Mark of all Sea­sons @ 70

Sunday Trust - - VIEWPOINT - By Paul Mumeh Mumeh is the Me­dia As­sis­tant to Se­na­tor David Mark.

The story of the im­me­di­ate past Pres­i­dent of the Se­nate, Se­na­tor David Alechenu Bon­aven­ture Mark, his mil­i­tary and po­lit­i­cal ca­reers, al­beit his steady rise to the top can­not be writ­ten com­pletely in one book. This is just an at­tempt, a line in the in­ter­me­di­ate chap­ter of the still un­fold­ing nar­ra­tive of Mark’s highly event­ful so­journ on earth.

His­tory is re­plete with such nar­ra­tives of great men and women who in spite of their back­grounds made it to the very top of their cho­sen pro­fes­sions or ca­reers. We are fa­mil­iar with the cliché, “from grass to grace”, of peo­ple ris­ing above the cir­cum­stances of their births to be­come great per­son­al­i­ties in the so­ci­ety. Se­na­tor Mark unar­guably be­longs to this class. He rose from a hith­erto ob­scure Otukpo ru­ral com­mu­nity in the present day Benue state to the zenith of his pro­fes­sion.

As a sol­dier, he be­longed to the elite class and was in­deed very suc­cess­ful, ris­ing to the rank of a Gen­eral be­fore he left the crispy “khaki” uni­form for the “Ag­bada”. As a politi­cian, he made his mark to the ad­mi­ra­tion of both friends and foes. Till date, he re­mains the only Nige­rian liv­ing or dead who has con­tested se­na­to­rial elec­tion six times and won in the same cor­re­spond­ing num­ber.

Mark was Nige­rian Se­nate Pres­i­dent for the sixth and sev­enth Se­nates (2007-2011 and 2011 -2015) of the Fourth Repub­lic, when he demon­strated con­sid­er­able ma­tu­rity in lead­ing his col­leagues and man­ag­ing na­tional is­sues cred­itably. He was dubbed “Mr. Sta­bil­ity” for sta­bi­liz­ing the se­nate and the Na­tional Assem­bly that was hith­erto a theatre of mu­si­cal chairs. The sta­bil­ity in the Na­tional Assem­bly was to later help in sta­bi­liz­ing the polity at the time of the un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing the true state of Late Pres­i­dent Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s health.

In the Se­nate to­day, Mark is the most rank­ing mem­ber and has gar­nered a whole lot of ex­pe­ri­ence not just as a mem­ber of the red cham­ber but as Pres­i­dent of the Se­nate Emer­i­tus. Un­doubt­edly, the qual­ity of de­bate on mo­tions and bills will al­ways ben­e­fit from the in­sights and ex­pe­ri­ence of Mark to sus­tain good gov­er­nance. No doubt, he rep­re­sents a ref­er­ence icon on both lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional is­sues that may con­front the up­per leg­isla­tive cham­ber nay Na­tional Assem­bly from time to time. Al­though, he main­tains a dig­ni­fied si­lence in the cham­ber for now, he nonethe­less of­fers use­ful ad­vice to his col­leagues, es­pe­cially the lead­er­ship from time to time.

Born on the 8th day of April, 1948 in Otukpo, Otukpo Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment of Benue State of Nige­ria. He started his early education at St. Fran­cis Catholic Prac­tis­ing School, Otukpo from 19561961. He later pro­ceeded to the pres­ti­gious Nige­rian Mil­i­tary School (NMS) Zaria from 1962-1966 thereby set­ting the tone for his am­bi­tion for a mil­i­tary ca­reer. He grad­u­ated from the Nige­rian De­fence Academy (NDA) Reg­u­lar Course 3 and was com­mis­sioned Sec­ond Lieu­tenant in 1970.

In 1984, Lt-Colonel Mark was ap­pointed Mil­i­tary Gov­er­nor of Niger State. As Min­is­ter of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions in 1988, he rev­o­lu­tion­al­ized the com­mu­ni­ca­tions sec­tor in Nige­ria by in­tro­duc­ing mo­bile phones and dig­i­tal tele­phone sys­tem in the coun­try. He was suc­cess­fully elected as the Se­na­tor for Benue South Se­na­to­rial District in 1999. Se­na­tor Mark was re­turned by his peo­ple in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. In June, 2007, for­tune smiled on Mark when he was elected the Pres­i­dent of the Nige­rian Se­nate.

Dur­ing his ten­ure, a new phrase was added to Nige­ria’s po­lit­i­cal lex­i­con on Tues­day, 9th Fe­bru­ary, 2010 when Se­na­tor Mark and his col­leagues tested ex­tant laws of the land in or­der to forge a bailout for Nige­ria’s con­tin­u­ous ex­is­tence as one na­tion through the in­vo­ca­tion of the Doc­trine of Ne­ces­sity. That sin­gu­lar ac­tion ended the po­lit­i­cal log­jam that had gripped the na­tion prior to the emer­gence of a new lead­er­ship. On sev­eral oc­ca­sions, Mark’s in­ter­ven­tions and wise coun­sel have res­cued the na­tion from the precipice.

In 2012, he was on hand to save the na­tion from the cat­a­strophic oil sub­sidy ri­ots. It was also Mark and his col­leagues who re­solved the rift be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the Aca­demic Staff Union of Univer­si­ties (ASUU) and their Polytech­nics coun­ter­parts to re­turn to classes af­ter one year of in­dus­trial dis­pute. Sim­i­larly, Mark as then Pres­i­dent of the Se­nate waded into the Nige­ria Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (NMA) strike ac­tion and suc­ceeded in get­ting the med­i­cal doc­tors back to work dur­ing the out­break of the en­demic Ebola virus dis­ease. Un­der Se­na­tor Mark, the Na­tional Assem­bly in De­cem­ber 2008, re­turned the sum of N7­bil­lion un­spent fund to the na­tional trea­sury.

Un­der his lead­er­ship, the Leg­is­la­ture broke the 50-year old jinx by suc­cess­fully amend­ing the 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion. Also, un­der him, the Na­tional Assem­bly among oth­ers passed into law the Anti-gay Bill, other­wise called Same Sex Mar­riage law against all pres­sures from the Western world.

His Benue South con­stituents stand to ben­e­fit even more of the div­i­dends of democ­racy with such a highly ex­pe­ri­enced politi­cian mak­ing their case eas­ier at ev­ery point. At the mo­ment, he is push­ing for a clear po­si­tion from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment on the per­sis­tent clashes be­tween the Benue peo­ple and Fu­lani herds­men. He be­lieves that the cri­sis which con­tin­ues to erupt re­quires the in­ter­ven­tion of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to find a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion. For him, noth­ing less than ac­cept­ing the mod­ern global trend of build­ing ranches would solve the prob­lem. It will re­quire a man of his sta­tus to make the case for the com­ple­tion of the sev­eral fed­eral projects still on-go­ing in the zone in­clud­ing but not lim­ited to the Oweto/ Loko bridge pro­ject, Fed­eral Univer­sity of Health Sciences in Otukpo, the Otobi mul­tipur­pose Dam and sev­eral oth­ers in the area.

As Se­na­tor Mark turns 70 to­day (Sun­day April 8, 2018) he needs not to be re­minded of the in­evitabil­ity to con­tinue to up­hold the sanc­tity of ser­vice to God and hu­man­ity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.