Dateline: NAF Conference and Events Centre, Abuja. The day was Wednesday, November 2, 2022. That was the day Nigeria chose to honour Senator Sandy Onor, a professor of history and candidate of the PDP for the governorship seat of Cross River State.
It was at the public presentation of a book, Foundation of Nigeria’s Unity, authored by Onor. It attracted men and women from all the divides. His political foes and friends shoved every other considerations to be present at Abuja. Former governors of Cross River-Clement Ebri and Liyel Imoke-were there. In fact, Ebri was there even earlier than many others.
Imoke was one of the early birds. He made sure he got there on time to give some support to Onor, his party man. Onor served under his government as commissioner for environment. he is of the same PDP with Onor. But the senate president, Senator Ahmad Lawan is of the APC, just like many of the senators and House of Reps members who flooded the venue to support the man they all see as a bundle of intellectualism.
Lawan who said copies of the book would be bought for all members of the National Assembly described him as a donation from Cross River to the nation. He did not hide his joy and appreciation of Onor for his contributions to the 9th senate. In any case, Onor is the orator of the 9th senate, a crown that was put on his head by Lawan, because of his oratory skills and intelligence.
Legal luminary, Kanu Agabi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, was in his elements as he spoke at the event. He extoleld the virtues of Onor and disclosed that it would be necessary for the National Assembly to come up with a commission that would promote national integration.
To him, Nigeria needed to get to that point where a Rivers man should be able to contest for the position of governor in Sokoto State and win effortlessly, without considerations for ethnicity.
That comment made so much sense to Lawan who pleaded with him to initiate a bill to that effect and send to the senate for consideration. And after Lawan was done speaking, he took some time to appreciate Agabi for his maturity and sense of wisdom.
Gershom Bassey was all smiles for his country man. At the beginning of the event, the MC had announced that Bassey, the senator representing Cross River South, who contested the PDP ticket with Onor wa being represented. Obviously, Bassey may have been held up somewhere and decided to send a placeholder. And then he later showed up, walked straight to Onor for a photograph, before taking his seat.
After the event, he went back to Onor for another photograph. You could touch the excitement on his face and he smiled generously while posing for the picture. He must have been very proud to have Onor as his party’s candidate for the governorship election.
Even Usani Uguru Usani, a former minister and current governorship candidate of the PRP was there. He came early and left late. He was around Onor for a long time before the start of the programme. He showed solidarity all through. Dr Alex Egbona, an APC House of Reps member was also there. Even though they are known for a friendship that has lasted for decades, both of them now belong to different political parties. After the event, Egbona was quoted as saying that “I always know that Prof Sandy Onor is a star and his star will never dim. There is so much inside him that the world is yet to see. I commend him for this lofty intellectual project.”
A former president of the senate, Senator Bukola Saraki who was chairman of the book presentation was not physically present. But he sent a former governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatai Ahmed, to stand in for him.
While delivering his speech, he said with the quality of the book and the message therein, it was clear that Onor was very well prepared for the governance of his state. just like Lawan, Saraki prayed for his success and wished him well in all that he embarks on.
His bosom friend and member representing the people of Abi/Yakurr in the House of Representatives, Dr Alex Egbona who was also at the book presentation said
Rivers State governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, known to be Onor’s Man Friday, sent his Attorney General-, Prof. Zaccheus Adangor, to represent him. He spoke glowingly about Onor, the man he has described in the open, as his friend and someone he will always support.
An elated Onor took time to express appreciation to all those who turned up to support his endeavour, including people like Wike, Saraki, Lawan, the Historical Society of Nigeria which conferred on him the title of Fellow, as well as his party, the PDP, that was properly represented at the event.