Ndoma-Egba: 64 soulful notes for a reformer, philanthropist
There are countless reasons to associate with Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba with excellence. He was 47 years old when the people of Cross River Central Senatorial District of Cross River State elected him into the fifth Senate of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He was named Victor, but victory comes so easy to him. He was so good at making the people win with him that for three consecutive terms, his constituency kept sending him back to the Senate, such that he became one of the beautiful lawmakers that helped the Red Chamber shine like a rose petal.
Coming into the Senate when the upper legislative chamber was making frantic efforts to cut the image of a respected senior member of the first arm of democratic government, Ndoma-Egba’s membership of critical committees proved very salutary.
Whenever analysts describe democratic governance as the forte of legal luminaries, they must have the Senator from Cross River Central in mind. Either as member of the Upstream Petroleum Resources, Human Rights and Legal Matters or Information and Media Committees or even as Deputy Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Ndoma-Egba’s sterling contributions provided enormous legislative mileage for Nigeria’s democracy.
Such was his legislative insight that when in the middle of his second term in the Senate, he lamented that the Nigeria Police Act had not been updated or amended to reflect contemporary realities, the entire Senate received his delivery in pin drop silence.
As a lawyer, Ndoma-Egba knew that a law that was made during the colonial era, precisely 17 years before Nigeria got its flag independence, was as out of tune with reality as even the paper on which it was etched.
Born on March 8, 1956, it was as if that date was reserved lawyers and generational leaders, because in a curious happenstance, exactly one year after he was born, Nigeria’s current Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo was also born. However, instead of east of South/South as Ndoma-Egba, Osinbajo was born in the Southwest, only for both to be united in the study of Law!
As Chairman, Cross River State chapter of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Senator Victor Ndoma-Egga, inspired a lot of young Nigeria into studying law and attaining academic laurels, both through his support for scholarship, leadership grooming and mentoring.
In mind and body, God destined Victor to stand out wherever he goes and in whatever circle he finds himself. Athletic in build, spritely and lithe of frame, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba at 64 looks much like a 32 year old young man.
Although he still looks boyish for his age, his mental alertness remains upper class, perhaps on account of the fact of his avid interest in lawn tennis, which he plays with relish whenever he wants to relax from work or study.
As a well heeled lawyer, his adroit display in jurisprudence simulates his nimbleness on the lawn when playing tennis. He holds his own ground whenever young professional tennis players enter the court against him.
Possessing a clear head, a sound mind and body, it was not surprising that Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba towered high as a loud and clear voice on public issues, particularly when issues of probity and accountability in the public space cropped up, just as he delivers his arguments with lucidity and plain oratory.
As a former chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), his was one of the leading voices in support of President Muhammadu Buhari’s call for a forensic audit of the commission. Although his board was dissolved in January 2019, about two years after its inauguration, Ndoma-Egba said he was planning to do a forensic audit of the agency’s operations as part of his plans to transform and reposition the commission for better performance.
In fact in his inaugural speech after he assumed office, Senator Ndoma-Egba hinted at the need for a forensic audit of NDDC and he disclosed recently that his board was working towards that before the dissolution.
Many could still recall also with fond memories his superb delivery about the prevalent corruption in the pension office. On that fateful day in the Senate, the flower of his words and facts in his adumbration blended the light of the chamber as goose bumps caressed the bodies of his colleagues and those at the gallery.
He had several bills and motions to his credit, including the legendary Freedom of Information and Prisons Reform bills, which are now Acts of the National Assembly.
In recognition of his salient contributions to nation building and cause of Nigeria’s democracy, Sir Victor Ndoma-Egba, was bestowed with two national honours, the Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) and Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON).
He was also the first lawyer to be elevated to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria from the National Assembly and outside legal practice and academics. That recognition came his way in the year 2004.
Having been introduced to public life very early, he was appointed a member of the pioneer board of Cross River Basin Development Authority by President Shehu Shagari at the age of 24 and became Commissioner for Works and Transport in the Old Cross River State (now Cross River and Akwa Ibom states) at the age of 27.
As happened in the Senate, he served an unprecedented three terms as Chairman, Calabar Branch of the Nigeria Bar Association and Calabar Chamber of Commerce. Like his father, Senator Ndoma-Egba took to the law profession and is deeply religious.
Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba’s life story reads like a chapter out of a soap opera. A devout Roman Catholic, in May 2018, the Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja, John Cardinal Onayekan, dedicated a Catholic Church in Akparabong, Ikom, which the Senator constructed his home town with the support of his wife.
He has been known for quiet philanthropy, supporting seminarians and trainee pastors, sponsoring both Christians and Muslims for pilgrimages to the Holy religious sites in Israel, Rome, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. With his accommodating outlook on life, Ndoma-Egba’s personality teaches humanity rich lessons about egalitarianism and non-discrimination.
His unassuming personality has been a source of moral strength to him, because in spite of his longevity in public service, there has been no whiff of scandal associated with his name in any way. That also explains why Ndoma-Egba remains a model in his chosen profession and public service.
The life Bencher is married to Amaka, an educationist, who is owner of a top-notch school in Abuja, with whom he is blessed with a son, two daughters and a granddaughter. What is the colour and stamp of success?
Friends recall a special event, where Ndoma-Egba was mentoring young people on how to build stability in their career lives, when he remarked on how important it is for young couples to ensure stability in their marital lives. He maintained that it is practically impossible to build stability in other areas of life when there is instability in the home.
Who knows, his beautiful family could well be the best kept secret of his successful strides in public service and private law practice. He combines his law profession and politics with balance and mark of distinction. While still staunch member of the All Progressives Congress (APC); Ndoma-Egba is also the Senior Partner in the Abuja law firm of Ndoma-Egba, Ebri & Co, which he founded in 1987, just as also he is the Chairman of the Faculty Board of a Public and Legislative Affairs Consultancy.
On the occasion of his 64th birthday anniversary, President Buhari greeted the Cross River State-born lawyer for his “courage, foresight and diligent service to the nation.” The President noted that the Lawyer, Lawmaker and Administrator “left his footprints of loyalty and dedication wherever he served the nation, especially on the political and economic sector.”
While urging the celebrant “to keep counselling other political leaders, especially the upcoming, to explore the path of truth, justice and sacrifice,” the President recalled that as a lawmaker for many years, Senator Ndoma Egba “sponsored bills that were focused on strengthening democratic institutions in the country, particularly giving voice to the underprivileged.
“Ndoma-Egba’s wisdom, tenacity and relentless commitment to seeing a better country keeps energizing him to work harder whenever he is called.
Truly in his 64 years on earth, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba has filled his world with many laurels, and no doubt the most alluring of them is his name recognition as an exemplar in good character and modesty.