By Chris Alu
There are strong indications that the Senate President, David Bonaventure Mark may after all not make it to the Senate this time around, following moves by some of his kinsmen who were his strong supporters before, to dump him for Chief Mike Onoja, who is also warming up to displace Mark and to stop him from returning to national assembly for the fifth time.
According to Ame Udo, campaign director to Onoja , David Mark’s cup is full and need not to run over, just as he alleged that Mark’s impact has not been felt at both the state and federal level ,since he became Senate President, arguing that changing him is the only way out in the zone.
Udo said that among the reasons for their agitations for a change and rotation of the Senate slot is that the Senate President’s stay in office for 16 years did not attract any meaningful development to the people from the zone, stressing that Otukpo, gate way to states like Enugu and Anambra, still remains inaccessible, with dilapidated roads filled with pot holes. Secondly, there is no single tapwater in the whole of Otukpo, the Senate President’s home town where he often receives guests and organizes gulf club competitions, with the zone said to have the highest rate of unemployment. Still lamenting, Udo said that the David Mark’s presence in the National Assembly has not been felt by the youth, old men and women who constitute over 75 per cent of the voters.
The campaign director explained that the situation made the elders, women and youth to say enough is enough, stressing that Mark should give way so that somebody else should be tested at least this time around. He explained that the statement to which people from the zone were said to have contributed money to purchase nomination form for the Senate President to go back to the Senate for the fifth time is the handiwork of sycophants and mischief makers who did not want the zone to move forward for the sake of greediness and self aggrandizements.
There demonstration came to its climax last week Saturday in Otukpo, the head quarters of zone C, where the sons and daughters of the zone came to witness the endorsement of Chief Mike Okibe Onoja, a retired permanent secretary with the Ministry of Defence by a former Senate President, Ameh Ebute.
Performing the ceremony at Maximum Hotel Otukpo, the first republic Senate President, told both the Idomas and their Igede brothers to get ready to dethrone David Mark and enthrone Chief Mike Onoja by voting massively for him to take over from the Senate President. According to him, this is the time to make history for a change; so that the people can feel the impact of quality representation at the national assembly. Ebute narrated that he spent one tenure while in office during the first republic and the elders called him to come back home and he heeded their call and came back, but for David Mark even with his 16 years in office, he is not satisfied with it and he is not ready to relinquish the seat to anybody, meaning that rotation is not going to be possible within the nine local government of the state just for the sake of one man .
Ebute stated that the people from the zone have been blaming the Tiv people for allegedly marginalizing them by not rotating the governorship seat to the Idomas and the Igedes, while they themselves are not showing examples of it, so how can the Tiv people take them serious, he queried.
‘How can a seat that is meant to be rotated be permanently occupied by one man for 16 years? That means the essence of democracy is defeated and it amounts to tyranny”, Ebute stated.
The former Senate President said that time has come for the people to rise and fight for a common cause by ensuring that rotation and change is achieved in the zone’s senatorial seat, adding that, Chief Onoja has touched the lives of both the Idomas and their Igede counterparts while in office and therefore need to be given a trial. He said that the most important thing for the people of the zone to do is to create history not only to the state but to the entire country by unseating David Mark in order to tell the world that democracy strives in the country.
In his speech, Chief Mike Onoja, stated that the senatorial seat is not David Mark’ s birthright or a chieftaincy title for him to hold on to for the rest of his life, calling on the Idoma and the Igede people to vote him out in 2015 general elections. He queried that since the seat is beneficial to both the Idoma and the Igede people, why should they allow one man to dominate them in this present democracy? Onoja also said that the power to push Mark out is vested in their hands by their voters card and they should stand to defend it.
He said that as a strong member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the party has a rotation in their constitution and is being recognized, so why should Zone C be an exception. Onoja maintained that the same thing should be recognized in Idoma and Igede land.
Onoja also said that since the return of democracy in 1999, Benue people have witnessed rotation at the national and state assembly levels except for the senatorial seat of Zone C, lamenting that only the zone has remained with one man continuing to hold on to power for too long.
According to him, Zone B, Benue North West senatorial seat since 1999 has produced Senator Joseph Waku, who was succeeded by Dr. Joshua Adagba who died and was succeeded by Senator Fred Otii and now Senator George Akume took over, while in Zone A senatorial seat known as Benue North East , Senator Daniel Saror, was succeeded by Senator Joseph Akaaghegher and now Engr Banabas Gemade which the incumbent governor is strongly contesting to take over from him . Only in Zone C, that David Mark has remained the senator since 1999 to date, explaining why the people are agitating for rotation and change to balance the system.
However, one of the campaign directors of the Senate President, David Mark dismissed those calling for rotation, saying that the his principal should be allowed to continue as long as the people continued to vote for him, adding that the Senate President has tried for the people in the state and for the entire country.
Chief Onoja on his part, promised to give priority to community services which he said are twofold; personal community service and the general community service. According to him, he will concentrate more on the general community service by providing infrastructural development to the people, such as roads as well as providing social amenities.
He said that if elected he would give support for the creation of Apa State, as well as provide quality legislation to the people, adding that he will create employment opportunities for the teaming youth from the zone.