David Mark

David Mark

David Mark Vs Daniel Onjeh : Who Will Go For Us (Idoma)? By Christian Okwori


The Benue Zone C Senatorial seat is currently under a hot battle of ownership between a former IBB boy and former minister of communication cum military governor of Niger State, retired Brig. Gen. David Mark and a former president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (2002-2003), Comrade Daniel Onjeh ; thanks to an appeal court ruling of Saturday, November, 28 held in Makurdi, Benue State. This presents a golden opportunity for the people of Benue South led by the Idomas and Igedes to pass their verdict on David Mark’s unofficial political leadership of the tribe since the senatorial seat is the highest elective political office available to the Idoma nation.  This is so because since the creation of Benue State, no Idoma native or anyone from Benue South has ever been made governor. For example, the Idomas have produced two senate presidents (David Mark and Oguteh Ameh) and a PDP national chairman (Audu Ogbeh) despite being a minority tribe in Nigeria.  In fact, watching from political permutations, it’s easier for an Idoma to become the president of Nigeria than to be governor of Benue State and this situation from all indication doesn’t look like it’s going to change even in the nearest future. Matter-of-factly, the Idomas no longer consciously seek to be governor of Benue State but rather set their eyes on a new state called APA State which was the prime sacred mission  the Idoma race saddled  David Mark with  since his 1999 stewardship of representing them in the red chamber of the national assembly or even far back in his days in the leadership of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida’s military junta.

Both men are witty and cunning politicians with the grit and grace to negotiate, network, market, and if necessary bully their way into power. If you understand what it takes to be a NANS president, where guns and axes reign supreme during their elections (conventions) you will know what I mean and give it to Daniel Onjeh. If you know that being a member of a military coup like David Mark did and the fact that it meant summary death sentence when caught, you will appreciate the risk he took to ascend power; remember his brother, Major Gideon Okah dared same in 1990 and failed and is now with his ancestors. Daniel Onjeh is an orator who can sell coal to New Castle and convince even a terrorist to hand his guns to him or talk a man into borrowing him his wife. Yes, he is that kind of fellow you can’t help listening to even if your opinions are violently diametrically opposed to his. If you don’t want Onjeh to get you, just block your ears and deny him the audience of your supporters. His voice when addressing a crowd has something of a hypnotic effect.  Aside his oratorical prowess, he’s got good listening ears and easily wins people’s confidence by his almost youthful bellicose style of agitating for his people. I have witnessed his caring nature before.   Gen. David Mark expectedly has charisma, strong personality, and stern military mien as his major interpersonal weapon. He talks little but extremely tact with words and choice of terms. Aside that,  he has vast political tentacles reaching across the entire length and breadth of Nigeria including powerful forces like Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, Gen. Babangida, and Ex-President Good Jonathan among others. He simply has all the graces to win good wills and badly needed developments to Benue State and his Idoma folks in particular but why he hasn’t done so remains a matter of conjecture depending on where one stands politically but first a glimpse in to both men’s antecedences.

David Mark, a sexagenarian  has spent over sixteen years in the Nigerian Senate, a fit he shares with senator Ahmed Lawan and if voted in would have  at the end of this tenure spent 20years in the senate. A 16-year old is a 100level student in the university and a 20-year old is a university graduate. What are the achievements of David Mark in the senate to the good of his people? Yes, he has created opportunities for executive appointments for some indigenes even though the beneficiaries are mostly his family relations and connected allies. He owns a massive golf course, a radio station, hotels, and powerful mansions which is good but all that achievements are for himself and households not what he was voted to power for. He attained the rank of a senate preside-an uncommon fit to the pride of Idoma people, which is good but has he changed the cries of the long suffering Idoma electorates to laughter? Far from it! But what has the Idoma land achieved through him especially the much touted ‘Food Basket of the Nation’ as Nigeria’s senate president for eighth unbroken years?  There is virtually no infrastructure on ground in Idomaland let alone for one to argue if he influenced the development of any social amenity or not. Anyone who has lived or served in Benue State, especially in Idoma areas will readily tell of how rural the zone is despite their prolific productivity in feeding the nation and huge supply of youthful manpower of all spectrums of skills. David Mark’s achievements were basically in elevating the fortunes of his cronies and relations. No roads. No rural electrification scheme. No program to ease the life of farmers. No jobs for the booming army of unemployed but qualified youths.

