By BEN AGANDE & INALEGWU SHAIBU
ABUJA—THE Northern Senators Forum, NSF, yesterday, endorsed Senator David Mark, for the Senate Presidency with a warning to Governor Danjuma Goje that he would be humilated if he dared to contest against Mark.
The endorsement of Mark was conveyed at a press conference addressed by executive members of the NSF in the National Assembly complex in Abuja.
More support also came for Mark from Senator-Elect Ifeanyi Okowa who said that the combination of Mark and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, remained the best to guide the Senate in the next four years.
Okowa spoke to Vanguard moments after collecting his certificate of return during which he affirmed that there was no support for Goje among his first term colleagues entering the Senate.
Addressing Senate correspondents, Chairman of the NSF, Senator Dahiru Umaru, said Mark had brought stability and respect to the Senate in the last four years and should, therefore, be allowed to continue.
In an apparent reference to the role of money in Nigerian politics, the Northern senators said they could not be bought, saying any candidate who come out against Mark would be “humiliated.”
Though it is speculated that the outgoing Governor of Gombe State and Senator_elect, Goje, had ambition to run for the Senate presidency he is, however, yet to declare publicly.
Senator Dahiru Umaru, alongside other members of the forum, told journalists that they had decided to support the incumbent president, Mark, and his Deputy, Ekweremadu, for another term because of the stability, maturity and rare qualities they had both exhibited in the last four years.
Umaru said the ability of Mark to hold the country together with the support of the Senate during the political logjam occasioned by the ill_health and consequent demise of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua had endeared him to senators and Nigerians at large.
He said: “ We are only hearing and reading in the media that Danjuma Goje would be running for the office of the Senate president but as far as we are concerned, we are not aware because he has not declared nor has he told any one of us that he is interested.
“We, therefore, can say authoritatively that nobody is contesting against David Mark.”
Also speaking, vice chairman of the NSF, Senator Smart Adeyemi, said: “ The Senate is not a place where you can just bring money and have your way. We are going to humiliate him if he decides to run, we only know that the incumbent Senate president is the only person contesting and we are here to endorse his candidature.”
Responding to a question on the level of assurance that the incoming senators would toe their line of endorsement, Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Ahmed Lawan, told journalists: “We are the best people to tell the incoming senators that David Mark is the best choice, because we even voted for him when we knew so little about him, but now we are in the best position to speak of his ability to run the Senate.”
Senator-elect Okowa speaking to Vanguard moments after collecting his certificate of return from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, said that none of the senators-elect has been informed by Governor Goje that he is running for the Senate top job, adding: “I have been in contact with the most of the senators-elect. Nobody has told me that Goje has asked him for support.”
He said: “Senator David Mark has my full backing, Senator Ike Ekweremadu has my full backing, if you watch I have not been in the Senate before, but in the past four years, relate that past four years to our first eight years you will see that these two persons provided leadership of integrity, leadership that provided some level of humility and leadership that tended to involve everybody.”