Dr Alex Egbona is Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) and member representing Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency, Cross River State in the House of Representatives. In this interview, he spoke on why convicted rapists should be killed in phases, post-election suits are hampering national development and other issues.
What is your take on the rising cases of rape across the globe?
I feel sad, very sad, anytime I read newspapers or watch the TV and hear of rape cases. It is sad and saddening. I am yet to come to terms with the reasons why a man will want to rape the girl child. I think it smacks of low self-esteem for one to descent that low, to forcefully have carnal knowledge of a woman. I have read where a father would rape the daughter, where a boy would rape the sister or a relative. If it is not madness, I do not know what else to call such acts. So for me, rape is a highly condemnable act and those found to be engaged in it should be punished adequately. There are those who believe that rapists should be killed. While I agree that all those who are found to have been engaged in rape, especially those of them who rape their victims to death should also die, I believe they should even be made to die in phases. They should be alive to see themselves dying. They should not just be killed, they should be killed in phases. People give all kinds of reasons to justify rape, but there is no reason good enough to justify your decision to rape babies, teenagers or anybody for that matter. I will align myself with my colleagues in the fight against rape and will give support to all those who are fighting to see an end to this regime of rape.
You have been in the House for about one year. How has the journey been so far?
It has been a mixed grill. You may have been aware that my journey from the first day I was sworn-in, has been very hectic-from one court to the other, then back to the field for another round of election, and then back to the tribunal. I was the only member of the APC in Cross River State to have won the general election that was conducted in February last year. I fought battles on all fronts thereafter. There were serious plots by some persons to stop me from getting my certificate of return. When I eventually got it and was sworn-in, I was dragged before the election petition tribunal. The tribunal, in its wisdom, decided to nullify my election and victory was awarded to my opponent in a very questionable judgement. I proceeded to the court of appeal where that judgement was set aside but the results from two of the wards in my constituency were cancelled and a rerun ordered. I won the rerun and got back my seat in the House of Representatives. But my opponents still went back to the tribunal with afresh petition. I spent most of the legislative year distracted by the persecution of my opponents by being dragged through the judicial system, which cost me time and money. I want to also say that frivolous election-related litigations are frustrating the growth of our nation and precious time and resources that could have been channelled into active developmental work are wasted in pursuing the cases. By the grace, I eventually defeated them again and then began to work for my constituents.
First, I undertook a needs assessment tour of the constituency, during which critical projects were identified and listed for execution in the federal budget. I also undertook the installation of solar-powered street lights in parts of the constituency. I sponsored a bill for the establishment of the Federal Polytechnic, Abi, which has already passed the second reading on the floor of the House. It is on record that I raised a motion on the floor of the House calling for an end to the communal crisis between Adadama in Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State and the Amegu people in Ebonyi State, and followed up by initiating a dialogue process for an end to the crisis between Ekureku people in Cross River and Abaomege people in Ebonyi State. This process is ongoing. In addition, I procured motorcycles, tricycles and sewing machines for selected members of the constituency which will be distributed after the COVID-19 lockdown and border closures. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to safeguard my people, I provided hand sanitizers, face masks, other palliatives and financial assistance. I also influenced the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to provide food and other relief materials for flood victims in Ekureku, which was ravaged by flood.
A new chapter has opened and you have three more years. How will you spend the remaining three years?
You know what I do every day? I take a look at my election campaign brochure which I refer to as ‘My Pledge’ and I try to deliberately remind myself of what I promised the people. It is true that one year may have been wasted, but like Paul said in the Holy Book, I press toward the prize of the high calling. My eyes are on the goal post. I have since left the past and moved on with my dreams for the people. The remaining three years for me are years to wipe more tears from the eyes of people. There are bad roads to be fixed by the government. It is my duty to draw the federal government’s attention to them. A good number of the projects have already been identified and captured in the current budget. As you may know already, the National Assembly has begun the process of reviewing the budget in line with the current realities, as a result of COVID-19. So, at the end of the day, we will see which of the projects that have sailed through for the financial year and then we will follow-up accordingly to ensure that they are executed.
There are market women in my constituency that I promised to assist. Between now and the end of the year, I will interface with market women at the Ijiman market. I had promised to empower them during the first few months of my stay in the House. But the legal battles never allowed it to happen. I will need to have a session with these women and apologise to them for not keeping that promise at the due time, and thereafter, fashion out a way forward. But that promise will be kept