Recent years have seen an increase in the frequency with which people around the world use the word okada, and it would be fascinating to learn more about its history.
Here’s how the “Okada” got its name: Okada is the name that is most commonly used in Nigeria to refer to a type of motorcycle that is primarily utilized for the transportation of both people and goods.
Now, for many people, the word “okada” simply refers to a motorcycle; nevertheless, the reality behind it is that there is more to the name and its origin than meets the eye. The term “Okada” was just recently included in the official English lexicon, but it has already helped bring Okada’s popularity to the attention of people all over the world.
In the year 2020, the dictionary included a number of words, most of which had their roots in West Africa. Nevertheless, the one of Okada is the one that caught my interest the most. Many people who were raised in Benin City or any other part of Edo state, such as myself, are aware that Okada is more than simply a motorcycle. This is the case for me as well.
Actually, Okada is the name of a town that is located in Edo State and serves as the administrative center of the Ovia North-East Local Government Area. A specific businessman named Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion, who is the Esama of the Benin Kingdom and is originally from the town of Okada, started developing his many companies throughout the country in the 1960s. After leaving the police force and going into business, the former officer became a significant figure in the nation not long after the founding of Midway Motors in 1968, a company that specialized in the assembly of automobiles within the nation.
Because to the development of the enterprise, the Esama family saw a significant increase in their fortune. Even though the Esama of Benin purchased his first private jet in 1981, the millionaire industrialist launched the very first private airline in Nigeria in 1983 and named it Okada Airlines. Okada Airlines was the first private airline in Nigeria. Because the formation of that airline was such a monumental achievement, the military dictator in charge of the country at the time, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, delegated his vice president, Admiral Augustus Aikhomo, to oversee the acquisition of one of the airline’s largest aircraft, a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, in the year 1992.
The addition of more than ten aircraft to the Okada Airlines fleet marked the beginning of a period of rapid expansion for the airline. Not only did Chief Gabriel Igbinedion become one of the richest men in Africa, but he also became a very strong and prominent political figure in the country as a result of his ownership of the first private aircraft in Nigeria.
The increasing popularity of Okada motorbikes in Nigeria
In the 1980s, during the reign of the military, Nigeria’s infrastructure began to suffer a colossal collapse across the country. This took place at the same time that a select few were getting richer as a result of corruption and failing government policies.
The intracity transportation industry was severely impacted, making it a prominent example of a sector of the economy that was severely impacted. As a result of the difficult environments in which Nigerians were forced to live, the usage of motorbikes as a viable alternative mode of transportation in the country’s major cities, such as Lagos, Ibadan, Kano, Benin-City, Warri, Kaduna, Enugu, Port Harcourt, and Calabar, became an absolute need.
You may remember that during roughly the same time period, the well-known Okada Airlines was traveling across Africa while flying the Nigerian flag. Even among those who had no chance of ever being able to afford a plane or even entertain the thought of doing so, its popularity was felt. As a result, motorcycles were given the name Okada Airlines in an effort to attract consumers interested in the concept of inexpensive means of transportation around the nation’s cities.
Because the term Okada Airlines was either too long or too complicated to call a motorcycle, given that the rider may not even know how to pronounce the word “Airlines,” the name was shortened to just “Okada.” It was simple to explain to a young person who was having trouble making ends meet, such as a farmer or a teacher, that riding on an Okada motorcycle will offer you the same quick speed that they would have experienced if they had been flying on an Okada Airline Boeing 747 Jet. Within a relatively short period of time, the name Okada came to be given to all of the motorbikes that were used for public transit across the nation. Even people living below the poverty line were able to take advantage of its promptness, low cost, and ready availability.
Let’s fast forward a few years to the future. Nigeria transitioned from being an importer of motorbikes to constructing and operating assembly plants in a number of places throughout the country, particularly in the Eastern half of the nation.
A different perspective on the Okada motorcycle
The inclusion of riding an Okada as one of the “1000 Ways to Die” stunts is not in any way inappropriate. Since its inception and subsequent rise to prominence, it has evolved into one of the most common causes of traffic accidents across the nation. This is because of the behavior that these riders exhibit while they are out on the roadways.
The reality is that anyone can walk into a shop, count out between 300,000 and 400,000 Nigerian naira, and purchase an okada. Before becoming “professionals,” Okada riders frequently do not put themselves through any kind of training whatsoever. You are ready to become an Okada rider when you have the financial means to purchase one, have spent a few days honing your skills behind your compound, and are now ready to hit the road.
In addition to this, the laws that are supposed to regulate the usage of motorcycles for business purposes are either very loose or completely nonexistent. As a result, I won’t bore you with an excessive amount of statistics about Okada’s accidents. Let me just share with you what the casualty figures have been for Okada accidents between the years of 2010 and 2014, shall we? In the period of time spanning from August 2010 to July 2014, the African Journal for Trauma reports that there were a total of 128 motorcycle-related deaths that required an autopsy to be performed. Only the state of Lagos reported 96 of these occurrences, which accounts for 75% of the total.
According to another part of the research, there were a total of 411 autopsy performed on victims of road traffic accidents in the two years leading up to the implementation of the traffic law. Of these, 96 instances (or 23.4% of the total) were from motorcycle accidents. In a similar vein, out of the 286 RTA death autopsies that were performed in the two years after the law, 32 instances were due to motorcycle accidents, which represents 11.2% of the total.
The administration of Lagos state decided in the year 2020 to prohibit the use of okadas and tricycles that are commonly known as keke napep in six of the state’s most important local governments. This mode of transportation is blamed by the government for not only the rise in the number of traffic accidents but also the rise in the number of violent crimes that have occurred in the state.
In 2013, the state of Edo, which is where the name Okada originated, made it illegal to use motorcycles as a method of transportation for the same reasons. However, the motorcycle is still put to use as a mode of transportation in a number of the state’s communities, including the town of Okada.
Okada Airlines today
Around the middle of the 1990s, Okada Airlines started to see a fall in both its level of popularity and its overall quality. In the years 1988, 1991, and 1992, the airline experienced a total of three major accidents. 1997 was the year that the airline officially ceased all operations. However, it made unsuccessful attempts to regain its footing in the early 2000s.
According to Igbinedion, the organization’s Chairman, the entire procedure was tainted by racial and political bias on the part of government authorities. The Chief was mystified as to how it was possible for five other airlines, the standards of whose operational facilities could not be compared to those of Okada Airlines’, to be awarded licenses when his own airline was not.
However, Chief Igbinedion continues to be one of the wealthiest men in the country as a result of the several enterprises in the country that bear his name. These businesses span a variety of industries including education, real estate, broadcasting, banking, farming, entertainment, and the media.
Igbinedion University, which was the first private university in the country and is currently run by Chief Igbinedion, is located in Okada town, which is also the origin of the name of the commercial motorcycle. Additionally, it is home to a massive cow ranch, which is also the location of Esama’s enormous farming enterprise.
Another fascinating aspect of the Okada town is that it is home to both a teaching hospital, which was founded by Chief Igbinedion, and the well-known “Okada Wonderland,” an amusement park that was constructed by the Esama in the 1980s. Both of these attractions can be found in Okada.
The Igbinedions have been so important in that town that they have produced the first governor to come from that town in Chief Lucky Igbinedion, the chairman of the local government, as well as a former member of the House of Representatives, Barr Omosede Igbinedion. Peter Igbinedion, one of Chief Igbinedion’s sons, held the position of Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) at one point in time.
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