By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
I am trying very hard to study our Senate President to know what he is using to bring all senators together without rancor so that I will use the same method in my constituency”. These were the words of a senator from the north-western part of Nigeria when he was commenting on a controversial issue pending on the floor of the Senate.
For sure, the Senate has witnessed relative peace since the Oturkpo born Senator David Mark, the Senate President, took control of the Senate headship about eight years ago.
In recognition of his leadership qualities, his constituents, recently, mounted pressure on him to continue to represent them in the Senate by contesting the 2015 National Assembly elections, but the people were amused that the retired army general betrayed emotion as tears of joy streamed down his eyes.
Unlike in the Western countries where experience and competence are the main consideration in electing people to the parliament, the reverse is the case in Nigeria as consideration, most, times is monetary gains, hence, senators with experience are sacrificed on the altar of zoning or turn-by-turn arrangement.
However, of the 109 Senate membership, only two senators, David Mark, the Senate President, and Bello Gwarzo, the Chief Whip representing Kano North, have retained their seats since 1999, thereby making them the most experienced lawmakers in the chambre.
Mark was a military officer that rose to the rank of Brigadier General before his retirement and has steered the ship of the Senate for two terms of eight years.
His leadership qualities and his ability to utilize his position for the peace and unity of the country as well as attracting quality projects to his constituents have endeared him to his people who, reciprocating his quality representation, besieged his Otukpo home, Benue State with a Peoples Democratic Party nomination /expression of interest forms.
The delegation, led by the nine local government council chairmen in Benue South Senatorial District, purchased the PDP nomination- expression of interest forms in Makurdi and presented them to the Senate President amid dancing and singing.
The Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, led scores of the political leaders from the nine local government areas that made up the senatorial district to the Benue State secretariat of the PDP in Makurdi where they had earlier deposited N4.250m to purchase the forms.
Speaking on behalf of the delegation, Moro said the people of the senatorial district were overwhelmed by the outstanding performance of Mark in the Senate and, therefore, decided to return him in 2015 to continue the good job.
He commended the nine council chairmen who bought the forms on behalf of their people and assured them that Mark will not disappoint them.
Also in the league of those that urged the Senate President to go for re-election was a representative of the Civil Society Groups, Mr. Philip Agbese, who recalled the efforts of Mark during the January 2012 protest against the removal of fuel subsidy..
Agbese said, “Nigeria was falling at that time and it appeared the country was going to collapse because the civil society groups had mobilised millions of Nigerians to occupy major towns of the country, marching and organising rallies with workers, students, artisans and market women.
“It was as if Nigeria would not remain a single nation again until our own Senator David Mark intervened and Nigerians were back to work again.”
While handing the forms to Mark, Moro, Interior Minister, described the day as his happiest because he was among those who would witness the day that an illustrious son of Idoma kingdom would be honoured and appreciated by his own people.
He said, “The Senate President has provided a shield, and a refuge for the Idoma people. He has widened the political landscape of the Idoma kingdom. The idoma people have agreed that no person has all it takes to do the work that the senate president is doing now.
“He has represented us equitably. The combination of President Goodluck Jonathan and David Mark had given us the required leadership. Senator Mark has saved Nigeria from confusion, and collapse through the doctrine of necessity”
He recalled that the Idoma people gathered on 27 September this year in Double K Hotel, Otukpo where the unanimously took the decision to endorse Mark as the sole candidate of the PDP in the 2015 general election.
“The leaders of the party had reaffirmed our decision because with Senator Mark, the Idoma people have enjoyed abundantly, the dividends of democracy. We have enjoyed good road network, education, appointment into strategic positions, among others”
Moro expressed full confidence that Mark would try all his best to ensure the completion of the process for the creation of Apa State when he returned to the senate as president.
The Deputy Governor of Benue State, Chief Steve Lawani, said the endorsement of the Senate President was a confirmation of the position of the state government because of Mark’s unprecedented achievement in the Senate.
While accepting the nomination forms, Mark, who could no longer controlled his emotions after the outpouring of encomiums from his own people, fought back tears as he collected the microphone to respond to the honour given him by his constituents.
He promised not to depart from the path of honour , justice and equity in the service to his country men and women.
He said, “This is the covenant with my people. This endorsement speaks volume of the immeasurable responsibility on my shoulder by my people. Please pray for me that God gives me the grace, wisdom and courage to continue to serve to the glory of God and benefit to humanity.
“For this trust and confidence repose on me, I cannot afford to fail. Let us work together as a team. I am prepared to give the last paint of my blood to serve my people diligently.
“Together, we can reach the promised land. You all defied the heat, the scorching sun to gather here for my sake, to represent you in the Senate. This is unimaginable. Your sacrifices would not be in vain. “This project is not about David Mark, it is about the future, it is about our senatorial zone. It is about our generation yet unborn, it is about tomorrow. When you are in a situation like this, all you have to say is thank you lord for your mercy. I won’t take your honour for granted.”
The Senate President continued to betray emotion after his speech as he intermittently cleaned tears of joy from his face as the overwhelming crowd surged to have a handshake with him and his wife, Helen, at the event.