Chief Edward Onoja, Chief of Staff to the Executive Governor of Kogi state, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello and running mate to Gov Bello for November governorship election, is an outstanding Nigerian.
As a politician, he has built bridges of unity across the three senatorial districts and religious lines, thus, contributing heavily to the evolution of our democracy in the state. It is safe to say that CEDO, as he is fondly referred, has advanced the cause of the less privileged within the period under review.
As a financial expert (Banker), CEDO has set up and managed successful businesses that provided employment to teaming youths across the state.
As a strategist and philanthropist, Onoja has blazed the trail in bringing standards to politics in Kogi state, as his reach has helped thousands of underprivileged persons with access to a better life irrespective of tribe, religion and districts.
His success story in public life, business, politics and philanthropy speak to the core values of hard work, determination, courage, industry, patriotism, tolerance and a generous commitment to giving back to society.
CEDO’s loyalty and dedication to duties assigned him by his principal, made Governor Yahaya Bello to pick him as his running mate ahead of November governorship poll. A decision many say is a masterstroke. Finally, nailing the opposition’s coffins.
Though far from being perfect, like most human, his life in very many ways provides a good lesson that his peers, and aspiring politicians, particularly the youth can emulate from.
And it is for these reasons that his nomination as running mate received wide applauds by Kogites irrespective of political affiliation. The goodwill messages on the occasion of his nomination as running mate were many, cutting across party and tribal lines.
They commendation which ranged from party chieftains, traditional and religious leaders, acknowledged CEDO contributions to the success recorded by the New Direction Administration, led by Gov Bello and good gestures to party faithfuls across the state.
For instance, the Oba Yoruba Community in Lokoja, Alhaji Audu Oke, called him a patriot and a leader whose service to humanity is noteworthy. The All Progressives Congress (APC) Kogi State Chapter called him a detribalized leader, political icon and philanthropist.
Former Speaker Kogi State House of Assembly, Rt Hon. Abdullahi Bello and All Progressives Congress stalwart, described him as a dear brother, a man of faith and a leader of substance.
He went further to state that: “Chief Onoja also believed in the combination of the experience of political elders and the innovative ideas of youths, which to him is crucial to achieving good governance and sustainable development in the state.
“There is no gain saying the fact that Chief Onoja has carved a niche for himself as a dogged and uncompromising fighter for democracy, justice, honesty, fairness, equity and equality.
“You have become the indisputable, indefatigable architect and icon of contemporary Kogi politics and a mentor to countless young politicians today.”
Similarly, the administrator of Lokoja Local Government, Hon. Muhammad Danasabe Muhammad and the Executive Chairman, Kogi State Universal Basic Education Board, (SUBEB), Comrade Sulaiman Abdullahi Ndalayi, had this to say on the nomination of Chief Onoja as running mate to Gov Yahaya Bello.
Onoja’s political partnership particularly with Governor Yahaya Bello, will not only propel Kogi state to the highest pedestal of development, it will bring the state out of the economic woods It suffered under the maladministration of previous governments.
According to them, the partnership is steadily restoring Kogi’s image as a respectable State of preferred destination in tourism and as a thd most peaceful state in country.
It is a shared consensus by many analysts that Chief Edward Onoja is one of the very few leading young politicians with an appeal that is truly national.
As the Chief of Staff to Kogi state Governor, Onoja cultivated a very good relationship with the political appointees, lawmakers and politicians.
His capacity for accommodation and understanding no doubt endeared him to the teeming youths of Kogi state.
Because of the powerful hold that Onoja has on the political structures, the APC won overwhelmingly during the February/ march 2019 general election. His relationship with grassroots also gave him very strong clout in the party’s electoral success.
Chief Edward Onoja has within the past three and half years of being in the public spotlight shown that his brand of politics is not defined by any tribal or religious imperial agenda and that he is not a religious bigot. Though a devout Christian, there is no tinge of fanaticism in his actions. Those who know him attest to his ability to work very well with Muslims and the premium he places on merit over religious and other sentimental considerations. Onoja is as much at home in the West as he is in the Eastern Senatorial district where he comes from.
He has a huge network of friends in politics and business across the three senatorial district of the state.
These power networks span all shades, tribe and religion. In a highly polarized political system such as ours, it is difficult to find such a high profile young politician who has successfully maintained without contradiction a wholly state outlook like Onoja.
He remain a model for appropriate political positioning for Nigerian politicians, especially those who desire to lead at the national level.
He has stood out and championed unbiased views that is not only acknowledged and reflects the growing tensions in parts of the state before the emergence of Governor Yahaya Bello in 2015, it has also proffered practical solutions to the Kogi diversity that there are still men of stupendous goodwill, cutting across districts, tribe, in the mould of Chief Edward Onoja.