Prof. Victor Ecoma, Head of Department, Fine & Applied Arts, University of Calabar holds a childhood memory of Dr. Alex Egbona. He hails from Itigidi in Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State.. In online interview with EDITH CHUKU, he spoke on the person and character of Dr. Alex Egbona and his journey to the House of Representatives, among other issues.
How well do you know Dr. Alex Egbona?
I had known him since 1980. We did our School Certificate examinations same year and we used to crack a lot of jokes back then. We both offered history as one of our favourite subjects and he was quite good at cramming things, one of which was his reciting of the history and government of the Kanem-Borno Empire as monarchical in structure and that earned him the name “monarchical” among his classmates. He was very friendly, studious and attracted attention of his colleagues. Remember, exclusive items are usually in small packages.
Why are you so committed to his political projects, even as a lecturer?
My commitment to his political career as a serious minded individual stemmed back to the Abacha years after his serving as a councillor. He ventured into politics when most of us his colleagues felt all that mattered were acquisition of more degrees and charting a career path. We never thought one could make much out of politics. But he was resilient, consistent, focused and determined and it has paid off. In Abi LGA, there are not many elites who are very concerned about the living conditions of our people, let alone the dynamics of its socio-political engineering. I and my party members in my ward and the larger Abi LGA campaigned vigorously for him. We received him and Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba campaign train in Abi. Mind you, my presence in any political gathering is a form of endorsement and an affirmation of the principles I stand for and a psychological mobilization of the Abi people which necessarily translated into massive votes. Though I did not make a speech at his campaign rally, my name was announced without my consent and that equals all speeches made and essentializes the fact that when Alex stands, there are people of substance behind him. Such was my role in his election into the House of Representatives. This platform also adumbrates his mission in the legislative house and development of Abi.
And he remains the only person from the opposition party in the state that won during the last election
Ours is an evolving democracy where opposition politics or party opposition has not been nurtured as an essential ingredient of democratic practices. It is only through the strength and stress of healthy opposition that we can guarantee good governance, corruption free society, equality of opportunities, eliminate repression, marginalization, apply universal freedom and ensure political rights. Mind you, those in any political party in government hardly will see their limitations or willingly to exercise their political rights in difference with those of their party, as such opposition is a critical element of politics. The paradox of a lone victor in a PDP dominated state is the measure of overwhelming votes from electorate which will guarantee his political survival. Also note that those who are elected receive impartation of grace from God, from past heroes and prayers of thousands of people who elected them and as such Dr. Alex Egbona will have no obstacles, difficulties let alone problems of survival.
What impact do you see him making in the House of Representatives?
Dr. Alex Egbona has a track record, he didn’t come from the streets, he went through the mills. In his political proclivity, he can only but build on the foundation he had established. He is ambitious on the welfare of his people and intellectually equipped to drive the process through making appropriate contributions and quality representation which will translate into good governance. And I am happy he is already doing this in the National Assembly.
What difference will he make that will stand him out from his predecessors?
Already Dr. Egbona does not create class barriers or fence off people so it is easy for him to stand out from his predecessors by covering the social distance between him and the electorate, understanding them and what their priorities are. This attribute is critical to the game of politics and representation.
What areas of development will you like to draw his attention to?
Agriculture remains the mainstay of our rural economies where more than 75 per cent of our national population resides. Making laws that will strengthen agricultural intervention and programmes in line with priorities of communities will ensure sustainable development and alleviate poverty at rural level. The problem of development in our third world countries is that “powerful interest groups” oppose reforms that are people oriented, especially resistance often from the ruling elites. Look at the issue of financial autonomy for local governments which will drive development at the rural level, who are those opposing it. This is where Dr. Egbona will use his grassroots experience in making unique laws that will bring about national and international development planning at the local level.