Edward Onoja, running mate of Yahaya Bello, governor of Kogi State, in the November 16 gubernatorial election, has been sworn in as the deputy governor of the state.
The swearing-in ceremony held at the Kogi government house on Monday.
The ceremony is sequel to his confirmation by the Kogi state house of assembly.
Bello had sent the name of Onoja, his former chief of staff, to the assembly following the removal of Simon Achuba, his former deputy.
The impeachment panel set up to probe Achuba had said it could not prove the allegations against him, faulting his removal.
Edward Onoja Profile:
Edward David Unekwuojo Onoja was born into the family of Mr. and Mrs. Amodu Onoja on the 9th of August, 1974.
His alma-nature is Odidoko-Emonyoku in Ogugu District of Olamaboro Local Government Area of Kogi State.
He started his early academic sojourn (Primary School) in Lagos state and maintained as one of the top graduating pupil until completion. Consequent upon his intellectual proficiency, the young Edward Onoja was interviewed and passed his examinations into Federal Government College, Kwali, Abuja, FCT in 1985.
Edward Onoja sustained his academic prowess through secondary school finishing from FGC Kwali with an excellent result in 1991.
He then proceeded to the University of Jos to study Geology and Mining, graduated in 1999 with a Second Class (Upper Division) Degree in 1999 and invariably was one of the top graduating students in his class.
Edward Onoja’s excellence in academics must not be mistaken to mean that he was a bookworm who did nothing else but read in school. On the contrary, he was an all-rounder of a student who also excelled in sports, clubs, student unionism and sundry other extracurricular activities. He was an active member of the National Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS), the American Association of Petroleum Geologists and the student representative for the Society of Exploration Geophysics (SEG).
It is easy to spot the chick which will grow into a cock right from infancy by its carriage and command among its peers. Edward Onoja was one of the founders and the pioneer President of Natural Science Students Association (NASSA), University of Jos Chapter. Edward broke a jinx in the University of Jos which has persisted from the very beginning of student Unionism in the institution when he singlehandedly installed the first Student Union (SUG) President from the Faculty of Natural Sciences.
He did not contest himself, but finding a suitable candidate he believed in, coincidentally a fellow Igala, he presented him to the student community, then leveraged his own resources, personality and popularity to campaign for him. His candidate defeated all comers to emerge the SUG President of Unijos that year. That record stands till date.
Work Place Experience
With a 20 year work experience out of his 45 years on earth, he has worked at Guarantee Trust Bank Nigeria (GTBANk), Access Bank Nigeria, Televeras Group of Companies (Oil and Gas) and his own personal merchandise. Summarily, criss-crossing Banking, Oil and Gas, Entrepreneurship and Politics.
In details, upon graduation, Edward Onoja proceeded for the one year compulsory National Youth Service Corps programme at Port Harcourt. He scaled through the highly competitive rigors of interviewing for a place with Total Fina-ELF Petroleum Nigeria Limited and succeeded as usual. Our man served with his customary excellence in the Exploration Department of the multinational organisation as a Trainee Geologist and Subsurface Engineering Personnel.
The experience kindled Edward’s interest in the oil and gas sector, particularly the role of Nigerians in the Nigerian energy market. As we shall see later, he would return to that original interest to carve out a distinguished career for himself.
However, after completing the one year mandatory youth service, he cross-carpeted to the banking industry, starting with Guaranty Trust Bank in 2001.
Edward was sent to the premier bank’s Training School in Lagos where he again graduated top of the class and won a prize for his efforts. He was then posted to Guaranty Trust Bank, Jos Branch as a Customer Service Officer where he played ample roles at both administrative and management levels.
A year and 11 months after joining GTB, Edward Onoja was promoted to Operations Manager and posted to a new Branch opening in Makurdi, Benue State. Edward Onoja’s background in the sciences helped him to bring innovation and new skills to bear on every posting job, helping him and his team-mates to break new grounds. With the new Makurdi Branch up and flourishing in no time at all, Edward’s employers identified him as a useful man for setting up new branches. In rapid succession, they moved him around to set up GT Bank branches in Lokoja, Obajana, Okene and Lafia.
