WHAT MAKES A GOOD SENATOR? -THE NDOMA EGBA EXAMPLE


People look to the Senate for its supposed high-minded, impartial reasoning and good judgment on issues of national importance. But if previous Senates were any guide, the public has been sorely disappointed, as most of the senators were political old-timers, particularly former military men and retired government officials. Only a small minority were academics, social workers and independent thinkers.

The problem was that the majority of those senators with political connections couldn’t be trusted as it was much easier to profess impartiality than to practice it. It turned out that many senators were wolves in sheep’s clothing. However, in the midst of these misgivings about the crowd that constitute the membership of the National Assembly, there is a certain shining light. He is a three-term Senator representing Cross River Central Senatorial District called Victor Ndoma Egba. This astute politician and seasoned Senator can simply be said to be one of the most exceptionally outstanding and experienced lawmakers in the country today.

Though we have not met in person, I have been following the progress of the gentleman in the red chambers for quite a while now and viewing from afar, he easily comes across as very accessible, approachable, open-minded and well-grounded in the discharge of his mandate.

From being the Senate Spokesman to Deputy Majority Leader and now Majority Leader, Ndoma-Egba has carried on with such agility, vim and charisma that seemed to have made him become a strong legislative beacon and valuable reference point not just on parliamentary matters, but also in the political front.   He has, as a political figure, exhibited great sterling leadership qualities and unlike most politicians who would always shy away from newsmen, he is constantly ever ready to respond to any issue of national importance in the media-a clear indication that this is a man who has nothing to hide!

Believed to have lived up to expectation in the discharge of his legislative duties and responsibilities, the lawyer turned politician has, no doubt, endeared himself into the hearts of many Nigerians, particularly the people of his constituency. This, perhaps, is the reason why Ndoma Egba’s constituents have deemed it fit to continue to give him their mandate to represent them since 2003, when he first contested for the senatorial seat in the current democratic dispensation.

As is my practice, I carried out a little background research on my subject of discourse and I was not too surprised with my findings. Besides his significant impact in the advancement of the legislative arm of government and promotion of good governance in Nigeria, the Senate Leader has also been touching the lives of many from his constituency with laudable and life changing programs even before he ever dreamt of becoming a Senator.

No doubt, Ndoma-Egba is a brilliant man but being a good representative goes beyond intelligence, education or breeding (all sterling qualities which by the way, the Senator possesses in huge quantity) but representing a people is all about experience, a deep yearning to lead and a combustive passion to effect change.

The rare breed and patriotic silent achiever solely funds the Ndoma-Egba’s annual scholarship award scheme, which has been running for years has put smile on the faces of many indigent Nigerians particularly those from his constituency. The scholarship is designed principally for undergraduate and postgraduate students from the Cross River Central Senatorial District and it is one of his manifold philanthropic gestures towards his people among other sundry schemes he introduced to enhance their standard of living.

Commenting on the history and evolution of the scheme, which already has almost 600 beneficiaries, Ndoma-Egba explained: “People have the impression that the scholarship started when I became a senator, but the scheme started back in 1980. I came back from youth corps in 1979 and in 1980 I was made the first old boys chairman of a secondary school I passed through. I did not have need for the allowances I was being paid which was plenty of money in those days and when I discussed with the principal, we agreed that the money could be used to pay the school fees of some indigent students and that was how the scholarship scheme started with an accumulation of my allowances. And as time went on I started to supplement it and it became a full-fledged scholarship scheme. So, it did not start when I became a senator, though that was when it became much more elaborate.”

Born on March 8, 1956 in Ikom, Cross River State into the family of late Emmanuel Takon Ndoma-Egba, a retired judge of the Court of Appeal, the Cross River Central Senator  obtained an LL.B degree from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and LL.M from the University of Calabar (UNICAL). He was called to Bar in 1978 and elevated to the rank of SAN in 2004 while already in the Senate. He was Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Calabar Branch, and President of the Calabar Chamber of Commerce. Appointed a Commissioner at the age of 27, Ndoma-Egba, a former Director of the Cross River Basin and Rural Development Authority, was last year conferred with the national honours award of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), after having had the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR).

This man was born a leader!

I have never been one for praise singing. Even if I were, my list would be limited to close to zero. In our clime today, integrity is scarce. Nevertheless a few have held their head high above the murk of corruption in which the majority have sunk and wallowed deeply in; it would not be fair to be silent on these few shining examples because of the darkly sinister majority. Ndoma-Egba is one of these few members with outstanding sterling qualities, it would be greatly unfair not to balance my critique of bad leadership with a good account of this man’s sound character and exemplary leadership. I shall do same with others I will pick out from time to time. Gives me faith in this country called Nigeria, well…that sounds right, doesn’t it?

Having said that lets go back to why I have decided to embark on this character probing exercise.  Rewinding to his conduct in the Senate so far, Ndoma Egba is an embodiment of what I believe a good senator should be. A good senator would attend as much committee hearings as possible in a day, continue researching and studying laws, and exert the power of check and balance in the government and the present Senate Leader constantly fulfill the above standard. I stand corrected, but I am of the opinion that he is one of the few that has more attendance under his belt and complete diligence in oversight functions.

A Senator must have a lot of experience, knowledge and intelligence to be able to discuss on the floor of the house, if this is lacking and there is no extensive background, such a representative probably will be very selective. Such person cannot be good enough to involve his or herself in the debates of all the bills, which is the bane of the National Assembly for some time now.

Almost automatically if you have good senators you have good debates, if you have silent senators you have no debate. In the midst of all our anxieties over the future of our country and our loud lamentations on the leadership, I am glad that we can still count on men like Senator Ndoma Egba who shine more as an exposed person, a visualizer and an independent senator. Simply put, Senator Nduma Egba (SAN) understands the issues, is always focused on the key points and responds to the needs and aspirations of the people. Ndoma Egba is what makes a good senator!

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