By Ene Asuquo
Senator victor Ndoma Egba, a ranking senator who rose to the position of Senate Leader in the seventh Assembly, in this interview with journalists, bares his mind on the just concluded general elections and some topical issues in the country; Excerpt
What is your comment on the just concluded general elections in the state particularly on the governorship!?
I thank God for the choice of Senator Bassey Otu as governor because it was not the choice of Senator Bassey Otu and the candidate of the PDP, it was a choice between justice and lack of justice, it was a choice between history and the lack of history, it was the choice between our own independence and or us being versal and underlings of another governor who was just exiting power and who was trying to colonize Cross River for his retirement . It was a choice between order and disorder, a choice between justice and ethnicity.
I am not one of those who came from outside with flamboyant. I’m just a local boy who has grown up with a tradition of us sharing things on the basis of senatorial districts and local government. Even when Akwa Ibom was part of Cross River, at least I was a commissioner and when we want to share opportunities they’ll say Uyo senatorial district, Cross River Central, you share on the basis of senatorial districts, it has never been tribe.
Then on the eve of an election you said we should change the sharing formula from what has given us peace all these years for us to go and experiment on something called ethnicity and you know the danger of ethnicity.
At some point some people will be more Ejagham and more Efik than others and problem will start with no end.
Let us use the formula that has worked for us, it is victory over history.
People said that Bassey Otu was brought by Governor Ben Ayade and I said No that’s not true because I was part of the process that brought the emergence of Bassey Otu. I chaired the critical component of that process. But let us assume that it is true, then who is your own sponsor, a governor of another state. So we should prefer the choice of an outsider than our own?
We are independent minded free born. When Peter Obi my friend endorsed him (Sandy Onor) they were making noise, I said as far as I am concerned the endorsement goes to no issue because at the end of the day, Cross Riverians will decide who their governor is, if you like bring a billion endorsement, we in Cross River we’ll do our own endorsement.
We have chosen peace and unity to discord and chaos. The outcome of the election was very significant for us in Cross River, it’s far deeper than what you just see on the surface that it is Prince Otu, the choices were very stack and if we would have made a mistake, we would have regretted it for a very long time.
Issues of irregularities were raised on the just concluded elections, what is your take vis-a-vis our democracy?
If we had a perfect democracy anywhere, Donald Trumps wouldn’t have tried to stop the result of the 2020 presidential election in America. If we had a perfect democracy anywhere we wouldn’t have had the issues of Florida some years back in US election, so the people who are coming to teach is standard of democracy should remove the yoke in their own eyes before they should come and remove the spec in our eyes.
I think we should reject this attitude of people coming to tell is how we should be and how we should behave. If a white comes here now to talk about etiquette, he will tell you to use fork and knife to eat, will you use fork and knife to eat pounded yam? It’s our culture to use our hands so don’t come and impose your own standard on us, even your own system is not perfect.
Democracy keeps evolving from stage to stage so ours is still evolving, ours is only 24 years old, your own (America) is 200 plus years old and your are still having issues so they should stop that.
And we should remove this mindset that everything they tell us is correct. Democracy grows according to it’s environment and they should allow us develop our democracy, yes the election was not perfect, I have an issue for instance with the election in Ikom. We’ll take their observations but we’ll try to improve on our system.
What are your expectations for the incoming National Assembly?
It’s going to be a very interesting National Assembly because before we used to have only two major parties, one in government and the other one in the opposition. If you look at the number, there’s no party that can produce two third majority. The can only pass matter that requires simple majority, like in the Senate the APC already have simple majority but when it comes to those important constitutional issues where you require two third, you must go into alliance and that is where the beauty of democracy is, the horse trading, the argument, the conversation.
You’re going to see some improvement in the legislative process, thats one.
Two, for you to even stabilize the place you must make sure that members from all those other parties are willed into one manageable block, so it’s going to be quit interesting.
Do you think zoning will influence the choice of Senate President?
I can’t say categorically because there are many factors that you take into account in zoning.
Fortunately we know where the President elect and the vice is from.
In the time past if we have a president from the North, the Senate president also from the North. It was during David Mark that we have Jonathan from the South and David Mark from the North. That happened because Jonathan’s administration was seen as an extension of Yaradua’s administration.
Essentially the position of a senate president will go to the South but between the South and the Southeast , there will be so many other factors like national integration, inclusion and so many other factors.
But I believe the president elect is a versatile enough politician working with the party to balance all those demand.
For Cross River what should we expect from the incoming government?
For Cross River, we should expect a change in style of governance.
Prince Bassey Otu is more of a system person, Ayade has his own style. But with Prince Otu you’re expected to see a return to a more traditional system of governance. The regular thing that you expect of governance, the nature of his cabinet, the role of the civil service, roles will be clearly more defined.
Coming from an organized business background, you’ll see a methodical approach to governance and then his personality too, he is the listening type.
He’s open to new ideas and suggestions, so you’ll expect to see a lot but my estimation is that you’ll see a return to a more traditional system of governance, where if we have three things on the table, you’ll see North take one, Central take one and South take one. There will be more predictability in government.
Women are not really involved in our politics especially governance, what is your take?
I am very sensitive to gender issues and I wish that more women play a role and that’s one of my regrets about what is playing out in Adamawa. I
hope the lady at the end of the day wins so that we can at least make a statement that for once we had a female governor and she’s coming from the North.
One of the reasons I’m even more particular about the role of the women, when my mother was pregnant of me, she was elected councillor in old Ikom, and by the time I was 3-4 years she was an elected chairman of old Ikom, that’s Ikom, Etung and Boki county council what you call local government council now.
That was when you had the Margret Ekpo’s making waves, the Chief Mrs Ransome Kuti all over the place.
It looks like we are retreating from those of women playing dominant roles to just women being on the sidelines and clapping, it’s very unfortunate. We ought to have make more progress than we have made and I think that it should be a policy of this administration to see how more women can be encouraged to participate not just in politics but also in governance.