Open Letter To Senator David Mark By Oga Tom Uhia
The Most Distinguished Senator,
MY PIECE OF ADVICE TO SENATOR DAVID MARK: You have served your people
enough, let someone else help you carry the burden of leadership
“No man will make a great leader who want to do it all himself, or to get
all the credit for doing it” Andrew Carnegie
I am greatly constrained to formally write you this letter, your
Excellency, the most distinguished Senator David Mark, the Senate
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for so many reasons than one.
First, I must say that such a letter as this shouldn't have come from me
because I am not a politician, and do not have political ambition neither
am I aiming ambitiously at taking your position away from you. But I
believe that our lives begin to ebb to an end when we keep silent about
the things that are about to happen to us. For now, I do not have such
bogus and over-sized ambition. Two, I am just – a mere child before you oh
great man of valour. I hail from Igede, one of the component tribes and
stakeholders that make-up your (domain) senatorial district where you have
ruled and reigned over the poor hopeless and helpless people for the past
fifteen years unchallenged.
I am not in any way qualified to write you such an open letter let alone
challenge you on issues that are exclusive reserve of great and notable
politicians; if not for the democratic liberty that I now enjoy, made
possible by the guts of men gifted with the act of epistemology like Chief
Olusegun Obasanjo. I thank God, for this period which luckily for me is
the season of letter writing. This has also afforded me the ample
opportunity and audacity to tow the line of great and mighty men in the
act of letter writing like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, the Former
Military Head of State and two term democratic president of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria and the likes of His Royal Highness, the Emir of
Nigeria's Financial Institution, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria,
Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who have lion hearts and are bold enough to
write President Goodluck Jonathan as I now do to you.
Three, given the present security situation of our country, where mere men
like us dare not raise their voices to challenge or even ask our leaders
questions that border on the welfare of the people for the fear of being
eliminated by private solders; “trained snipers” (guerrillas) as alleged
by the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in his letter to
President Goodluck Jonathan. But I have humbly decided to do this by
laying down my life as a living sacrifice on the altar of selfless service
to my people in the hands of the Almighty God in whose hand are the hearts
of all kings.
I was most pleased to find such worthy compliments about the Idoma people
in the WIKIPEDIA which I herein restate to buttress my points. “The IDOMA,
the WIKIPEDIA says, are multi-ethno-linguistic group that primarily
inhabits lower and western areas of Benue State, Nigeria; meaning that we
are more than one ethnic group in Idoma land. “The Idoma are known to be
warriors and hunters of class, but hospitable and peace loving”; also
meaning that we are brave and fearless but amiable. “The population of the
Idoma is estimated to be about 3.5million”. We are large group of people,
therefore cannot be short of capable hands in replacement of you to lead
The statements above seem to sum up and provide the main thrust of this
open letter to you, the most distinguished Senator. The Benue South
Senatorial District that you represent at the senate consists of nine
local government areas in Benue State. They are the Ado, Apa, Agatu,
Okpokwu, Ogbadibo, Oju, Obi, Otukpo, Ohimini LGAS. These groups of people
are highly educated, so industrious, humble, yet subservient, very poor
and greatly marginalized up till date by few of her privileged individuals
like you. The land has produced great medical doctors, lawyers, engineers,
economists of repute, academics, serving and retired military generals,
high cadre police officers and para-military personnel, diplomats and
other career men and women, therefore are not in short of capable hands.
You were fortunate to be singled out and elected among this potpourri of
great people not necessarily because you were better and greater by any
standard than most of them, but because the time and chance has happened
to you according to (Ecl 9:11) and today, you are the longest serving
senator in the Nigerian Senate. You are as old in the senate as the
Nigeria's 2nd and 3rd republic democracy itself. I hail and envy your
untiring strength and courage to want to serve your people this long
without minding whose right is usurped and trampled upon.
By the special grace of the Almighty God upon your life you were elected
and re-elected time and time again up to four times, not because people
like you so much, but sometimes for fear of the unknown which made even
the legible contenders stay clear and dumping their ambitions. And very
soon you will be serving out your fourth term of 16 (sixteen years) making
you the longest serving senator in the history of Nigeria's democracy, and
yet asking for more.
For the past fourteen years, the Idoma people are proud of you, what you
mean to them, the position you hold and what role you have played at the
National Assembly. Your presence at the Senate provided the ample
opportunity of an Idoma person to become the number three citizen of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria. And since 2007, you have provided sustained
leadership at the Senate. This is no mean feat at all. The people are also
aware of your efforts at getting them to the Promised Land through the
repeated promised creation of “Apa State” which could have freed us from
the domination of the majority Tiv tribe.
This proposed state of yours may or may never be possible after all during
our life time. Your inability to secure “Apa State” for the Idoma people
which was one of your strongest campaign promise was not entirely your
fault, but the unforeseen political exigency of the moment. We also
acknowledge the numbers of Idoma people you have empowered, countless
numbers of them are in the Federal Civil Service today and many others are
self employed courtesy of your effort. These people we are also aware are
mostly your biological children, siblings and those whom you owe some
token political favours. Nevertheless, they are all Idoma people. Before
now, Benue State indigenes especially the Idoma rank third behind
Akwa-Ibom and the Cross-Rivers States people on the queue of odd and
menial jobs in all the cities of the Federation. But today, everywhere you
go to, young Idoma men and women have increasingly replaced the others as
security men and service waiters.
I also want to on behalf of the great people of Idoma thank you for the
wonderful Gulf Course which you have built at Akpegede, Otukpo. That
landscape is un-compared to and unrivaled with any in the whole of Africa.
