragtag paramilitary road safety organisation, into an efficient traffic management organisation, leveraging on the application of information and communication technology, to reposition its operations.
As part of his strategies to enhance the operational and rescue capabilities of the FRSC; Osita established a call/data centre, created more accident clinics/help areas across major highways in the country, aggressively pursued capacity-building programmes for FRSC staff both in Nigeria and abroad, and promoted intensive driver training initiatives through driving school standardization programmes and renewal of the Highway Code.
During Chidoka’s tenure of service, the FRSC also improved its patrol and law enforcement function, sustained the enforcement of the law on the use of crash helmets by motorcyclists, and the campaign against overloading of passengers by commercial transport operators. These last two factors before then, had contributed prominently to road fatalities.
With these and several other initiatives, Chidoka made significant impacts on the nation’s highways, achieving a 35 per cent reduction in road traffic accidents countrywide. He attracted global partnership towards improving the nation’s road safety, particularly through the launch of the United Nations’ Decade of Action on Road Safety in Nigeria, as well as support from the World Bank.
In February 2011, in a bid to develop a new database on driver’s license that would conform to international standards, the agency upgraded all categories of driver’s license issued by authorities across the country. The development of the database drastically reduced the inundation of fake drivers’ license in circulation, and restored sanity to the system.
The Nigerian vehicle registration system was also cleaned up, helping reduce auto theft by making it hard to re-register stolen cars. Chidoka centralized the system, eliminating fake license plates from the system, and restoring integrity and sanity to a hitherto compromised process.
Several times, he was in the midst of traffic with his staff eliminating vehicular bottlenecks during peak traffic periods and rush hours, and interacting with motorists. These periods also enabled him obtain a first-hand assessment of the challenges faced by both motorists and road safety officials.
In one of his presentations to the Nigerian Senate, Chidoka insisted that the agency’s priority were not helicopters but patrol vehicles, towing vans, ambulances, modern communication gadgets and other equipment that would facilitate a more effective control of ground traffic. This won him public praise as a chief executive who had a real grasp of the challenges before him. His revelations that the FRSC plans to provide a patrol van and an ambulance at every 50 kilometres on the highway and a towing vehicle at every 75-kilometre interval, were also strongly endorsed by many Nigerians.
Until Wednesday June 14 2017, Chidoka had been a foremost member of Nigeria’s major opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), under which he served as a Minister.
In addition to being at the forefront of trying to reposition the PDP following its loss at the 2015 Nigerian elections, Osita had once worked with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, to develop a personality code of conduct/criteria for politicians willing to run for political offices under the PDP.
Awards and Recognitions
Osita Chidoka and the FRSC during his tenure of service have been variously honoured both in Nigeria and abroad. Under his leadership in 2008, the FRSC won the Prince Michael International Road Safety Award. At the award ceremony in London, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, who is the patron of the Global Road Safety Commission, noted, “The Award is presented only to organizations that have made tremendous contribution to road safety, and provided qualitative leadership”.
In May 2008, Chidoka was elected President of the West African Road Safety Organization (WARSO) after facilitating its inauguration. In that capacity, he positioned the FRSC as a leader in road safety across the entire West African sub-region.
He is also the President of the African group, in the International Road Safety Organisation (PRI).
In 2009, Osita was honoured with a Golden Award for Excellent Performance at that year’s Nigerian Auto Media Awards/Annual Lecture organised by the Guild of Motoring Correspondents in Nigeria.
He holds the traditional title of ‘Ike Obosi’ meaning, ‘Obosi’s Strength’ conferred on him by his people; the Obosi community in Anambra state Nigeria. This was in recognition to his contribution to improving the lot of his community and empowering its youths.
On April 26 2017, the Professional Excellence Foundation of Nigeria (PEFON) conferred on Chidoka, a Distinguished Fellows Award, in recognition of his outstanding public service record. PEFON says it has chosen Chidoka on merit based on his reform initiatives during his tenure as the Corps Marshall of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).