Dr. Alex Egbona, a former chief of staff Government House, Cross River State, is a first term member representing Abi/Yakur Federal Constituency on the tickets of the All Progressives Congress. In this interview, he talks about his victory and how to partner with the PDP back home to attract development to his people, his mission in the house.
You are now a member of the House of Representatives. How does it feel?
I have looked forward to this day for a long time. And, as I got into the hallowed chambers of the House getting ready to be inaugurated as a member of the 9th National Assembly, my mind went to a lot of things. I remembered how the people of Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency stood up for me in 2015, how they queued behind me and worked tirelessly to make sure I was elected to represent them in that Green Chamber. I remembered how the results were trickling in and how elated and convinced my people were, that we were coasting to victory. I remembered how sad they were when the news came, that we did not win. It was one sad period for my people.
As I looked round the Green Chambers, I remembered the antics some people tried to play to rig us out, to deny us of victory for the second time and how the masses stood their grounds and secured victory for me at the end of the day. I remembered how my village, Ekureku went into wild jubilation immediately I was announced winner of the election. And then I took my mind to the hundreds and thousands of people from my constituency who are looking up to me. I told myself repeatedly and quietly, that my people will have reasons to smile for the sacrifices they made to bring me here. So, I will say that I am upbeat- and it is basically about how I will be able to take my people to the next level. I know that God who started this will go with me all the way.
Do you feel fulfilled that you are now a member of the lower arm of the National Assembly?
I will say yes, especially because the dream and desires of my people have been met. If you knew about the challenges we faced as a people before we got here, then you will agree that it is very fulfilling that at last, we made it to the House of Reps.
You are the only one from the APC to have won any election under this dispensation, in your state. How will you cope with a PDP system back home?
I have always said that the various political parties are a platform for us to contest and win elections. That has already taken place. Elections have been won and lost by the APC and the PDP. In my state, the PDP took everything, except the Abi/Yakurr seat in the House of Representatives which God graciously gave to us. Penultimate week, my Governor, Prof Ben Ayade of the PDP was sworn and he has since started work. Members of the national and state house of assembly are also settling down to work. They are all PDP. But for your information, virtually all the people in PDP are my friends, including the governor. At one point or another, we have done things together. So, nobody will be going about with the tag of his political party when it comes to service delivery. We all have the mandate of our people to serve them. That is the most important thing. So, whether PDP or APC, we are first of all Cross Riverians and we know what our people want.
On the day our governor was sworn-in, I sent him a goodwill message and congratulated him on his election victory and swearing in. I also pledged my loyalty and support to him because we have only one state to serve. Abi/Yakurr is a microcosm of the larger Cross River. If I decide to play politics with the development and empowerment of my people, who will lose? Recall that even the governor himself has always said, during his first term, that his close relationship with Mr. President, who is a member of the APC, was borne out of the desire to attract development to his state.
As I make laws as member of the House of Reps, it is not only my party members who will benefit from it. If I see opportunities in my state which of course is governed by the PDP, I will not fail to synergise with the key players back home. I am a firm believer in the theory of politics without bitterness.
What is it that you will like to address immediately, now that you have resumed work?
One of the first issues I will like to address is the lingering feud between some communities in Ebonyi state and Adadama community in Cross River state. Many people have been killed as a result of the face-off. Others had fled their homes. In the last few weeks, I have engaged my colleagues from Ebonyi State who are from the neighbouring villages and we are working out peace strategies. Now that we have been inaugurated, we will take this peace processes higher. The earlier we can get the people to live in peace, the better for the two states.
Also, my mind is set on the motions and bills I will have to sponsor within my first one year as a Rep. My team is already working out the details and I can assure you that it will impact on my people and my state a great deal.
How ready are you for the politics of National Assembly leadership?
I want to believe that you may be talking about the politics of committees’ leadership and membership. If that is what you mean, my response will simply be that as a full member of the House of Reps I am ready to serve in any capacity the House leadership deems fit.
Of course you would have known about my pedigree and experience in public service and business life. I started off as a councilor and I was a principal officer in the legislative assembly of my local government. I have been a special assistant on special duties, deputy chief of staff and chief of staff. I have been a lecturer. I am the CEO of an agro based business conglomerate. So, I can wear any shoes because I have the requisite experience and qualification. I can also head any committee because I am eminently qualified. But I am not power hungry; I’m only driven by the hunger to serve the people.
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