Ahead Ward Congress, Mark restrategises for A Stronger Benue PDP | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Ahead Ward Congress, Mark restrategises for A Stronger Benue PDP

Posted: Apr 26, 2016 at 3:51 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Ejikeme Omenazu

Lagos – With the loss of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 general elections, the party has experienced a lot of crisis, especially with its defeat in 19 states to the All Progressives Congress (APC). One of such states is Benue, where a former PDP governorship aspirant, Samuel Ortom, who left the party in anger, emerged as the state governor under the APC. The PDP did not only lose the governorship seat to the APC, it also conceded two of the senatorial districts to the same party.Since that loss, PDP in Benue State had been struggling to come back stronger in order to give APC a tough battle in future elections.

Leading the return of PDP in Benue State is David Mark,  former Senate President and presently the Senator representing the Benue South Senatorial District in the Upper House of Nigeria’s National Assembly. Recall that after the loss, Mark rejected all temptations and overtures to dump the platform that brought him to pre-eminence. Instead he vowed to remain in PDP even if he became the last man standing. Many see his stay in the Senate as a strategy to remain relevant to champion the party’s rebirth and probably give renewed teeth to his rumoured presidential ambition, although he never made public his dream during Jonathan’s days.

As the fence mending and rapprochement begin in PDP with the appointment of a new chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff, and plan being made for the conduct of the party’s congresses at all levels leading to the National Convention to be held soon, not a few analysts believe that the unseen hand behind the PDP’s renaissance is Senator Mark, the smooth operator and political gladiator. However, Mark, it would be recalled, had helped his people so much in the area of education as he offered scholarships to several indigent students up to university level. He also carried out several empowerment programmes, especially in his senatorial district and helped many to bag top political and non-political appointments, the most visible being the former Minister of the Interior, Abba Moro, one of his foremost followers. Concerned about the current state of PDP in his state, Benue, and the need to return it to its former position as the ruling party, two days after the 68th birthday celebration which took place on Monday April 11, 2016, Mark and his wife, Helen, hosted the party leaders in the state in his Otukpo palatial country home, rightly named ‘The Mansion’. Observers claimed that during the meeting, Mark stoked the process of  PDP’s rebirth  in the state with his message of “Change”, intended to help the party regain its lost position as ruling party not only in the state, but in Nigeria. Sounding optimistic about PDP’s renaissance, Mark said, “The coast is clear, as the PDP has the road map for peace, unity and development of Nigeria. Nigerians now know the difference.” According to him, “We must come to terms with reality that PDP lost the last general elections because of over bearing tendencies of some leaders who imposed candidates on the people.” He therefore advocated for a repositioning of PDP, saying, “It is inevitable that we must change from the old ways and allow the will of the people prevail.” He stressed that unfolding events had clearly shown the PDP as the party for the people, but added that it must not take the people for granted by forcing unpopular candidates on them. He assured them of PDP’s bright chances of returning to power if the members agree to work together in one accord. To achieve this, Mark said that people must learn to subject their individual or personal interests for the larger interests of the people, identifying that as the only way victory could be assured. The PDP State Chairman, Dr. Emmanuel Agbo; former Interior Minister, Comrade Moro, and Elder Statesman, General Geoffrey Ejiga (rtd), in their separate remarks, corroborated Mark’s views on the need to reposition the party for good as a matter of necessity. The trio referred to what they termed “the continued non-performance of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)”, stressing that the development had given the PDP an opportunity to return to power, even as they warned against the pitfall of imposition of candidates for future elections a development which most party members believed led to crises at various levels. However, Mark, as an experienced political strategist, used the platform of the meeting to debunk insinuations flying around concerning his presidential ambition. He also denied that he had an ambition of returning to the seat of the Senate President, a position he held for eight years. There had been rumour among the PDP stalwarts in his home state that Mark might emerge as Senate President if the incumbent and his successor, Bukola Saraki, was either impeached, resigned or even jailed as a result of his ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). To all these, Mark told the PDP chiefs in Benue State that he was not interested. Like every other strong party man, what is uppermost in his mind now is how PDP will hold a successful ward congress in his state, Benue, and throughout the country. But whether this would be possible, only time has an answer for that.