By Frank Ulom
Senator Professor Sandy Onor is a distinguished public intellectual, capacity builder, indefatigable humanist courageous and visionary politician, lover of his community and a highly quoted professor of History.
Sandy Onor’s Age and Educational Career
He was born at the Holy Family Joint Hospital, Ikom, Cross River State on February 14, 1966. He began his primary school education soon after the end of the civil war at St. Martin’s Primary School, Ikom (1971-1973) and later transferred to St. Francis Primary School, Obubra (1973 -1975) where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC). In 1976, he proceeded to the famous St. Brendan’s College, Iyamoyong, Obubra, where he obtained the West African School Certificate (WAEC) in 1981.
In 1983, he was admitted to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in History at the University of Calabar (UNICAL), where he demonstrated outstanding brilliance and excellence by graduating top of his class with a BA Hons. Degree in history in 1987, a feat which earned him an offer of automatic employment by the University as a Graduate Assistant. The University’s policy of retaining its best products as insurance for a future of continuity in the tradition of excellent scholarship left him with no chance of considering other employment options that were available to him, including those that had better economic prospects. To date, there are stories of how the heroes of the Calabar School of History, including professors Okon Edet Uya, Erim Odey Erim, Geoffrey N. Uzoigwe, Monday B. Abasiattai, Monday E. Noah to name but a few celebrated his addition to the academic staff list of the Department. With encouragement and support from these renowned scholars, he enrolled almost immediately for an M.A. Programme in the same Department. Just barely a year into the programme, he was advanced to the PhD programme on account of his outstanding performance and aptitude for independent research. He successfully completed the PhD programme in 1993 at the age of 27.
Senator Professor Sandy Onor has demonstrated intellectual sagacity and brilliance at all levels of his education and public service with various awards and commendations as testimonies of his sterling qualities.
Sandy Onor’s Work and Political Career
Senator Professor Sandy Onor has demonstrated both passion and erudition in humanistic scholarship. From the position of Graduate Assistant, he grew steadily through the ranks and became Senior Lecturer in 1997, a position on which he left the university in 1999 to serve as the Executive Chairman of Etung Local Government Council; a move that caused deep regret at the time within the circle of senior academics in the Department of History to whom Senator Professor Sandy Onor had become a source of pride and for vigorous intellectual sustenance. interestingly, in a show of patriotism rare in our days, he returned to the University of Calabar classroom in 2016 as Associate Professor in History and in that capacity provided mentoring and inspiration to junior academics and graduates student at the University of Calabar. With a strong dislike for academic pretension, he ploughed himself back fully as the intellectual workaholic he has always been and worked tirelessly in expanding the frontiers of knowledge. This paid off when the Senate of the University of Calabar elevated him to the rank of professor in October 2019.
Senator Professor Onor has long emerged as an internationally respected and highly referenced school, especially in the area of historiography and historical methods, African Social, Economic and Political History, Democracy and Democratization in Africa, and Local Government Administration. He has solely authored four books, co-authored one book and co-edited four volumes. He has several book chapters in addition to journal publications spread across reputable local and foreign journals. He has since published and presented to the public, a book titled “Foundations of Nigerian’s Unity” (2022). A widely travelled scholar, Senator Professor Sandy Onor has attended and delivered papers/lectures at several conferences and workshops. Professor Onor is seen in many quarters as the final authority in Ejagham History. His seminal works, The Ejagham Nation in the Cross River Region of Nigeria (1994 and 2016) and the Leopard’s Touch: Historical Essays on the Ejagham of the Cross River Region of Nigeria (2018) continue to be cited in high-impact factor publications by local and foreign scholars. Among his works in progress is The Tragedy of Followership in Nigeria.
He has through his writings and public activities, contributed immensely to nation-building and development in Nigeria. As the Executive Chairman of Etung Local Government Council from 1999 to 2002, he also became the Deputy National President of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria and later, the Acting National president of the Association. He served in 2003 as Cross River State Coordinator of the Obasanjo/Atiku Presidential Campaign. In fact, he was for many years the Director-General of PDP Campaign Organisations in Cross River State, a period within which he was affectionately nick-named “D.G Fantastic,” because of his uncommon civility and legendary breakthrough for the party.
In 2005, he represented Cross River State at the Political Reform Conference, where he made significant contributions. Between 2010 and 2013, Senator Professor Sandy Onor superintended over the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment as Commissioner. He had previously served as Chairman, Cross River State Local Government Commission.
In all these positions, Professor Sandy Onor’s noble deeds have remained impactful and transcended his tenures in those offices. Because of his rare leadership qualities and love for humanity, the good people of Central Cross River Senatorial District gave him their mandate to represent them as Senator in the 9th Assembly of the Nigerian Senate where he has distinguished himself in many ways. It was his enchanting oratory and analytical depth that prompted the declaration by the President of the Nigerian Senate, Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan, that Senator Onor be crowned the Orator of the Nigerian Senate in spite of the fact that he belongs to the opposition party. The litany of awards of honour and distinction deservedly showered on him as an acknowledgement of his commitment to the building of individuals and society at large.
Today he is the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP governorship candidate for the 2023 general election in Cross River State.
Sandy Onor’s Family
Senator Professor Sandy Onor is happily married to an amiable, lovely, quintessential and indefatigable Ntunkae Barrister (Mrs) Gertrude Manyo Onor, a lover of humanity, who has been a rock of stability, motivation and support to him. Gertrude is an extraordinary wife, mother, friend, intercessor and housekeeper par excellence. The marriage is blessed with a son, Sandy Onor Jnr.