As  Ndoma-Egba Bids  PDP Farewell | Independent Newspapers Limited
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As  Ndoma-Egba Bids  PDP Farewell

Posted: Sep 19, 2015 at 1:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By  Temidayo Akinsuyi,


The decision  by a former  Senate leader, Victor Ndoma- Egba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria,  to dump the Peoples Democratic  Party (PDP) for the ruling All Progressives  Congress (APC) did not come to many  Nigerians  as a surprise. Given the treatment meted out to him by the powers that be in the party during the last general elections in his home state of Cross River, many political analysts had even thought Ndoma-Egba will find his out of the party immediately the outcome of the primaries, but he took his time and announced his exit from the party six months later.

Victor Ndoma Egba

Victor Ndoma Egba

Highly respected in the Senate for his vast experience, charisma and deep knowledge of thorny issues,  Ndoma- Egba was first elected to the hallowed chambers of the  Senate in 2003. He enjoyed a roller- coaster ride in 2007 and 2011.  But trouble began in 2015 when the lawyer turned politician attempted to seek a fourth term ticket. His ambition never received the blessings of some major stakeholders in the state especially the immediate past governor, Senator Liyel Imoke. Prior to the party primaries that heralded the 2015 general elections, Imoke and  Ndoma Egba were the best of political associates. As governor, Imoke was the leader of the PDP in the state, but in his capacity as the Senate Leader, Ndoma Egba was also, unarguably, a factor to reckon with within the state and at the national level. And for about seven years, the former governor and lawmaker related well both on personal and political levels.

In the months heralding the last elections, signs of cracks in the relationship between the two men began to manifest following reports that Ndoma-Egba was allegedly not on the same page with Imoke over the latter’s succession plans. The former Senate Leader, the reports claimed, had allegedly introduced a PDP member, then serving in the House of Representatives, to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and some national leaders of the party asking for their endorsement for the lawmaker’s governorship ambition. Ndoma-Egba’s denial of the report notwithstanding, sources disclosed that Imoke and his supporters took this with a pinch of salt and there and then, the battle line was drawn.

For most ranking PDP senators, the battle to get return tickets to the National Assembly was as tough as it was bruising. In several caucus sessions held with the then Senate President presiding, the senators had allegedly called on the Presidency and party leadership to ensure that at least 70 percent of the senators are offered automatic return tickets. Subsequent meetings were later held between the representatives of the Senators led by Mark, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu and Ndoma-Egba with ex-President Jonathan and the then National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Adamu Muazu.

To further consummate the agreement, follow-up meetings were called by Jonathan and Muazu with some PDP governors whose support was key to the actualisation of the plan. One of such governors was Imoke, who sources say, initially supported the plan, but later backed out of the deal.

The former governor allegedly told some national leaders of the party that stakeholders of the party in Cross River State were not in support of Ndoma-Egba, who was aspiring for a fourth term in the Senate. The preferred candidate, he said, was Fred Eno, a member of the House of Representatives and Chairman, Committee on Appropriation.

After all attempts to reconcile Imoke with Ndoma-Egba failed, the former Senate Leader resolved to take his political destiny in his own hands. The primaries to pick candidates for the National Assembly election later took place in the state. To the shock of Imoke and his group, Ndoma-Egba reportedly emerged victorious defeating his main rival, Eno, with a comfortable margin.

But Imoke would have none of this, reportedly vowing that he would do all within his powers to scuttle Ndoma-Egba’s ambition. Sources alleged that huge state resources running into billions of naira were committed by the Imoke-led state government in the “Operation Stop Ndoma-Egba.”

What followed was a battle of wits between the two powerful gladiators determined to have their way. On one hand, the former governor literally relocated to Abuja to put pressure on the party leadership to cancel the primaries, which produced Ndoma-Egba.

Ndoma-Egba, on the other hand, leveraged on his closeness to the Presidency to beat Imoke to the game. He also received solid support from Mark, who also put in words for him at the appropriate quarters. The former governor eventually had the last laugh. Not only did the national headquarters of the PDP annul the results of the primaries, which produced Ndoma-Egba, it further called for a fresh process to choose the party’s candidate for Cross River Central Senatorial Zone. Predictably, the former Senate Leader was stunned. His several attempts to make the party rescind the decision failed.

