Firm Director of Sub-Saharan Africa operations, Idikia U. Onyukwu, is a 20 year veteran of the U.S. State Department/USAID/U.S. Embassy (Nigeria) whose areas of subject matter expertise spans the fields of strategic communications, public affairs management, field media training and execution of USAID projects in Africa. Mr. Onyukwu served as Publications/Communications specialist under nine (9) U.S. Ambassadors and five (5) USAID Country Directors in Nigeria.
Mr. Onyukwu’s USAID/DOS Career & International Development Consulting Experience include:
- Freelance Communications Directors of the FEEEDS Initiative (Washington, D.C. 2016– Present) Reported directly to the President/CEO of FEEEDS Initiative. Planned and implemented advocacy, media and communication strategies to host the 3rd annual FEEEDS-GALLUP Africa Diaspora SMES Business Forum in Washington, D.C. The forum is the forerunner to President Obama’s second U.S.-Africa Business Forum in New York scheduled in September, 2016. Mr. Onyukwu leads and coordinates communication strategies that disseminate credible and compelling information to Africa’s diaspora Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SMES) on Africa’s food security, education, environment-energy, economics, democracy-development and self-help efforts.
- Freelance Spokesperson and Media Trainer for EDEL Communications (Arlington, Virginia. 2015-2016) Observed and worked in collaboration with the CEO of Edel Communications, to develop and coach media interviewing skills, messaging for CEOs, PR Specialists and Spokespersons/ Press Attachés of the U.S. State Department deployed to 26 different U.S. Missions worldwide (Canada, India, South Africa, Egypt, Argentina, Brazil, Ghana, Japan, and Pakistan). These Press Attachés are the Spokespersons for the U.S. Government abroad. Mr. Obyukwu also assisted the CEO of Edel Communications to prepare teaching aids and message development tactics for spokespersons, media executives, public relations officers, and information managers.
- Communications Specialist at U.S. Department of State (Embassy Abuja, Aug. 1994 – May 2015) Worked under nine (9) U.S. Ambassadors and five (5) USAID Country Directors, used traditional and new media to design, develop, and disseminate countrywide policy and public diplomacy programs that weaved through all Mission activities to advance U.S. government strategic goals in the areas of international public opinion, improved governance, combating corruption, improved stability, and sustainable growth. Also served as adviser to U.S. Ambassadors and the Counselors for Public Affairs on media outreach activities, publications, and issues that advanced Mission’s goals and affected U.S. bilateral relationship. Mr., Onyukwu prepared talking points, editorial opinions, speeches and public statements for the Ambassador and the Deputy Chief of Mission. He also organized weekly media events, including press conferences, interviews, and television appearances for head of agencies, and the U.S. Ambassador and coordinated White House travelling press and local media for VIP visits including the visits of two former Presidents of the United States, Bill Clinton and George Bush; three U.S. Secretaries of State, senior Department of State (DOS) officials, private sector delegations, several U.S. Ambassadors and USAID Country Directors. He was the media point of contact for all humanitarian projects under the U.S. Military Information Support Team (MIST). Mr. Onyukwu also planned, designed and executed all media-related programs in support of educational and cultural exchange programs in collaboration with the Cultural Affairs Officer and the director EducationUSA.
- Former Publisher & Editor-in-Chief, U.S. Mission Nigeria magazine, CROSSROADS. Mr. Onyukwu developed editorial stories and budget; gathered and edited news reports, and designed page layouts and graphics. He ensured that the magazine appealed to readers in Africa and international audiences, and provided faithful coverage of Ambassador’s and U.S. Embassy Nigeria events. Visit: http://1.usa.gov/1K3sWxP From an audience measurement system based on readership and circulation, grew CROSSROADS readership from a little above 1,000 in 1994 to an estimated number of 1.3 million in 2015 including 4,500 online subscribers. More than 8,000 hard copies are still printed bi-monthly. Visit: http://nigeria.usembassy.gov/crossroads.html and view stories at: http://1.usa.gov/1Sz1jBq
- Elections Observer at the International Republican Institute (IRI) (Nigeria) For three general elections (1999, 2011, 2015), acted as press/media guide to former Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, Assistant Secretaries of State, Johnnie Carson and Linda Thomas-Greenfield throughout presidential and parliamentary election observation in Nigeria. Election observation contributed immensely to the smooth transition from military to democratic rule in 1999, and contributed to the first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power in 2015.
- Press Secretary/Spokesperson to the Deputy Governor of Abia State, Nigerai (June 1989-October 1990) As spokesperson for the deputy governor of the state, planned, designed, and implemented strategies to promote effective communications for seventeen (17) local government areas of the state, and the Ministry of Education. Abia State has a population of more than 2.8 million people. Mr. Onyukwu was responsible for all communication products, including talking points, news releases, op-eds, columns, brochures, briefing notes, speeches, and other press materials as needed by the deputy governor. He designed and implemented communication strategies for community projects, and ensured the information reached the target audience. He also maintained and initiated effective professional relationships with key external and internal stakeholders including the office of the Executive Governor of the state, the Head of Service, media, academia, think tanks, and other government parastatals.
In this position, he also analyzed, identified and mitigated risk in the context of community and operational communication interventions in the office of the Deputy Governor, Abia State.
- Former Editor-in-Chief, Family Magazine, a health centered family health magazine. (July 1992 – August 1994). Led the editorial board team, developed new story directions, expanded circulation by 25%, and worked with advertising agencies to organize the first national award ceremony to recognize 50 outstanding achievements in healthcare delivery.
- Former Managing Editor, International Business Report, (July 1990–1992), a widely distributed monthly business magazine with focus on trade and investment, international development and foreign trade financing. Led the editorial board team, developed new story directions, expanded circulation, budgeted and managed operations of the company, and worked closely with the circulation manager to expand the magazine’s customer base by more than 25%.
- Photojournalist (National Geographic Trained) Trained at National Geographic, New York (2014) on Advanced Photography by Joe McNally, an internationally acclaimed photographer. Photos of official events are included in U.S. government media releases, Department of Defense website and blogs, as well as part of various social media campaigns, and for release to local media. Visit: http://bit.ly/18hCK8Y In addition, photos appear in Associated Press wire services and DOD web sites at: http://bit.ly/1P1fv40 and http://goo.gl/qf06B5 http://dailym.ai/1Vi85i3
- Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, University of Lagos (1989); Certificate in Media and Design, USDA Graduate School, Washington, D.C. (March 1999); Certificate in Advanced American Studies, Level IV English (May 2009); Certificate, Web Master and Management HTML5, Prince George Community College (December 2015).