By Michael Jegede
Legal Luminary and erstwhile Senate Leader, Distinguished Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, one of the most versatile and cerebral lawmakers that ever served in the Senate, the nation’s highest legislative body, clocked 67 years of age on March 8, 2023.
Born in the ancient city of Ikom, Cross River State, Ndoma-Egba, a superbly talented and brilliant lawyer was called to the bar in 1978. He started his professional career with Kanu Agabi & Co in 1979 and in 1987, he, together with the late Richard Ebri, set up the highly reputable Ndoma-Egba, Ebri & Co Law firm.
A politician of high standing and great repute, he has unarguably made significant inputs to the country’s democratic sustenance and societal advancement. As a legislator in the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly, he is known to be a promoter of good governance and strong believer in the unity, peace and indivisibility of the Nigerian nation, as reflected in his valuable contributions to debates on issues of national importance.
In his 12-year sojourn (between 2003 and 2015) at the Senate, he exhibited rare leadership qualities that saw him standing head and shoulders above his colleagues in terms of performance and rating of individual lawmakers based on legislative activities, projects’ facilitation and empowerment of constituents. He meaningfully affected the lives of the people of Cross River Central Senatorial District via quality representation.
In the words of Robin Sharma, a Canadian writer, lawyer and leadership expert, “Leadership is not about title or designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration.” For Sheryl Sandberg, a renowned technology executive, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” Ndoma-Egba, even after leaving the Senate since 2015, has remained a great source of inspiration to many as his people continue to feel his impact in different ways.
A man of high integrity devoid of questionable character, Ndoma-Egba has never been found wanting in all the public offices (both appointed and elective) he has occupied and had always left an indelible mark of outstanding achievements and excellent records to the admiration of the people. He was Director, Cross River Basin Development Authority (1981-1983); Commissioner for Works & Transport, Cross River State from 1984 to 1986 and Acting Attorney General, Cross River State between 1985 and 1986. He was also the Executive Director, Directorate for Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI), Cross River State in 1986.
Ndoma-Egba who was Senate spokesman in the 5th Senate and Deputy Senate Leader in the 6th Senate before emerging Senate Leader of the 7th Senate, was the President of the first ever Africa Legislative Summit held in Abuja in November 2013, a summit that brought together the Heads of Legislatures from all over Africa. During his eventful years in the Upper Chamber of NASS, he held several other positions including Vice Chairman Senate Committee on Solid Minerals.
One-time Chairman of Cross River State Council of Privatization, ex-President of the Calabar Chamber of Commerce and former Chairman Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ndoma-Egba has served on the board of different government agencies and several companies with interests in construction, industrial engineering, banking and finance.
Pioneer President of the Institute of Construction Industry Arbitrators of Nigeria, Member London Court of International Arbitration, Member International Bar Association, Member Legal Practitioners Forum, Ndoma-Egba, a Life Bencher credited with over 39 bills, including the ‘Freedom of Information’ and ‘Prisons Reform’ bills was conferred with the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 2004 about a year after he became a Senator.
An astute writer and avid lawn-tennis player, the ex-Senate Leader has travelled widely and represented Nigeria in different international fora. He was, for instance, leader of the Nigerian delegation and a member of the Association of Senates, Shooras and Equivalent Councils in Africa (ASSECAA) then headquartered in Sanaa, Yemen and leader of the Nigerian delegation to the Pan African Parliament, Midrand, South Africa.
Holder of two national honours, Officer of the Federal Republic, OFR, and Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) along with several other awards including the Kwame Nkrumah Leadership Prize, the former NDDC board helmsman has never left anyone in doubt about his capacity to deliver in any task given to him. A result-oriented politician, he has always set out to provide pragmatic, purposeful and resourceful leadership at every opportunity offered him to lead.
Ndoma-Egba attracted numerous quality projects reportedly worth over N7 billion to Cross River Central cutting across the six Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the senatorial district. Over a thousand Nigerians benefited from his scholarship scheme for undergraduate and postgraduate students. His free computer training programme has over 13,000 beneficiaries.
Dr. Cassius Ayam Ogar, a 37-year-old lecturer in the Faculty of Management Sciences, Department of Business Administration at Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH), was a beneficiary of the Ndoma-Egba’s scholarship programme.
In an interaction with Dr. Ogar, he described Ndoma-Egba in glowing terms and narrated how he has positively affected his life and that of many in the central senatorial district of Cross River State.
According to the young lecturer, “Distinguished Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba is a man that has done so much in terms of human capital development across the entire senatorial district, the state and the nation. Senator Ndoma-Egba has impacted so much on the lives of the common men and women of his constituency. For me, as a person, he picked me up as a young lad and from nothing he has made something out of me to the point of me even schooling overseas. And then today by the grace of God I have a doctorate degree courtesy of his scholarship and other scholarships I have been privileged to be awarded. But the foundation of what I have become today is courtesy of Distinguished Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba.
“He is a very peace-loving person. He is down-to-earth. A man who doesn’t despise people. He interacts freely with everybody regardless of your age. His house is open to everyone. He is a man who has rendered several kinds of help to his constituents. In terms of job creation and job opportunities, he has attracted so much. It is on record that he is one senator that has served the central senatorial district and provided job opportunities for more than a thousand youths. This is aside from the more than a thousand students that have benefitted from his scholarship programme, many of whom may not have been able to acquire higher education.”
Dr. Ogar added: “It is on record that till today Senator Ndoma-Egba had the highest number of bills in the Nigerian Senate as the Senate Leader. There are a lot of things he has done. He is for me, a mentor and a father even though I’m not in any way biologically related to him. Just recently when things became so tough for me in my Phd programme, he came and cleared all my bills and that was how I was able to graduate officially. He has been doing so not just to me but to a lot of members of his constituency. It doesn’t even matter whether you know him or not, if you bring a genuine issue before him, he will do all he can to assist. Distinguished Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba is more than a father and a leader to so many across the senatorial district.
“Right now, he is one of the highly respected politicians and statesmen in Cross River State. He has been doing so much to maintain cordiality between the electorate and those in power and trying to ensure peace and stability in our state. He is one man that believes in fairness, equity and justice. You can see that he is at the forefront of the electioneering campaign of Sweet Prince (Senator Bassey Otu, APC governorship candidate) to ensure that power goes to Cross River South so that the power rotation that has been the case in the state is sustained.”
Asked what he wished for Ndoma-Egba at 67, Dr. Ogar said: “By privilege I am so fortunate to share birthday with him. I was also born on the 8th of March. While he has turned 67, I have turned 37. And so my wish for him is that may he live long to enjoy the fruit of his labour. I pray God to grant him many more years of sound health of mind and body. May God answer all his prayers. I want to see him being appointed or given several opportunities that will enable him to continue to affect lives.”
At 67, Ndoma-Egba, a devoted and God-fearing Christian of the Roman Catholic Faith, a philanthropist and humanist, who had his first degree (LL.B) in UNILAG, got his LL.M from UNICAL and obtained different certificates from the Irish Development Institute, Shannon Ireland, University of Stanford and Harvard University in USA, is seen to be full of life, energy and vibrancy.
Michael Jegede, a media professional writes from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja