Ifeoma Madukasi exudes chemistry for hard work, productivity

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IFEOMA Edith Madukasi, Managing Director, and Chief Executive Officer, Transport Corporation of Anambra State (TRACAS), is in love with the sciences, particularly Chemistry is a passion with her, such that she has a mini laboratory in her house prior to pitching her tent with the present administration.

 She is so much in love with the subject that she read it for her first and second degrees, majoring in one of its fields for her PhD programme. Chemistry to her is life. She has a strong chemistry with the state government and has been part of Gov. Obiano’s administration since its inception.

One of the easiest ways to engage Dr. Madukasi is to discuss chemistry or its application to any field of human endeavour. She is quick to tell you that with chemistry, which she has brought to bear on her present assignment, that you can analyse everything, for a result, even the composition of human beings.

She further demonstrates her belief in the chemical world by producing soap and cream for her family use. She taught her children chemistry that her son made his GCE chemistry paper in Class 5. She finds it unacceptable for anyone living with her to have problem with the sciences.

She has helped set up many medium scale industries that are into cosmetics and chemical allied concerns. She believes the problem that many students have with the sciences is based on teaching methodology.

The Umuawulu, Awka South born chemist is focused in any assigned responsibility that other things become secondary. As a young girl growing up in the village, her life revolved around her house, school, and church. Her academic brilliance shone that people call her bookworm.

“My childhood was interesting, though it wasn’t rosy for my family. I came from an average family. My father believed so much in training the girl-child because we are five females and one male.”

“In those days in my hometown, they mocked my father that he only trained females; that one day, they would get married and leave the family. He never listened to them but always replied that training his children irrespective of gender is the most important.

We had a lot of encouragement from him. He often urged his children to be focused that we shouldn’t allow distraction drain the lean resources he had. He had only primary school certificate and wanted us to be graduates. He championed that we maintain our integrity.”

When Dr. Madukasi gives one her words she sticks to it. Such a resolve that she had from her primary school days that she said she would not marry until she graduated from the university, even when suitors swarm around her during her secondary school days.

“My father knew about my decision. One of my teachers in secondary school wanted to marry me after I cleared my papers in my WAEC. I turned down the offer.

I told him and others that the issue of marriage was pending until after my youth service to know the direction I was going. At the University of Ibadan, where I met my husband, he said I could attain anywhere academic height that I wanted that he would wait for me.”

The scholarly life of Dr. Madukasi began at Central School Umuawulu, where she had her primary school education. The famous Ado Girls Secondary School, Onitsha, was the place of her secondary education.

Her thirst for further education took her to then Anambra State University of Science and Technology (ASUTECH), where the Awka Campus, metamorphosed into Nnamdi Azikiwe University. She graduated with a degree in Industrial Chemistry as one of the pioneer graduates of the institution.

Her master’s degree was in Chemistry, majoring in Industrial Chemistry from the University of Ibadan. Her doctorate degree was in Municipal Engineering, majored in Waste Utilisation and Conversion at Harbin Institute of Technology, China.

The compulsory one year National Youth Service  Corps programme took her to the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) at Shagamu, Ogun State.

After her NYSC programme, she got a job at Lever Brothers Nigeria, Lagos, but left after three months to join Pz Cussons Nigeria, Lagos, as Technician, and left about a year or thereabout.

Part of the reason she left the company was that at Pz, without a master’s degree, someone can’t get to managerial level.

She joined Indian company, DEVPREEEM Nig Ltd as Officer in Charge of Production. She was there for almost two years; she developed all their products and resigned from the company to pursue her second degree. They begged her to get somebody to replace her. 

 On completion of her master’s degree, she joined an advertising firm as client officer. “I joined the firm because I didn’t see a company that suits me immediately.

To find job satisfaction, I left the advert company to join Salarog Nig Ltd, a solid mineral company as Quality Control Analyst at Okpilla, Edo State.

I was at Okpilla for almost a year. Remember, before I joined the advert firm, I had gone for a job interview at Federal Institute of Industrial Research, (FIIRO) Oshodi, Lagos.

“During the interview, I saw FIIRO’s pay to be N3,500 and after putting a lot of factors into consideration, I resolved that I cannot cope with that amount and took up employment with the advertisement firm that paid N15,000, while I continued searching for a better job because I needed Job satisfaction until the Okpilla job came with a take home pay of N12,500.

 When Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar regime increased workers take home pay, I went back to FIIRO. They gave a fresh interview with others that applied and  I came top. I joined FIIRO as Research Officer I.” 

