|Hon Chief Dr Alex Egbona, Former Chief of Staff to Ex Governor Liyel Imoke|
By Richard Romanus
Some say he is a Philanthropist, others say, he is an extraordinary politician whereas some others described him as the People’s politician. Which ever name anybody wishes to call and address Hon Chief Dr Alex Egbona, Former Chief of Staff to Ex Governor Liyel Imoke, they are all correct. He deserves and merit them all.
For me, denying him the House of Representatives ticket for Abi/Yakurr federal Constituency was one of the biggest mistakes made by the then entire People’s Democratic Party leadership. This was a man whose popularity cuts across the length and breadth of the State. The result of that mistake is today stirring us at the face as the person who was rather prefered to him has since gone into oblivion since he was elected for the third time. That is a story for another day.
By contesting for House of Representatives in the 2015 General elections, he showed he was not one of those politicians who will deliberately rock the boat in order to make a political statement. Those familiar with the job description of a Chief of Staff be it to a President or a Governor, will agree with me that,it is a position that can best be described as the power house of any administration courtesy of the enormous resources and information always at his disposal especially in Nigeria.
This clearly explains why, in Nigeria, at the end of a Governor’s tenure, those always at the poll position to succeed them are their Chief of Staffs. In Abia, Senator Theodore Orji was Orji Uzor Kalu’s Chief of Staff, In Lagos, Babatunde Raji Fashola was Asiwaju Armed Tinubu Chief of Staff, it is almost the same scenerio in Rivers between Nyesom Wike and Rotimi Amaechi. In other cases, they are usually settled with other very juicy elective or Appointive positions often times, Senatorial tickets or ministerial slots.
It was however surprising to see Dr Egbona contesting for the federa house seat almost the same time his colleague in Niger State in the person of Umar Nasko was already been position by his boss, Ex Governor Babangida Aliyu to succeed him. But for the APC tsunami that blew across the country,38 years old Nasko would have been the Governor of Niger state whereas in Cross River, His colleague is begging for Rep ticket. Only a man like Alex Egbona can afford to reduce himself to that level.
It was from him, I saw true loyalty and what it means to be loyal. Not many people would have been loyal to Governor Liyel Imoke the way Alex Egbona did during his over two months medical treatment abroad. For some people, it could have been a major opportunity for them to cause a major upset in then administration towards advancing their political aspirations but for him (Egbona), it was a test of loyalty and true friendship, a test he was able to withstand to the very end. Respect!
In Ekwurekwu where he hails from, this academic Doctor is like a demigod. I remember witnessing his 50th birthday in his home town some time ago. It was testimonies upon testimonies by the villagers who trooped in, in their numbers to celebrate their illustrious son. It was even the day, physically challenge people of Abi/Yakurr came together to decorate him as the most friendly politician/public figure to the Physically Challenge people in the State. Dr Egbona would have chosen to celebrate his 50th birthday with the high and mighty but for him, it is the People’s first.
Till date,the story of how he made people who never dreamt to be car owners to be car owners overnight while others were given good sums of money in Governors office during his last days in office, remains fresh amongst staff of Governors office. Chief as he was then called, does not have to know you before benefiting from him. He remains one man that served under the Liyel Imoke administration that I still hear people sing his praises. No wonder, do many people are if the view that, the position of Cross River State Chief of Staff died with his exit.
As he marks his birth day today, I am pleased to join his family, friends most especially, the political caterpillar himself, Ntufam Sandy Onoh and other well wishers, to wish him a happy birthday. For me, this is to show him that, for eight good years, I have been keeping track of him, I admire his style, person and politics and it is my prayers that, God favours him with more illustrious years in his noble mission of transforming lives and putting smiles on faces…