July 25, 2021

TNN Newspaper

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Alex Egbona: The Man, His Mien

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You have an intimidating frame, yet very amiable. You are not adequately endowed in physical height, but you have tall ideas. You are an economist by training but do not economise your talents and philanthropic miasma.

You took no formal lessons in farming, yet you have a farm that has fed many and has provided jobs for hundreds of people. You have actually taught many how to fish, while also giving fishes to those who are in need.

You are very accessible and affable. Those who have encountered you call you a giver extraordinaire. Some of them even believe that you can give your life, if it would make somebody happy. They call you ATM.

In Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State where you were born on October 15, 1964, the people see you as friend of the poorest of the poor people. Every year, they look up to you for the usual gifts you share to them under your empowerment programme. You have done this for years and the people have become used to it.

To some, you are a source of strength and vigour. To others, you are a technocrat, a friend and ally of inestimable proportion. There are others who see you as a present help in times of need. Yet, many see you as a friend to depend on. Your hands have lifted many to stardom. You have backed others to their destined place of honour and glory.

You were nurtured in Agbara, Ekureku but attended the Primary School, Egboronyi, in the Abi Local Government. You also passed through the Agbo Comprehensive Secondary School, before proceeding to the Federal College of Arts and Science, Ogoja for higher certificates. Then you left Cross River and proceeded to the University of Port Harcourt where you studied Economics. By 1990, you were a graduate.

You are familiar with virtually every part of the country. You were in Kaduna for the compulsory national service scheme. That was the beginning of your life of service to your fatherland.  In 1992, you returned to your state to continue with the life of service as you presented yourself for  election as a councillor. Your people decided to elect you as their representative at the local government level under the defunct National Republican Convention.

In 1998, under the military, you returned to seek the mandate of your people. It was a case of ‘one good turn deserves another’.  But Sani Abacha, head of the junta at the time died and that phase died. You were not inaugurated as a result.  Then you returned to the classroom, this time to the University of Calabar where you obtained a second degree in public administration. You even went for a double- this time for another degree in educational administration from the same university.

You were not tired of learning until you got to the apex. You read and obtained a doctoral degree in educational administration and planning, with particular interest in policy formulation and implementation.

Those who know you believe that you are specially endowed. Maybe this is what Donald Duke saw when he appointed you as special assistant on special duties, when he became governor of Cross River State. You did not disappoint him or those who recommended you to him for the appointment. The dexterity in service earned you a higher appointment when you were made the deputy chief of staff, Government House. By that position, you became a member of the state executive council. Duke had no reason to drop you till the end of his tenure. Apparently, he enjoyed the services you delivered to his government. Then Duke left and Senator Liyel Imoke took over. He spotted you and made you the chief of staff, Government House.

Even in your high office, you refused to be carried away by the allures of office and power. You still related well with your constituents. You were and have remained your humble self. You are still as close to the grassroots as ever.

In 2015, you presented yourself for election as member of the House of Representatives. The day you went to buy your nomination form at the PDP office along Calabar Road, there was stampede. Calabar stood still that day. People shut down their businesses and joined the train to escort you to the office. There was no thorough fare for hours, till you had picked the form and returned home. It was a clear demonstration of your popularity even in Calabar, which is miles away from your constituency.

You were eventually denied the ticket by the party. Your supporters were miffed. They procured the Labour Party form for you. You contested on that party’s platform. You won in the field but was denied the seat by the powers that be-those who obviously were not comfortable with your rising popularity. You took it in your strides.

You waited for another four years and returned to the field, this time under the APC. It was a hot contest. This time, your people had learnt how to protect their votes. You were declared winner. And your constituency went into wild jubilation. Even the lame joined in the fray. From Ekureku to Itigidi, from Adadama to Imabana, from Ugep to Ekori, there was jubilation everywhere. There was excitement in the air. They knew that a new day had come for them.

On this day, Abi/Yakurr people are happy that at last, they have got a representative in the National Assembly that understands and speaks their language. They had looked forward to this day with bathed breath. They know you will represent them well. They know you will not only give them fish to eat, you will also show them how to fish.

They know you will pick their calls when they have the need to call you. They know you will always be with them to know their needs. And they know you will always address those needs. They know you are the definition of God in the mould of a man. They know you as man of peace. You are a complete gentleman. If this description does not fit you, then know that your name is not Dr Alex Egbona.

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