Victor Ndoma-Egba: The contours of an icon at 64
When Senator Ndoma-Egba turned 64 on Saturday, the 7th day of March 2020, President Buhari publicly acknowledged him in glowing terms. The President in his goodwill message described Senator Ndoma-Egba as a role model, a patriot and a man of impeccable credentials. And so did many glowing tributes and accolades pour in to honour this eminent lawyer, politician and patriot as he celebrated his birthday anniversary! From governors to senators, from ministers to community leaders, from church leaders to eminent lawyers, so did tributes pour in, to celebrate a man known for his cool head and stable disposition. Interestingly, Senator Ndoma-Egba shares the same birthday with Professor Osinbajo, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Interestingly both men are SANs and they share a passion for the uplift of Nigeria. Now, who is this man that many great Nigerians celebrated as he marked 64? Victor Ndoma-Egba is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a politician, and a former Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
He was a three-term senator, representing Cross Rivers Central Senatorial District of Cross River State in the Nigerian Senate from 2003 to 2015. He holds two national honors, Officer of the Federal Republic [OFR] and Commander of the Niger [CON].
Victor Ndoma-Egba was born in Ikom, Cross Rivers State on the 8th of March 1956. He was raised by parents who were achievers in their fields and it is no surprise that Victor Ndoma-Egba has accomplished so much in a short while. His father, the late Justice Emmanuel Ndoma-Egba [Rtd.], was a retired Justice of the Federal Court of Appeal and his mother, Madam Regina Nentui, was a seasoned teacher and an erudite politician. She had the honour of being the first female Local Government Chairman in the whole of Nigeria. He began his university education at the University of Nigeria, Enugu campus before proceeding to the University of Lagos where he obtained the LLB [Honors] Degree in 1977. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1978 and his set is renowned as the famous “1978 set”; the set with the highest number of Supreme Court Justices and Senior Advocates of Nigeria. Not satisfied with just an LL. B, he pursued and obtained an LL.M from the University of Calabar. Also, he obtained certifications in other fields from the Irish Development Institute, Shannon Ireland; University of Stanford and Harvard University in the USA. He was made a life bencher in 2017 and was awarded the LL. D[Honoris Causa] by the University of Calabar in 2018. He started his professional career with Kanu G. Agabi & Co in 1979 and practised law in all the superior courts of record for several years.
At the very young age of 27, he was appointed the Commissioner for Works and Transport in the old Cross River State [i.e. that is Cross River State, before it was split into Cross River State and Akwa Ibom State]. In addition to this role, he had to act as the Commissioner for Justice. Before venturing into full-time politics, Ndoma-Egba had an illustrious career during which he held several leadership positions. Some of these include Pioneer Chief Executive of the Cross-River State Directorate for Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure and at the same time, he was the Director of Cross River Basin Development Authority during the third republic Chairman of the Calabar branch of the Nigerian Bar Association and president of Calabar Chamber of Commerce also for unprecedented three terms.
He also chaired boards of companies in the private sector with interest ranging from banking, construction and manufacturing. His foray into politics was highlighted by his election into the Nigerian Senate in 2002 to represent Cross Rivers State – Central Senatorial District and remained there until 2015. During this eventful period, He held several positions, including the following: Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Solid Minerals; Chairman of the newly created Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, making him the official spokesman of the Senate. He later became the Deputy Senate Leader and is credited with over 38 bills, including the “Freedom of Information” and “Prisons Reform” bills.
The pinnacle of his career in the Nigerian Senate was on June 6, 2011, when he became the Senate Leader and he remained in that position till June 6, 2015. He also had the distinct and unique privilege of being elevated to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 2004, the first and the only one for twelve years from the National Assembly and the only one so far from the Senate and outside legal practice and academics. On leaving the Senate in 2015, he returned to his law practice as a Senior Partner in the Law Firm of Ndoma-Egba, Ebri & Co in Abuja. Before he could settle fully into his legal practice, he received a call to serve the nation again. This was in July 2016, when he was appointed as the Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by President Muhammadu Buhari. This is where he served until 2019 when he resigned to return to politics.
Victor Ndoma-Egba is very widely travelled and has represented the country on the global stage. Some of the assignments he undertook include:
• Leader of the Nigerian delegation and a member of the Association of Senates, Shooras and Equivalent Councils in Africa [ASSECAA] then head quartered in Sanaa, Yemen, leader of the Nigerian delegation to the Pan African Parliament, Midrand, South Africa and a delegate of the first Africa Legislative Summit held in Abuja in November 2013. Special envoy of the Federal Government to the Pan African Parliament on the election of Rt. Hon. Bethel Amadi as its President. This earned him the privilege of addressing the House of Representatives at its invitation, on the election of Hon. Amadi, its member, as president of the Pan African Parliament. He reads, writes and plays lawn tennis avidly in his spare time. He is married to “Amaka Onono” and has three children and a grandchild. He holds several honors, [including chieftaincy titles], awards and prizes including the Kwame Nkrumah leadership prize.
A devout Roman Catholic, and philanthropist, Senator Victor Ndoma – Egba has supported the Church in Nigeria, no matter the denomination. This he has done by financially supporting the activities of various denominations, and the training of both priests and pastors. In 2014, he donated musical equipment to 12 rural Christian churches or different denominations. His involvement in the promotion of the church in Nigeria, culminated in the construction of a 1, 000 seating capacity cathedral, located in his home town; which he built with the support of his able wife and handed over to the Catholic Church. The church was dedicated on May 29, 2018 by His Eminence, Cardinal John Onaiyekan. A very broad-minded individual, Victor Ndoma-Egba sponsors Muslims to Mecca for their yearly hajj regularly. His belief in education has motivated his sponsorship of hundreds of youths in various fields of academics. Victor Ndoma-Egba, is described by admirers as a man of integrity, hardworking, and a man with a deep sense of commitment to duty and service. His philosophy of life is that “if you cannot change the world, you can change the space that you stand in”.
Boyd, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Abuja.