Two years ago, reports indicated that Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) would contest the Cross River governorship poll in 2015 when the tenure of his friend, Governor Liyel Imoke would be up.
Unsurprisingly, Senator Ndoma-Egba did nothing to quell the ‘rumours,’ until recently when another report indicated that the governor was set on snatching the Cross River Central Senate seat from him. In another twist, gossip soon indicated that the seat was to be handed over to the governor’s wife! When that report didn’t fly with the people, the story changed and this time, the mask fell off and the latest gist right now is that the ticket would be given to the governor’s anointed candidate, Hon.John Owan Enoh, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation.
Again, as before, Ndoma-Egba chose to ignore the ‘rumour’ but recent events proved that in politics, there are no permanent friends; only permanent interests. The decision to move against Ndoma-Egba’s return to the Senate on October 16, 2013 at a hotel in Calabar when a consultative meeting was held in the senatorial district and he was not invited. Subsequently, meetings were held to which no invitation was extended to Ndoma-Egba, regardless of the fact that he is the sitting Senator and the most senior elected representative of the district in Abuja.
Thereafter, brass knuckles soon came out with a fully-launched “proxy war,” in Abuja and Calabar. In an appraisal of the ‘proxy war’, Senator Ndoma-Egba’s media aide, Mr. Ignatius Uzuegbunam was emphatic that “the ‘proxy war’ has already fallen flat; even from its incubation stage.”
He explains further: “The Senate Leader has already outsmarted them by connecting directly with the people. He’s not one to rely or wait for directives from a godfather. His works speak for him. From the first month of his entry into the Senate in 2003, he has empowered the very people who voted him into office. He’s been consistently doing this for 11 years,
“The media would also recall that just this April, he undertook an empowerment tour of 41 out of 76 on-going projects in the Central senatorial district; sourced directly through the window offered federal lawmakers for their constituency projects. He has outsmarted them by cutting off state apparatus and connecting directly with the people, placing over 120 of his constituents in jobs, both at the state and federal level, facilitating constituency projects worth over N7 billion; while some are on-going new ones are coming on board. These are verifiable facts and figures. There are pictures to present too. The Senate Leader would never hide under any state apparatus to win elections…”
Regardless, ever since Ndoma-Egba decided to substitute the wig and gown for the cozy ambience of the Senate chamber, it’s perhaps, been a roller-coaster ride for his constituents. The learning curve for the lawyer from Akparabong in Ikom local government area was a rather short one, as he had perfected the art of drafting laws before his entry into the Senate.
Quick off the block, he hit the ground running with several empowerment projects including award of scholarships, securing employment opportunities, free computer training for thousands; not only in the Central senatorial district but also in the state as well. The free computer training would later be expanded to incorporate students in all states of the Federation.
Uzuegbunam would later reel out what he dubbed Ndoma-Egba’s “consistent efforts to deliver democracy dividends to constituents of Cross River Central senatorial district. In 2007, with his elevation as the Deputy Senate Leader, Ndoma-Egba seized the opportunity and helped some of his constituents through the CBN training programme and embarked on life-changing constituency projects for Cross River Central.”
The only Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in the Nigerian legislature till date, he has carefully documented his numerous achievements for his constituents on paper and has now dared whoever has a contrary opinion to not only avail his constituents of the facts but also attempt to beat his achievements.
Speaking during the constituency/empowerment tour, Ndoma- Egba presented an 80-page scorecard where he reiterated the initiation and execution of several intervention projects in education, water, health, roads, environment/erosion control, electricity, sports, security, employment opportunities, as well as provision of scholarships to indigent students, donations in various forms and philanthropy by daily payment of hospital bills, and school fees.
Ndoma-Egba’s scorecard also shows that he has built drainages and irrigation (flood and erosion control), classrooms, mini water works, library complexes, primary healthcare centres, specialist hospitals, ICT centres, dams, solar street lights, Police stations in Abi, Yakkur, Ikom, Obubra, Etung Boki local governments. The highpoint is the construction of the Enugu-Abakaliki-Ogoja-Ikom- Mfum-Manfe-Cameroun border trans-national highway, a World Bank-assisted road project which was facilitated by Senator Ndoma- Egba.
Also being done are the Ikom-Ajassor-Mfum highway, Ikom- Agbokim road and numerous boreholes in the district. An on-going constituency project is the construction of the University of Calabar Law Faculty Building. The list goes on and on.
Just a month into his first term in 2003, looking further afield, Senator Ndoma-Egba started a personal project which awards scholarships to indigent students, a venture he ran alongside a free computer training programme with 8,134 Nigerians cut across the country. The free computer training cuts across the state’s three senatorial districts with 2,038 students from Akwa Ibom State also benefitting from the scheme. Other states of the Federation account for the remaining 667 slots. It is instructive to note that the scholarships, which rolled out on July 7, 2003 have not stopped ever since. Records equally show that so far, 414 undergraduates and post-graduate students in undergraduate and post-graduate studies have benefitted from the scheme across the country so far. For 2003/2004, 30 students benefited from the scheme, another 29 gained from scheme in 2004/2005 while in 2005/2006, 25 students were lucky. For the 2006/2007 session, 30 undergraduate awards were handed out and another 24 scholarships for 2007/2008. Thirty undergraduates benefited in 2008/2009 with 11 post-graduate students also benefiting. Between 2009 and 2013, 235 students in tertiary institutions across the five local governments in the senatorial district got scholarships. Ndoma-Egba has also helped to facilitate job opportunities in the various MDAs, particularly at the federal level to thousands of constituents across the five local government areas that constitute the senatorial district.
