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Mike Okibe Onoja was educated at a Roman Catholic mission school in the Agila district, beginning in 1954. He left for the Methodist Central School, Igumale, for a year before leaving for Saint Mary’s Primary School, Otukpo, Benue state, where he completed his primary education in 1961. He then attended Saint James Junior Seminary, Keffi, in 1962, graduating in 1966.
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In 1969, he was admitted to Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, where he studied economics, graduating in 1972. He later embarked on a Diploma program in Econometrics at the University of Colorado in 1975. Mike Onoja obtained his master’s degree in development economics from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1976.


Mike Onoja’s first job was as an account clerk in John Holt PLC, Jos, from 1967 to 1969.  He worked at various government ministries, including the Federal Ministry of National Planning, Federal Ministry of Transport, Federal Ministry of Industries, and Ministry of Defence. He began his public service career in the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning in 1972 as a planning officer. After undertaking a course in the US, he was promoted to the senior planning officer in 1976, and in 1979 to Principal Planning Officer. After a year, he was promoted to Chief Planning Officer. After the military coup of the Muhammadu Buhari regime, Onoja was transferred to the Federal Ministry of Transport as an undersecretary and later he was promoted to the Deputy Secretary. He was transferred to the Federal Ministry of Industries, now called the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment, in 1984.
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In the same year, he was transferred to Special Military Tribunal, Kaduna zone, as the secretary of the tribunal. He was reassigned to the Ministry of Defence and deployed to the army department as the deputy secretary and later promoted to the principal secretary in 1987, and to deputy director of the Ministry of Defence in 1990 and was further promoted to director in 1992 by the Minister of Defence, Sani Abacha. In 1994, he was promoted to director general/ permanent secretary of the Ministry of Defence. He remained in the Ministry of Defence until 1999 when he was transferred to the Ministry of Power and Steel. His next stop was the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as the Permanent Secretary on Economic Affairs, where he remained until 2001. He later returned to the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning and retired from the civil service in 2003. During his career, he attended United Nations sessions in New York from 1988 to 1999. He attended meetings of the United Nations Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Group of 77 in Arusha, Tanzania. He also attended and represented the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning at ECOWAS meetings between 1978 and 1980.

Philanthropic activities

Mike Onoja has been said to impact significantly his community. He constructed 10 km of road from Agila to Akpoge and also 5 km road in GRA Otukpo, Benue state. 
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He also helped indigenous students fund their education and sponsored trips for sick people to seek treatment abroad. He is a major funder of educational institutions, most notably the University of Mkar and Benue State University, as well as churches.


Mike Onoja was conferred the honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) in 1999 by General Abdulsalami Abubakar. In 2009, he was presented with an Honorary Doctor of Management Science (D.Sc.) Honoris Causa from the University of Mkar. In 2017, the University of Abuja’s 21st Convocation ceremony honoured him with a Doctor of Letters Degree. Benue State University, Makurdi, conferred on him another doctorate degree in the same year. He is a devout Catholic and considered becoming a priest.

Source Featured Image Source: Mike Onoja-Wikipedia
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This article was first published on 25th June 2022


Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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