THE purported plan by the Senate President, David Mark to return to the Senate in 2015 may hit a brick wall, as his kinsman and one time Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Chief Mike Okibe Onoja has vowed to truncate that ambition.
David Mark, a retired Army General assumed the leadership of the Senate, Nigeria’s upper legislative chamber on June 5, 2007, making him the third most powerful Nigerian in the current political order.
Onoja who hails from the same Benue C senatorial zone with Mark, told newsmen in Abuja recently that the people of the area have had enough of the Senate President and are now poised to replace him with another competent person from the zone.
The former Permanent Secretary who is seeking election to replace Mark in the Senate under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) pointedly said that the continued stay of Mark in the upper legislative chamber for 16 years is becoming an embarrassment to the people, this he said compelled him to offer himself to represent the zone in 2015.
Fielding questions from journalists, Onoja said “the Senate President has overstayed in the parliament”, and the people in Zone C have already begun “issue-based campaigns” in the area to facilitate the victory of another candidate to represent them in next February senatorial election.
“The people in zone C are saying that it is wrong for one person to be in an elective post for 16 years; not just for 16 years, to be there forever. The people of zone C are tired and are now saying the idea will no longer be acceptable since an elective post is neither a birthright nor a traditional title which you can hold unto for life. It is also wrong to have a position where you will almost think you are forming a political dynasty.”
“It is becoming a very big embarrassment to the people of Zone C; let me give you this typical example, in Benue State A senatorial zone one where you have Kwande, Vandeikya and Katsina-Ala, Professor Daniel Saaor was in 1999 elected as a senator, Akageger took over from him, and Chief Barnabas Gemade who is currently in the Senate took over from Akageger.”
“In Zone B senatorial zone, four people have served at different time, Waku, was the first person to be elected, Adagba was replaced by Ortii after his death and now Senator George Akume who is presently the minority leader in the senate. But coming to Zone C, It has been David Mark since 2007, does it mean that the Idoma people have no other credible person to represent them? This is unfair, this is unacceptable, All the Idoma people are asking for is for the seat of the senate in Zone C should be rotational, the way it is being done in Zones A and B.”
“Every right thinking Idoma person is saying that it should and must be rotational. Zoning and rotation is also clearly outlined in the constitution of the PDP. It is unprecedented in the history of democracy in Nigeria for one person to be in the Senate for 20 years, which is what he is seeking to do. It can never happen. Even in the Senate now, he is the longest serving senator, is it that we do not have competent people to represent zone C? So on the basis of that, I am contesting the senate for Zone C in 2015.”
“Enough is enough; we have to imbibe the spirit of democracy and rotation to ensure that every person in Zone C is entitled and can aspire to be a senator; what he can do, any other person can also do. For this reasons, I am offering my services to go to the Senate in 2015. It is true that he is my friend but on principles, I have to say the truth, it is wrong person for one person to be there permanently as if it is his birthright.”
On how prepared he is to ensure victory in view of the tough challenges of facing Mark at the polls, Onoja expressed optimism that the Idoma people have already begun campaign to facilitate his success at the polls.
“We are very prepared because David Mark is not a demigod, he is there because the Zone C people want him to be there and like I said earlier, the seat is not his birthright, he is not going to force anybody to vote for him, we are prepared to challenge him in every aspect of the election, we are ready to face all the challenges. It is going to be an issue based campaign it’s not going to be personalized, we are going to talk on issues why I want to go to the Senate, he has overstayed. I have the capacity to compete with him in every aspect of the race but I will not tell you the strategy; that is our own election secret.”
“It is God that gives victory no matter how hard you try; there are so many instances where the incumbent is defeated in elections, it is not a question of whether he is going there again to become the Senate president, for the past sixteen years, what has he done for the people of Idoma land. What has his been a senator translated to in terms of democratic dividends for Idoma people.
“As I am talking to you right now, there is no drinking water in Idoma land, you pay money for a tanker to bring water for you to drink; there are no good roads, there is nothing substantial to show, don’t you think the Idoma people deserve the best since they have him there as the number three man?
“You are in politics for a number of reasons and the number one as far as I am concerned, is community service before you talk of individual service, community service should be very primary and if the community service is not okay, then to me you have failed. It is not the money you make into your pocket, we are saying that in terms of community service, we are not happy with him, he has not done enough we are happy he is an idoma man, the number three but couldn’t he have done things better? How are you sure he will do better if he comes back again since he has wasted all the opportunity he had.”
On plans his agenda for the people of the area, Onoja said, “I am going to make sure that I try to influence constituency projects that will bring about improvement in the zone. If you are going to Idoma-land today, the road between Alaide and Otukpo is very bad and so are most of the roads in Zone C. In Otukpo, for the past nine months, there is no water for anybody to drink, so it is going to be an issue based campaign that will leave the Idoma’s with the option of choices.