Daniel Onjeh, a Youngman in his thirties was as NANS president very assertive and indefatigably defiant when it comes to fighting his cause in the service of Nigerian students especially his then primary constituency of the Federal University of Technology, Minna. He was so belligerent even when situations only require wide consultations and lengthy dialogues but then his stands may be understandable going by the inhuman nature Nigerian political authorities and university administrators are used to treating students with little regards. His school, the Federal University of Technology, Mina was shut down for 2years after he led students of the university to challenge the impudent action of the police for shooting a female student of the university on their way to Abuja, in July 2002. He went to the University of Ibadan to fight for the reinstatement of student union officials wrongly rusticated for agitating against the astronomic review of school fees among other things. He went to Delta State University, Abraka to fight for the reinstatement of student leaders and the university was shut down for months. He led his NANS team to Lagos State University, Ojo but was denied entry by dozens of Mobile Policemen armed to the teeth. Dan Onjeh became widely dreaded by Nigerian university authorities. Eventually, he was rusticated by the authorities of the Federal University of Technology, Minna and had to go and complete his university education elsewhere. He is regarded in some quarters as the last NANS president of the years of yore. Because of him, the then Head of Mechanical Engineering Department of FUTMinna, Dr. Yemi Abubakre banned students of the department from participating  in student union elections when the embargo on Student Union Government was lifted in 2006 because Daniel Onjeh, Akinyemi Success and many other fiery SUG radicals who were expelled were from the department aside being the most politically active  and rugged department in that university. Of cause, we need the energy Onjeh has shown to fight for our cause as the Idoma people but definitely we need maturity, creativity, and other qualities that will attract positively development to Idoma Land not youthful exuberance.

With respect to the fore goings, gets to lead the Idoma nation be it David Mark or Daniel Onjeh must understand the problems and needs of the Idoma people which are basically the following;

  1. Effective transportation systems between farming communities and major wholesales markets with good marketing systems that wouldn’t short change farmers as is currently the cases. This includes processing and storage facilities, increased farm mechanization, and availability of fertilizers.
  2. Rural electrification and developments with readily available portable waters, health institutions, schools, banks, and sport centers with other recreational facilities.
  3. Factories, scholarship for brilliant students from indigent homes, massive skill acquisition programs, soft loans for market women and artisans, and location of government and private institutions.
  4. Massive mechanization of farming and training of young graduates and school leavers on commercial agriculture and allied businesses being an agrarian state.

Finally, It’s is advisable for David Mark to cede the senatorial seat to someone else and perhaps try his hands on the presidency or governorship or better still take up the position of an elder statesman kingmaker irrespective of partisan politics for the good of the Idoma people; I believe he still commands reasonable respects among the Idomas and the rest of Nigerian of all religious, ethnic, and political divides. What he cannot do as senate president with a ruling party for eighth consecutive years, he definitely cannot do for four years as an ordinary opposition senator or as Chairman Senate Committee on Observation. Daniel Ojeh should make sure he doesn’t disappoint the youths of Idomaland as he is now their face. He must work hard to prove himself worthy of the idomas reposing their onerous trust on him peradventure he wins. To this, I will personally recommend Daniel Onjeh  be given the chance to prove us right for voting him to represent us just like we have done by trying a new party in the last governorship election, 2019 is not too far away to replace him if he disappoints.

Engr. Christian Okwori, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Twittwer: @owoichoengine. Email owoichoengine@gmail.com

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