by crossriverwatch admin
Max Ogar is a civil rights campaigner and a private legal practitioner from Cross River state based in Abuja. He spoke to CrossRiverWatch recently:
Can we meet you?
I am an Ahmadu Bello University–trained litigation Attorney in private legal practice in Abuja, Nigeria. I am the Founder/Lead Attorney of/in the Firm of Legalmax Solicitors. I am also an author, a publisher and a public affairs analyst. I am happily married with three children.
You are a very popular Abuja Lawyer, how come very little is known about you in Cross River State?
It is not absolutely correct that very little is heard of me in Cross River. Remember that context is everything; it therefore, depends on the context within which you are predicating your assessment of my being known in my home state. If you mean that I am not being seen there struggling with village and ward politics, then I plead guilty. But otherwise, I am known by my people – I was Senior Prefect of Government Secondary School, Ikom in 1990, I was Senate President of NACRISS Worldwide in 2000, I have employed many Lawyers of Cross River origin, I am a regular face on national Television stations and, of course, I have instituted a couple of public-interest litigation cases touching on the politics of the State. All of these put me in a position where it cannot be rightly said that little is known of me.
I must make this disclosure. I ‘rebased’ (apologies to Aunty Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela) my name from Maxwell Nchor Ogar to just Max Ogar over ten years ago. The consequence is that many people don’t know that it is the troublesome Nchor Ogar they know who is Max Ogar. All in all, one cannot be in the best of two worlds at the same time. I am dutifully in Abuja trying to build a career and a family different from what I saw growing up – with this, I cannot be seen in Ikom or Calabar every weekend. As an ambitious person aspiring to be amongst the best in my profession, I must not be on the streets of Cross River every day.
What can you say about the preparedness or otherwise of all the aspirants to the governorship of Cross River in 2015?
If the truth must be told; I only know of one man who has said he wants to be governor of Cross River State – that man is Goddy Jedy-Agba. I will not glory anyone who is waiting to be crowned by Liyel Imoke by commenting on the person’s preparedness for the race.
Jedy-Agba has been accused of having foreign friends and not being a part of the governance architecture in Cross River State as such it is argued that he will not understand the vision of the three ‘wise men’. What’s your take on this?
Foreign friends? You mean non-Cross Riverians? Yes, Goddy Jedy-Agba whom I have sighted just once (during the 50th Anniversary celebrations of Oti Jedy-Agba in Obudu) and with whom I have no personal relationship is a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; was a staff of the Federal Capital Territory Administration before joining NNPC. With this scenario, it is expected that his ‘company’ (like minds) will not be Cross Riverians but his ‘crowd’ (beneficiaries/dependants) are majorly Cross Riverians. We build friendship amongst neigbhors, colleagues, business partners etc not necessarily amongst our kit and kin. The constitution of Nigeria provides for the qualification for being a governor; friendship is not directly or remotely one of such qualifications.
Who were Donald Duke’s friends in Cross River before he became a governor? Who are Liyel Imoke’s friends of Cross River origin? Willy Ogon, Eddy Ogon, Knut Ndoma-Egba etc cannot be said to be home boys. I remember my learned friend (Victor Nchor Ndoma-Egba, SAN) saying during his senatorial campaigns in 2003 that “He deserves to be in the Senate where his friends – the Udo Udomas – were.” Truly, his pals in the Senate gave him some leverage in his commendable ascension in the Red Chambers. Goddy-Agba should be commended as opposed to being condemned for having a high network of friends across the country; that is an asset we find useful should he triumph in his quest to be governor.
On the issue of not being part of the governance architecture of the state, that is pure red hearing. Their godfather (Clement David Ebri) was not part of any governance architecture when questionably he pushed out Wilfred Inah in the NRC primaries and usurped Matthew Ojong’s mandate in the December 14, 1991 guber elections. Talking about the vision of the three wise men is arrant bunkum. What is their vision? Is it throwing the state into the darkness of indebtedness they call vision? Is it the show casing of nudity every December that is called vision? Is it sitting back and seeing 76 oil blocks disappear that is called vision? May be it is the enthronement of misfits as Council Chairmen that they call vision. We need a departure from where these boys have regrettably taken us to.
