Edward Eta Ogon, lawyer, administrator and politician wants to represent Ikom/Boki Federal Constituency in Nigeria’s House of Representatives. In between a tight schedule and work, www.calitown.com sat down with Ogon and asked him a few questions. Excerpts:
Can you please introduce yourself, for the benefit of our audience.
My name is Edward Eta Ogon. I am from Nsadop Village, Boki Local Government Area in Cross River State. I am the ninth child of Chief Michael Eta Ogon of blessed memory. I am married, with children.
I attended Hawkins Nursery School, Calabar; Sacred Heart Primary School, Calabar; Mary Knoll College, Okuku, Ogoja. Thereafter, I proceeded to England where I obtained my ‘O’ and ‘A’ Levels at Ratcliffe College, I then went on to the University of Kent, in Canterbury, where I obtained a BA(Hons) in Law.
I was called to the Bar in 1987 and thereafter practiced Law in the firm of Rhodes and Rhodes, then at Allen and Ogunkeye. In 1993 I formed a Partnership known as Agabi, Shinaba, Ogon and Co.
In 2003, I ran for and was elected as a Member, representing Ikom/Boki Federal Constituency at the National Assembly. I served the State from then till the year 2007. While in the National Assembly, I served in several committees: Capital Markets and Institutions; Health; Agriculture; Internal Affairs; Aviation and Rules and Business. As Deputy Chairman, Capital Market and Institutions, we midwifed the amendments of the Security and Exchange Act. I was Chairman, Sub-commitee on Community Health in the Health Committee as well as Chairman, Sub-commitee on on Airlines in Aviation Committee. I co-sponsored several legislations including the Freedom of Information Bill, intended to provide open and accountable governance.
I have also served Cross River State as Special Adviser on Mortgage Finance and Estate Development; Commissioner for Works, Environment and as; Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.
I am proud to have contributed and will still contribute my quota to the development of our State and thank our former and present governors, Liyel Imoke and Ben Ayade for giving me the opportunity to serve our people, through our party, the Peoples Democratic Party.
You recently declared interest in representing Ikom/Boki Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, what are you bringing to the table?
UnarguabIy, I bring a vast experience in the private and public sector to the table, with over 30 years experience as a Legal Practitioner and eight years as a Public Administrator, serving in the capacity of Commissioner for Works, Environment and as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice which gives me the experience and exposure to deliver to my people when by God’s grace I return to the National Assembly.
You have been to the National Assembly before, what do you seem to have forgotten there?
This question has consistently recurred in discussions about my ambition, especially by those with an ambition to vie for this elective position or by their supporters. But nonetheless, it is a valid one. I think the question shouldn’t be: “what I have forgotten?”, but rather what I have to offer. I definitely will improve on the strides I made during my previous time in the National Assembly. I represented my people to the best of my ability then and would ideally raise the bar, based on my umderstanding of the intricacies of being in the National Assembly. For instance, projects I commenced in 2003 that were abandoned by my successors worth over I billion naira back then, seem to still be waiting for me. These include: electrification projects in communities in Ikom and Boki: Nta Selle, Nkim, Bendeghe Afi/Balep, Bawop/Oku, and Beebobumaji. Federal Health Centres in Irruan and Boje.
I also want to continue with the aggressive employment drive I started during my term which led to job placements of over 50 sons and daughters of Ikom and Boki, in the Security and Exchange Commission, Nigerian Stock Exchange, Nigeria Police, Customs/Immigration and the Armed forces between 2003 and 2007. This is information that is verifiable and has had a domino economic effect on on these individuals and their community.
Considering that most of those who have indicated interest to represent the constituency are of Boki extraction, don’t you think Ikom, the other half of the constituency should have a go at the seat too?
The Nigerian Constitution is quite clear: we are all qualified once we meet the required standard. There has been no election where people from Ikom and Boki have not participated in, vigorously. I want to encourage more people from Ikom and Boki to run. This deepens and strengthens our democracy and gives the people an exciting pool to pick from. Maybe too, we must be encouraged to embrace and vote for capacity instead of ethnicity; it could be the thin line between good representation and something we are not proud of.
Can you point us to the legislative direction you hope to pursue if elected?
I am a Social Democrat by orientation and consequently I believe that no Nigerian should be too poor to live a fulfilling life off what they earn. Certain needs such as education and medical care should be the basic rights of every Nigerian.
One of my earliest endeavour, if I emerge as a Member of Parliament, will be to push this as one of my agenda. I also wish to state categorically that I will push for the compensation, by way of reparation, through legislation, to Cross River State, for the loss of Bakassi Peninsular. In fact, I will attempt to make it a fundamental agenda for the Cross River State Caucus in the National Assembly.
Weigh up your chances against other contestants and show us why you should be trusted with this political opportunity.
First of all, I believe that those running are ably qualified and I am sure they will be up to the task of representing our people. However I am the only one with the requisite COGNATE parliamentary experience and my record between 2003 to 2007 as a representative of this Federal Constituency, speaks for itself.
Convince us that your political ideology is one that is not violent or bitter.
As everyone knows, violence has never had a place in my political consciousness. I have always preached peace and reconciliation where needed. Those who embrace political violence show a political desperation that has no place in our quest to take our country to the next level. If you really have the interest of the people at heart, you will not originate and drive through a process that maims and kills your constituents, so their blood can ferry you to the National Assembly; my political beliefs and practices cannot accommodate this grave anomaly.
Demonstrate to us that your relationship with other contestants is cordial.
We are all friends and members of the same political family in one way or the other, and that is undeniable. But wait o, has anyone of them told you that I hid my food under the bed when they came to my house?
How do you intend to let your first experience in the House of Reps rub off on this attempt.
I am wiser, more experienced and exposed to the political climate now, than I was then. I intend to be strategic in everything I do: legislative and otherwise. I intend to reach out where necessary to get things done for our Federal Constituency. I shouldn’t be encouraged by you people to say too much; a general going to war cannot address a press conference, outlining his war strategy before he goes to war.
Please speak directly to your constituents?
A vote for me is a vote for Transparency, Peace and Progress (TPP). I will be fair in my dealings with everybody. I will work to ensure I provide the tool for peace and progress to thrive in our Constituency. I will continue to work to bring the dividends of democracy in terms of projects and development to Ikom/Boki Federal Constituency and Cross River State in General.
It was my pleasure.
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