Brief Profile

Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu was born on December 1, 1951, to the family of His Royal Highness, Late Eze David Aba Onu, Eze Adu of Uburu in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State in Nigeria.

He obtained Grade One with Distinction in his West African School Certificate (WASC) examination at Izzi High School, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State. Dr. Onu also obtained Distinction in Physics and Chemistry at the Higher School Certificate (HSC) examination at the College of Immaculate Conception, (CIC), Enugu, graduating as the best overall student. By 1976, he graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Lagos. He later obtained his Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Chemical Engineering (without passing through a Masters Degree) at the reputable University of California, Berkeley, California, USA, in 1980, where he did extensive work on coal liquefaction and production of synthetic fuels under mild conditions. He showed that it was possible under relatively mild conditions to produce synthetic fuels comparable with crude oil.

While in the University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Onu was the President of the African Students Union; Member, Graduate Assembly of the University of California, Berkeley and also the President of the Nigerian Association of Northern California, Inc. At a time when many Nigerians who studied in the United States of America found it difficult to return home, Dr. Onu, out of love of country returned to his fatherland and took up appointment as a Lecturer at the University of Port – Harcourt, Choba, Rivers State. He later served as President General of his alma-mater, Izzi High School, Abakaliki, Old Boys Association.

Coming out of higher school, Dr. Onu taught at St. Augustine’s Seminary, Ezzamgbo, Ebonyi State. Today, many of his students have been ordained as Priests of the Catholic Church. After completing his doctoral studies in the USA, he returned to Nigeria at the time when many others in his situation preferred to stay back. At the University of Port – Harcourt, when the Department of Chemical Engineering was newly established, an expatriate Professor of Chemical Engineering who was hired to start the Department left Nigeria suddenly. The responsibility of nurturing the young but important Department of Chemical Engineering in the oil and gas rich City of Port – Harcourt fell on Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu. As the pioneer Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering, he worked very hard and helped to nurture the Department from scratch to a position of repute. On several occasions, he served as Acting Dean of the University’s Faculty of Engineering and was also elected as a Member of the Governing Council of the University. He served a full term of four years as a Member of Council of the University where he worked with others to provide leadership to the University in its search for excellence.

While in Port Harcourt, he became the President of the Rotary Club of Port Harcourt and also served as the Chairman of the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers of old Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom States’ Chapter. Dr. Onu was the pioneer National President of the Raw Materials Society of Nigeria. The Raw Materials Society of Nigeria, RMSN, had the sole aim of encouraging Nigerians to look inwards in the sourcing and utilization of raw materials and hence played a very important role in the establishment of the Raw Materials Research and Department Council, RMRDC, by the Federal Government. In recognition of the important role which the Raw Materials Society of Nigeria (RMSN) played in the establishment of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, the Federal Government put the Raw Materials Society of Nigeria as a member of the Governing Board of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council. Hence, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, as the then National President of the Raw Materials Society of Nigeria served as a pioneer Board Member of the Federal Government Raw Materials Research and Development Council. The Raw Materials Society of Nigeria, having achieved its main goal with the establishment of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, then decided to discontinue its operations.

Dr. Onu is a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers, a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers as well as a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering. He was also one of the longest served Directors of the Nigerian Cement Company, Nigercem, Nkalagu, Ebonyi State. As a Director of Nigercem, working with his colleagues, the company which had earlier been closed down was reactivated, it made profit for the first time after a long while and was later requoted on the Nigeria Stock Exchange from where it had been suspended. Dr. Onu was also the Visitor of Abia State University, Uturu (1992 – 93), having worked tirelessly to secure the University for the State.

In 1991, Dr. Onu was elected the first Governor of old Abia State. His Fellow Governors elected him as the first Nigerian to be Chairman of the then Conference of Nigerian Governors. During his eventful tenure as Governor, he emphasized the use of technology as an important instrument for national development by starting work in the establishment of a Technology Village, as well as towards introducing computers into selected public schools. He introduced the Free Maternal Health Care Programme which enabled poor pregnant women to receive free healthcare services as a measure to reduce death during pregnancy and childbirth. This became so successful that pregnant women from neighbouring States flooded the State. Security of lives and property were considerably enhanced such that within a single year, the Abia State Police Command received two letters of commendation from the then Inspector General of Police. Also the West African Examination Council (WAEC) commended the State on her stand against all forms of examination malpractice in her schools.

Dr. Onu is a resolute believer in Nigeria’s unity as an instrument for national integration and development. As Governor, he abolished the State of Origin Syndrome in Abia State and led the way in appointing non-indigenes of the State into top positions of responsibility in his Administration.

Using the Abia Dream as a philosophy to mobilize the people of the State to achieve excellence in all spheres of human endeavour, Dr. Onu founded the Abia State Polytechnic at Aba. He also established the College of Technical Education in Arochukwu and attracted the Michael Okpara Federal University of Agriculture at Umudike, near Umuahia. In addition, Dr. Onu established the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State as well as the National Ambassador Newspapers, which then won several awards as the best State owned Newspaper in Nigeria. As a God fearing leader, he christened Abia “God’s Own State” and symbolized his noble dream for the State by building the ‘Abia Tower of Peace’, which has today become the known symbol of the State.

In 1999, he emerged as the first Presidential Flagbearer of the then All Peoples Party, APP, which was later known as the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP. A true democrat and committed party loyalist, Dr. Onu demonstrated rare political discipline and consistency, by remaining one of the very few founding leaders of the opposition ANPP who remained in the party since its inception in 1998 until it merged into a new political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in July 2013.

