OPINION By: David Alfred-Dogwo.
The former Executive Governor of Kogi state Capt. Idris Ichalla Wada was born in Dekina on the 26th day of August 1950 to Alhaji Ejiga Wada of Odu in Dekina Local Government Area and the late Hajia Rakiya Wada, of Odu in Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State.
His father, Alhaji Ejiga Wada is a renowned community leader and a retired jurist who served for over 30 years as a judge in different parts of Kogi state.
His late mother, Hajia Rakiya Wada was a devoted housewife, mother and trader who worked hard to see to the stability of the home and the proper upbringing of the children.
Captain Wada’s quest for the proverbial Golden Fleece began in the 1950’s when he was enrolled into Primary School in Dekina for his primary education. In 1963 he was admitted to the famous Government Secondary School Dekina for his post primary education.
At Dekina, Idris Ichalla Wada built a reputation for himself as an excellent all-rounder. He was not only a keen sportsman but also a brilliant academic. The one earned him the post of games prefect while his brilliance shone through in his West African School Certificate examination where he scored the best cumulative aggregate score any student could ever garner in the WAEC exam, an aggregate 6 distinction. This earned him a scholarship to study at the Federal Government College Sokoto where in 1970 he earned the Higher School Certificate, again passing in flying colours.
Given his academic pedigree, the choices of career paths available to Captain Wada were many. His first instinct was to follow his dream of becoming a doctor to fulfil his desire of helping to alleviate human suffering. Divine providence was however to point him in the direction of flying.
In recognition of his outstanding performance in the Higher School Certificate examination at the Federal Government College Sokoto, Idris Wada was awarded an International Civil Aviation scholarship, the only Nigerian in his set to be so honoured. This was when he pinched his tent and romance with flying began.
In 1970 he enrolled at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Training Centre to begin his training. He was in Zaria till 1972 when he moved to the Air Services Training College, Perth, Scotland for the next phase of his training. Still in continuation of his training, in 1973 he moved to Burnside-ott Aviation College, Opa-Locka Airport Miami, Florida. It was in Florida that in 1976 he received his Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATP), thus becoming a full-fledged pilot and instructor.
Before obtaining the ATP licence in 1976 however, he had obtained the Aviation Diploma, Commercial Pilot- CPL-IR & ME Rating in 1972; Qualified Flying Instructor Certificate (QFI) in 1973; and the Certified Flight Instructor Instrument Course (CFII) also in 1973.
In the course of his flying career, Captain Wada received the Fokker – F28 Aircraft Type Rating Certificate in 1978; Boeing 727 Aircraft Type Rating Certificate in 1979; Boeing 737 Aircraft Type Rating Certificate in 1980; Boeing 707 Aircraft Type Rating Certificate in 1984; Douglas DC8 Aircraft Type Rating in 1987; Hawker Siddely HS-125 Type Rating Certificate in 1993; BAC 1-11 Aircraft Type Rating Certificate, 1999 and Dornier-228 Aircraft Type Rating Certificate, 2002.
His aviation qualifications include:
Nigerian Airline Transport pilot Licence No. 992 British Airline Transport pilot Licence No. 104990 USA/FAA Air Transport Rating NO. 2223411 Qualified Flight Instructor Rating (QFI) – UK Certified Flight Instructor Instrument (QFFI) – USA Aerobatic Instructor Rating –UK Airline Training Captain – Nigeria Certified Flight Examiner – UK, Nigeria.
Refusing to limit himself to the world of aviation, Captain Wada obtained a Bachelor of Science degree (BSc) in Business Administration in 2004 and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 2006, both of them from the University of Abuja.
Idris Ichalla Wada’s working career began at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, in 1973 where at the age of 23 he became a Flight Instructor. In 1978 he joined the now defunct Nigeria Airways and had attained the rank of “Captain-in-Command” by the time he left in 1983.
That same year he joined United Air Service as Chief Pilot and General Manager. He served in those capacities till 1985 when he left to establish and nurture Executive Aviation Services (EAS) Nig Ltd. EAS as the brand was known, operated as a cargo airline servicing various destinations across the globe. It was later in 1993 to metamorphose into EAS Airline Ltd, an executive charter airline which subsequently transited into the world of passenger operations and ultimately became NICON Airways in 2006.
Between 1988 and 1992 Captain Wada was Managing Director of EAS Airline Ltd (UK). In 1993 he became Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of EAS Airlines Limited which had now branched into passenger operations. When in 2006 EAS Airlines became NICON Airways Limited following a fusion with NICON Insurance, Captain Wada became Executive Vice Chairman of the organization. He bowed out of active involvement in commercial aviation early in 2008 to focus on community service and attended to his other businesses. He currently sits on the board of various companies, including: Allport UK Ltd, Horizon Construction Ltd, Peace Microfinance Bank amongst others.
On the public service, Captain Wada has served as chairman or member of several Nigerian Government Aviation Policy Development and Review Committees. He has delivered several lectures and made several presentations at Aviation seminars in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
He is a member of the Institute of Directors (IOD) and Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM). He has been Chairman of the Governing Council of the Federal College of Education (Tech.) Potiskum, Yobe State since 2008.
He was: Chairman, Ministerial Committee on Airline Operations – 2006 *Chairman NCAA Implementation Committee on Airline operations for ICAO Audit 2006. *Vice Chairman, Airline Operators of Nigeria 2000-2007
Captain Wada is a devout Muslim, a loving husband and a caring father. He is an avid golfer and tennis player, and a staunch supporter of Manchester United. He loves music and is very passionate about reading.
In 2011, advised by political gurus who had strong records of helping candidates in winning elections in Kogi state, Capt. Idris Wada, assembled a coalition of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and opposition liberals to win the gubernatorial primaries in 2011 with high percent of the vote, more than all of his opponents combined. He then moved toward the political center to wage his general election campaign and the attractive candidate who, after making hundreds of millions of dollars as an investor, had left the business world to politiking since 2000. But Wada coasted to an easy victory by the largest margin in the history of Kogi gubernatorial elections.
In addition to his election, the other highlight of 2011 for Capt. Wada was his wildly successful keynote address at the Swearing Ceremony:
“There’s not a liberal Kogite and a conservative Kogite,” he declared.
“There’s only a Kogi state. There’s not an Igala-Kogi and Ebira-Kogi and Oku-Kogi. But there’s a Kogi state of Nigeria.”
Wada encapsulated his speech’s themes of optimism and unity with the phrase, “The Audacity of Hope,” which he borrowed from Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Wada also used the phrase as the title of one of his books, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the Kogi Dream (2014), which became a national bestseller in the wake of his newfound national popularity.
Describing his last words with me after the Judgement at the Kogi State Election Tribunal before he left the shores in our conversion, Capt. Wada said to me,
“….Alfred, don’t worry about the Tribunal judgement against us, my boy! I feel Allah’s spirit beckoning me. So I submit myself to His will, and dedicate myself to discovering His truth.”
That’s the Captain you don’t know.
(Senior Special Assistant on Communications Strategy to Capt. Idris Ichalla Wada, former Executive Governor of Kogi state)