Senator David Mark and the Future of Nigeria
Senator David Mark, GCON, fnim, the President of the 7th Senate and Chairman of the 7th National Assembly has been a senator representing Benue-South Senatorial district under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since 1999 to date and was first elected Senate President on June 6, 2007 and re-elected as the Senate President for the second time at the floor of the Senate chambers, on the 6th of June 2011 making him the first ever Senate President to achieve this historical feat in the history of Nigeria.
A lot of things have been said about Senator David Mark since his days as the executive Governor of Niger State, January 1984 – 1986, under the military government of Gen. Ibrahim Badamsi Babaginda and yet many people have forgotten the most significant landmarks of his political career so far. The pillars of his political sagacity and tenacity are his dignity, integrity and nobility and they have formed the embodiment of his indefatigable personality in his honest and transparent service to humanity.
As the military governor of Niger State, David Mark introduced compulsory education for all girls to promote girl child education in northern Nigeria and he also embarked on industrialization of Niger State.
David Mark as the Minister of Communications in 1987 introduced mobile phones and digital telephones systems in Nigeria. He started the city coding system; removed Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) from the Civil Service Structure, improved their welfare package, built two ultra modern digital earth stations from internally generated revenue without recourse to the Federal Government. During his tenure as Minister of Communications, NITEL stopped receiving subsidy from the Federal Government and operated purely from its own generated revenue. It was also able to make profit and even contribute to the federation account.
These previous accomplishments are enough to prove the exemplary leadership of Senator David Mark which he has continued till date by sponsoring and co-sponsoring important bills in the Senate, such as the Anti Corruption Bill, Niger Delta Bill, Minimum Wage Bill, Free Universal Primary Education Bill and others. And presently in his constituency, Benue South Senatorial District , Senator Mark has established at least one cottage industry in each of the nine Local Government Areas; Ado, Apa, Agatu, Obi, Oju, Ogbadibo, Ohimini, Okpokwu and Otukpo. The cottage industries include garri processing plants to soap making plants and he has also provided regular interest free loans to traders, tailoring institutes and giving assistance to ailing community banks, rehabilitation of primary schools, youth empowerment projects, and facilitation of employments for Idomas at the state and federal levels.
Senators Mark believes education is key to sustainable human development and so has committed his energies and material resources to the educational development of Nigerian youths and thousands of Idoma youths in Benue have benefited from the David Mark Scholarship Scheme, through which he disbursed N10 million annually to indigent students from primary to tertiary levels and later increased the scholarship fund to N18 million with effect from the 2008/2009 session. There is also an annual inter-secondary school quiz in which winners are given cash prizes and issued scholarships.
As he said during the inauguration of the 7th senate and his swearing in as the President of the 7th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, at the Senate Chamber on Monday, June 6, 2011:
“I will be honest, transparent, fair and I will ensure that there is equity and justice and above all, I will preside with the fear of God. Your mandate is a sacred trust, and I promise to hold it in trust for you, to work for you, to work with you, and together, we shall all work for a greater Nigeria. I recognize that I am only a first among equals. I will be your humble servant and you my bosses.”
With such strong words of commitment to the nation building of a New Nigeria, Senator David Mark has taken up the challenge of leadership of the Nigerian Senate and would be accountable for both the shortcomings and success of the upper house. And as he noted; the Nigerian Senate is made up of engineers, doctors, lawyers, journalists, accountants, artists, professors, teachers, business men and women, including former governors, former ministers, former civil servants and technocrats who will have no excuses if they failed in their stewardship and lest they forget, history will not judge them by how many times they appeared in their so called hallowed chambers of the Senate or how many bills they sponsored and passed, but by how much they have succeeded in the improvement of human development and welfare in their respective constituencies.
All members of the Senate, House of Representatives the Executive, the Judiciary; state governments, state assemblies and local government councils will be judged by their works and they are not innocent of the horrifying acts of lawlessness plaguing democracy and governance in Nigeria. Therefore, they need to address the present social, economic and political emergencies in the country.
As Senator David Mark said, by 2014, Nigeria would have existed for 100 years as a country. And history beckons on them to lay the foundation for a transformational agenda of development for a better Nigeria.
“The National Assembly would have to render a historic account to the Nigerian people on how we have laid the foundation for a new Nigeria; This calls for landmark legislations to change the course of history for the present and future generations.”
He said they are committed to the provision of basic needs like power, food, good health, good roads, education, security, shelter and transport system, because the federation and economy need strengthening and the Nigerian youths need jobs.
That is why the Nigerian Senate has been very pragmatic in reforming the budgeting system to ensure that every federal budget is effectively implemented and passing very critical legislations that would propel Nigeria to the 20 most advanced economies in the world before the next decade.
~ By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima, author of Children of Heaven, Scarlet Tears of London, In the House of Dogs, Diary of the Memory Keeper and The Prophet Lied.