Do you think Jeddy-Agba has the requisite capacity to effectively and satisfactorily run the governance of Cross River State having not been part of Imoke’s government?
Being in Imoke’s or any other person’s government is not a prerequisite for running an effective government anywhere in the world. Imoke is not a super governor for his government to be seen as a model. Even Raji Fashola, who has done exceptionally well, cannot claim that it is only one of those in his government that can effectively take over from him. Does it take being part of Imoke’s government for his successor to know that rural roads in Biakpan, Mfan Osing, Ovonum, Abo, Ukele, Mbarakom, Orim Ekpang etc need to be tarred?
It is laughable if we feel that a man who in the past fifteen years has been in the management cadre of the NNPC cannot manage a civil service state like Cross River if elected by the people. If Imoke and his supporters care about the quality of leadership we need, they will not plant the people I see as Council Chairmen and Assembly Men. Can you compare what we have in the CRHA today with the era of the Orok Otu Dukes, the Cletus Obuns, the John Owan Enohs and the Emperor Owas in terms of quality and content? Obviously no! The wise men I mentioned were not anointed by the powers that be; they got there deservingly. For your information, with my experience in the private sector as the head of a competitive law firm in Abuja, I have the capacity to deliver should I be elected a governor. I say this to say that anyone of us from Cross River who has developed himself/herself can govern.
You are a front line activist and a supporter of the oppressed; could that be what informed your decision to swing your support for Goddy Jedy-Agba despite the fact that you are a sympathizer of the opposition APC?
For those who know me, I follow Atiku Abubakar rabidly; I support Tinubu with incomparable passion; I support Rotimi Amaechi fanatically, and I adorably standby Muhammadu Buhari. The morale for this is the oppression these men have suffered and are still suffering. By my make-up, I fight oppression and I support the oppressed always. It is with the same token that Jeddy-Agba has become an issue for me even though he does not know me. I will support and support and support him particularly in the area of using my public relations privileges to influence public opinion in his favour. I am not just a sympathizer of the APC; I am a card-carrying member of the APC as we speak. But the love of my state will not allow me to enslave myself to any party. I will work for the best men/women whether in LP, APC or PDP for the governorship and legislative positions in Cross River. It may interest you to know that I am solidly behind Ken Egbas and his aspiration to represent Etung/Obubra in the NASS. I also stand with George Abang Ekpungu to represent the people Ikom/Boki in the NASS. These gentlemen are in PDP.
Is that not what ‘core’ party men will call disloyalty or anti party activities?
Yes sir, parties are made for the people and not the people for the parties. Parties, like rules of court, are meant to regulate affairs and not to enslave. I cannot kowtow by supporting an ‘empty’ person just because of party loyalty. You must be superior to me in terms of awareness for me to support you to lead me, so if my ‘party’ presents a bad candidate (a contraband), I can only buy such a contraband with counterfeited currency.
More importantly, I don’t depend on any political party for my daily bread which comes from God. This is why I counsel that we should individually build capacity and livelihood in our careers so that we don’t depend on political patronage for bread and butter.
What is your message for Cross Riverians?
Simplicita, I charge our amiable people to strive to build capacity in their respective areas of endeavour. Fundamentally, I charge our people to arise and affirmatively assert themselves with a view to changing the paradigm of leadership in the state.
follow us on twitter @crossriverwatch
Since You Are Here, Support Good Journalism
CrossRiverWatch was founded on the ideals of deploying tech tools to report in an ethical manner, news, views and analysis with a narrative that ensures transparency in governance, a good society and an accountable democracy.
Everyone appreciates good journalism but it costs a lot of money. Nonetheless, it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of news commercialisation.
Consider making a modest contribution to support CrossRiverWatch's journalism of credibility and integrity in order to ensure that all have continuous free access to our noble endeavor.