As David Mark Returns To The Senate | Independent Newspapers Limited
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As David Mark Returns To The Senate

Posted: Mar 4, 2016 at 6:33 am   /   by   /   comments (1)
Ejikeme Omenazu, Lagos

With the presentation of his Certificate of Return by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Abuja, on Monday February 29, 2015, the immediate past Senate President, David Mark has made history being the longest Senator of the Federal Republic. The Senator representing Benue South Senatorial District in the Red Chamber, is serving his sixth term so far.

Mark, a retired Brigadier General, and former Minister of Communications during the military era, was involved in a re-run election with the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Daniel Onjeh, who many saw as a political neophyte compared with his opponent.

The re-run was ordered by the Court of Appeal, which upheld the ruling of the Electoral Tribunal, which was against Mark. During the re-run, Mark, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart, scored 84, 192 votes, while Onjeh was only able to get 71, 621 votes.

Mark, while receiving the all-important document, said that his election was unique, describing it as renewed mandate to continue to serve God and humanity without blemish.
His words: “For the confidence, trust and love for me , I will continue to serve honestly with all my heart. My actions will be guided always with the fear of God.”

Mark expressed appreciation to the people of Benue South and Nigerians for the support and prayers that ensure his success at the polls. As he  noted: ”My election is unique. I hold this certificate in trust and for service to my people and Nigerians alike. I will serve honestly and with the fear of God”, even as he commended INEC for a job well done and called for improvement in future polls.
He advised that the electioneering process should be made less cumbersome to enable more qualified Nigerians to participate.

Handing over the certificate to Mark, INEC National Commissioner, Lawrence Nwuruku, who was assisted by his colleague, Prince Solomon Soyebi, described the certificate as a confirmation that he won the Benue South Senatorial re-run election according to the rules and regulations guiding the conduct of elections.

He reminded elected public officers that election is a process towards rendering services to the society and making life much more easier and meaningful to the ordinary man.
By his latest victory, Mark indisputably confirmed himself as a political juggernaut, being the only Nigerian who has contested Senatorial election six times, won six times and received certificate of return six times.

For Mark, the journey was not easy. Many would not have thought that the former Senate President, being a power broker and a former Number Three citizen of the nation, would have had to undergo a tortuous re-run, before comfortably relaxing on the seat he has occupied for over 20years. How time changes.

Before the re-run, Mark was buffeted upon from all corners, as a section of Benue elite said he had overstayed in the Senate and should vacate the seat for a younger and more active politician.
Those who held this view felt that for the several years he held sway at the National Assembly, he did not attract any meaningful development to his senatorial district, Benue State and indeed, the Middle Belt. Many said that the roads within Benue South
  are in poor state, while there is no federal presence in the state, which could be linked to his representation.

However, Amb. Ochi Emmanuel Ode, the Chairman of the Middle Belt Traditional Council (MBTC), who is also from Benue State, told Independent that while Onjeh, is too young, the former Senate President deserves to be given the opportunity to serve again, describing his tenure as “the last of its kind in the Senate”.
As he stated, “Onjeh, in terms of experience and wherewithal, cannot be a match for David Mark. But that is not to say that I am against his candidature. David Mark has not done much for his people. He occupied the position of Number Three man in Nigeria for eight years.”
Ode maintained that while former President Goodluck Jonathan held sway at Aso Rock and during Mark’s tenure as Senate President, he (Mark) was indeed the de facto president “as being rumoured in certain circles”. Ode lamented that during this period, Mark did not do much for the Middle Belt, or even his people in Benue.

He said: “Roads to his senatorial district and Benue State are death traps. The presence of the Federal Government establishments in the state is nothing to write home about. Though leadership is not about selfishness, but it will not be counted as selfishness if he was able to attract several establishments to his state as Number One most powerful man in the Federal Government for eight solid years. Majority of Onjeh’s supporters want to vote against Mark because he did not do much for eight years he was Number Three or Number One henchman of the Federal Government.”

Ode stated that Mark as a loyal and close associate of President Jonathan, should have been able to bend the hands of the president a bit, in favour of the Middle Belt in general and Benue State in particular, adding that the whole essence of leadership is service to the people..
Mark has been a loyal PDP member. While all the major characters were leaving the party for the opposition, he tagged along with Jonathan, and attended almost all public functions with him. But, observers believed that he had hoped that Jonathan would have taken the advice of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and other elders that he should not go for second term, but should let the North take the slot. 
He added  that Mark had allegedly hoped that if Jonathan had agreed to step down, the road would have been clear for him to step in as the PDP presidential candidate as he was the most powerful man from the North. If Jonathan had done that, it is believed that he would have loved to hand the PDP flag to the former Senate President. But Jonathan insisted to go for second term.

Ode however stated that Mark’s current stay in the Senate may be to gather more financial muscle and to remain relevant as a powerful PDP leader so that he can be considered for the presidential ticket come 2019. But, he insisted that the issue of leadership is that of service, stressing that the Benue people and indeed Middle Belt need those who will render service.

Another critic and politician, Achiri Igiri-West, who saw the re-run election as the encounter between David and Goliath, noted that the former Senate President had bestridden the nation’s political firmament like a colossus for several decades, dating back to his days in the military.

Igiri-West, currently a Special Assistant on Media to the Benue State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, stated that “Apart from been a regular face, he is one of the power brokers in the senate, as it is a known fact that no issue of substance passed him by without his input. That was for him a mere member. The story completely changed when he assumed the leadership of the senate.