From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, is an achiever and record breaker in every ramification, having recorded enviable mileage at a very tender age.
Speaking during the series of events to mark his 50th birthday, the former Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps, lamented the deplorable state of the country.
He frowned at the inability of the Senate to pass the amendment Bill on electronic transmission of results, how zoning arrangement stopped him from contesting the Anambra State governorship election and the imperative of electing an Igbo man as president in 2023.
What does turning 50 years mean to you considering what you have achieved in life?
I am grateful to God for manifold blessings because as the bible said life’s race is not to the swiftest or strongest but sometimes to the Lord who showest mercy. And as Chinua Achebe said that those the gods have broken their palm kernel should remember to be humble.
It is not like other people are not making the right effort but a mixture of opportunity and hard work will give you benefit. For most young people, I just have gratitude to God for so far, so good.
Why did you mark it with road walk?
I am an avid fitness buff and one of the things I would want to pass on to my younger friends and generation is the need to keep fit. I got it from my boss, late Ojo Maduekwe, when he was a Minister.
He was already 50 but I could not keep pace with him when we ride bicycles and the day he rode the famous bicycle to the cabinet I could not make it because I was out of breath less than one quarter of the way.
There and then I took a decision to improve my fitness and wellbeing and I reduced my weight from about 118kg to about 95kg. Since then I have been faithful to exercise every morning. Ever since I turned 45 years, I have marked it with 45,000 steps, 46,000, 47,000, 48,000 steps, last year, I marked it with 49,000 steps and this year, it became 50,000 steps.
We started 4am on Saturday and ended almost 9am. We did well and had many well-wishers. The most interesting thing is that this run is going on in 36 states of the federation simultaneously.
The meaning is that the young generation should be used to the idea of physical fitness and the idea that you can be young and be a leader.
My hope is that more young people should be in that leadership position I was when I was 35 years. I also pray that the government of the day will give allocation to young people if for no other reason but to groom them.
At that age they are idealistic, hopeful, trusting in their abilities and looking at things from the positive aspect of life. You do not give room to the cynicism that has become the bane of our country.
Sometimes, you don’t even remember your ethnicity when you move at that age. But, as you grow older, so many things will come in the way to make you pull back. So, the whole idea of the exercise is to improve on the fitness of young people and to mobilise them across the country.
What are the odds 50 years down the line?
There have been multiple challenges because achieving all of that at 44 leaves you sometimes rudderless. Losing an election at the prime of my youth and career also left me rudderless but luckily for me, I went back to school like General Gowon and got a Law Degree from Base University which means that I have used the four years of my life very usefully. I also expanded my private business.
That said, I think that everybody should prepare for the highs and lows. As we run today, there are moments one feels like quitting the road walk and there are moments I also feel that I cannot make it to the last line but that is the purpose of life, just put your mind and eyes firmly on the goal and pursue it relentlessly and that has been my mission.
What is your take on the state of the nation
The nation is in a bad state and the three things that have put the nation in bad state are mismanagement of our diversity, the great divisions that we have sown in the nation and a government that has been insensitive to the multiple part of Nigeria. All these have made it a difficult time for everybody.
I don’t want to just put all the blames on the government of the day, I just want to say that the Nigerian elite need to create new consensus.
I could not imagine the Senate of the federal Republic of Nigeria voting against electronic transmission of results. I am not only disappointed but it is a disgrace.
All those who stayed away from the vote are a disgrace to their constituencies, all those that voted against the electronic transmission of results in a country where we conduct JAMB by CBT, our Passport, drivers licences by biometric and most things electronically. We can also renew them online.
I don’t think that the government of the day can with all honesty say that there is no part of Nigeria that we don’t have POS and the ATM dispensing money to people. The Senate has disgraced the National Assembly, whittled the hope of most Nigerians and I hope they will reverse themselves even as I don’t know how that is going to happen.
It is an embarrassment in a country where foreigners are putting in millions of funds in companies like Flutterwave among others.
People are coming to invest in Nigeria as one of the biggest recipients of technology funding yet what we are discussing is electronic transmission of results. It is a disgrace.
Why didn’t you run for governorship and what is your take on the situation and build up to Anambra governorship election?
The truth is that Anambra has its peculiarities. I think they will resolve themselves as they progress. I did not contest because I felt that there is need for us to respect the zoning arrangement in Anambra.
Multiple opinion polls and talking to the ordinary people in Anambra gave me the idea that the people will like zoning to be respected. I decided that since I am from the zone that ought not to produce, there is no need to contest.
When people talk about this turn by turn zoning principle, it is actually a good thing in nation building. So, for the country, I just believe that in 2023, the country must confront its demons and allow a Southerner and precisely, from the South East to be the president of Nigeria.
And anything short of that will mean that Nigeria has given in to cynicism, hopelessness, which will disconnect some people to the whole idea of Nigeria that will ultimately put the future of Nigeria as a nation in danger.
We should even without any propping from anybody just follow the natural order of zoning in Nigeria. Zoning has ensured general peacefulness in the South East. The governorship position has been rotating across the three Senatorial zone and I believe that Anambra will be no exception.
Are you contesting in 2023?
I don’t know yet, we will rather wait and see