By PETER DURU
After four consecutive terms in the Senate including two consecutive terms as Senate President, Senator David Mark’s future is the subject of increasing speculation. With kith and kin urging him to aspire higher, the former army general with a reputation as one of the country’s most successful military and civilian political operatives, could be pondering his options.
MR Mike Omeri as a chief strategist for the Jonathan/Sambo Presidential Campaign had a knack for sparking controversies, notably undercutting the rival Atiku Abubakar campaign ahead of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP presidential primaries last year.
Now, Mr. Omeri is about conceiving a probably more controversial or maybe comfortable political project. A former aide of Senator Mark, who was lent to the Jonathan presidential campaign, Omeri has his eyes on putting his one time principal and current number three man at the top of the country’s political pack.
At a recent reception held in honour of Senator Mark by the Idoma Nation in Otukpo, leading supporters of the Senate President, drawn from across the country, declared their intention to mobilize support for a Mark’s presidency come 2015.
On that occasion, Omeri had canvassed for Senator Mark’s presidency at the next general election, arguing that the Senate President had the pedigree to lead the nation post President Goodluck Jonathan.
Speaking in the same vein, President of the Idoma League of Professors, Prof. Owoicho Akpa, rallied support for Senator Mark by calling on all Nigerians to support the enthronement of the Senate President as the next Nigerian President in 2015.
Seemingly shame-faced by such open declaration and endorsement at the beginning of the Jonathan dispensation, Senator Mark who was present, urged his supporters to refrain from further campaigns on the 2015 presidency. Whatever he meant by the order was of course open to different interpretations, given his successful transformation from a military politician to an accomplished civilian political general.
Mark had warned that it would be too early in the day to start talking of the 2015 election and advised that the issue be kept in the cooler for the time being. “Please stop the campaigns, it’s not yet time,” he pleaded, stressing, “Our people used to say that when you give birth to a baby and leave her out there without a covering, she could be exposed to witches who would devour her”.
The inference to witches was telling given the harm other presidential hopefuls could do to him.
Few weeks ago, a political conclave of the PDP Northwest caucus in Kaduna initiated by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, where he urged party stakeholders to guard the interests of the party in the region, erupted into controversy over the alleged 2015 presidential ambitions of the Vice-President.
Sources among Mark’s associates disclosed that supporters of Senate President across the country have started strategizing to ensure that the 2015 project turns out a huge success.
The prospects of a Mark bid it was learnt, may not face serious antagonism in the North.
Speaking recently to Vanguard on the unfolding development, a political activist in Benue State Comrade Okpokwu Ogenyi, who is President of Benue Youth Movement for Good Governance, said: “He is very close and loved by the people of the South East, and you must not forget that Otukpo his home town is a stone throw from the East, and I can assure you that, that affinity and love place him on a vantage position to enjoy the support of majority of the people of that area; because as you know some political leaders from the zone strongly feel that power should shift to the East, but Mark is also seen as one of their own.
“I am convinced that if he enters the race, the permutations will change and those canvassing power shift to the East will rally round him.
“In the South West, we have no fears, it is public knowledge that Senator Mark remains one of former President Obasanjo’s political sons. And we know that the former President would always support his own to emerge, and with the enormous influence Obasanjo wields in the South West, Mark would have no difficulty convincing that geopolitical zone to support his candidacy. Give and take we strongly believe that he is in a better stead to get it ahead of any other person come 2015,” Ogenyi who is also the Benue State Coordinator of the PDP National Youth Vanguard, said.
He also pointed at what he described as the unanimity of loyalty that the Senate President has been able to garner in the Senate.
Chief David Attah, a former Chief Press Secretary to former Head of State, late Gen Sani Abacha, was hopeful on the possibility of Senator David Mark emerging the next president of the country.
Attah stated that the average Idoma man is known for his large heart and would for no reason shy away from a challenge or task.
He said the resilient and dominant spirit of the Idoma man would see the Senate President emerging stronger and emerging tops in any race for the presidency.
He said, “there is one dominant characteristic of the Idoma, he is never inhibited and he has a very big heart. Adam was the first man created by God and we are the only people who bear Adam in this part of the country”, Chief Attah said proverbially.
Speaking to Vanguard on the issue, the Dean Students’ Affairs, Benue State University, a notable supporter of Senator Mark, and a leading member of the Idoma League of Professors, the group that rallied resources to purchase the PDP nomination form for the Senate President in 2010, Prof. Armstrong Adejo, reaffirmed the support of the Idoma race to usher Mark into the exalted position in 2015.
Prof. Adejo insisted that Senate Mark possessed the right credentials to lead the country.
He stressed that the Idoma nation was prepared to give Mark the requisite backing to actualize the dream.
According to him, “Senator Mark has all the credentials to lead the country and we are prepared to support him because he has proved all his critics wrong and that is why we, in the first place gave him the ticket in an overwhelming victory at the last senatorial election.
“It is his outstanding performance in office that has necessitated the vociferous call for him to take a shot at the presidency come 2015 and we are prepared to support it because we have so much confidence in him”, Prof Adejo said.
While Mark may bask in the support of his home people, he would, however, have to contend with the zeal and aspiration of other sections of the North and the Southeast for the presidency.
Besides Vice-President Sambo, the Senate President would also have to contend with the growing interest of erstwhile Vice-President Atiku Abubakar whose interest in another 2015 contest is increasingly visible.