Soon, he was not just an Operations Manager but was saddled with the responsibilities of Training Officer for the whole of Northern Nigeria (on-the-job weekly training). In 2009, Edward was head-hunted for his competencies by GTB’s arch-rival, Access Bank Plc, and upon coming to agreeable terms, he resumed as the Branch cum Relationship Manager at Lokoja Branch of Access Bank where he handled both the commercial and corporate banking groups of the bank. His duties included analysis of the investment profiles of the bank’s numerous portfolio.
In Access Bank, he raised the balance sheet from less than 30 million when he came on board to over half a billion naira in 9 months, a feat which prompted his promotion from the Lokoja Branch to the much bigger Asokoro Branch in Abuja, again, as a Relationship Manager.
In June of 2011 Edward, drawn by the allure of Politics, Entrepreneurship and Private Enterprise departed the banking industry and founded On and On Global Resources Limited. The fresh start-up, buoyed by Edward’s industry and restless acumen, plunged into the shark-infested waters of Financial Consulting. He soon carved a niche for himself consulting on risked financial investments in general and the power and energy sectors in particular.
In July 2013, Edward, whose profile and exploits as a private Consultant had been steadily climbing, attracted the attention of the Taleveras Group, an Oil and Gas industry stalwart in Nigeria. He was subsequently engaged as the General Manager, (GM), Exploration and Production in the Taleveras Exploration and Production Company Limited.
At Taleveras, Edward excelled again. He helped to build a strong Exploration and Production arm for the Taleveras Group and managed the Group’s International and Domestic Partnerships. He also helped to develop and set up the optimum cash-call threshold which is still in use by the company. Edward Onoja’s schedules at Taleveras thrust him into international waters and deepened his experience as a multidisciplinary deal maker and international transactions broker. As the Taleveras Group’s representative charged with reviewing Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) in all her assets around the world, Edward travelled the globe and participated in high level negotiations in nearly all the continents of the globe.
At home, Edward also had intensive exposure to the inner workings of the Oil and Gas Sector in the Federal Republic of Nigeria – often at Senior Executive levels. He was therefore deployed to manage Taleveras’ relationships with the National Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) on shared assets. Again, Edward brought his potent mix of cutting-edge technical expertise and enhanced people skills to the table and achieved great success.
This led to his appointment as the Commercial Representative on an NPDC/Taleveras/Others Management Committee for a Joint Asset. Edward was part of the team of experts tasked with overseeing the exploration of 3 Oil Blocks in Ivory Coast as well as a Gas Terminal contract in Equatorial Guinea.
Edward’s employers at Taleveras were no doubt impressed with his sterling accomplishments because they elevated him to the position of Director, Exploration & Production in January 2015. His duties on the domestic scene often ran concurrently with his international responsibilities. Through it all, Edward was able to acquire in-depth knowledge of the sector, and has developed customized solutions on how Nigeria can move her Oil and Gas industry to the next level.
As a private citizen Edward Onoja developed an almost insatiable passion to see and live in a better and greater Nigeria. He desperately looked for a Leader who had the qualities to build and bequeath such a Nigeria to the next generation.
In June and July, 2010, Edward driven by said passion galvanized some of his friends in the financial sector and they sought audience in Kaduna with President Muhammadu Buhari, then of the Congress for Progressive Change, at which Edward proposed a Project 50-50-50 to actualize his ambition.
Although President Muhammadu Buhari was unsuccessful in the 2011 Presidential Elections, he gained lifelong disciples in Edward and his friends who saw in him the leader who will achieve Nigeria’s rebirth.
In the build-up to the 2015 Presidential Elections, Edward became Project Director of the Kogi Youths Arise Group (KYAG) under the Chairmanship and Sponsorship of Alhaji Yahaya Bello, now the 4th Executive Governor of Kogi State.
The group mobilized thousands of Youths to campaign for the Change Agenda of the APC in Kogi State and beyond. They were instrumental in delivering the State for the APC, which contributed in no small measure to the ultimate victory of their mentor and role model, President Muhammadu Buhari.
Later that same year, Edward became Head of Campaigns and Chief Strategist for the Alhaji Yahaya Bello Campaign Organization. He led a team of hitherto unknown, but equally passionate, youngsters into all the nooks and crannies of Kogi State canvassing for his candidate. The rest is history. The APC defeated an incumbent PDP Governor to make Yahaya Bello the 4th Executive Governor of Kogi State. Edward Onoja currently serves as Chief of Staff to His Excellency.
