Senator David Mark (PDP, Benue South) is back at the senate after a slim victory in the February 20 re-run election against challenger Daniel Onjeh of All Progressives Congress (APC). Mark, a former senate president, won the re-run election with 84,192 votes to Onjeh's 71,621 votes.
The election of Mark was annulled following charges of electoral irregularities brought by the candidate of APC in the Benue South election. Thanking members of Idoma Dreams and Idoma Young Professionals who relentlessly campaigned for him, Mark said: “I am deeply touched by this uncommon solidarity... I want to thank you for believing in my leadership and understanding that credible representation at the senate is of utmost importance... I will defend the interest of our people at all times,” Mark assured them.
Mark has been in the senate for almost two decades since the return of democracy in 1999.
Trudging from an embarrassed recall, Mark in a recent picture looked more broken with sick smiles than any other time during his woebegone senate career. To Mark, the end justifies the means. He sees nothing wrong for him and his closest allies like Bukola Mesujamba Saraki, Dino Melaye and other corrupt senators to loot the treasury and saturate themselves with cash from unjustifiable allowances while their constituents die of hunger, poverty, and disease.
During his glory days as senate president, he was the senate poster child for all that is wrong with Nigeria. Mark used looted wealth, power, and influence to publicly ruin the senate and our nation. The evils of David Mark senate is well documented, so obvious and pervasive there is no need to rehash them. As senate president, he initiated and led the confirmation battle of erstwhile defense minister Musiliu Obanikoro. Remember, Obanikoro was the principal negotiator in the Ekitigate video which exposed how Ekiti gubernatorial election was rigged in favor of Governor Ayodele Fayose. Obanikoro has since fled to the US to escape EFCC arrest. Every chicanery imaginable formed the trade mark of Mark's senate. It was (and still is) a senate of obscene slum of slosh that has become a permanent feature of the senate. It's a senate you can't stop asking its relevance and usefulness to the Nigerian people.
The second coming of Mark is with a memorial alarming and feels like a requiem. His second coming will be a measure of how far Mark has fallen and how deep he's going to fall. Indeed, I see his second coming as the abyss of Mark's last days in the senate. His coming back will only add to the number of spectators in the hollow upper chamber. The senate is a depressed place with more mileage from their cliched traits – corruption, looting, greed, wickedness, selfishness, and crudity. Mark is a recognized dramatic nightmare of a senate of oddities.
How did Mark get elected – again? Well, this is Nigeria where wonders shall never end. One of the permanent but disturbing facts about our politics is that incumbents rarely lose because money creates huge advantages for safe seat. Because of their money advantage, incumbents face little or no tough general election competition. Incumbency is golden. The greater influence of money and other corrupt practices are hurdles that work against challengers from unseating incumbents. And with uninformed, uneducated, and politically unsophisticated electorates, incumbents cruise to victory with little or no problem which is why people keep electing the same thieves that have no agenda for them.
You can call the incumbents that continue to win re-elections toxic or rogue politicians depending on how charitable you're feeling. Slammed by critics but vehemently adored by their constituents, incumbents like Mark who did nothing for 16 years for his poverty ravaged constituents other than to exploit and oppress them are held in awe and shock. Donald Ogar, the leader of the Idoma Dreams said returning Mark to the senate was not negotiable. “Because he represents Idoma Dreams. This battle is not for you (Mark) but for the survival of Idoma nation.” “We should not sit sit down and watch outsiders determine our future and destiny,” Ogar explains, “We have a choice in Senator Mark,” says Ogar. Which dreams Mr. Ogar? Which future? Which destiny? Are you saying 16 years are not long enough for Mark to have made the Idoma dream a reality? That 16 years are not good enough for Mark to have charted a future for the Idomas? And that16 years are inadequate for Mark to lead Idomas to their destiny?
Mark who has been representing the Benue people for 16 years prides himself only for doling out crumbs to his people. He's a godless character and self-serving and of no utility value to his constituents. For 16 years in the senate, what has Mark done to improve quality of life of his people? What has he done to empower the army of jobless Benue youths roaming the streets? Of what benefit is Mark's 16 years in the senate to the overall welfare and well being of the hungry, the homeless, the sick, and the stranded Benue people?
Now that he's back at the senate can we expect anything different from him this time around? I don't think so. Mark will still be Mark. He'll continue where he left off as a man without vision. All his years in the senate, Mark consistently confirmed that his eyes are bigger than his stomach. Nothing is going to change. He lives completely in the present. He fails to see the future. He's known for his nearsightedness. He focuses solely on here and now. He's convinced that tomorrow never comes. He's always ready to give up the ultimate to get the immediate even with a single meal!
For 16 years, Mark failed to read the GPS needs of his constituents. He didn't know where he was taking them. He didn't have what it will take to get the people of Benue to their destination. He didn't know what to do, and where to go. Mark will stick to his old road map. He's lost and so his constituents. Mark will continue in the same tradition. Expect no new things from him.
“The chest,” says C.S. Lewis, “is the indispensable liaison between reason and appetites.” “Without a strong chest,” Lewis argues, “men would succumb to excuses, relativism, and compromise.” Lewis calls those with no character, or integrity, “men without chests.” David Mark is a man without chest.
When he presided over the senate as president, Mark proved to be tormented by self-indulgent motives with no solid character. He was not committed to doing the right things at the right time. He was lazy, corrupt, insensitive, clueless, and useless. He has lost his diligence in doing good for his people and for his country Nigeria.
He keeps on duping and deceiving his Benue people. He has abused the representation of his people for 16 years. He doesn't give a damn doing something much bigger for his people than himself. His representation of the Benue people only advances his own kingdom and only increases the profits of his own benefits to himself. He has failed the higher calling to serve his people. A leader must serve and benefit others.
Will the second coming of David Mark mark Mark as a man with chest or a Mark of shameless pleasures? Time will tell.