By Ernest Irek
It took me about twenty minutes to do a double take on the article written by one George E Omini about the political career of Distinguished Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba. After some soul-searching and sober reflections, it dawned on me that I consider myself an appropriate person to throw light on this issue and article and indeed subsequent and future ones.
I was there when Ndoma-Egba contested for the gubernatorial race in 1991. I was there again when Senator Liyel Imoke contested the Senatorial seat in 1992. I was the State Treasurer of NRC, the platform both of them used. Again, providence put me on the scene when the 4th Republic took off in Cross River State. Apart from being one of the original thirteen conveners of the PDP in Cross River State, I emerged the very first State Deputy Chairman of the party. Indeed I was also around when Ndoma-Egba headed for the Senate in 2003. He went there on a populist ticket. History again placed me in the centre of events when Senator Liyel Imoke contested the 2007 Gubernatorial elections. The intrigues that played out there were no different from those that played out in getting Ndoma-Egba to the Senate. Therefore, I am well located to comment on these individuals and the roles they played in the political development of Cross River State without prejudice.
When I read Omini’s piece tagged “Ndoma-Egba and his swan song” I wondered if he even took the trouble of looking up the true meaning of swan song. In this context, it would mean the final performance of Ndoma-Egba’s career as a politician. I would let the writer know that the only people who can sing the swan song for a politician are his constituency and in Victor’s case we have not gotten to that bridge yet, how much more to talk about crossing it.
The hate campaign being mounted against Ndoma-Egba has indeed reached a crescendo that has got us believing that the Sponsors are not only out to destroy his political career but to annihilate him. The events of the primaries that eventually led to the defeat of the PDP at the national level are crystal clear to all political watchers today.
In Cross River State, a properly constituted panel headed by a revered party leader Alhaji Oyedokun conducted free and fair elections that were hailed even by the governor of the state and his cohorts as free and fair. At this point, only Ndoma-Egba complained about some irregularities but his protest was brushed aside. The Appeal Panel arrived and received no petitions, than seventy-two hours later, some inept politicians woke up to the reality that they had lost the primaries. For twenty-three days, it was drama personified. Cross River State took centre stage at the National level. The media war that followed was something else; the PDP at the National was caught in their own game, they knew Ndoma-Egba and his group had outmaneuver them politically.The last resort to please the Governor was to call in the President. The President demonstrated one of his weak points here by pandering to Imoke’s wish to cancel the primaries and instructed the materials to be handed over to the Governor to conduct fresh primaries.A case of being a Judge in your own case.
There was a court order subsisting and judgement was expected but all these were thrown aside to politically crucify Ndoma-Egba and his group. At this point it became very glaring that the hands of those trying to enthrone true and internal democracy in the PDP had been tied. In this confusion in Cross River State and indeed the nation, it was apparent the PDP was headed for defeat and the results did not disappoint. That the Labour Party gave PDP a bloody nose can be seen by the recent bribe scandal that has engulfed INEC Cross River State with the Electoral Commissioner on the run. The social media and indeed the print and electronic media are having a field day.
With all these ,can you believe that in a situation where there is no level playing field, you can begin to talk about swan song for a National Politician like Ndoma-Egba?
Again,I would let the writer know that the only way a Legislator can be said to have performed is by the number of bills he has to his name. Victor Ndoma-Egba aside from one other Senator has the highest number of most meaningful bills at the National Assembly. That is performance! When people like the writer begin to create in the minds of well meaning electorate that representation at Legislative level is all about money, then they have missed the point. As for attempting to compare John Owan Enoh who actually represented my Constituency with Ndoma-Egba, it will turn out to be like comparing Lead and Diamond. Hon Eno did not represent the writer’s constituency so he wouldn’t know much about him. The veracity of Enoh’s performance is a story for another day, but let nobody be deceived that he was drafted to carry out a hatchet job. We had a roller coaster twelve years with Ndoma-Egba at the Senate; Cross River State was properly heard and represented.
To round it up, let me venture back to 1991 when Senator Imoke was an unknown quantity and senator VIctor Ndoma-Egba had already shown his political prowess by making a mark in that election. In 1992 when a decision was to be taken by the then Governor of Cross RIver STate Clement Ebri to foist Imoke on the Central Senatorial District, one of those consulted was Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba. In 2007 when political intrigues almost denied Imoke the gubernatorial seat Ndoma Egba was there for him. Talk of showing gratitude for political favours!
Having performed creditably and shone like a million stars, Ndoma-Egba has already written his testimonial for subsequent elections. By the next election in 2019 we shall be in a proper position to judge the swan song tag.
For the moment Victor Ndoma-Egba is the conscience of Cross River State and the genuine leader of the people. No amount of smear campaigns will change this in the minds of Cross Riverians and indeed Nigerians.
The views expressed are of the author, Hon. Ernest Irek, a former member of the National Assembly and Director General of Victor Ndoma-Egba’s Campaign
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