Edward Onoja was appointed the Director-General, APC Campaigns for the 2019 General Elections in Kogi State. He discharged that assignment with unprecedented results. The APC won 25 out of the 25 state constituency Assembly seats in Kogi State. The party also won seven (7) out of the nine (9) federal constituency seats in the state and 2 out of the 3 senate seats. Based on the recent ruling of the elections tribunals nullifying the only Senate seat lost by the APC, it does appear that Edward Onoja made a clean sweep of all 3 Senatorial seats in Kogi State.
Edward again returns as the running mate to Alhaji Yahaya Bello of APC for the 2019 Kogi State Gubernatorial Elections on November 16th. No doubt, this incredible young man will shock his opponents again. For those of you who might not know, be informed that prior to playing such pivotal roles in the Victories of General Muhammadu Buhari and Alhaji Yahaya Bello in their respective polls, Edward, soon after he left Access Bank in 2011, ran for the Olamaboro LGA seat in the Kogi State House of Assembly as candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) for State House of Assembly.
He was also the State Coordinator, Project 3R (Rescue, Restore and Rebuild) for Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) for the Kogi State Governorship Election also in that year.
These diverse political overtures and experiences imparted him with the hands-on experience which currently serves him well in handling difficult political situations.
THE SPIRITUALITY OF EDWARD ONOJA
Edward Onoja is an unrepentant believer in The Trinity, ie, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
He believes in Jesus Christ as the Saviour who died to save mankind and though an imperfect man still, he strives to become more Christ-like daily.
Edward Onoja professes membership of the spiritual-priestly and kingly ORDER OF THE MELCHIZEDEK BROTHERHOOD as detailed in the Bible at Hebrews Chapter 7, Psalms 110:4 and Genesis 14:18-20.
It is a brotherhood whose creed is LOVE; whose weapon is the WORD; whose defense is the NAME THAT IS HIGHER THAN ANY OTHER NAME – JESUS; whose emblem is the CROSS of Calvary.
It is a brotherhood which believes that there is a better and greater world than the one in which we live today.
Edward Onoja considers himself a joint heir with Jesus the King of kings to the manifold riches of God.
Edward’s membership of the mysterious brotherhood accounts for why he fears no human being, no matter how highly placed. He believes that humans, no matter how highly placed, can only hurt the body but not the soul, and must not be feared.
To Edward, in the final analysis, we shall all return to the dust from where we came so he walks in grace and mercy. He is not perfect, but believes so much in the power of that Blood which speaks better and greater things than even the loquacious blood of Abel – the Blood of Jesus.
EDWARD ONOJA’S PHILOSOPHY
Honourable Edward Onoja believes in the equality of all men under God.
He believes that Nigeria can, and will get better including Kogi State.
He has a firm belief in the youths as the catalysts for a new Nigeria and has always affirmed that the time has come for the youths of Nigeria to take their place in the governance of our nation.
Honourable Edward Onoja does not easily align himself to causes but once he does, he is ready to DIE for his beliefs. This is an attribute which is on practical demonstration in Kogi State daily as Edward stands by his boss and friend, Governor Yahaya Bello through thick and thin.
Edward Onoja belongs to a family of 7 siblings with both parents alive, hale and hearty. He is happily married to Mrs Mercy Ejura Onoja (Née Okee), and blessed with 3 children.
While operating in the financial sphere, Edward Onoja set up a Barber’s shop (Hally’s Place) which redefines luxury in the men’s grooming business in Kogi State. He quickly grew it from the one outlet with just 2 staffers to 5 outlets with 14 staffers.
To say the least, Edward Onoja is a mentor to many young Nigerians and Kogites.
Through his personal enterprise Edward Onoja has helped 8 young persons through tertiary institution – 7 males and 1 female who who are now graduates of Law.
Since he became Chief of Staff to Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, many of our children in Kogi East have enjoyed Edward Onoja’s personal scholarships and that of the government he serves.
He has empowered countless artisans among us with money or machinery, including vehicles and motorcycles, including start up capital to start l businesses ,thus, enhancing their standard of living.
By God’s grace, Edward Onoja has traveled round the 5 of the 6 continents of the world.
A TRUE SON AND LOVER OF IGALA LAND AND KOGI STATE
From his earliest youth Edward Onoja has amply demonstrated his love for his Igala land and people.
