Onoja as a product of loyalty

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By Mohammed Ahmed Yabagi
If you have never heard the Kogi State Deputy Governor, Chief Edward Onoja discuss his boss Alhaji Yahaya Bello, you may not understand the import of the title to this piece. But like the generic use of everyday words, people have definitions of the term ‘loyalty,’ as a word. In actual fact however, it is the total submission to the cause, the person, the object or subject that one believes in.
Loyalty is key to the success of ever support system without which nothing can be achieved and nothing defines this like the relationship between the duo.
Political watchers within the state have seen some of the battles and political hiccups the state has had to face over time – the biggest being the recently held election in the state and how Chief Onoja combed every corner of the state canvassing votes for the Governor and sticking his neck for the APC as a party.
Now, let’s take a step back. I started giving instances on the issue of loyalty and hastily, admittedly, started with the issue of the governorship which was as recent as months ago? No! To assess the duo’s relationship, one has to go back close to two decades when they had a chance meeting in Benue State. Chief Onoja relishes the story whenever he testifies to the sincerity, trustworthiness and amiability of Governor Yahaya Bello.
One of the people that emphasized that fact was the Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly, Matthew Kolawole in his address at the Banquet Hall of the Government House when Chief Onoja was being confirmed as the Deputy following his screening and confirmation by the state legislature.
He said loyalty pays and he was not lying because overtime, a subordinate, a friend, even siblings that refuse to be loyal to whatever creed that holds your bonds is bound to betray and derail achievement of set objectives. In fact, being loyal is the foundation upon which religions are based – Islam and Christianity.
To be loyal is to be devoted and faithful. It could also be to a nation, a philosophy, a country or a group. Chief Onoja symbolizes what it means to have someone, even though of different faith and tongue, to rely on and relax and expect set goals to be achieved.
Not surprising they are a Siamese twins. Law and political science define loyalty as the fidelity to either one’s nation of birth or one’s declared home nation by oath which is by the way. That may be the academically agreed definition, but loyalty is deeper than that and the two subjects of this piece put it to the right context.
Classical tragedy is often based on a conflict arising from dual loyalty. Euthyphro, one of Plato’s early dialogues, is based on the ethical dilemma arising from Euthyphro intending to lay manslaughter charges against his own father, who had caused the death of a slave through negligence.
Likewise, in the Gospel of Matthew 6:24, Jesus states; “No one can serve two masters;” which is an undisputable truism. It is either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon”.
In Islam, God says you are not true believer until you are loyal and that is why total submission to God is always emphasized. Loyalty and disavowal in Islam (Al-wala Wal-Bara) is an essential doctrine in the orthodox creed. Loyalty and disavowal means to be loyal to the community of believers and the teachings upon which it is based, and to disavow the actions of those who oppose and persecute.
To Josiah Royce, loyalty is a virtue, indeed a primary virtue, “the heart of all the virtues, the central duty amongst all the duties.” Royce presents loyalty, which he defines at length, as the basic moral principle from which all other principles can be derived.
The short definition that he gives of the idea is that loyalty is “the willing and practical and thoroughgoing devotion of a person to a cause.” Loyalty is thoroughgoing in that it is not merely a casual interest but a wholehearted commitment to a cause.
Hence, with each instruction of the Governor, Chief Onoja hastens to it and ensures the instruction was executed to the letter to show how loyal he could be, a thing the Governor missed earlier in the administration until the new Deputy assumed the office. Kogi is without doubt witnessing a different system that it is used to.
Let me not belabor myself or bore you with the story of how cousins and in some instances, brothers, have been deployed to the position he hitherto occupied as the Chief of Staff in past governments. There were even stories in some quarters that he was the most powerful Chief of Staff in Nigeria at the time. Well, that is for those who carry such stories about.
The thing though is, once you are loyal to a cause, the chief conductor can abandon the wheel knowing that he has capable lieutenant to occupy whenever a void appears. Governor Bello enjoys a chieftaincy title from Igalaland as thus his Deputy from Ebiraland.
Citizens of the state have also come to the realization that to get something something done, you have to have the capacity and that it is no longer about the faith you proclaim or the tongue you speak in. Loyalty has given birth to equity, fairness, justice in all ramifications of governance under the New Direction administration.
Hardly can you understand trust than a banker. This is because they deal with people and their finances. They are also into entrusting of individuals with other people’s resources with the intention to get people to meet their needs and repay debts later.
A lot of people have faulted on their loans leading the Central Bank of Nigeria to come up with a policy stating that loan defaults would be settled from other banks henceforth. Chief Onoja was a Bank Executive and most of those whose paths crossed his in Lokoja did that from the bank.
There is no doubt that he has maintained his loyalty to the administration as one of the brains behind the operational document of the administration as Chief Strategist for the New Direction Blueprint. It is therefore a divinely orchestrated combination between the duo, glued by the trait of loyalty, love and sincerity.
There is no denying the belief the two have in one another which has brought about a recent to-and-fro of a now familiar wording within Kogi political circle that as Siamese Twin, they are inseparable no matter what anyone does.
At a groundbreaking ceremony for the building of Ogugu Town Hall which the community is finally succeeding in at third attempt, Onoja says, with an air confidence and pepper them showing; “I love my boss and he loves me.” One has to truly have his ears to the ground to actually understand the reason for such declaration. It is however apt to say the least.
He says to the people of his ancestral origin; “His Excellency, my principal, my boss, our Governor who incidentally is my Siamese twin brother and by extension a son of Ogugu specifically says to “appreciate you for your show of love. A lot of people would say “What did you expect Ogugu people to have done (during the November 16 governorship election)? After all, they gave their son the position of the Deputy Governor.”
It was at the same event that he first declared that no one could come between him and the Governor, a statement that was later reiterated by the Governor himself few days later at the Banquet Hall of the Government House in Lokoja.
Little wonder this writer agrees with Konvitz who states that the objects of loyalty encompass principles, causes, ideas, ideals, religions, ideologies, nations, governments, parties, leaders, families, friends, regions, racial groups, and “anyone or anything to which one’s heart can become attached or devoted.”

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