Thursday, 28 May 2015

Mark’s Parting Gift To The People Of #Benue State

Distinguished Senator David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark is an Officer and a gentleman.   He was born 67 years ago in Otukpo, Benue state and has had a blossoming career in Nigerian army and politics leading to his election as a Senator and subsequently as Senate President of Nigeria.

Since his commission after leaving the NDA in 1970, Mark had attended many schools including School of Signals in the United Kingdom, Military College of Telecommunications, Command and staff College Jaji. He also attended the National Defence University in Washington and Harvard University, Boston.

He held several command positions including Commander, 1 division Headquarters and Signals, Kaduna; he was Commander School of Signals, Lagos, Commander, 3rd Marine Signals Port Harcourt, and Director of Telecommunications, Army Headquarters Lagos. He was the Military Administrator of Niger state and was also appointed Minister of Communications during the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida.

David mark joined the civilians at their game of politics and indeed beat them to it. He was elected Senator representing Benue South Senatorial District and later became Senate President of the 6th and 7th Senate. He has since become a phenomenon in Nigerian politics solving some of the most intricate problems that would have consumed the nation.

Before he became Senate President, the Senate was what was referred to by all Nigerians as “banana peels” on the floor of the senate. These peels ensured rapid removal and succession of Senate Presidents beginning from Senators Evans Ewerem to Chuba Okadigbo and Ken

Nnamani. Senator David Mark carefully removed these peels and survived all the turbulent times of both the senate and the country.

He brought his engineering skills of the Nigerian army into politics and perhaps the most notable issue that demonstrated these skills was during the transition of President Umaru Musa Yar ‘Adua to his Vice President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan. He crafted the “doctrine of necessity” to overcome all the agitations that were presented during the transition. He improved the administration of the National Assembly with regard to the relationship of the Senate with the House of Representatives and the Executive arm of government. He successfully conducted the constitutional amendment act and ensured speedier passage of bills that came to the senate.

A detribalized Nigerian, as Senate President, his Chief of Staff is Senator Dr. Anthony Manzo, from Taraba State, while his Special Adviser on Religion and Ethics is Rev. Father Jooji, and S.A on Inter Government Relations, Aondoaver Adenguhar are of Tiv extraction. His S.A on Media is also a Yoruba man, Dimeji Kola.

There is no doubt what so ever that if his party the PDP had won the just concluded general elections his colleagues would have returned him as Senate President so that he would continue with the work he has so ably handled during his tenure.

David mark had good understanding with President Goodluck Jonathan and it is generally believed that it was his good counsel that strengthened the President’s hand to ensure free and fair elections. Back home in his constituency in Benue, he has acquitted himself very well, for example, the bad stretch of roads from Makurdi to Enugu has almost been completed into a motorable trunk. He has a hand in the greater Makurdi Water Scheme which has provided enough water for distribution of the Makurdi residents and its environs. But to the failure of Benue state government to distribute the water, the issue of portable water would have been a concluded issue long time ago. In his immediate constituency, his   stewardship can be seen in the Construction of Otobi multipurpose dam, the establishment of Federal University of Health Sciences and the National Open University study Centre in Otukpo. The greatest service of the Senate President to the Benue people is the Nasarawa -Eweto Bridge which when completed will reduce travel time from Benue to Abuja for over two hours.

For Benue people, it would have been happy moments if David Mark had continued as Senate President except that the moral rules have made it imperative for the ruling party to present someone else for the position of Senate President. There have been weak arguments that Benue has had its fair share of Senate Presidents beginning from Dr Iyorchia Ayu, Ameh Ebute and the present incumbent Senator David Mark.

Our argument is that the North West zone has also had its fair share of the presidency beginning from Alh. Shehu Shagari, Umaru Musa Yar ‘Adua and now General Muhammadu Buhari. It is in this vain that it has become compelling for David Mark to support his younger brother, Senator Dr. George Akume whom he has supported all along his political career to take over from him.

It is a happy coincidence that it was he   who provided the delegates from Benue South to enable Akume win the nomination in 1998 to contest governor on the platform of the PDP. After serving two terms as governor of Benue state, Akume joined Senator Mark at the Senate in 2007and they worked closely together until 2011 when political misunderstanding made Akume move to a different party and got elected to the senate again.

The Benue people and indeed all Nigerians are looking up to these two great sons of Benue to ensure that the state retains this position in order to continue giving service to Nigeria.

This is the legacy that the People of Benue state and indeed all Nigerians are craving that Mark leaves behind as he bows out of the position of Senate President.


– Shango is a Public affairs analyst






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