by crossriverwatch admin
Max Ogar is an Abuja-based Legal Practitioner and a Public Affairs Analyst. He is from Cross River State.
In your last meeting with us, you talked about sensitive political issues in Cross River State, are you interested in partisan politics?
I am actually very interested in partisan politics. I was deeply involved in the Students’ politics of Ahmadu Bello University while my studentry there lasted. With the likes of Dino Melaye, Victor Arokoyo, Musa Suleiman Ujo, Abba Ejembi, Chris Nwachukwu etc, we actively participated in intra and inter campus politics. In the Law School, I represented Ahmadu Bello University in the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) and contested for the Chairmanship of the SRC though I didn’t prosper in the contest. I always find myself in leadership circles in institutions or organizations I have associated with. It is obvious from my antecedence that I am politically inclined.
In one of your publications, you made reference to late Ntufam Matthew Ojong encouraging you to go to the National Assembly. How about that?
Ah! Ntufam (Iyamba) Matthew Odey Ojong. My friend and uncle; may his soul rest in peace. I dream to be a Senator and I also dream to be a Governor. One of these dreams must come to pass by God’s very special grace.
Do you intend to start that big? How about the State House of Assembly and the House of Representatives?
Yes, I am a very ambitious person with good foresight. I am already building friendship and relationships that will help my ambition. I learnt a lot from the late Shehu Musa Yar’adua and our late brother (John Oyom Okpa) who was Tafidan Katsina’s ‘student’ in the game of politics. I am also learning a lot from Dornclaimz Enamhe (a man under rated by many and grossly being underutilized). I am also studying the magic of the Sarakis. I don’t intend to be an accidental leader; one who will be hand-picked by the powers that be. I want to be able to build myself up to the extent that in all 18 LGAs in Cross River, at least 10 people can boast of a first-name relationship with me. That was Yar’adua’s staying power – he had Atiku in Adamawa, Okadigbo in Anambra, Polycarp Nwite in Ebonyi, Iyocha Ayu in Benue, Titi Ajanaku in Ogun, Borishade in Osun or Ekiti, Okpa in Cross River etc.
As to starting from the State Assembly or House of Representatives, I don’t despise any position. However, I will profit more concentrating in my legal practice than being in the State House of Assembly. For the House of Representatives, the odds are naturally against anyone from Ikom with Victor Ndoma-Egba being in the Senate.
What’s your take on Senator Victor Ndoma Egba’s ambition to return to the Senate for the fourth time?
Ndoma-Egba has creditably done well, I am proud of him and what he stands for as a parliamentarian. But I am worried about the hidden implications of his long stay in the Senate.
We need you to address two issues you just raised. What do you mean by saying Ndoma-Egba has done well? Also, what do you mean by the hidden implications of his long stay in the Senate?
Thank you very much. Victor Nchor Ndoma-Egba’s representation of the People of Cross River State (not just the Central Senatorial District) is worthy of commendation; his voice is loudly heard, his impact in the Red Chambers is greatly felt and his face is now synonymous with Cross River State. The implication of his long stay in the National Assembly is that no Ikom son or daughter may be a Senator in the next 52 years if we are fair to each other. If you give Etung, Obubra and Yakurr 12 years each as Ikom (Ndoma-Egba) has taken thus far that will be 36 years. If you give Boki 8 years (Matthew Tawo Mbu having taken 4 years), and give Abi 8 years (Liyel Imoke having taken about 2 years in the still born 3rd Republic) that will make it 36+8+8= 52. The implication is that those of us from Ikom who are 15 years old and above are automatically out. I won’t support anyone from Ikom talking of going to the Senate when the other components of the Senatorial District have not had a bite of the cherry.
But your people insist Senator Ndoma-Egba has not done well and they want him replaced. What’s your reaction?
Some people assess Law Makers from the point of view of the material things they get or can get. They accuse Ndoma-Egba of being tight fisted and all of that, but I differ from them for so many reasons. First, permit me to say that I have no personal relationship with the man beside our common ancestry of Nkpanjen (Akparabong; my father’s maternal origin seen more as our home than Adijinkpor where we actually come from) – this establishes a basis of objectivity in my submissions. Secondly, Victor (as he prefers to be called) is a man who is modest and gentle; he can never resort to sharing money on the streets or announcing what he has done for people. Thirdly and fundamentally, we can excuse him for not being a ‘donatus’ because of his background – he is a son of two teachers (Justice Ndoma-Egba was first a teacher just as the Senator’s mother- Madam Achi Nentui.). Forthly, his mother is from Ikom Town and his father has some links with Nkum Yala – people from these communities don’t give easily. (No insult intended)
Above all, no man is perfect. Ndoma-Egba has given a good account of himself as a Law Maker. The other issues are minor and can be over-looked.
