By Henry Omoregie
In 1983, Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion, the Esama of Benin established the very first private (indigenous) airline in Nigeria.
Named Okada Air, it was then the only competition to the now extinct national carrier, Nigeria Airways in-country.
The Okada Air service was so efficient that ticketing, boarding, flying and disembarking were done like breeze. Quick and on time.
By then, commercial motorcycle business was almost non-existent in Nigeria. A few years after, due to heavy traffic on Lagos roads, the commercial motorcycle venture was introduced gradually by mostly unemployed Nigerians to cushion the high cost of living and survival in Lagos in the mid 80s.
The speed with which people and light goods were ferried across Lagos made the populace invent a slogan Okada Air to describe the commercial motorcycles then ubiquitous on Lagos roads, jostling with slow-moving cars stuck in traffic (or go-slow) for hours. The Okada (later shortened to exclude ‘Air’) became the synonym for commercial motorcycles while the rider became known as ‘Okada rider’.
As time went on, the use of Okada spread to other state capitals with growing traffic jams concerns.
Okada is actually the local government headquarters of Ovia North East in Edo State of Nigeria. Chief Igbinedion named his airline business after the town now home to also the first private university…
Now you know.