This has greatly exposed our people to the knowledge and skill of how rich
men spend their leisure times with their wealth with predominantly peasant
as spectators to this very strange game. The on-going King David
University project at Asa is another great investment you have brought to
Idoma land. Even though it will not be a school for the ordinary people,
because it will be out of the reach of our people, but the infrastructure
will greatly beautify the landscape of Otukpo – Igumale road, no doubt.
Our people will also have the opportunities to be employed as labourers
after dispossessing them of their farmland just as you have done for them
at the Gulf Course.
At least, passersby will definitely know that we have a great son in
Senator David Mark. In the past few years, the annual International
Basketball tournament held every December in Otukpo has greatly added
colours to Christmas in Otukpo and has made home-coming for many
Your achievements for the past fourteen years or so are uncountable,
endless and unforgettable such that mere words of our mouths are too few
to recount them. Only the Almighty God can reward you sufficiently.
But come to think about it, your Excellency, the distinguished senator,
have you considered nurturing a successor to your position? If you have
not, then is it the fear of being politically irrelevant afterwards which
is the case with most politicians or the fact that you have not seen any
capable hand in the whole of the Benue South Senatorial District among the
Igede, Utonkon, Agila from Obusa, Ameka-Owo through Ijigban Adum Otukpo to
Agatu who could replace you? If the last reason is your strong reason and
fear, then I have a candid advice for you, from Theodore Roosevelt which
says “the best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men
to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling
with them while they do it,” please reconsider this. In the spirit of
democracy whose principle is based on equity, justice and fair play,
shouldn't the other federating parts of the Benue South Senatorial
district share in this leadership you have monopolized for so long?
Your continuous stay at the senate is no more in the interest of your
people but a big slap on the face of the Idoma people and the entire Zone
C. It speaks volume of who the people of Benue South Senatorial District
truly are; incompetent, ineptitude, none-ambitious and docile. The Otukpo
people, your immediate ward and constituency may be comfortable with your
continuous stay may be because they thought you are the best they could
offer, but the Igede, Agila and Ufia have among them very competent sons
and daughters who are ready to offer themselves for service and willing to
take over the saddle of leadership from you and do what you are doing or
even do better.
The General, the Engineer, the most distinguished Senator David
Bonaventure Alechenu Mark, you were once a military Governor, Minister
from the slot of the Idoma people and now Senator representing your people
for almost sixteen years out of which you will soon round-up your second
tenure at the Senate as Senate President for eight years. What would you
do differently after now for your people and what would you say you have
done so spectacular for the people of Benue South Senatorial zone that has
given you the moral comfort to want to stay on for another four year which
will cumulatively make it twenty years of selfish service to you, yourself
and your immediate family members alone? Please recount our blessings to
the people and name them one-by-one aloud, and you will be surprise what
opportunities you have wasted for 16 years. I remember that in your time
of learning the rope and while the democracy was still booting, you had
innocently supported Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to go for the third term.
That means you encouraged long stay in political offices. You have
gloriously served out your own turn, served out the turn of Tunde, your
son and even now your grand-children's. So what else do you want? God has
been so gracious to you and you are a great gift to the Idoma people, no
doubt, but let someone else from another side of the Senatorial zone help
you to carry the burden of leadership.
Distinguished Senator, some of us were glad and overwhelmed when it was
rumoured that you were going to contest for the presidency in 2015. We
were proud and willing to be your foot soldiers because you would have
progressively deserved such an exalted position. No man in the present
Nigeria's political landscape is more qualified to be there than you.
Considering your political antecedents; you have progressively moved from
a corps commander, to be a Military Governor, Minister, Principal Staff
Officer in Abacha's regime, Senator, Senate President and now the most
appropriate place to occupy next should be Aso Villa. By all political
calculation, it is the turn of the Middle-Belter to produce the next
Christian president, and you are the most qualified. But why did you
change your mind? Why did you chicken-out? I encourage you, great man of
valour, go for it, and soar like an eagle, you have our support.
I have looked around and have found among us, people who can replace you
and be trusted enough to protect your interest in order to maintain your
political relevance in the land long afterward. Among your kinsmen and
kindreds' are people like; Dr. John Eyimonye, Engineer Benson Abounu,
Barrister Godwin Obla, Dr. Innocent Onuh; your son-in-law, your daughter,
Blessing Onuh or even Professor Isawa Elaigwu, who are very legible.
And if you are so magnanimous enough to concede it to the other side of
the zone, please consider any of these great men; Chief Innocent Audu
Ogbe, Chief Steven Lawani, Prof. John Idoko, General Geofrey Ejiga,
General Lawrence Onoja, General Chris Garba and even General Harrison
Adoga who are men with similar military training as you.
Among the Igede people are also capable hands like Prof. Oga Ajene, Prof.
Johnson Onah, Dr. Isaac Egboja, Prof. Ibu, Prof. Odeh Ojowu, Prof. Agwu
Igwe and Engr. Morgan Okwoche and a host of others.
Lastly, you may want to consider a great Idoma son in the person of Chief
Mike Onoja who was the Permanent Secretary, Defence under General Sani
Abacha. All these are great men and women from Idoma land who have equal
rights as you to contest and be elected and could bring great honour to
Idoma land as you are said to have done.
You should now assume the role of a king maker of high repute and the
political godfather of our people rather than wanting to stay on till
eternity. It is better to leave now when the ovation is loudest.
Outstanding leaders appeal to the heart of their followers, not their
minds and bearing in mind that “Leadership is not wielding authority – its
empowering people” –Becky Brodin. So kindly do this for posterity sake.
Your humble compatriot,
Oga Tom Uhia