Ndoma-Egba: A Toast To A Living Legend At 60
An obvious truth about life is that there are two most important days in a man’s existence. The day he was born into this other side of eternity, which is his birthday and the day he shuffles off this mortal coil to the world beyond. In spite of the pleasures and vicissitudes that life throws up, the significance of a man’s day of birth cannot be overemphasized. It is even more pertinent as this day presents the opportunity at a certain age for stock taking in terms of measuring current realities against the backdrop of an individual’s envisioned future in his formative years.
Ostensibly, the nub of this piece, Distinguished Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, OFR, CON, SAN could not have discountenanced this memorable day at this auspicious time in his life. In a country where average life expectancy hovers between 45 and 47 years, the attainment of three score in his sojourn on earth is an unparalleled milestone. Going back memory lane and doing a checklist of how much of the effectual grace of God he has enjoyed, this highly accomplished son of Nigeria cannot but celebrate this day with a momentous relish and immense gratitude to God. Senator Ndoma-Egba is a rare combination of God’s boundless grace and progressive mercies.
In a clime where it is the unsavory propensity of people to disdain the feats of achievers, the imprints of Senator Ndoma-Egba’s exploits are too visible for even the blind to see. Victor Ndoma-Egba was born sixty (60) years ago in the unique ambience of Ikom Urban in Ikom Local Government Area of Cross River State, precisely on 8th March, 1956. Radiating like a thousand stars at St. Martins Primary School, Ikom between 1962 and 1967; towering head and shoulders above his peers at Mary Knoll College, Ogoja where he was always a delight to listen to at both state and national quiz/debate competitions in the early 1970s. He had a thirty days stint at the Faculty of Law at the Enugu Campus of the University of Nigeria in 1974.
Upon the release of A level results in 1974, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba’s sterling performance at the time saw him gaining admission into the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos where he was offered three years to pursue a degree in law. Sparkling like a flawless diamond at the Akoka Campus of the University of Lagos, he subsequently enrolled into Nigeria Law School at Victoria Island, Lagos where he scaled the final Bar examination with effortless ease in 1978. In 1993, Ndoma-Egba obtained an LL.M Degree from the Faculty of Law, University of Calabar with blazing light.
With an avowed desire to enhance his capacity, Ndoma-Egba studied and obtained Certificate in Export Processing Zone Administration, I.D.I Shannon, Ireland(1992); Certificate in CHANGE for the 21st Century, Stanford University, Palo Alto, USA(2009); and Certificate in Leadership, Harvard University, USA(2011). He started his public service career on a high at the tender age of 24 in 1981 when the then President Shehu Shagari appointed him a Director in Cross River Basin Development Authority.
In 1980 at only 27 when most of his peers were still on the verge of writing University Matriculation Examinations (popularly known as JAMB), Victor Ndoma-Egba was appointed Commissioner for Works and Transport in the old Cross River (now Cross River and Akwa Ibom States respectively). This is no mean feat! It can be safely said that Senator Ndoma-Egba is a man who had lived ahead of his age.
Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba is a man of prodigious intellect. By dint of hard work and tangible deliverables in his previous appointments, he was appointed Director/Chief Executive, Directorate for Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI), Cross River State in 1986. In the same year, he was saddled with the responsibility as Acting Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Cross River State. “Victor Ndoma-Egba is a man imbued with the capacity for multi-task and a workaholic”, you must say.
Since 1984, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba has built an untainted reputation of excellence, integrity, credibility and character in public service in addition to a thriving private legal practice which dates back to 1979 at K.G.Agabi Chambers in Ogoja, Cross River State. Victor (as his peers would call him) has served on many occasions as chairman or member of different government boards, agencies and commissions making unrivalled contributions to the development of his state and country.
In 1987, Senator Ndoma-Egba with a junior colleague in the bar, Richard Ebri (deceased) founded the highly reputable Ndoma-Egba, Ebri & Co (Legal Practitioners) in Calabar. For almost two decades after the demise of Barr Richard Ebri, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba has maintained the name of the chambers. Thus, immortalizing a late friend and partner. Ndoma-Egba is a personification of loyalty. He gives absolute loyalty and deserves same in full measure.
Distinguished Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba’s calling is legal jurisprudence, his profession is law, his burning passion is to leave people better than he met them and his vocation is to enhance the living standard of people across his state and country. In 1981, from his stipend in private legal practice in the cascading shadow of Ogoja in Cross River State, Ndoma-Egba started a scholarship scheme for indigent students which he has sustained for more than three decades. This scheme has become one of the most robust scholarship programs in the country today churning out hundreds of graduates from first degrees to Ph.Ds from Nigerian Universities on a yearly basis.
In 2007, Ndoma-Egba initiated the entrepreneurial scheme where more than 120 people were trained in different vocations/skills and empowered with start-up capital and now own their businesses. As a serving Senator of the Federal Republic, Ndoma-Egba was a master of legislative advocacy where he attracted projects in excess of N7Billion to his constituency in the Central Senatorial District of Cross River State.
His unceremonious exit from the hallowed chambers of the Nigerian Senate after 12 years of meritorious service to his fatherland has kept the tongues of watchers of Nigerian politics wagging and their mouths yawning for more of his unmatchable legislative depth. The void created by his absence at the 8th Senate is quite undeserving to the Nigerian people at this critical moment in our checkered history.
As a serving Senator, Ndoma-Egba sponsored and co-sponsored 38 Bills most of which have become Acts of the National Assembly including the famous Freedom of Information Bill. This is an unrivalled feat in the history of parliamentary representation in Nigeria. In the dark days of the cabal, Senator Ndoma-Egba stood to be counted as one of the wise men who framed the now famous “Doctrine of Necessity” that was adopted to stabilize the ship of state. For the umpteenth time, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba has remained the first and only lawyer to be recognized as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria while serving at the National Assembly.
Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba is an exceptionally talented lawyer and gentleman; he has traversed the world as leader or delegate representing Nigeria at high-profile international fora. Over the years, he has built a network of friends; spreading his tentacles across the length and breadth of Nigeria and beyond. With laurels including the prestigious Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) and Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON); and several chieftaincy/traditional titles from different communities in Cross River State, Victor Ndoma-Egba is indisputably a leading light from whatever perspective one chooses to assess him. Senator Ndoma-Egba is listed in the Africa Who’s Who. In 2004, he was honored with the revered Ambassador of Goodwill for the State of Israel and the Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Leadership Award in Accra, Ghana.
George Burns must have had Distinguished Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba in mind when he stringed this line, “You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old”. For his admirers, Senator Ndoma-Egba is not getting older….just getting more distinguished! Just like fine wine, the Senator is getting more handsome and cute with years. Ndoma-Egba is a man of style and candor with an admirable dress-sense, always impeccably dressed. One can always trust this distinguished son of Cross River nay Nigeria to fit the occasion at all times-simple and modest, yet eye-catching.
Senator Ndoma-Egba took a gallant walk from the cozy ambience of the National Assembly back to the cape of his wig and gown to continue a fascinating career in private legal practice that remains on an upward trajectory. Even outside the hallowed chambers of the Senate, Ndoma-Egba remains a blue-ship and a quintessential political bride. At only 60, the LEADER as he is fondly called is still capable of springing sterling surprises. We can only wish him longer life in good health as he continues to serve humanity with the fear of God.
Missang Oyama, an Economist and a Public Affairs commentator writes from Lagos