By Michael Jegede
On Tuesday, October 21, 2014, the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba was at the National Secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja to pick the party’s nomination form to enable him seek continuity in the Upper Chamber of the Nigerian Parliament. The Senate Leader represents Cross River Central Senatorial District in the Red Chamber and he is currently in his third term.
Before the arrival of Ndoma-Egba at the PDP national secretariat, the whole place was crowded with members of his constituency. They came all the way from Cross River State to show solidarity to a man, they believed, has so much touched their lives and to express their desire for him to continue to represent them in the Senate beyond 2015. Serving and former lawmakers from the state were equally on hand to demonstrate their love and support for the accomplished legal practitioner, the only Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in the Nigerian legislature till date, for the wonderful role he has been playing in the advancement of his senatorial district and Nigeria in general, with his numerous people-oriented bills and other valuable contributions on the floor of the Senate.
Speaking with newsmen after picking his form, the Senator noted that the failure of over 70 per cent of National Assembly members to secure re-election had been responsible for serious loss of institutional memory to the legislature since 1999. He argued that stability in the National Assembly would best be ensured if more experienced legislators were allowed to return.
Hear Him: “I am re-contesting next year because it will be in the interest of the polity for us to continue with the stability and fortunately, I have been part of the leadership that has provided this stability. We want to build capacity in this institution. We want to maximise institutional memory. In any case, and in all humility, we have been doing well. What constitutes the institutional memory of a parliament is the aggregate memory of its members. What has been our experience? People say National Assembly is not doing well, why are we not doing well even though I don’t agree with them?”
According to Ndoma-Egba, “From 1999 till date, we have only two senators who had survived. They are Senators David Mark and Bello Gwarzo. Secondly, Nigeria lost 107 senators and we did not notice. All the institutional memory of the 107 senators lost had been eroded. When memory is eroded, capacity is equally eroded. In the United States (U.S.), if about four or seven senators lose their position during an election year, it is an upheaval but here in Nigeria, there is no election year that we have up to 30 senators who would return to their position. This development constitutes massive hemorrhage and massive erosion of institutionalization. What have we benefitted from the experience of David Mark and Bello Gwarzo?
The senate had achieved stability and peace. Before 2007, during the musical chair era, some days you could even have two senate presidents. One presiding over plenary in the morning and the other emerging before the session. However, from 2007, because we have these two very experienced senators who started since 1999, now at the helms of the senate, we have stability. There has been no scandal from 2007 till date and Nigeria had benefitted a lot from that stability. The stability in the senate also stabilized the polity.”
The Senator debunked reports that the Cross River State Governor, Liyel Imoke, was against his re-election bid, disclosing that all stakeholders in PDP in Cross River State, including Imoke, had been fully briefed about his fourth term ambition and had even endorsed it.
Senator Mathew Mbu (Jnr.) was one of the stakeholders from Cross River State that accompanied the Senate Leader to obtain his form at the PDP national secretariat. Mbu occupied the Cross River Central seat before Ndoma-Egba took over from him in 2003.
In a media chat, the former parliamentarian stated that “If somebody has performed well it is good for people to acknowledge the person. The distinguished Senator (Ndoma-Egba) has performed well. Today, he has risen to the position of the senate leader, the number-three position in the Senate. With what he has accomplished in the senatorial district, it is only fair that he should continue. I can’t think of another person today that I believe if the person gets there he will do better than he is doing at the moment. And in the Senate also we have what is call ranking. It is like the military.
You must go through the ordinary ranks to get to the post of a General or Field Marshal and so forth. Today, what Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba has been able to achieve in the Senate, he is equivalent to a General. He is the Senate Leader. So, it won’t be fair to him and indeed to our people to lose that position and have somebody who will start from the scratch again as a Private. What a General can do for his people, you cannot equate with what a Private will do for his people. So, it is only fair that he should be supported and that is why I am supporting him.”
On the propaganda from the camp of Ndoma-Egba’s main opponent aimed at discrediting him, Senator Mbu said it was the handiwork of the Cross River Governor. He refused to be convinced that Imoke is not working against the return of the Senate Leader in 2015.
In his words, “Politics is like human nature at work. In politics, there is nobody that is completely liked. And there is nobody that is completely hated. It depends on the side that you belong. But I will tell you one thing, majority of the people believe in Victor. The propaganda that is going on is just because the governor is supporting someone else. The governor doesn’t want Victor back. This is what we are running away from. This is what we don’t want again in Cross River State where people are handpicked. We are saying enough is enough. Let the people decide who they want to represent them.
The governor should not be dictating to the people who should be there and who shouldn’t be. The only opponent that Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba has is the governor. You can quote me on that. The other opponent, perceived opponent is masquerading for the governor. It is very obvious he is not supporting Senator Ndoma-Egba. He is supporting Hon. Owan Onoh. Everybody knows it. Look at Owan Enoh’s campaign train; it’s made up of state government officials. They are the main people who constitute his campaign train. So, what else do you need, what more do you need to know that it is the governor that is pushing him.”
He, however, maintained that Senator Ndoma-Egba remains the candidate to beat no matter the effort made by those opposed to his fourth term aspiration to discredit him.
For Peter Alims, a member of various support groups for Senator Ndoma-Egba, “My reason of travelling right all the way from Cross River state to Abuja to show my solidarity for Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, a great achiever, is because he has performed excellently well in the National Assembly. He has succeeded in projecting the image of Cross River State in the eyes of Nigerians. He has made PDP as a party to be proud of him. He has made those of us from Cross River Central and the entire Cross River State to be proud of him. His constituency projects cuts across the six local governments in the district and they are very visible for everybody to see. It is on record that he has moved and sponsored over 39 bills.
His scholarship scheme is one of the best organized scholarship schemes. He has over 640 students in the university, both at the postgraduate and undergraduate level. He is a complete gentle man with a kind heart. Look at the Specialist Hospital in Ikom-Calabar road facilitated by him. It is the first of its kind in the entire South-South Nigeria. So, I am appealing to other brothers of mine. Our friends in the party who felt they want to challenge him. Well, it is their right to do so. But I am afraid. They have to think of something else because our minds are made to return Senator Ndoma-Egba in 2015 for his robust and effective representation of the people. As you can see, different groups within and outside the state, including youths, women, students, professional bodies, political stakeholders and so on have all endorsed him. So, those contesting against him are just wasting their time.”
Michael Jegede, a media practitioner writes from Abuja