Born on the 22nd September 1950, Professor Sonni Gwanle Tyoden was educated at the famous Boys Secondary School, Gindiri, Plateau State, and proceeded to the Premier University of Ibadan in 1972, where he read and obtained a B.Sc degree in Political Science with Second Class Honors Upper Division. Following his completion of the National Youth Service program in Kwara state, his zeal for personal advancement led him to embark on post-graduate studies at the University of Lancaster in the United Kingdom in 1978, where he obtained both the Masters and Doctoral degrees from the same University in record time of three years in 1980, specializing in International Relations and Political Economy.
A man of vision, from the very beginning he believed in education as a tool not only for elevating the downtrodden as well as the wealthy, but also a veritable means of advancing development, hence he chose the humble beginning of first becoming a primary school teacher and later at the post-primary level when he taught at Oke Ode Grammar school in Kwara state, before joining the Plateau State civil service in 1978 as an Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Establishments. In keeping with his dream of glorifying education, he opted for an academic career by taking up a teaching post at the University of Jos in 1980 as Lecturer II and became Lecturer I subsequently in 1982, Senior Lecturer in 1985, Associate Professor in 1988 and Full Professor in 1990, all by dint of hard work.
Professor Tyoden did not limit his wealth of experience in the academia to the University of Jos alone but extended his reach, in the process becoming the pioneer Head of the Political Science Department of the University of Abuja from 1990 to 1993 and eventually the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the same University in 1994; an office through which he instituted seminal developments toward the enhancement of scholarship. He has mentored numerous younger colleagues who are towering in their various fields of scholarship.
An astute leader and an administrator par excellence, Professor Tyoden has an extensive and unbroken work experience spanning many years while serving in various capacities within and outside the University system. He was not only Head of Department and Dean of Faculty in the University system at various times, but also a visiting Research Professor at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos and Research Consultant to the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission, commonly known as at the Oputa Panel. He ultimately reached the pinnacle of the University system with his appointment as the Vice Chancellor of the University of Jos in 2006, serving the institution credibly and gloriously in that capacity for five years. Due to his uncommon managerial skill and prowess, the University was rated the second-best in the country during his tenure. Also at the expiration of his tenure as the Vice Chancellor, he left the University of Jos Community more robustly united than he met it. This was possible because of his mobilization and re-conciliatory style of leadership.
He has been an external examiner for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes as well as an assessor of professorial candidates in several Nigerian Universities. His administrative competence transcended the confines of the University as attested to by his co-option into the Presidential Delegation to the 43rd Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1988; his appointment as the Chairman of the Federal Government Commonwealth Scholarship Board, two-time Member of the Governing Council of Nigeria Institute of International Affairs, a Representative of Nigeria at the Commonwealth Ministerial Conference in Trinidad and Tobago; and at the Commonwealth Conference on Higher education in Hong Kong; in addition to over 25 executive roles as an institutional or government functionary, not to mention community services rendered.
A Kind, humble, yet courageous and witty gentleman, Professor Tyoden is a humane luminary who commands the respect, confidence and support of the people he comes in contact with, a testament to the leadership quality he exudes. An eloquent speaker, a productive and a prolific writer, he has over 45 journal articles to his credit spanning virtually all aspects of Political Science. He is also the editor and co-editor of nine academic publications and the author of four books and thirty technical reports. A versatile academic, he has been very active in the conference circuit at the national and international levels, contributing about forty papers to date and delivering public lectures on a wide range of issues on Nigerian politics, international relations and political economy.
As a true professional, Professor Tyoden belongs to some very robust political bodies. Needless to say, his contributions have been typically beneficial to the different Associations to which he belongs, which include: the Nigerian Political Science Association, Nigerian Society of International Affairs, the African Studies Association, the African Association of Political Science, the Social Science Academy of Nigeria, of which he is currently the 1st Vice President and the International Political Science Association; none of which can discount the worth of his being their fellow or member.
As a mark of honor for his immense contributions to the polity, the academia and his continuous service to the larger society and humanity in general, he was honored with an investiture as a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of International Afffairs in 2013 and of the Social Science Academy of Nigeria in December 2014. He was the recipient of CERTIFICATE OF MERIT awarded by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Jos branch “in recognition of his invaluable contributions to the Union and the survival of the University system.” Other awards he has received include the Distinguished Academic Leadership award by the Rotary Club Naraguta, Jos, Plateau state, and the Plateau State scholarship Award for Undergraduate studies at the University of Ibadan.
In view of his selfless and meritorious service to humanity and the impact it has had on his community and the nation in various capacities, the Mwaghavul Traditional Council in his native land of Mangu Local Government Area conferred on him the traditional title of "JARUMI (KOGHORONG)" in 2013. In like manner, the Ndigbo in Enugu bestowed on him the title "UKAM MUTA NDI-ICHIE" (meaning First Class Scholar) in recognition of his outstanding scholarship.
In spite of a tortuous journey punctuated by several trials and tribulations, Professor Tyoden chose to succeed through hard work; which has paid off in notable instances, the most record being his current status as the Deputy Governor-elect of Plateau State, thereby living out his name – Gwanle – meaning struggles makes possible! Indeed, his attainments merit acclaim and are deserving of celebration.
He is married and blessed with four children.