The Senate Leader has helped place 120 constitute in federal jobs including but not limited to: the judiciary, universities, media, federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) such as the National Human Rights Commission, NAFDAC, Federal Ministry of Justice, FRCN, Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, the Legal Aid Council, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, NDLEA, Federal Character Commission, Police Service Commission, National Population Commission, Federal Ministry of Works, Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Nigeria Customs Service, the Bureau for Public Procurement, FRSC, NAPTIP, National Judicial Institute, the Nigerian Army, the Nigeria Technical Aid Corps and even his backyard, the National Assembly. Another 120 constituents were helped through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) entrepreneurship training programme and empowered with start-up capital.
Not done yet, through his constituency outreach programme, 230 constituents were empowered with various items ranging from cars, generators, farm tools, oil mill, beans/corn mill, freezer, garri processing machine and viewing centres.
The most important job which brought him to the Senate is lawmaking. In this regard, Ndoma-Egba has clearly discharged his duty to not only his, but also, the country at large. At different times, he has sponsored bills and motions including the Nigerian Prisons Services Act (Repeal & Re-enactment Bill), which was passed on January 19, 2008; The Nigerian Community Services Bill (2009); the Criminal Justice (Victim’s Remedies) Bill, 2009; Abolition of Discrimination Against Women Bill, 2009; The Legal Aid Act Amendment Bill, 2008; which was passed on February 13,2008; and the Legal Practitioners’ Act (Amendment Bill), 2008.
Perhaps, the highest point of Ndoma-Egba’s career as a lawmaker would be the passage and coming into force of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
Introduced into the Senate chamber in 2008, after suffering several setbacks in the past, the bill essentially seeks to make public records and information more freely available, provided for public access to public records and information to the Extent consistent with the public interest and the protection of personal privacy, protect serving public officers from adverse consequences for disclosing certain kinds of official information without authorization and establish procedures for the achievement of those purposes and related purposes thereof.
Another vital bill passed was the Bill for An Act to amend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Cap C.23 Laws of the Federation of 2004 for the establishment of the National Industrial Court in the Constitution. It was passed on May 26, 2010 thus effectively breaking the Constitution amendment jinx which dogged the Fourth and Fifth National Assembly.
Another major bill passed was the National Human Rights Commission Act Amendment Bill which was passed on February 18, 2008. Others still in the works are: University of Abuja College of Medicine Bill 2001
(SB 131); Indigenous Oil Companies (Regulations and Fiscal Terms) Bill 2001 (SB 14); Petroleum Profit Tax (Amendment) Bill 2001 (SB 19; Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund Act (Amendment) Bill 2001 (SB 20); Abuja Geographic Information Systems Agency (AGIS) Bill 2001 (SB 23); Downstream Gas Bill 2011 (SB 24) as well as Transfer of Convicted Offender (Enactment & enforcement Bill 2011) (SB 26).
Certainly not one to shy away from important national matters, Senator Ndoma-Egba made sure the voice of Cross River Central senatorial district is being heard loud and clear whenever national matters came up on the floor. To that effect, he sponsored and co-sponsored several motions including: Impending Crisis in and Uncertain fate of the people of Bakassi moved on November 21,2007; demise of Ambassador Mathew Tawo Mbu on February 8, 2012; Delineation of Electoral Wards/constituencies by INEC; Abandonment of Nigerian Ship Crew in captivity in Somalia on April 29, 2009; Bomb Attacks in Warri; Refusal of the Group Managing Director (GMD) of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to honour the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources Upstream’s Inquiry on the Revenue and Expenditure Profit of NNPC from Sept. 2007 – Sept. 2009; Proclamation of State of Emergency in Certain Local Government Areas of the Country on January 11, 2012; and the National Assembly Procurement Process among many others.
With less than two months to the PDP primaries, the race for the Cross River Central seat has gathered momentum. Last weekend, Hon. Enoh took the fight to Ndoma-Egba’s ancestral homestead, Akparabong. Uzuegbunam dismissed the move as “a non-issue. We knew he stormed the Senate Leader’s home with 40 vehicles in his convoy but if you look closely, those around Hon. Enoh are mainly government appointees who would not even be delegates at the primaries”
Uzuegbunam posited that, so far, “there’s no contest for the Cross River Central senatorial seat.” As a parting shot, Uzuegbunam insisted that Ndoma-Egba’s 11-year record of service remains unbeatable and that the people are set to resist any imposition.