By Inalegwu Shaibu
After his fourth straight Senate election victory and his second conquest of the Senate leadership contest, Senator David Mark took time last weekend to say thank you to his kith and kin for the continued support to his political career.
It was indeed a gathering of the high and low in Idoma land at the Otukpo residence of the Senate President. Roads were blocked, thousands gathered under the sun as Idoma sons and daughters from the academia, politics, business and entertainment thronged the residence of the Senate President in response to his call.
It was a moment of many thanks, a moment to appreciate the sweats and toils of the electorate and a moment of reassurances that through hard work and commitment, the electoral promises dished out during the tortuous campaigns would be fulfilled.
Among the crowd were eminent sons and daughters of Idoma nation such as the erstwhile Chief Press Secretary to late General Sani Abacha, Chief David Attah, Benue State Deputy Governor, Chief Steve Lawani, Major General Geoffrey Ejiga (rtd), former Chairman of Okpokwu local government area, Comrade Abba Moro, comptroller-general of Nigerian Prisons, Agie Odeligbo, (rtd) and the Vice Chancellor of Jubilee University, Professor Owoicho Akpa, including House of Representatives and House Assembly members from Benue South Senatorial district.
It was not only a gathering for “thank you”, eating, drinking and dancing, but also for mending fences and reconciliation with political foes.
The personalities at the occasion took turns to praise the Senate President and open their hearts on the needs of the Benue South Senatorial district. The speakers were unanimous in one demand: the creation of Apa state by the Senate President to give the Idoma nation a state of their own.
Major General Ejiga, a board member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP who fell out with the Senate President in 2003 in the race to the Benue South Senatorial election described the meeting as a reunion of the PDP.
He described Senator Mark”s presidency of the Senate as God”s answer for the liberation of the Idoma nation.
He said, “This meeting is a reunion of the PDP. We started together and then went different ways at some point, but I am happy today that we are back under one umbrella by putting every personal interest aside for the general interest of the Idoma nation. It is our responsibility to unite behind him towards moving Benue South Senatorial district forward.””
Chief Attah, on his part poured encomiums on the Senate President saying that Mark has been a monumental success story in the annals of Benue South Senatorial district. He, however, reminded the Senate President to give life to the dream of the average Idoma man by facilitating the creation of Apa state.
““We are happy that we are all witnesses to the way and manner this single individual has made us proud. He made the Idoma nation proud, the people of Nigeria proud and all the black people in the Diaspora proud. His achievements are too many to mention. He did not only stabilise the Nigerian Senate, they stabilise the Nigerian system and prevented it from chaos when we were faced with a precarious situation after the death of our president.”
“We have one expectation, many people thought it was not attainable, but we can see light at the end of the tunnel. The creation of Apa state is the extreme wish of the people.””
The Deputy Governor, Chief Steve Lawani on his part said that the Idoma nation has found a worthy son in Senator Mark adding that adding that now is the time to break the jinx of state creation by a democratic government.
““We look forward to more states being created. States were only created during military regimes we want the jinx broken in this dispensation.”” He added.
But the loudest thank you came from the Senate President himself. In an emotion laden voice, Senator Mark thanked his brothers and sisters for the honour done him at the elections.
He gave credit to God for his success at the election and assured the people of qualitative service even if it meant paying the high sacrifice for the liberation of Idoma nation and Nigeria.
His words, ““I first want to give thanks to almighty God for making today possible. It has always being my desire to call my brothers and sister together to say thank you, God bless you and God be with you for the honour that you have done to me.
““I have neither silver nor gold to give to you, but what I have to give to you is the strength and wisdom that God has given to me to lead you alright, to lead you to the best of my ability, to tell you the truth and to be honest and transparent with you.
““I tell you from the bottom of my heart and you can take my word for it that as I stand today, I have no enemy in Idoma land. Every Idoma son and daughter is my friend and my brother and I have to carry everybody along, you can go back with that message.
““I thank God almighty for giving me this opportunity to be the Senator representing you. I thank God the almighty more for giving me the opportunity and for giving my colleagues in the Senate the confidence to elect me as the President of the Senate for the second term running.
““I will like to thank the President commander in chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, for standing by me, for supporting me, believing in me and trusting in me and above all for telling my people to support me. He sent a strong delegation during my declaration here, virtually the entire nation was here, and who is who in government was here.
““I cannot thank the Governor, (Rt) Honourbale Gabriel Suswam and my own brother his deputy for the support they gave me because I am aware of the campaign that went on before the primary and after the primary
““Let me also thank the youths of Benue south Senatorial district. The youth of Benue and the youth of Nigeria, they came out en masse and I know how much they did, they were very supportive and I thank them.
““Let me thank the elders, who as fathers were with me every where I went. They went out on campaign on my behalf even when I was not there. They spoke to the youth, their wives and the women to vote for me, because as we very well know, what the elders can see sitting down, the young ones cannot see even when they climb a tree.
““I want to thank the League of Idoma Professors. When I wanted to go for my primary, the League of the Idoma Professors paid for my form and publicly announced it on their own.
““Let me thank the media in Abuja and in Benue here for all that you did during my primary and after my primary election, during my campaign and after, I became the Senator-Elect and more importantly for the support you gave to me when I campaigned to be the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I cannot thank the media enough.
““Let me thank one particular group of people, the women of Benue south Senatorial district. They came out en masse to register, the waited on the queue on Election Day, after that they were all out to keep vigil waiting for the results.””
But as the “thank you” continues, the expectations of the Idoma people is that Senator Mark will go beyond mere words to tangibles especially the creation of Apa state.