What Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, son of Akparabong in Ikom Local Government Area of Cross River State says about his former colleague and friend, Senator Etang Edet Umoyo as a Commissioner and Neigbour in 1984 in the then Cross River State government.
The Former Senate Leader in the 7th Senate in a brief chat with Anietie Akpan, a Veteran Journalist with The Guardian Newspapers and member of the Umoyo’s Media and Publicity Sub Committee eulogies his former colleague of the 3rd Senate and fondly refers to him as “Ikot Usekong-James Town road” for his tenacity and persistent call for the repair of the road.
Ndoma-Egba’s late father, Justice E. T. Ndoma-Egba established the first High Court in Eket in 1975 and became the first High Court Judge there and also established the High Court in Oron before being posted to Etinan. His father spoke Eket language very well and Eket was like a second home to him until he died.
“So Eket became a home to the Ndoma-Egbas and for my relationship with Etang Umoyo, we were appointed Commissioners at the same time in 1984 when Akwa Ibom was still part of Cross River”, Ndoma-Egba stated, adding that, “the entire cabinet had only seven civil Commissioners before it was increased after all the Commissioners in the country protested about the work load and each state was allowed to have nine civil Commissioners. We did not have Special Advisers, Special Assistants in those days. It was just the Commissioners and the Permanent Secretaries that ran their Ministries.
“So Etang was appointed the Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources while I was appointed Commissioner for Works and Transport. There were three of us who were relatively young. The 4th person was Dr Mike Ogar, he was appointed Commissioner for Trade and Industry before he was moved to Information. The three of us in the cabinet became friends and I was the youngest of them. Then Etang and I became neigbours where we lived in State Housing and the friendship developed into brotherhood.
“One striking thing I noticed about him was that he was very passionate about his people. I got to know through his memo to the State Executive Council about his place Etebi and he was for ever pushing for the construction of the Etebi – Ikot Usekong-James Town road and until he died each time I saw him, I will call him, ‘Ikot Usekong-James Town roads’ because he was very passionate about it”.
Talking about his person, Ndoma-Egba said, “he was a very forthright person, very blunt and he did not played politics with people. I remember his very first Permanent Secretary when he was a Commissioner; the man was his Vice Principal in Secondary school. He never compromised on issues of policy and principle though would acknowledge that the man was his Vice Principal in Secondary school but will always disagree on principle. He was forthright and blunt and you will know were he stood on every situation. He was very empathetic and he laughed with people from the heart and cried with people from the heart. He was a freind you could count on at anytime”.
Think Nigeria will miss him? “Yes Nigeria will miss him and the real regret is that Nigeria never exploited the fullness of his potential. Etang had great mental resources that Nigeria never put into full use. When he went to the Senate, that was an opportunity to express himself but unfortunately that regime was truncated.
“He was a great man and I think Nigeria should immortalise him. He was not a very noisy politician but an exampleary politician because I don’t think that Etang did anything in politics that he could not own up to in public”.