By Solomon Ayado
The re-election bid of senate president David Mark as Benue South senator in 2015 has been greeted with a lot of issues, as some stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), alongside the All Progressives Congress (APC) are bent on marking him out. SOLOMON AYADO takes a look at the issues
It is not as if members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have no issues with the re-election bid of the senate president, Senator David Mark and so have endorsed him as its sole candidate. Both the ruling party and members of the opposition, APC, are confronted with several questions that are in dispute and eagerly begging for cogent answers.
It has been sixteen years that Senator David Mark has stayed in the senate under the mandate of the people of Benue South Senatorial district. Now, he is seemingly desperate to clinch the juicy seat for the fifth time. This is the singular reason why the drums of war are sounding out in the Zone Immediate measures by stakeholders and political gladiators to proffer an amicable end, is rather propelling further crisis.
In 1999, Mark, a retired General of the Nigerian Army won election into the Benue South Senatorial seat when he had returned from self exile. He moved to the red chambers and in 2007, he became the senate president. Today, it is on record that Senator Mark has brought stability in the legislative arm of government of the country.
It is on this basis that the elders and PDP supporters of the Benue South, a week ago, converged in Otukpo, the ancestral home of the Idoma nation and publicly endorsed Mark as sole candidate of the party.
Led by the state chairman of the party, Dr Agbo Emmanuel and deputy governor, Chief Steven Lawani, the party gladiators publicly approved the sole candidature of Senator Mark and applauded his development policies.Members of the National Assembly and state executive council also attended the ceremony.
Agbo said, “Mark has brought development and pride to the Idoma nation and should be given a fifth chance to achieve the dream of Apa state”. For Chief Lawani, “The endorsement of Senator Mark is the decision of the state government and party supporters should accept it.”
Before now, Governor Gabriel Suswam had announced in Abuja that there was no vacancy on the seat, implying that no one should dare to contest the seat against the senate president.
Strangely, even before the PDP endorsement and public declaration by Governor Suswam in favor of the proposition, tongues were already waging in opposition to the move. Pitiful to say that some active elders of the ruling party are, obviously, against the matter and have been holding secret meetings to dwarf the tall political agenda and tip Chief Mike Onoja to unseat Mark. Their reason is that Mark had overstayed and the seat should be rotated.
Many weeks before the endorsement of Mark, the retired permanent secretary in the federal ministries of Defense, Power and Steel, Chief Onoja, had declared his candid intention to run the race under the platform of the PDP. He had commenced grassroots consultation in order to mobilize and unseat the senate president.
Needless to emphasize also that the opposition, APC, is ever ready to stiffly resist with serious action and to see to the logical defeat of Mark in the National Assembly poll come 2015. The opposition could not halt the endorsement by PDP but they are very busy making underground arrangements to stall Mark’s re-election bid and replace him with another.
Although the senate president has not broken silence even as plans to unseat him are in top gear. Mark as the number three citizen of this country is a veritable tool in the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan as it is evident in their glue to running state matters.
There is confusion because of the recent unexpected romance between Governor Gabriel Suswam and the senate president, having observed that their previous rapport was not pretty cordial. It is ironical owing to the perception that the three senators from Benue ranging from Senators David Mark, George Akume and Barnabas Gemade had initially allied political forces against Suswam. But because politics is a game of interest, it is assumed that the varied rifts be resolved before Suswam finally forged his way back.
The crux of the matter is that Akume has disagreed with Suswam over battle for political supremacy. Gemade is obviously at crossroads with the governor because of their clashed ambition to win the ticket of the Benue North Senatorial zone. For Mark, his relationship with Suswam is allegedly likened to that of cat and dog, owing to the governor’s closeness to President Jonathan of which many perceived has posed a serious threat to the senate president.
However, it is humorously sarcastic and quite unimaginable to see Suswam, not just assertively, but irrevocably declaring public support for the reelection of Mark. Suswam’s sudden decision to publicly endorse Mark has kept political watchers pondering what it means, when it is not far fetched that the senate president was recently in Gemade’s village, Korinya in konshisha LGA where he threw his weight behind Senator Gemade’s senatorial aspiration come 2015.
While many people have continued to argue that the events unfolding are mere political arrangement in its entirety, others are vehement that for Mark to succeed a fifth term in the senate on the mandate of zone C is a gross misconduct on his side and total injustice to the people of the Benue South. They argued that Mark is not the only Idoma son and that he should for now, imbibe the spirit of ‘eat and give’. That he has been baiting the people with the idea of the creation of the proposed Apa state, which, according to them, is far from a mission possible.
In a chat with LEADERSHIP Sunday, Chief Mike Onoja, who is contending the Benue South Senatorial seat against Mark under the PDP, said that only the forthcoming primaries of the ruling party will stop him. He insisted that the zone C senatorial seat must be rotated within the Idoma entity to ensure equity and fairness.
According to him, the people of Benue South Senatorial district have not enjoyed dividends of modern democracy in the past sixteen years that Mark had occupied the seat. He stated that his mission to run the race is to enhance developmental projects in the areas of construction of roads and provision of portable water to the people.
The PDP chieftain stated that he will facilitate and bring into existence the creation of Apa state, just as he would create abundant employment opportunities and encourage farmers to boost agriculture,, if elected in 2015.
“My vision and mission is to enhance development projects because I have seen the zone C as backward with no water, roads and general infrastructural developments. I will encourage farmers and create employment opportunities for my people.Only PDP primaries can stop my senatorial bid because I think we should have rotation of the senate seat because every local government in Idoma land should have a feel of the senate. Oturkpo has enjoyed it in the past sixteen years and it should rotate to another. This is enshrined in the PDP constitution and there must be equity and fairness,” Onoja stated.
A former president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Comrade Daniel Onjeh spoke to LEADERSHIP Sunday shortly after he obtained intent expression form to run for the senate seat of the Benue South under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
This former president of West African Students Union (WASU) said the reason he is running the race is to tackle the socio, political and economic challenges faced by the people of the area. He vowed to unseat senate president David Mark.
According to Onjeh, there is need for rotation of the Benue South senate seat to other Idoma entities and that the concept of creation of Apa state, which he said has been employed by political gladiators as a bait to buy over the conscience of the people, should be a rethink.
“Aside the primary task of legislation, the senate seat is a rallying point for the development of a people. I will initiate an entity like Apa Development Company (ADC) to drive the exploration and exploitation of the mineral deposits to boost economic activities in the zone.” Onjeh stated.
Naturally, it is fondly for people to stick to continuity especially when occupying a position of authority, and at this time when everything revolves around political supremacy. It is evident that the case of Mark is not different. He is determined to seek re-election and win the juicy seat for the fifth time, not minding the serial agitations of the electorates.
Senator Mark, in a statement issued by his chief press secretary, Paul Mumeh in Otukpo, Benue State, said: “I will remain steadfast and committed to the ideals of nationhood in a manner that would give every citizen a sense of belonging .”
Responding to the resolution by the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) Benue South Senatorial district endorsing him as the sole candidate for the 2015 senatorial election, Senator Mark said that as long he lives, he will continue to serve his people “diligently and with the fear of God.”
At the moment, it is left to be seen whether Senator Mark will succumb to the demands of some constituents to shelve his ambition to get to the senate for a record fifth time and rotate the seat, but for the PDP in the state, its decision to fly Mark as its sole candidate seems a settled matter.