For his exemplary military service to the nation and being at the forefront of efforts to indigenously manufacture aircraft for the Nigeria Air Force; for remaining a powerful voice for the crisis-free evolution of a modern Nigerian state, Group Captain Joseph Iloabanafor Orji (rtd), PhD, FSS, SJM, MSS, is The AUTHORITY ICON.
He was the first military administrator of Gombe State, an astute, hardworking soldier and a credit to the Nigeria Air Force which he served with discipline and exemplary merit. He was also a distinguished delegate to the 2014 national Conference. Meet Group Captain Joseph Iloabanafor Orji (rtd), PhD, FSS, SJM, MSS.
He was born on September 27, 1954, in Nenwe, Aninri Local Government Area of Enugu State. After obtaining his First School Leaving Certificate in 1964, he enrolled into Government Comprehensive Secondary School, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, in 1965. Following academic disruption by the Nigerian civil war, he relocated to Government College, Umuahia, Abia State, where he completed his secondary education and bagged his West African School Certificate, in 1971.
In 1972, he passed the relevant examinations and was selected into Course 11 of Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, as an Air Force Cadet. During his training in the academy, he passed out as one of the best cadets in Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Physics Class of 1973, earning Nigerian Defence Academy Certificate of Education (NDACE) NDA, Kaduna. He joined the Nigerian Air Force as a Young Cadet and received further training in Aircraft Maintenance in Electrical/Instruments at the Royal Air Force College, Cranwel, UK, between 1974 and 1976.
He qualified as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer in 1976. As an already commissioned officer in NAF, in 1974, he attended the Aircraft Maintenance Specialist Course in the former USSR on the foremost combat aircraft of NAF – MIG-21 in 1976. On returning to Nigeria, he was deployed to join the pioneer Engineering Maintenance Officers on the newly acquired MIG-21 aircraft type for NAF. Between 1978 and 1981, he attended courses at the University of Ife and Kaduna Polytechnics where he obtained Diplomas in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering and Teaching Techniques/Train the Trainer Certificates, respectively.
Between 1982 and 1992, he had undergone several courses in leadership and management and held several command appointments. He undertook several overseas duty appointments including Resident Engineering Officer representing the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) in the Jaguar Aircraft Project of the British Aerospace Works, at Wharton, UK. In pursuing further studies, he obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics; a Masters Degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy and a PhD in Public Policy Management. He was twice appointed Director of Works for NAF and Director of Logistics in the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna.
He was promoted a NAF Group Captain in 1995. He was appointed the first Military Administrator of Gombe State and served creditably in this position between 1996 and 1998. In 1999, he retired voluntarily from service of NAF while serving as Director of Logistics, Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna. Beyond military service he has been a tireless contributor to the growth of society. He served as Board Member Anambra State Sports Council - 1987; Board Member, Kaduna State Sports Council - 1988-1989; Member, Enugu State Council of Elders and Federal Board Member, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi - 2009-2011.
He has received many honours and awards from a grateful society and organizations for his impactful contributions. He received a merit award in recognition of his contributions towards the successful development of the first indigenous primary trainer (T-18) Air Beetle Aircraft Type produced jointly by the Nigeria Air Force and AEP Dornier of Germany.
He is married to Chief (Mrs.) Florence Nkem Orji, a union blessed with four lovely children.