Mr. Ogar, people compare Senator Ndoma-Egba to Hon. Owan Enoh and they tend to prefer Owan to him. Will you want to react to this?
Why not? When we expect our Law Makers to pay our rent, pay our children’s fees, pay maternity bills for us, give us handouts etc, we can never appreciate a man like Victor Ndoma-Egba. He will always be guilty in our ‘courts’, but with chances of our verdicts being up-turned on appeal. God forbid that I condemn Chris Etta for not aiding me to pay rent or go for Pilgrimage; the duty he owes me is to represent me in the House of Representatives. We must discourage this pressure on politicians and public office holders.
Are you aware John Owan Enoh is gearing up to replace Victor Ndoma-Egba in the Senate?
Yes, I am aware. I hear the State Governor doesn’t want Ndoma-Egba to return to the Senate and the reason is far from competence or inability to deliver the ‘goods’ to the warehouse. I have also heard people say the Senate Leader has over stayed in the Senate. Some others want him out because of his unwillingness to democratize the fruits of democracy. No one so far has given an objective reason why Ndoma-Egba must leave the Red Chambers. I have asked severally why it must be Owan Enoh to replace Victor Ndoma-Egba and the unsatisfactory answer is ‘we want a new face there.’ Haba, so Owan Enoh is the new face? I respect John Owan Enoh for his high intellect and the ability to connect, but I will not buy the argument that he should replace Ndoma-Egba on the basis of the length of time Ndoma-Egba has spent in the Senate. Owan Enoh started in the State Assembly in 1999 and moved to the House of Representatives in 2003 where he has spent 12 years running. So what makes his case different from Victor’s?
I feel so bad that we are reducing the entire Central Senatorial District (with six LGAs) to just two persons. Are these gentlemen the most intelligent people we have from Boki, Ikom, Etung, Obubra, Yakurr and Abi? Far from it! I advocate for a change of guards and if that must be, then the entire battalion should go. Let a fresh person come on board.
But Senator Ndoma-Egba has always talked about experience which he says ‘is acquired from a long stay in the Senate’, what do you say to that?
I am not persuaded by that. If Matthew Mbu had stayed on to have experience, would he have been to the Senate? No man is indispensable. He (Ndoma-Egba) is very cerebral, but he does not have a monopoly of intelligence. I read an interview where he was quoted as saying ‘his people will suffer if he does not return to the Senate’ even though he dissociated himself from the statement. We have enough capable hands in the Senatorial district.
Do you encourage Owan Enoh to join the Senatorial race?
Certainly! Democracy is all about competition; let all that are interested join the race so that the electorate can choose the best man/woman from the pack. I am not against Owan Enoh exercising his franchise by seeking any office, but I am against somebody sitting in Calabar or Itgidi and using someone else to show Ndoma-Egba a red card. They may mobilize against Ndoma-Egba in the general election; I don’t see them successfully wrestling the ticket from him if he knows what he is doing. I will lose the respect I have for him if he allows the PDP ticket to pass him by. On the whole, I score Owan Enoh very high in his task as a Law Maker.
Please, can you say something about the empowerment effort by the two contenders for the Central Senatorial District?
You mean my friends Victor Ndoma-Egba and Owan Enoh?
Yes! Your friends..
I commend them for the jobs they have been able to aid our people to have and the scholarships being awarded to our people. I don’t subscribe to buying cars and bikes for people and calling it empowerment. Was that what Awolowo did? Was that what Michael Etta Ogon did? Why will you give a car to an unemployed person and you say you are empowering him? Why will you give a grinding machine to a graduate of over five years and you call it empowerment? Edward Etta Ogon bought robes for me and all my call mates from Ikom and Boki when we were admitted to the Nigerian Bar over ten years ago, and Abang Odok Ogar is doing it today across the State – that is functional empowerment akin to giving out fishing nets as opposed to pieces of fish.
What will be your parting words to Cross Riverians as the 2015 clock ticks?
We must endeavour to reduce poverty among our people for that is the only thing that can make us independent in either contesting or supporting people. Poverty is the bane of quality leadership in our state. A cousin of mine had an encounter with Roland Ndoma-Egba during the build up to the 2011 general elections, and the former Chief Medical Director of UCTH said to him: “Opposition only works in places like Anambra where everybody has
money and in the South West where the people are enlightened. In the North, illiteracy has settled the matter while back here, poverty has spoilt it all”.
It is this poverty that makes us jump at refurbished cars and we call it empowerment.
Finally, I will urge on our people the reasoning of late Senator Idris Ibrahim Kuta who said in 1999 that ‘Politics should not be a career for anyone. People should retire into politics to serve having achieved their goals in their chosen careers.’
Let us all build capacity and sound financial bases before venturing into politics, with that we can become game changers like Goddy Jedy-Agba.
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