by crossriverwatch admin
Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, is the representative of Cross River Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly. In this interview with journalists in Calabar, speaks on unfolding events ahead of the 2015 elections and other national issues. Correspondent Bassey Inyang was part of the interview session.
Some ranking PDP members believe that for zoning of governorship seat to Cross River North to work, other positions like the National Assembly, federal and state constituencies and so on, should also be subjected to zoning by the party. What is your view on this?
I don’t know where that is coming from but we are not known in our party to eat our words. As a party we have said the position of governor for 2015 should go to the north. I agree that in spite of that people still have the right to contest. But as faithful party people, the moment the party has taken a position we should stand by that position. This doesn’t stop members of the party from exercising their rights to say that in spite of the party’s position I want to contest. But once you work against that understanding, then it is going to be an uphill task.
You have said many times that you would re-contest to retain your position in the senate. And up till now nobody has indicated interest to challenge you for the Cross River Central Senatorial District seat. How do you feel about this scenario?
Well, I don’t know how to answer this without being misquoted. Democracy is maturity. You will recall that from 1999 to 2003 there was a lot of instability especially in the senate. As our democracy matured we began to see greater stability. It is the maturity of our democracy that has produced that stability to the point where we have senators who have been there since 1999, such as the Senate President, David Mark and the Chief Whip, Senator Bello Hayatu Gwarzo.
You could even see how that has affected the leadership of the senate, the most senior coming from amongst the longest serving. Now from the ninth class of senators (2003); from that class of six you have the deputy and then you have the Senate Leader from that class. If you take the deputy leader he has been in the National Assembly since 1999 but he was in the House of Representatives where he rose to become leader of the House of Representatives. So you can see how the leadership has emerged.
And this is common to the opposition too?
Even if you go to the other side, that is the opposition, the Minority Leader is a ranking senator; his deputy is a ranking senator; the Minority Whip has been in the National Assembly since 1999; his deputy was there for two terms and left. The consequence of maturity of our democracy also has implications on leadership recruitment. The legislature is a very peculiar institution in the sense that our institutional memory is an aggregate of every member’s memory, so the more members you lose that much of your memory you lose; the more members you retain that much of your memory you retain; and not everything is recorded. So we need people who just remember when an issue comes up. It is becoming obvious that there is need for the National Assembly, which not only symbolizes our democracy, to retain its institutional memory.
The political terrain of Cross River looks famished in terms of governorship aspirants. Some people want to be governor but won’t come out. Do they want to be governor in secret? What is responsible for this fear by some politicians including the PDP to come out and declare?
Political power is not donated. The only power that is donated is Power of Attorney, so it is the person who wants it and who works for it that will get it. We have gone past that point of accidental leadership; anybody who wants it should come out and work for it.
The APC has made some inroads into the Cross River political terrain. Will this present a challenge to the PDP?
In road is when you win an election. But opposition is the fuel that drives democracy. For me democracy just means or presents an opportunity for political choices, and the moment that choice is there it means that debates, discourse is deepened and informed. It is a welcomed development.
Can you comment on your empowerment program to the people of your constituency and the state?
In the next few weeks, I will be inspecting my projects in the central senatorial district. It is going to take us a while because they are many. They are very many. I am estimating that it will take us at least one full week. I am just putting you on notice. After that I was hoping that I will do my empowerment this month. But we are having a major challenge of time for the senate President who personally wants to be here rather than delegate somebody. We are now thinking of May this year. It is going to be a major program. We will redefine empowerment program in our community.
Recently, President Goodluck Jonathan gave an indication that decisions at the National Conference could be subjected to a referendum. How feasible could that be when at the moment there is no law approving anything like that?
If there is no law it cannot be subjected to a referendum. Right now we are in another round of constitutional amendment, you know that Section 9 of the 1999 constitution that provided for amendment does not provide for the making of the new constitution. So as it is, we can just go on amending and amending and amending the constitution.
So within the committee we started thinking that a time will come that we will want a brand new constitution; that the society is dynamic and the constitution at every time should be a moving document. So we now said amongst ourselves that why don’t we now contemplate a provision that will allow for the making of a new constitution?
In the provision that we have proposed we have made a referendum out of that proposal. But whether that proposal will pass or not is another matter because it was hotly debated on the floor of the Senate few days ago. A lot of people thought we were trying to create an opportunity for the report of the conference to pass through us. But that is not correct.
For now there is no provision for a referendum. But if the report is sent to the National Assembly it will be subjected to our normal legislative processes and debated like any other report before us.
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