As a student he used his time, energy, network and resources to assist Hosea Onuche from Ankpa a Chemistry Student Of Natural Science Faculty, where Edward was Faculty President to become President of the Student Union Government of University of Jos Nigeria, (Unijos).
In the banking sector he helped countless Kogi citizens including his Principal and others access funds for personal and business purposes.
He was instrumental in giving several Kogi citizens the opportunity to serve and work in the financial world in different capacities over the years till date.
He used his positions throughout his professional life to facilitate assistance he could muster for many of his Igala brethren and other Citizens of Kogi.
As Chief of Staff to Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, Edward Onoja has facilitated high-ranking appointments for hundreds of Igala sons and daughters and other Kogites in government, both federal and state levels.
He has used the office and the goodwill of his boss to facilitate thousands of civil service jobs for persons of Igala nationality and other ethnic groups in the state at federal, state and local government levels.
Through Edward Onoja’s good offices hundreds of other Igala sons and daughters and other Kogi indigenes have been fixed into dignified employments in the private sector.
Hundreds of indigent Igalas with life-threatening ailments and no money have been treated with miIllions and millions of Naira by the good offices of Edward Onoja and his boss.
Vehicles have been donated to many elders and community leaders in Igala land who have been long forgotten. Scores of them are serving as salaried members of the Elders Advisory Councils in their constituencies, thus enjoying a new lease of life.
Our paramount ruler and father, the Attah of All Igala, continues to receive the full compliment of his royal respect and entitlements as the Chairman of the Kogi State Council of Traditional Rulers from Edward Onoja and our amiable Governor, His Excellency, Yahaya Bello.
Many of our Chiefs have been upgraded in status and empowered with vehicles and other befitting paraphernalia of their offices.
Edward has helped to attract many infrastructural developments to Igala land which we can all attest to.
Across Igala land, from Dekina to Ankpa to Idah to Olamaboro to Omala to Igalamela/Odolu to Ofu to Ibaji there are scores of ongoing or completed roads, schools, health centres, bridges, erosion management sites, electricity and water projects which have the fingerprint of Edward Onoja on them.
Even as we speak, the big one is coming. Edward Onoja is Chairman of the Project Light Up Kogi East (PLUKE) which the Governor inaugurated the day he came to commission our Igala Unity House. Edward has re-echoed the Governor’s promise that by December 2019, at least 200 communities in Igala land will be connected or on the way to being connected to the national grid.
Under the same canopy of responsibility to the Igala race, he has galvanized efforts to build two Guest Houses in Anyigba and Ankpa respectively for the apex father of the Igala race, His Royal Majesty, the Attah Igala, which is to help him to palatial rest and access to his children as he travels round his kingdom.
Edward Onoja came to office determined that the gathering place of his tribe which lay in ruins like the Walls of Jerusalem in the Bible must be rebuilt. In just one year, he and his friends, in conjunction with ICDA, gave us an Igala Unity House which is today the cynosure of all eyes. The shame which all Governors of Igala extraction refused to wipe from our face has been wiped away by a lowly Chief of Staff who has been elevated to become the Deputy Governor of Kogi state.
Before the Igala Unity House, Edward as an advocate of interfaith harmony has helped to build the Central Mosque and the United Evangelical Church, both in Okpo.
Edward has also donated over 10 evangelism buses to Christian denominations and clergymen in Igala land.
No part of Igala land and society has remained untouched by Edward Onoja’s positive impact as a functionary in the government of the day in Kogi State.
Generally, as an arrowhead of the New Direction Administration of Governor Yahaya Bello, Edward Onoja through humble and faithful service to his boss has earned plenty of goodwill with the Governor which he deploys to ensure that Igala land and Kogi by extension is not short-changed in the only democratic government so far which does not have an Igala man as governor.
Truly, we cannot exhaust the great deeds which this young man, Edward Onoja, has jammed into his life. Let us stop here and just thank God that in our time and age, such a brilliant star rose over the skies in Igala.
Let us celebrate Edward Onoja as a true son of the Kogi soil on this auspicious day and pray that others who may come after him from our land will have the same heart to do for us even half of the things that he has done and will yet do.
Ladies and gentlemen, assembled friends from far and near, I give you the indefatigable, ebullient, brilliant and celebrated Edward Onoja, Commander of the Igala Kingdom (CIK) and Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Nigeria.