BY NKRUMAH BANKONG-OBI
There is a fundamental aspect of Political Methods that is so dear to me. It is what some indigenous political scientists call ‘the Nigerian political behaviour’. This element of theoritico-practical politics connotes the incremental elements that determine how leaders and leadership emerge in Nigeria and why national cohesion is wheeled by national collaboration. Comprehending this inelastic countrywide ‘behaviour’ is akin to what the Bible tasks people to “understand the seasons”. Nigeria is just emerging from a period of political poor socio-politcal behaviour. That was when leaders were (s)elected with no truthful deference to the sanctity of the ballot. A few people decreed themselves into conclaves of manipulators, godfathers, garrison commanders, mafiosi and pseudo-democrats. And their narrow decisions promptly became law and instantly robed in democratic garments.
That wheel is running is course. And good women and men are congregating to direct the Nigerian State to its ordained destination. After this depressed season of anomie, great light and decorative neons are rising like plumes into the global skylines. At the fulcrum of this collaboration is President (General) Muhammadu Buhari, the lodestar whose government is rediscovering the essence of nationhood and laying foundations for a greater country.
But President Buhari’s effort require the cooperation of an independent and dynamic legislature. The National Assembly of late hasn’t draped itself in perfumes. That is why its approval ratings continue to plummet. The scandals, acrimonies, antagonistic posture of the Assembly towards the presidency have pitched it against majority of Nigeria. The general elections in February offer Nigerians an ample opportunity to choose tested hands, trusted lawmakers and individuals with transparent track record to assist President Buhari(who is expected to win the election). And anyone coming to the 9th Assembly must come with gallons of disinfectants to wash off the malfeasance deposited by some members of the outgoing Assembly.
This is where Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba comes in as a worthy messenger otf the people of Cross River Senatorial District. It is needless to itemise the positions he has held. What is crucial is to examine the mileage Ndoma-Egba’s return to the senate can cover on behalf of the people of Cross River Central, nay Nigeria. The first thing that stands him out is his commitment to work and less publicity. Indeed, very few individuals would still maintain low profile, if they achieved the heights Ndoma-Egba has attained. Outside of public service, has a thriving legal chambers. Nothing signifies his status at the Bar better than his elevation as senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN, in 2004, a position reserved for lawyers who have attained lofty heights in legal practice. Ndoma-Egba is a self-effacing man. Regardless of his personal achievements, he speaks little of himself but puts the collective will on the front burner.
There is a man certainly most ideal to represent Cross River Central at this time. The zone is desirous of a polestar who is connected to key policy makers in the north, who is familiar with the business terrain in the west and understands the political seasons in the east. Ndoma-Egba is a quintessential Nigerian. He knows the south, he knows the north. Unlike all those contesting against him in the senatorial election, he is no rookie. He is angling to return to the senate to build on an extremely robust foundation. A three-time senator, climbing the ranking cadre as deputy majority leader and senate leader. Indeed very few, among contestants for senatorial seats nationwide have the kind of experience that Ndoma-Egba has aquired.
Importantly, he has a unique approach to issues that President Buhari(as the polls confirm he will be reelected), needs to truly take the country to the next level.
As senate leader, and in collaboration with other principal officers of the 7th senate, Ndoma-Egba worked extremely hard to reduce the friction between the legislative and executive arms of government, hence provided the necessary legislations for the Federal government to carry on its programmes. He has been ambassador extraordinaire, representing the Federal government at international fora, he has led legislative delegations to foreign countries, he was part of the group that setup a number of parliamentary unions in Africa and beyond. So, he is a face cast on the political cavass of Nigeria and recognised on international legislative horizons.
If Ndoma-Egba’s experiences in other spheres don’t count, will his contributions as the chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission not speak for his excellence? Many independent watchers of events in the Delta say the Ndoma-Egba board has been the most successful since the setting up of that interventionist commission in 2004. The return of absolute peace to the Niger Delta is as a result of the harmonious approach adopted by all agencies of government, including NDDC to change the fortunes of the oil-rich but hitherto neglected region. This piece will limited its scope to what Ndoma-Egba and his team have done for Cross River, one of the nine States collectively known as the Niger Delta. Most Cross Riverians know that all major roads completed in the State are done by the NDDC chaired by Ndoma-Egba. The most conspicuous is the redemption work on the Ikom-Calabar highway which was a motorist nightmare for many years. Streets like Adam Duke, Asuquo Nyong, Asu Ekpo, in Calabar; Cameroun street, Princess Nkangha streets in Ikom, have been reconstructed. The abandoned Ikom-Ogoja highway has recieved radical attention in parts. This has brought unquantifiable relieve to the motoring public. The road from Kakwagom to Bawop in Boki has also been constructed. Apart from these, contract has been awarded for the construction of the Sankwala-Bumaji road to bring light to the people of that part of Boki and Obanliku who have suffered untold neglect. In addition, roads and emergency projects have been undertaken in Abi, Ikom and other areas. It must be noted that the projects listed here do not form a tenth of infrastructure provided in the State by the Ndoma-Egba board.
As a concerned citizen, I think we shouldn’t allow some of our kindred who have lost their marbles to deceive our people that Nigeria has not witnessed any positive change in the last three and half years of the Buhari presidency. The Nigerian leader has put some of our best and committed brethren into positions of authority and influence. These sisters and brothers of ours have delivered on their mandates. And Ndoma-Egba is one of those shiny lights. Cross River will smile more broadly with people like him in the National Assembly.
We have once more arrived the crossroads. And we must choose either to put our best foot forward as they say or send someone to Abuja who will spend four years learning to connect to the grids of power. The APC government has been kind to our State. We should return this gesture by voting legislators who will provide a conducive environment for the government to execute its projects, without necessarily becoming rubber stamp. Who knows what tomorrow holds? Bigger legislative offices may come. And who can be best suited for such office, if not our most experienced and best wired among the crucial levers around which the Nigerian socio-economic and political power lithely revolves.
It is impossible to put down or denigrade any of Senator Ndoma-Egba’s opponents on the February 16th polls. They’re accomplished statemen in their own rights. As opinion leaders, as professionals and as parents, they have attained heights unimagined. But my contention is that Cross River has suffered neglect for too long. It is only ideal that now that we have a window of opportunity to turn things round, we need to send the one who knows which door to knock in Abuja, Lagos, Daura, Ganye, Calabar, Ibadan, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Benin and even Maiduguri.
It is generally in the behaviour of the people of Boki, Ikom, Etung, Obubra, Yakurr and Abi to look for the best. As far as representation in the senate is concerned all sound indices point that Ndoma-Egba is the best to send to Abuja at this time.
Bankong-Obi is a poet and journalist. He wrote in from Ikom via firstname.lastname@example.org