Dr Steve Opu Merit Award




I was born in Umolo Azagba Village in Onicha-Ugbo at Mama Nwanokwai Maternity Home, but of Ushi Oduna Onaifoh extraction nearly 75 years ago. My father’s name is Ogbuefi Mahonwu Igbinoba while that of my mother is Madam Martha Osalukwe Mahonwu (nee) Jideonwor. My father died when I was exactly one year old in 1944, leaving the mantle of training of children to my mother.

I was born into financial emptiness managing the odiom of life with my mother and her catalogue of women. The Almighty God had provisioned before my birth that I should be well educated, hence my mother successfully battled for my primary and secondary education with her ‘apilipa’ in cloth weaving. My main aim was to be a Priest but my seminary life was aborted when my mother knew that ‘graduates’ of my seminary school never married and would die without children. I was her only survived son with all promise.

I finished Primary Six 1956 with Distinction, scoring (As) in all subjects. In all honesty, there was no sufficient fund to go to modern school, like my contemporaries and I resorted to manual labour to fund commercial school education in Eastern College of Commerce in Onitsha. Onitsha was populated with many commercial schools and the following Onicha-Ugbo boys benefitted from the programme, Tony Isitoa, known as Tony Signor Toah of Renaissance College of Arts, Charles Chukwuka Kifordu known as Zeus, Geofrey Odohson,  both from St Emmanuel College of Commerce and many others unmentioned. One Onicha-Ugbo man was one of the Senior Lecturers. I respect his industry.

I left the school after class four with 8 papers in GCE O/L without attempting (QT) qualifying test of the old. I got a job immediately at Surveys Office as a Clerk/Typist and came back from home to take my Commercial School Certificate. I passed all the papers for Division  II. I worked for 4 years when I was propelled by friends to resign to go to Lagos for  greener pastures.

At that time I was aiming at Reading for Journalism and was writing freelance articles in the Eastern Nigerian Guardian, The Nigerian Spokesman, the West African Pilot and Daily Times Nigeria Ltd. Two of the papers were preparing to send me to Germany to study Mass Communication before I got a job in Nigeria Airways as a stenographer II on a salary of £17.13:4d, I got the job within 14 days in Lagos. I was initially staying with my cousin late Gabriel Molokwu at Idiaraba before I transferred to 106 Itire Road, the home of late George Jideonwor – my mother’s elder brother. I went to first meeting of OPU after 21 days in Lagos and because of my journalist background, I was elected Publicity Secretary. Onicha-Ugbo was in the news papers after one month with the Publication of OPU elections Till date I am still in the OPU as town unionism is in my blood.



I was not pleased with the methodology of running OPU then and unwillingness to find jobs for our teaming youths. At that time, I floated a youths magazine called the VOICE to tackle shortcomings in our town and disharmony between the union leaders and the monarchy. The following distinguished Onicha-Ugbo boys and girls served in our Editorial Board. My very self, writing as Steve Mahons, Cox Malechi Akpe, the Arts Editor, CKC Zeus Kifordu as Senior correspondent, Danokwuchi as Diplomatic Editor, Augustine Asiagwu as Roving correspondent, Bushi Maria Bioseh as Women Editor, Patrick Nwaokolo was one Regular correspondent from Ife  University and Hyacinth Molokwu was writing from Abraka and Unilag Lagos. I was the Editor in Chief. I was charged by the ruling OPU for various offences and fined without trial before we succeeded to over throw them. The very regime we fought and disarmed was in office for 29 years, and  handed over £29.00 after their over throw with Mahons Nine Points Resolution which was supported by 30 members with one absention. The House was dissolved with ignominy. As an interim leader, I invited Chief M.O. Asielue, CP Linus Nwaobomudor (Rtd) Mr. S.S. Omesiete, George Eboh, Peter Osagbe Okocha, Prince Okafor Obi, CKJ Molokwu and John Nwaghodon to come to next meeting and vie for positions. Chief M.O. Asielue was returned unopposed while Ogbuefi Ofiaju Mahonwu was returned unopposed as Chairman and General Secretary respectively. This was the beginning of Asielue, Mahonwu Revolution.

The elections were peacefully conducted with Mr. Linus Nwaozomudoh as PRO and covered by NTA Television Star Mr. Frank Olizeh. We moved with strategic logistics, called for fund raising and voluntary donations from members. We built Onicha-Ugbo Girls Grammar School within six months in office, renovated Oraeze Grammar School and rehabilitated Ogwa Obi. We gave scholarship to then Crown Prince, the victorious Victor now HRM Victor Chukwumaleze 1  to a school at Ibadan and admitted him into ZRC on graduation as a member representing the Royalty. He is a product of my revolution. I served for two terms of three years each and resigned as pledged to serve only 2 terms. I was moved however to the Chairmanship of Lagos Area Council. Momentarily I am a member of Ikeja Zone of OPU as an Adviser.


