Chidoka: Latest Addition to Anambra Guber Race

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David-Chyddy Eleke takes a look at the implication of the decision of a former Aviation Minister, Osita‎ Chidoka, to join the already crowded Anambra governorship race

Early this year, Chief Osita Chidoka called together a few journalists to declare his interest to run for the governorship position of Anambra state. He spoke passionately about his dream for his home state, and how if given the opportunity, he would turn the state around. Then, he was still a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP).

The former aviation minister has however recently dumped the PDP, where he had told journalists that he had belonged since the beginning of his political career. He had, while addressing journalists, taken a swipe at politicians in the state who were flocking to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, describing them as ‘food is ready politicians’, who were only looking for a platform to climb to power.

But during a ceremony organised for the declaration of his governorship ambition on the platform of the United Progressive Party(UPP), Chidoka said he had no regret leaving PDP for UPP. He however, stated that his defection was not the same as those of politicians who were moving to APC in the hope of using federal might to win election. I am moving from PDP; an opposition party to UPP, another opposition party. I am not afraid of being in the opposition and it is different from going to APC because one hoped to get the support of the government at the centre. I can choose to remain in PDP, but I want to be in a party that is accepted by my people, that is why I registered with UPP, where there is even more work to do.”

Chidoka believes that Anambra has for too long remained in the hands of the wrong people, who he said are the cause of her long period of underdevelopment. Speaking in a recent chat with journalists, Chidoka said that for Anambra to be fully developed, it must be entrusted in the hands of a tested leader, who has the capacity to galvanize her diversity and set it as a step for development.

He stated that what Anambra needed was not a governor who would ride on the back of a godfather to power, saying that such would continue to take a toll on the state if it continued to happen. While offering himself for the position of the governor of the state, the traditional Obosi chief who goes by the traditional name; Ike Obosi said, “We would generate money for the state not by taxing the poor traders in the market, the kind of government we will run is not that which will fund party activities and others with the state’s resources. Anambra money would be spent on Anambra people not generating money from the poor for the rich to enjoy.”

The former corps marshal of the FRSC may have opted for UPP instead of his former party, PDP, which is dogged by litigation because of the recent acceptance of the party by people of the South-east. Recently, a faction of the Indigenous People of Biafra adopted UPP as a vehicle to be used to make a strong in-road into the politics of Nigeria by Biafrans.

He said, “Ndigbo must reach the zenith in this country, through UPP, we shall demand equity in the Nigeria project because we are equal stakeholders in the project. We condemn the politics of godfatherism, it is unnecessary for one to be expected to spend his money to gain political power, that is why we urge the people of the state to subscribe to the power of ideas which drive my aspiration. I have no political godfather but am depending on Anambra people for my aspiration, and I charge them to make their token contribution of one thousand naira in order to have a stake in my governorship project,” Chidoka said.

The former Minister of Aviation and Former Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps is one man whose entry into the governorship race of the state has raised the hope of most of its indigenes. Besides being young, Chidoka is known to be a very brainy young man who has a strong drive for excellence. His footprint in his previous positions are well known. In FRSC, he transformed the agency from an almost comatose organization to one that won various international awards and became, according to the World Bank, a model for other road safety organizations across Africa.

A graduate of management from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and a Masters of Public Policy degree holder from the prestigious School of Public Policy at George Mason University in the United States of America, Chidoka has studied across the world and is very exposed. He has a certificate in Global Strategy and Political Economy from Oxford University, UK and a graduate diploma in Maritime & Ports Management from the National University of Singapore.

During his National Youth Service Corps, he served at the Federal Capital Territory where he became an award winner and subsequently secured an automatic employment into the Federal Capital Development Authority, Abuja. In the course of his service there, he contributed immensely to national development through his services as the secretary to the National Committee for the visit of Pope John Paul II to Nigeria in 1998, which earned him Papal Commendation. He also served as a member of the Committee for the Review of the Abuja Master Plan; Team Leader, Committee for the Drafting of the National Policy on Non-motorised Form of Transportation in Nigeria; and was the Assistant Secretary, Committee for the 1999 Military to Civilian Handover, among others. He had earlier in his career served as Personal Assistant to the Minister of State in the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing; Personal Assistant to the Minister of Transport; as well as Special Assistant to the Senior Adviser to the President on Legal Matters.

After a stellar and award-winning public career, Chidoka joined Mobil Producing Nigeria, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corporation, as a Senior Adviser on Government and Business Relations. It was in this role, in 2007, that the then president of Nigeria, President Olusegun Obasanjo, sought him out and appointed him as the Corps Marshal and Chief Executive of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).

His leadership of the FRSC led to the transformation of the corps to a functional lead agency in road traffic administration and safety management in the country driven by information and communication technology. This transformation has as its visible impact a 15 percent reduction in fatalities from 2007 to 2009 and 28 percent in 2010 and increases in fines generation from N0.5 billion in 2006 to N1.4 billion in 2010. Under his leadership, FRSC built a reliable Offenders’ Register and database of drivers and vehicles in the country, leading to ECOWAS adoption of the Nigerian model in the planned Regional Vehicle Administration Information System for other West African countries. The creation of the Nigeria Road Safety Strategy (2012-2016) was achieved through an all-inclusive process that ensured an inter-agency ownership of the process.

Under his leadership, Federal Road Safety Corps won the prestigious Prince Michael International Road Safety Award in December 2008; the National Productivity Order of Merit Award of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity in October, 2010. Furthermore, FRSC’s compliance with global best practices led to the certification of the Corps by the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) which conferred the Quality Management System Certificate (ISO 9001:2008 Certification) on the Corps on 15 April 2013.

In recognition of Osita Chidoka’s enormous contributions to national and community development, he was warded the traditional title of Ike-Obosi (Strength of Obosi) and a member of Ndi-Ichie, the highest decision making body of Obosi Traditional Council of Anambra State in May, 2009. He bagged the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria Merit Award on 27 November 2010, and the Institute of Logistics Management of Nigeria Fellowship Award in July 2011.

He was conferred with the Distinguished Alumnus Award for Good Governance and Model on Road Safety by the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Nigeria, Nsukka on 12 November, 2011. And in recognition of his patriotic disposition to his fatherland, the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR on 14th November, 2011, conferred him with Nigeria’s national honour of Officer of the Federal Republic, OFR. He won the Sun and Hallmark Newspapers Public Servant of the Year 2012 awards and under him FRSC won Leadership Newspapers Government Agency of the year 2012 award.

In recognition of his expertise, he was appointed by Mr. President to head the Transportation Sub Committee of the Presidential Committee on Nigeria’s Centenary. The feats accomplished by him led to his appointment as the Chairman of the Transport Committee for the World Economic Forum held in May 2014 in Nigeria, and eventually, his appointment as Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation by Mr. President on Wednesday 23 July 2014.

Osita Chidoka is a strong public policy advocate. He has written many articles, essays and delivered speeches in many areas of public policy and safety management. He writes a regular column, “Bridge Builder” for Leadership Newspapers, where he outlines pragmatic ideas for good governance.

In his mid-forties, Chidoka believes that there is no better time to impact on his state; Anambra, and whoever must lift the state must be a man who has chosen to stand by himself, without being lent any support from the numerous godfather figures that abound in the state. He believes that, that man is himself.

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I am moving from PDP, an opposition party to UPP, another opposition party. I am not afraid of being in the opposition and it is different from going to APC because one hopes to get the support of the government at the centre.