Little wonder, his fellow party men and women in September 2010, in recognition of his rare political fidelity, discipline, steadfastness and exemplary commitment to the party’s ideals, elected him their National Chairman. As the Head of the then leading opposition political party, he was the Leader of Opposition in Nigeria. Dr. Onu remains a worthy role model for young politicians who are principled and put service and the common good above all other considerations.

Just within a period of two years in office, as National Chairman of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, (ANPP), he united the Party and repositioned it for future electoral victory. Dr. Onu upheld internal democracy, adhered strictly to the Constitution of the Party and also introduced reforms in the ANPP. He initiated both a revised Manifesto and Constitution for the Party. Through thoughtful and fearless comments on issues of national importance, Dr. Onu restored the lost glory of the ANPP to become a credible opposition Party in Nigeria. A man of ideas, he worked on ways of positioning the ANPP to lead Nigeria into issue-based and ideas-driven politics.

In 2010, as National Chairman of the defunct ANPP, he initiated discussions with the leadership of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) on how all the major opposition political parties could work together to effect change in the politics of the country. Later, he also initiated meetings with the National Chairmen of all major opposition political parties. All these efforts and many others, finally resulted in the merger of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Congress for Progressive Change, (CPC), groups from the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), and the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP). Hence on July 31, 2013, the All Progressives Congress (APC) was born. This is the first time in the history of Nigeria and also in Africa that political parties controlling government came together in a merger. It is important to note that what used to happen in the past was political parties coming together to form either alliances or coalitions. Dr Onu and other party leaders willingly gave up their positions of leadership in their defunct political parties as INEC withdrew the registration of ACN, ANPP and CPC. On November 26, 2013, the new PDP, broke away from the then ruling political party and joined the APC. This helped make the APC, the largest opposition political party in the history of the country.

For several years, Dr. Onu been delivering thought provoking lectures on different contemporary issues of national and global importance both within and outside the country. Some of the lectures include;"The Effect of the Emergence of All Progressives Congress (APC) on the Promotion of World Peace" being the 4th Nigerian Turkish Nile University Convocation Lecture, "Technology key for Africa's Development" Commemorative Lecture in Celebration of the 56th Republic Day Anniversary of the Republic of Ghana, “Positioning Nigeria as the technology hub of Africa” being the 2015 Convocation Lecture of the University of Lagos; “Nigerians should not allow one party rule” at the ANPP National Assembly Caucus, National Assembly Complex, Abuja; “Upon this Rock will Nigeria Arise” Special Session of the Kano State House of Assembly; “It is time to stand for Something”, Special Session of the Lagos State House of Assembly and “The fist as symbol of strength”, Special Session of the Benue State House of Assembly.

Others include: “Taking Nigerians for granted”, Special Session of the Yobe State House of Assembly; “The Eagles Flight in the Global Village”, Special Session of the Kebbi State House of Assembly and “The relevance of Opposition Parties in deepening democracy in Africa”, Maiden Republic Day lecture, Ghana National Union of Polytechnic Students, Accra.

Honoured with several awards and recognitions both within and outside Nigeria, Dr. Onu is the 2004 Man of the Year of the reputable American Biographical Institute. He was honoured with the Governor of the Year (1992) Award and also the Star Governor (1993) Award. He is a recipient of the Kwame Nkrumah Leadership Award (2011/2012) by the West African Students Union Parliament and honoured with the “Vanguard of True Democracy” award by the Pan African Students Union Parliament. He was conferred with an honorary Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) by the Abia State University, Uturu, Abia State and also the University of Lagos Golden jubilee Distinguished Alumni Award. He is the 2017 Most Performing Minister of the Year Award by VERBATIM MAGAZINE.

He is an honorary citizen of many cities in the world, in addition to the State of Texas in the United States of America. Dr. Onu also holds many traditional chieftaincy titles, notably: Ikeoha Uburu, Ikemba Afikpo, Ogbuagu Abiriba, Ugochinyere Umuahia, Ozurumba Orlu, Odiukonamba Eziudo Mbaise, Ugochinyere Owerri, Akajiugo Nnewi, Dikeora Abagana, Okumada Yala, Cross River State, Dike-Eji-Eme-Udo of Eastern States, the Akile of Ifon Orolu Kingdom, and Garkuwan Arewan Maru. He is also the Togbe Kwami Vidza of Kpando District, Ghana. Dr. Onu is a Member of the Ancient and Noble Order of the Knights of St. John International (KSJI).

He is the author of many books covering different areas of study including politics, governance, biography, technology, poetry and philosophy. One of the books: “From Opposition to Governing Party: Nigeria’s APC Merger Story” explains how Dr. Onu initiated and facilitated the successful merger, the first of its kind in both Nigeria and Africa, of major opposition political parties to form the All Progressives Congress (APC) which won the 2015 general elections in Nigeria. This is a major contribution to the maintenance of world peace as it provides a solution to the major cause of instability and crisis in many countries in Africa and some other parts of the world. He also holds six patents on several major inventions on the efficient utilization of locally available raw materials.

Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu is presently the Minister of Science and Technology of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; inaugurated on November 11, 2015.

A fine statesman, brilliant scholar, outstanding intellectual, accomplished administrator, prolific author and poet, a man of great ideas and inventions as well as a distinguished man of exceptional principle, discipline and exemplary character, he is married to Dr. (Mrs) Chinyere Onu, with children and grand children.