By James Ibechi
Except you did not attend the flag off of the PDP zonal campaign which was held at the Och’Idoma Square, Otukpo, during the 2015 electioneering, you would have recalled with me how with just one clause, David Mark wryly underestimated a man who would later unseat him from the Senate, talking about his opponent, Dan Onjeh of the APC’s ability to shake him off his comfort enclave, Benue South Senatorial District.
If you call Benue South Senatorial District ‘David Mark’s conquered empire’ you will not be wrong, for that’s what it is, metaphorically speaking.
At that political rally of the PDP, which also had Sen. Ndoma Egba as guest imported all the way from Calabar to Otukpo in honor of Mark, the then senate president had averred that “it is when there’s a fight that a man fights.”
To him, Dan Onjeh was too a light-weight politician to slog it out with him and take the shine off him in a fiefdom that the likes of Lawrence Onoja and Young Alhaji had already concluded to be David Mark’s conquest, after they had tried to dislodge Mark with almost their all, but failed. Onoja and Young Alhaji were surely heavier challengers than Onjeh.
So who’s Onjeh who was yet a neophyte in a game in which David Mark was a grandmaster in a field of play where the Okpokpowulu Ki Idoma himself was octopus, to dislodge Mark? Onjeh was never born well seemed to have been the unexpressed words in the mouth of Mark as he stood pretty cool, cozying into victory even though election was yet to be conducted. He was cocksure of victory.
Why wouldn’t he be sure of victory anyway, when besides the mistaken belief that Onjeh was no match for him, a league of Zone C loyalist LG chairmen including the Obi and Oju LG bosses had earlier teamed up with their counterparts from the core Idoma enclave of the strongman of Idoma politics, to purchase INEC nomination form as a way of endorsing the fourth-time senator representing the zone, for yet the fifth time.
David Mark’s pre-election victory milieu or courage was also buoyed by the subservient support given him by the LG chairmen, combined with the fact that your vote and mine never counted, as long as the PDP still held sway. During that time, it was clear elections were decided in boardrooms at Abuja. It is either so, or when the octopus himself had come down home in his helicopter, if you were not careful and there was any little dispute over votes, if the oga at the top ordered that elections be taken to his Otukpo home, that was the end. You could go to hell. The elections were finished. He was INEC onto himself.
It was alleged that LG monies were involved in the purchase of the nomination form, and or in the tale of the worship of Mark on behalf of the councils that the chairmen represented. But who would dare raise eyebrows against the powers that be and the impunity of the government of the time?
Agitative tunes from a small, powerless section of the enclave of Mark that power must change hand, that Mark was not the only qualify person in the whole of Zone C to continue to represent the district at the senate, among other protests against the ex-senate president, always dissolved into silence when money talked.
That was such a time you saw political errand old men from Obi and especially Oju traveling frequently on Otukpo-Oju road, mostly in the dead of the night only to collect peanuts that could only pay their wards’ school fees, from the man.
It is ironical that even the Otukpo road on which these political jobbers drive is in a total disrepair state; even as I write the road has remained a death trap, but that is none of their business to tell David Mark whose primary oversight duty it is to get the FG to fix the road. Unfortunately, this has never happened with David Mark as a senator representing the majority of the users of the road. Shame of a people and their political leaders.
Ordinarily, Mark has the legal right to seek to continue to go to senate for umpteenth time as he wishes. I doubt if anybody wanted him out because he illegitimately occupied the seat at the senate. Neither by his prolonged representation at the senate he had breached the constitution. Not at all.
But let’s be clear here: I am not the people of Zone C onto myself, but I do know that Mark had had serious issues with his previous elections, and was in the verge of being sacked by Young Alhaji over alleged electoral fraud, if not that the instruments of justice were deployed by the party in power to shield him. Or so it was perceived or believed by many.
I am also convinced that more than 84 per cent of his constituents are not satisfied with his performance. His leadership was believed to be egoistic, disdainful to sections of his senatorial district. But people most of the time relaxed their kicks to let Mark have his way simply, I mean simply, because they were carried away by the allure of the promise of Apa State by Mark.
But now that that promise has proved to be glaringly empty and turned out to be a sham than being a mere failed promise, I don’t know what Okpokpowulu Ki Idoma will invent this time that Akpa, Agatu, Igede people, etc, will not know to deceive them at the rerun of the poll. Only time will tell.
Meanwhile, Dan Onjeh deserves a pat on the back for achieving what was thought impossible for a political neophyte and light weight of his kind to have wrestled to the floor the man who once reigned as the indomitable, no matter what had to give.
The Zone C PDP can see the removal of Mark as a great opportunity dropped on its lap, especially as the party rebrands in its journey to 2019, to drop Mark and throw up a people friendly candidate. He or she can come from the Igede speaking axis of Zone C. I am a full blooded Igede born, but my suggestion is not borne out of tribalism, but out of a deep rooted love for the zone and the desire to return it to the path of fairness, chatter of equity and even development of all the component units of the senatorial district. If the party takes this advice, it will do well to set self on the path to reclaiming its lost ground and glory.
Continuous reliance on Mark would portray the party as truly not in tune with the reality of the day. Mark since returning to the current session of the Senate is no longer active.
There’s nothing he pushes for the development of the senatorial district anymore. He has remained only a spectator in the affairs of a senate in which he is not a representative of himself but of a whole district.
He must therefore be seen as a representative who has outlived his usefulness, and has therefore no business hanging back in the Senate, in the name of still representing the district.
He claimed he has done enough for Idoma nation, the much he has done has not availed much, let him allow other Idoma sons and daughters to occupy the seat for a change which is now the impulse in the country.