By Uche Anichukwu
As the Igbo saying goes, “Afu nwa elota nna”, meaning that the child is a reflection of the father. Here the father is used metaphorically in place of parents and indeed the home. In a realistic sense, the child is a reflection of the mother because they spend more time with the children.
Thus, if the saying that children are the true mirrors of the homes they come from, then one does not need to search far to unearth the intellect, humility, courage, philanthropy, and dedication to service to humanity, which the Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Authority, NDDC, Distinguished Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN,son of Hon. Justice Emmanuel Takon Ndoma-Egba and Elder (Mrs.) Adeline Ndoma-Egba, embodies.
I came to know Senator Ndoma-Egba in the 5th Senate, which lasted from 2003 to 2007. However, it was when he became the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Publicity that I began to relate quite closely with him. As a Special Assistant on Media to the President of the Senate at the time we naturally had to work together. A versatile man, he handled that position so professionally and in most dignifying way that you would hardly know that he was not a trained media or Public Relations professional.
His intellectual prowess was never in doubt at the time because it showed up in his contributions in plenary for all to see. He is a super brain, an outside-the-box thinker and problem solver. Although his humility is equally very noticeable from afar, one only needed to get closer to know that it is not a façade.
He is so humble that unless you were told, you would not know that he belongs to the cerebral 1978 set of the Nigeria Law School, which produced the likes of the current Chief Justice of Nigeria, His Lordship, Justice Walter Onnoghen; Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma; former President of the Nigeria Bar Association and present Governor of Ondo State, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu; and former Minister of Justice and former President of the NBA, Chief Bayo Ojo, among others. You would not also know that he was appointed Chairman of the Board of Governors, Government Secondary School, Ikom, in 1980 by ex-Governor Clement Isong when he was just 24. You would not also know that President Shehu Shagari also appointed him into the Board of the Cross River Basin and Rural Development Authority at the same time or that he became a Commissioner of the highly coveted State Ministry of Works and Transport at the age of 27.
In the Red Chambers, where he eventually rose to the position of Deputy Leader in the 6th Senate and Leader in the 7th Senate, he represented what every a Senator should be in grace, patriotism, and hard work. He churned out bills like a bills machine.
However, this is not a tribute to Senator Ndoma-Egba. It is a tribute to the tree that bore the good fruit, for even the Holy Scriptures say that only a good tree can bear good fruits. It is about the good woman, who bore the good son.
Born on January 8, 1926 to the family of James and Elvira Wilson in St. Catherine’s Jamaica in the Caribbean Basins, the late matriarch of the Ndoma-Egbas joined his siblings in England after the death of her father. She enrolled with the Lewisham School of Nursing, an affiliate of Guys Hospital, London. She also trained with the University of London, London School of Tropical Medicine and Diseases and North London Middlesex Hospital and worked with Kings College Hospital, London and Bristol Royal infirmary.
After joining her husband in Nigeria in 1962, she worked at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, formerly known as General Hospital, Enugu. She also rendered her services at Park Lane Hospital, Enugu as the very first Theatre Matron. She went on to serve as Matron at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital when the civil war broke out and later moved on to work with the International Red Cross at the Awomama Reference Hospital in the present day Imo State. Those who saw or read accounts of the war would understand better the services she rendered at those two places.
Not done, she served as Matron at the General Hospital Ogoja after the war. She was also Matron at the Catholic Mission Hospital Monaiya, Ogoja and Holy Family Joint Hospital, Ikom and retired in 1985. But, she refused to get tired even in retirement as she redirected her life fully to service as a community and church leader.
If we understand that Nursing as a profession is for the innately humane it is for those whose major aim is not to earn a living. Instead, they are so connected with humanity that they want to spend the rest of their lives providing care and saving lives, then we would better appreciate the totality of her person. It would also help us to connect the dots as to why philanthropy runs in the blood of Senator Ndoma-Egba and his siblings.
A Jamaican by birth, Mrs. Adeline Ndoma-Egba actually met the young Law student, Emmanuel Takon Ndoma-Egba, aka ET, who later became her husband at a friend’s graduation party in London in the afternoon of July 16, 1957. Both became attached to each other. ET proposed to her on her birthday in 1958, they got formally engaged on ET’s birthday in 1959 and married in 1960.
Leaving her country of birth and the UK, she not only joined her husband in Nigeria, but also melted into her husband’s people, culture, and nation. She also made her home a melting pot of people of all races, tribes, religions, and languages. She accepted all irrespective of where they came from and gave meaning to their lives. Little wonder Distinguished Senator Ndoma-Egba is a pan-Nigerian with highly detribalised dispositions. The Senator is also married to his Igbo heartthrob, Amaka.
As the matriarch embarks on her triumphal journey home at 91, one can only join the Ndoma-Egba clan to celebrate an exemplary life of service, who also bequeathed a tribe of men and women, who are making the world a better place. Goodnight, the good mother of a good son.