For my tertiary tenure, I studied Supervisory Management at College of Technology Lagos and ended up reading for Advanced Management Prior to the era of HND and  got promoted from G/L. 06 to 08/2 as a graduate. I passed final of British Chartered Institute of Administration and additionally obtained Diploma in Personnel Management.  I was upgraded to G/L 10  and sent to Administrative Staff College of Nigeria Topo, Badagry for nine months for my PGD where I came out with the first position and was promoted to G/L12.  Thereafter I was sent to Cranfield  University of Technology Bedford in London for my Masters Programme and came out the first of the 101 Universal Aviation Students, all over the world and was promoted Controller of Personnel Services i.e. Deputy Director’s position on G/L 15. My Director was subsequently retired by the military and I began to act as Director of Administration and Industrial Relations and HOD for seven months without confirmation despite approval by the Board of Directors before I was retired due to what I called ethnic parochialism. I worked in Reliance Group as Group Personnel Director for 4 years before I resigned to join Hold Trade Air Kaduna as HR Director on N50,000 monthly and left at the death of the owner Alhaji Aliyu Dasuki to join Okada Air as Chief Consultant and later DMD CEO, for 10 years, I left to ASL and worked for 3 years before leaving for PAN Express as Executive Director on N750,000 per month. I was honoured and appointed by FGN under President Yar’ Adua into the Board of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority for six years before its dissolution.

I was Chairman of Airline Operators of Nigeria for 15 years, starting with the platform of Okada Airlines Ltd where I was elected unopposed. I relinquished my Chairmanship when the Chairman of Okada Air transferred his assets and fund to education sector and founded Igbinedion University, Okada Town, Benin City. Though we were holding valid Air Transport Licence (ATL) and Air Operators Certificate (AOC) but we had no serviceable aircraft having failed to fund C-Cheks for Certificates of Airworthiness C of A as mandatory aviation requirements every year. Our Technical Stores in Benin City was filled to capacity with Rotables and Consumables spares in aviation maintenance and dynamics. For credibility, honesty and transparency, I am a member of Igbinedion Family/Foundation for excellence.


I logged in for my doctorate degree studies when I was retired from Nigeria Airways with numerous credits from Cranfield University and British University of Arts and Diplomacy. I was conferred with the Doctorate degree after 2 years with heavy financial assistance from Dr.(Sir) Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, Esama of Benin Kingdom. I hold fellowship, foundation fellowship and post fellowship Diploma in the following fields of study, Personnel Management, General Management, Speciality Management, Public Administration Personnel Directors, American Society of Management, Nigerian Chartered Institute of Aviation Management, and Lagos Aviation and Maritime Academy (LAMB). I am presently the President of the Chartered Institute and Chairman  of its Board of Governors. Also I am a member of the Board of LAMB. I am a member of who-is-who in Management Education in Nigeria, Great British and Ireland, Canada, South Africa and Bosuana.

I have written many Books, notably My life with Jesus, Education Development in Nigeria, Supervisory Management in Nigeria Airways and Evolution of Civil Aviation in Nigeria (1925 – 2010) The BBC correspondent called the Book an African compendium. The Book is being used for training/research by all Aviation Parastatals and Ministry of Aviation, NCAT in Zaria and other Aviation related polytechnics and Centres for Excellence.


Onicha-Ugbo remained the Centre point of my service and advancement in Nigeria Airways. There is no community, village or group that were not represented in my employment galore for Onicha-Ugbo citizens in the following Departments:- Engineering and Maintenance, Flight, Operations, Marketing, Traffic, Administration, Communication and Foreign Pastings, etc, etc. One was in Rome, 1 in Amsterdam, 2 in London, 2 in USA and I in Togo etc. I was retired at the age of 44 years on the allegation that I made floodgate of my people into Nigeria Airways. I have no regrets as God had blessed me variously since my retirement on pension. The whole Delta and Edo States benefited immensely from stewardship and so also every state equally benefited with my philosophy of state balancing and equity.

I facilitated the employment of over 150 Onicha-Ugbo boys and girls in Nigeria Airways network throughout the Federation of Nigeria, African Europe and America. To God be the Glory


Finally I remain grateful to the planners of this event, knowing that I have done more than ENOUGH for Onicha-Ugbo without asking for what Onitcha-Ugbo can do for me. It is better late than never. Oremus…

By Dr. (Ogbuefi) Steve Ofiaju Mahonwu

Aviation Management Consultant

Omo n Oba Uhi n Ado

Disciple of Jesus and Citizen of Heaven

Lagos Nigeria