By Onogwu Muhammed
Many people have come to describe Edward Onoja with different appellation; with some describing him as a political oracle, some call him an enigma while others see him as a spiritual leader because of his prophetic manifestation. Laced with an immeasurable level of empathy, love for the people and charitable gesture, Edward Onoja has come to epitomize the living reference of an uncommon philanthropist.
Giving his iconic characteristics, unmitigated appetite for justice, proclivity for fairness and equity, Edward Onoja; the Chief of Staff to Kogi State Governor undoubtedly mirrors egalitarianism. He epitomizes nature’s template of what a man thrust with responsibility posits.
He is politically witty, courageously strategic and bravely poised in dismantling the chocking old order of political domination, offensive nepotism, tribal hegemony, favouritism and religious bigotry.
Gifted with the innate ability of seamless negotiation, oratorical prowess, and the political wherewithal, he navigates and closes the gaps between the old and the new order, bringing to common compromise different ethnic, political and cultural orientations. Edward Onoja embodies the essential qualities of the great American Diplomat in history; Henry Kissinger-renowned negotiator, geopolitical Consultant, custodian of political idealism and pragmatism.
We can’t forget Edward Onoja’s unrivalled role in the overwhelming success of the APC in the 2019 General elections, where young, committed and audacious Edward confronted the old system and broke the yoke of excruciating hegemony. With tact, domesticated vigour and intimate pact with the grassroots, he set the new order that defines inclusiveness. Traversing the hinterland along the interior villages at the boundary of Benue, crossing the Mabolo River along the boundaries of Enugu and Anambra states, identifying our brothers and sisters who were merely Kogites by geographical description but have be forgotten by the government in the past, Edward identified with them redirected their traces back to their roots and ensured government made impact in their communities.
Villages like Amaka, Angba 1, Angba 2, Angba 3, Ette-Ogerama, Olu-Ubele, Ette-Ahi, Amaka-Ofodu, Ogalaja, Ogugu-Ofante, Lagos Ochi etc have never been visited by any governmental functionary. They live in perpetual darkness and lack all basic amenities. After Edward’s sojourn, these communities and others across Igalaland are beginning to feel the impact of government.
The story of Igalaland cannot be told without the mention of Edward Onoja today. He did not only erase the memory of the past maladministration and lack of basic amenities and infrastructure which had become the age-long insignia that differentiate Kogi East from other senatorial districts of the state, but he has also written his name in the historical marble as one who brought fortunes to the people of his ancestral constituency. For example, the last time Ibana-Okpo-Ikeje-Emonyoku-Odidoko-Ogugu-Ette road got government attention was during the reign of Prince Abubakar Audu of blessed memory. Two Igala sons had governed the state while that road remained in deplorable condition but today, it has been rehabilitated for the benefit of the people. Also, the Umomi-Akpagidigbo-Ugwolawo-Ajaka-Idah road, Ankpa-Okpo Express Junction road which were hitherto abandoned for years are now fixed. All things are equal; no politician is ideologically connected with the grassroots in Kogi East as Edward Onoja today. By drawing the attention of the government to the needs of the people, community development service, Edward has acquired huge political capital with a great surge of followers across the state. Within Olamaboro local government area where he hails from, over 30 boreholes in over 17 communities have been provided as part of his constituency projects. Renovation of schools and scholarship to hundreds of students annually, offsetting medical bills of indigent patients, construction of town halls and worship centres, youth and women empowerment and support for entrepreneurship and participation in socio-cultural activities including the recently built and commissioned Igala Unity House has endeared Edward Onoja to the hearts of the Igalas. Giving to his impact on Igala soil, Edward was recently conferred with the award of “Commander of Igala Kingdom” by the highest Igala Socio-cultural Organisation, the Igala Cultural Development Association at Anyigba.
From the Riverfront of Bassa local government area, through the hinterland of Dekina, Ankpa, Ofu, Igalamela to the Riverbank of Idah and riverine settlement of Ibaji, the administration of Yahaya Bello dots various communities with one project or the other.
On the choice of Edward Onoja as running mate to His Excellency, Yahaya Bello; nothing could be better than that. The reaction of the people in an APC’s led Confluence State shows the level of acceptance of the candidate and his running mate. They are a fascinating pair who understand the challenges of the state and have shown passion and commitment to solving them in the last three years with tremendous results. In a way, they complement each other perfectly. The Governor and his running mate, Edward Onoja has formed such a strong “bond of affection, trust, and mutual interest” with the same desire to bring prosperity to the state.
As Chief of Staff, Chief Edward and his Boss have combined to provide the grace and intellectual-establishment in the administration of the state policies and programmes. They are equipped with a pragmatic and strategic vision that provides the foundations for the state policies.
The government of Yahaya Bello has laid a solid foundation for the state’s prosperity. The Governor and his running mate for the November 16 governorship election are driven by defined passion, share commitment, and dogged determination to effect the desired changes in the state. For Edward Onoja; this is a fruit planted by loyalty and the harvest time is here.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Kogi State
By Onogwu Muhammed