Allegations that some national leaders of PDP were compromised to cancel the first primaries soon gained prominence in the state, a charge associates of Imoke dismissed as sheer blackmail. Expectedly, the second primaries, which was reportedly boycotted by Ndoma-Egba, was a walk over for Eno, the former governor’s favoured candidate.

Having lost in the power game in his state, not a few expected the former Senate Leader to pay back Imoke in his own coin but he however said he has nothing against the former governor. According to him “I have nothing against him. He did not do anything to me that was not the will of God. I am a Christian and I believe that everything that happens to a believer has God’s seal”.

Also speaking on why he may dump the PDP for APC, he said  “It is because under our constitution, you can play politics only on the platform of a political party. You recall the events in the Peoples Democratic Party in Cross River State in the last three years. More energy was spent pursuing Victor Ndoma-Egba than were spent on winning elections; they even celebrated their loss because they imagined that I was going to get an appointment. The sole objective of the party was denying Victor Ndoma-Egba political space and I became their only issue. For three years, I have not been invited to any meeting of the PDP in Cross River State and this is understandable. The party shut its doors against me a long time ago. I still have political life and I have no plans to retire from politics. And to play politics, I need a platform and PDP has become hostile and inhospitable, so I move on.

A week ago, some leaders of the Cross River APC, led by the Vice Chairman of Central and Chairman of the Stabilisation and Mobilisation Committee, Mr. Cletus Obun have visited Ndoma-Egba. They urged him to join the party. Obun said APC and Cross River State needed his character, integrity, personality leadership and father figure in the party. They urged him to ignore media attacks on his speculated membership of the party because the attacks were not from the APC but allegedly  by those they called sponsored hirelings of the opposition party.

Obun said the visit was necessary because APC and the state needed Ndoma-Egba  to benefit from his political strength in the state and at the Federal levels. The spokesman noted  that no the decision was taken at a resolution of an enlarged stakeholders and State Executive meeting of the party  in Ikom, Cross River State.

According to him, APC agreed to go on a serious membership drive to increase its members ahead of the forthcoming local government elections in the state. Obun said Ndoma-Egba was targeted among those to be wooed into the party. He said the elders wanted to take advantage of the ill-treatment meted out to him by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to  join the APC. He said Ndoma-Egba’s movement to APC  would be  an historic duty because his experience would enable the party to develop further.

Another member of the delegation and former Minority Leader and only APC member in the Cross River State House of Assembly, Alex Irek noted   that ‘’because we know where the sponsorship is coming from, the party mandated us to come and plead with you to come fast”. According to him, Ndoma-Egba’s defection was long overdue because APC members were already waiting for him to join the progressives.

Indeed, some days before the last elections, the national leadership of the then major opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC) allegedly approached Ndoma-Egba to convince him to defect to the party. In some newspaper interviews he granted shortly before and after the elections, the former Senate Leader, while admitting that there were pressures on him to defect to the APC, however added that he was still consulting with his associates before deciding his next move.

Ndoma- Egba finally made the next move on Wednesday when he publicly announced his resignation as a member of PDP. In a resignation letter he personally signed and addressed to the PDP Chairman in his Akparabong Ward of Ikom Local Government Area of Cross River State, he cited reasons which necessitated his exit from the party.

In his resignation letter, while he expressed gratitude to the party for the opportunities given to him in the past, he pointed out that the current policies and direction of the PDP had become inconsistent with his philosophy and commitment to democratic principles and that he could no longer pursue his “political beliefs in the party in its current state.” “I returned to politics to pursue certain ideals and values, to contribute towards strengthening democracy, to give a voice to my people, a people who have been most kind and generous to me. Before, the PDP was strong in Cross River State because it offered members an atmosphere and opportunity for self expression within its confines. Today, those values that underline democracy have totally become strange to the party. I, therefore, resign my membership of the PDP forthwith and urge you to take the necessary steps to reflect this on your records,” he added.