Thursday, 13 November 2014

Benue: Senate seat sparks off rivalry between Onoja, Mark

Senate President David Mark is facing a serious challenge from Chief Mike Onoja, who has expressed readiness to take over the Benue South Senatorial District seat from him in 2015.
Already, there are strong indications that some of Mark’s kinsmen, who were his strong supporters, have dumped him for Chief Onoja, who is opposing his return to the Senate for the fifth time.

It is a political rivalry like no other, at least, in the history of partisan politics in that part of Benue State. This clash of the titans has always been fierce. Supporters, observers and political analysts are watching keenly how this rivalry will unfold. 

According to Ameh Udo, the campaign director to Onoja, David Mark’s cup is full and needs not to run over.
“His impact has not been felt all these years as senate president. Therefore, change is imminent from the zone this time,” he said.
Udo claimed that his agitation for a change and rotation was based on the grounds that the senate president has occupied the office for 16 years without attracting any meaningful development to the people of the zone, adding that Otukpo, which is a gateway to other states in the South-East, had the roads with pot holes. 

“Secondly, there is no single tap water in the whole of Otukpo town. The zone has the highest rate of unemployment,” Onoja said. 

According to Udo, the situation has forced the elders, women and youth to say enough is enough and that it is now time to test another Idoma son in person of Chief Mike Onoja. 

A forthnight ago, different interest groups demonstrated in Otukpo against the continued representation by Mark.  It was also on the same day that a good number of the sons and daughters of the zone endorsed Chief Mike Okibe Onoja, a retired permanent secretary with the Ministry of Defence.

The endorsement ceremony was performed by a former senate president Ameh Ebute who said that the Idoma and their Igede brothers should be prepared to dethrone the incumbent senate president and enthrone Chief Onoja by voting massively for him to take over from the senate president.

According to him, this is the time to make history so that an impact will be felt by the people at the National Assembly. He said he spent one tenure while in office during the First Republic, explaining that he came back when the elders called him.
He said it was wrong for Mark to spend 16 years in office, stressing that the seat was meant to be rotational within the nine local government areas in their zone.
Ebute also explained that the people from the zone were complaining that “the Tiv people are marginalizing them”, while they, on their own, were not showing examples on rotation of political offices.

“How can a seat be permanently occupied by one man for 16 years? That means the essence of democracy is defeated and tyranny is enthroned,” he stated.
The former senate president said the time has come for Idoma people to rise and fight for a common cause by ensuring that rotation and change were achieved in the forthcoming senatorial election in the zone.
 Ebute explained that Chief Onoja has touched the lives of both the Idoma and their Igede counterparts while in office, urging them to give him the chance to represent them in the Senate. 
He said the people of the zone needed to create history by unseating David Mark in order to tell the world that democracy thrives in the country.
In his speech, Chief Onoja stated that the senatorial seat was not neither David Mark’s birthright nor a chieftaincy title for him to hold on to for the rest of his life. He, therefore, called on the Idoma and the Igede people to vote him out in the 2015 general elections in order to make a difference.
He said as a strong member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which recognises rotation in its constitution, he wondered why the concept of rotation could not be practiced in zone C.
He said if elected, he would give priority to community services, provision of infrastructural development, creation of Apa state, making of good laws and creation of employment opportunities for the teaming youth from the zone. 
Prominent elders of the zone graced the event, among them Chief Obande Obeya, state assembly members and former House of Representatives’ members, as well as student union government officials from the tertiary institutions in the state.

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