Dr. Madukasi attributes an encounter with former Head, Public Affairs, Guinness Plc, Mrs. Edith Mark-Odu as an influence in her life. After her youth service, she was among those shortlisted for an interview with the company.

“I said within myself, if a woman can rise to that portfolio that women have the opportunity to make it in Nigeria. She was a dogged and hardworking woman. After I got married, I met the wife of the present governor of the state, Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano, we are married to the same town.

 She was another influence in my life. She worked in NNPC then. Her industriousness and dexterous leadership abilities were skills she possessed long before her husband became governor of the state.”

“I found out that she worked so hard not minding that she had a young husband that’s also doing well. She even goes for overseas supervision. Looking at these ladies, I said if these women were flying high in their careers, I must improve on myself.

Because of them, I have two fellowships, one in the Netherlands and the other in Malaysia, not minding that I had a young family. It was really a great spur.”

The Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO) was another influence in her life. “At FIIRO, another influence I had was Professor E. Olayinka. She was my first boss, a hard working woman with research links to many universities outside the country.

 At that point as a senior research officer, she made me head of the division. And it was like what is happening and she said that was how she wanted; that she had seen another of herself in me.

“At FIIRO, I found out that most women are PhD holders, highflying women as researchers; they went places not minding that they have families.

With that impression, I came to terms that what a man can do, a woman can do as well and still hold her family. So, working in a research institute, I saw women making it; that’s another influence. 

Dr. Madukasi said she has no regret in life but would have loved to do something differently. “I should have done my PhD straight after my master’s at the University of Ibadan. They begged me to stay. My supervisor was like what was the problem?

My challenge was money and I had to work; besides, I want to get married.  Some of my contemporaries were professors before I got my PhD.” 

Supposing the TRACAS boss was not in her capacity serving the state, she believes she would have become associate professor. “I had concluded plans to join the University of Lagos. I had just obtained my PhD.

 And, if I had stayed back at FIIRO, I would have been a deputy director. I left FIIRO when I was Chief Research Officer. As chief research officer, my next promotion would be deputy director. There was a project FIIRO embarked with GlaxoSmithKline of England and my head at FIRRO asked why I was leaving.

 But I wanted to have a taste of governance. Mrs. Obiano called me to say that I should come and join the train of the good thing that happened to Anambra State by the election of her husband and build the state, which I couldn’t turn down.”

Dr. Madukasi first joined Gov. Obiano’s administration as Senior Special Assistant on Protocol to Gov. Obiano deployed to the Office of the Wife of Governor. She helped set up Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ),

a non-governmental, non-partition, non-ethnic, and non-religious organization with a passion for the needy and less privileged in the society. Some people call her Mama CAFÉ, but she is quick to tell them that Mrs. Obiano is the initiator and founder of CAFÉ that she is just a director.

She became head of TRACAS in April, 2018. “When I came to TRACAS, its headquarters was overgrown with grasses. We had to cut the grasses, fumigate the place. We had to landscape because gully threatened even at the entrance.

The fence was falling. Many ghost workers were stopped from reaping where they never sowed. We have expanded our operations.  We now have depots at Ejigbo and Ajah in Lagos. Before, it used to be only at FESTAC Town and Cele Bus Stop. We also opened a depot at Kubwa, Abuja; and still expanding.

 You can now access us online for booking. We have many innovations coming to TRACAS. My dream for TRACAS is that it will compete favourably with other companies, and become a revenue window that the state government will be happy with.

The TRACAS boss’ work ethics reads punctuality and dedication. “I take my work seriously. I don’t take my work home and I don’t leave work for tomorrow. I have no excuse not to deliver. I don’t wait for you to remind me of what I should do.

Know your job details, and commit your energy to it.” Her work ethics is a philosophy she borrowed from her father, that whatever you are, you need to know where you are going before you get there. She likes emulating people with records of accomplishment no matter their background. 

Dr. Madukasi describes Governor Obiano as a  visionary leader because his policies speak well of the state and for posterity. She urged ndi Anambra to keep supporting Gov. Obiano in taking the state to higher heights.

At home she has a strong chemistry with her husband, Dr Francis Chukwujekwu Madukasi, a lecturer at Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu University (COOU).

They met at the University of Ibadan during their master’s degree programme. “My husband is the kind of man any woman would dream of marrying, so humane, gentle and patient.” They are married with four children.    

Dr. Madukasi wants to be remembered for hard work, honesty and integrity; as somebody that is in love with humanity.

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