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Senator David Mark

(Opinion) Benue South re-run poll: An imperative of David Mark (Idoma ronu)

Senator David Mark
Senator David Mark

Being an illiterate in idoma vernacular I apologise for using a Yoruba verb as the most active word in the title of this article targeted at the voters and elites of the industrious and wise Idoma/Igede nation located in the Benue South senatorial constituency of Benue State. For clarity sake RONU is a Yoruba term often used by newspapers and other commentators to warn people to “open their eyes” or “think properly” in political or even social issues of the day.
I believe that the Idoma and Igede peoples of Benue state needs at this time to think properly and open their eyes as they plan a new senatorial election following the cancellation of the election of Senator David Mark, the immediate past Senate President.
The issues raised by the Appeal court for which it based its decision on the last election is well known just that the returning officer signed March 28, day of the election on certificate of return instead of March 30, 2015 when the result was declared. Well, that is not the point of this piece , it is left for the history books and further jurisprudence.
But the blanket attempt by some elements from within and outside the zone to sweep away all the political advances and gains of the zone under that judgment will hunt it for a long time if people don’t think properly.
Looking at the candidates for the election there is no basis for comparison between Senator David Mark and Daniel Onjeh.
Mark’s trajectory began long before Onjeh was born and in a country where political map reading continues to be based on prominent human beacons, Onjeh cannot stand for the tracing of Idoma people. What clearly is established is that those fighting Idoma and Igede are not from the zone even if they are not identified here. It is also clear that more of these strange situations may be invoked in the name of law and procedure as the push to deconstruct the zone continues. Other ethnic groups have travelled this road before and suffered for it. The Benue South people being a discerning people should not embark on that kind of journey.
It is in the light of these that the people of Benue South need to reflect on the whole phenomenon called David Mark and the relevance to their political development as they wait for February 20, 2016. At issue is whether the fall of Mark would help their cause in the present political dispensation. Certainly no. It would rather further enslave them politically and ultimately lead to political retrogression. And will a non starter Onjeh be a replacement for Mark. And what will be the fun in the conspiracy against Mark that would in the long run hunt the people politically. Methinks that the towering image and awe, not anything he did or did not do, that has produced this political debauchery which faces the entire people of Idoma and Igede.
A sample of the good things Mark did shows that like a good leader he dreamt and worked for a progressive society in his native home. In practical level, he has given over 20,000 young people the opportunity to go to school through his David Mark Scholarship Foundation (DMSF) without bordering where their school fees would come from. The programme which started since 2005 covers all the local government areas in the southern zone. He has also extended the gesture to zones A & B of the state.
In addition to other youth empowerment projects . Mark has built and equipped four youth development centres in the zone to enable these young people learn skills within their local communities.
Senator Mark has demonstrated his believe in Education as the key to a more prosperous future. That is the reason he attracted a campus of the National Open University of Nigeria to Oturkpo where he built the study centre and donated to the federal government. What it just means is that those who cannot afford formal education within the confines of a university or other higher institutions can achieve the same objective through the NOUN programme.
David Mark has built health centres in all the Local council areas in the zone and convinced the federal government on the need to prosecute the multi-billion Oweto/ Loko bridge which is estimated to cut the long journey from Abuja to the eastern part of the country by three hours.
At the national level, he has played stabilisng roles in the polity through his various interventions during critical national squabbles. It will be difficult to forget how he led the Senate and indeed the entire National Assembly to invoke the doctrine of necessity which sorted out the logjam which followed the long absence of President Umaru Musa Yaradua from the country. The same way he intervened during the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) industrial action, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike of 2012, the Oil subsidy protests of the same year and Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP).
What is Onjeh’s contribution to the development of his small community?. He might be young but at his age, Mark brought the Oturkpo Telephone exchange as a young military officer who had the luck to be appointed as minister of Communications. That is the question that must be asked now by all right thinking voter in Benue South Senatorial zone as February 20 approaches. And for those stoking the bad fire of bringing Mark down, only time will tell whether there is morality in politics.
And I submit without any iota of contradiction that hate him or love him, the Benue south should be wise enough to return Senator Mark to the Senate. In the contemporary political history of Nigeria, the Idoma people unarguably needs a father figure, a respected voice and a political stature in Senator Mark. Only then can they clearly avoid the misfortune of a political retrogression. For the umpteenth time, Idoma/ Igede Ronu.

*Bende writes from Benin, Edo state.

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