David Mark: the Enigma at 66
By Sufuyan Ojeifo
It could pass for another yearly ritual- the birthday of David Mark- which comes up on Tuesday, April 8. But, somehow, the ritual has not lost its quintessence. It has continued to reinforce its profound meaning in the context of the values that he has added to the high office of the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The senate presidency had suffered from a deficit of respect due to the instability that characterized it between 1999 and 2007 when it was zoned to the Southeast zone of the country. Allegations of perjury and contract scams had dented the high office. The proverbial banana peels had caused occupants to crash like a pack of cards.
From the late Evan(s) Enwerem through the late philosopher king, Chinwuba Okadigbo, to Ken Nnamani all from the Southeast, the senate presidency turned into a game of the musical chair. But since stepping into the saddle on June 3, 2007, Mark has consolidated his hold on the coveted office, bringing the force of his persona on the enterprise of stabilizing the Federal Legislature.
His birthday thus presents a veritable opportunity for associates and loyalists to appreciate a remarkable torchbearer in government; indeed, a man who is committed to friendship. And as glasses of good wine are clinked in toast to a momentous life, the celebrator will certainly be involved in some introspection about the past, the present and the future in all the dimensions thereof, especially politically.
Certainly, the Idoma-born politician has come a long way. From the disciplined background of the military where he retired as Brigadier General, he took the plunge into the murky waters of politics in 1998 and got elected to the Senate about a year after. He was senator from 1999 to 2007 representing Benue South. He has been senate president since 2007. Yet he continues to dazzle; his ways throw up puzzles and his legerdemain defines his cosmopolitan politics. Today, Mark is a four-star General in the Senate, having won election four times to represent Benue South in the red chamber of the National Assembly. He has continued to deploy, in its flourish, his vast legislative experience to cut a niche of maturity and stability for the Upper Chamber and this has rubbed off positively on his 108 bosses as he is wont to refer to his senator colleagues.
Mark has emerged as a respected godfather, the inimitable first among equals. Indubitably competent in the nitty-gritty of legislative modus, he also enjoys respectability in the area of financial transparency and accountability.
I will always refer to this: on January 8, 2008, he had announced, for instance, that the Senate had returned unspent N7 billion, released to the Upper House on December 31, 2007, to the treasury in accordance with the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
The extra-caution that he exercises in the management of Senate funds is largely contributory to the peace that has defined the ambience of the Upper House. By not acting avaricious, he has been able to stand on firm ground, far away from the proverbial banana peel. He is wise and, indeed, wisdom is the principal thing in the game of leadership survival in the Senate.
Mark has also provided a leadership worthy of commendation, charting for the Senate progressive directions. He has guided the Senate to push through a number of pro-poor and people-oriented actions and legislations. His singsong has been the welfare of the Nigerian people; and, this has shaped the disposition of the Senate in the expeditious consideration of the national budgets.
His leadership has also ensured that standing committees are alive to their oversight checks on Ministries, Departments and Agencies
(MDAs)of the Executive branch of government. The objective of this is to instill discipline and accountability in the financial system. How else can he underscore his belief in leadership as a sacred trust?
So far, he has not betrayed the trust. His synergy with the Executive arm of government is salutary to national governance. Recall how he guided the Senate during the late Musa Yar'Adua's sickness to empower Goodluck Jonathan as acting president through the adoption of the Doctrine of Necessity. His quiet but strategic intervention, using the platform of the Senate, helped to resolve labour's nationwide strike in January 2012 over the fuel subsidy removal.
In the intriguing mix of the burgeoning 2015 power politics, Mark has been very supportive of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Jonathan. No tension. No incident. His appearances on the soap box provide a composite picture of sort. The presidency and the PDP leadership are pleased with him. He moderates his speeches. He rarely jumps into the fray; and this has helped to further obfuscate his enigma. His military background has surely helped to build his capacity to confront the intrigues of his current political endeavours.It is needless to begin to trace his military trajectory. This is not even a forum to talk about the positions he held and the ones he did not hold in the Senate before he became senate president; or his numerous achievements in his Benue South Senatorial District. An appreciation of Mark on the national pedestal will be in apple-pie order. Watchers of his presidency of the senate can individually attest to his contributions to national unity and development.
His footprints are in the sands of time everywhere across the nation. He has, because of his contributions, received a confetti of honours and a plethora of awards from the academia and the traditional institution. But significantly, his contributions to the human and physical development of Idoma land have continued to ginger the spirit of the Idoma people to embrace and recognise his selfless leadership and philanthropy. That was why the Idoma nation honoured him some years ago with the highest title in the land-Okpokpowulu k'Idoma (bulldozer or leader of war). His nation that he is so much passionate about conferred on him the Grand Commander of the Order of Niger (GCON). What more should I write about this enigma as he turns 66? I can only wish him many happy returns.
* Mr Ojeifo contributed this piece from Abuja. Sufuyan Ojeifo
Editor- in- Chief
The Congresswatch Magazine
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