A former Minister of Transportation, diplomat and politician, Chief Ojo Maduekwe is dead. He died yesterday at the age of 71.
Maduekwe, a former National Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who served in all the PDP governments between 1999 and 2015, died yesterday in Abuja after he slumped inside a vehicle on his way from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
A source, who relived his last moment said, “The ex-minister was at the airport to receive one of his children who graduated with honours abroad.
“After welcoming his child at the airport, they headed for Abuja city but on the way, he suddenly developed health complications.
“He was rushed to a private hospital in Asokoro District. He never made it as he was pronounced dead at the hospital. .
“He was a proud and devoted father till he had his last breath. And he demonstrated his commitment to family life by going to the airport to receive one of his children.”
Maduekwe who was born in Mbaisie, Abia State on May 6, 1945, was appointed Culture and Tourism Minister by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in1999 and Minister of Transportation in 2001, a position he held until 2003.
While he served as Transport Minister, he introduced what he tagged “Operation Zeto” – zero tolerance for corruption, which led to his sack of George Eneh as Director General of the defunct National Maritime Authority (NMA), the precursor to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). He Maduekwe also fired Mallam Bello Ibrahim Gwandu, then Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority in 2001shortly after assuming office.
He was responsible for implementing the dock labour reform which ousted Comrade Uzoije Ukuamunna as President-General of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN).
Maduekwe also advocated greater use of bicycles, although critics said the roads were unsafe for cyclists and Maduekwe himself was pushed into a ditch by a bus while cycling to work in Abuja in 2002. He abandoned the bicycle crusade immediately after that incident.
In 2007, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua appointed him Foreign minister. He held this office till 2010 when acting President Goodluck Jonathan dissolved the cabinet.
In 2011, he worked as the deputy director of PDP presidential campaign 2011 Goodluck/Sambo ticket. He was appointed as High Commissioner to Canada.
Maduekwe’s last job was as Secretary of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP.
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