After a successful career in the Army, David Mark joined politics in 1999.
In his 20 years in the National Assembly, he is not only seen as an astute politician but also rose to become Senate president during two political dispensations.
As part of activities to celebrate his successful outing in politics as he bows out this month, he recently embarked on a thank you visit to his constituency.
The former senate president at the end of his thank you tour to the people of the Benue South Senatorial District said he is retiring from active politics to become a peace ambassador for Benue State and the country.
Mark, who has served the people of Benue South District Senator from 1999 to 2019, was overwhelmingly elected the President of the Senate from 2007 to 2015.
During this period, his unique competence was brought to bear, as he enjoyed crisis-free leadership of the legislative arm of government which also witnessed unprecedented achievements in lawmaking and effective representation.
As a soldier, Senator Mark demonstrated patriotism, courage and faithfulness to his fatherland in all assignments he handled during his service in the Nigerian Army and Politics.
Mark as a Major in the Army was appointed Chairman of the Abandoned Properties under the former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon’s Reconstruction, Reconciliation and Resettlement (3Rs) policy after the divisive 30 months old Nigeria/ Biafra Civil war.
That assignment was the test of his capacity, competence and leadership quality. Without sentiments, he did the assignment creditably to the satisfaction of his superiors and many victims of the fratricidal war. It marked the first imprint of his leadership triumphs in the later years.
As military Governor of the old Niger State in 1984, he transformed education and made the girl-child education free and compulsory. That singular policy placed Niger State at top of states with the highest number of female graduates in the Northern Nigeria.
One of his remarkable policies then was the granting of citizenship to non-indigenes of Niger State who had lived in the state from 20 years and above.
As Communications Minister, he revolutionised the Nigeria Telecommunications (NITEL) when he migrated the organisation from analogue to digital telephony system.
On account of irreconcilable differences with the then Military Head of State, the late General Sani Abacha, Mark in 1994 went on exile.
He returned to the country in 1998 and upon the willingness of his Idoma people of Benue State, he joined politics and enlisted into the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where he contested for the Senate and won.
He became the Nigerian Senate President for the 6th and 7th Senates (2007-2011 and 2011 -2015) of the Fourth Republic, when he demonstrated considerable maturity in leading his colleagues and managing national issues.
He was popularly called “Mr. Stability” for his untiring efforts in stabilising the Senate.
His leadership quality in the was put to test in 2016 when his senatorial election was annulled, and he had to face an avoidable rerun that tested his popularity at a time in which PDP had lost its mandate.
Against considerable odds, he prevailed to the astonishment of his critics, and won the rerun, the outcome brought to the fore so many things about his integrity and sterling leadership qualities.
In the Senate today, Mark is the most ranking member and has garnered a whole lot of experience not just as a member of the red chamber but as former President of the Senate. Undoubtedly, his insights and experience are consistently being sought and this is reflected in the quality of debate on motions and bills to sustain good governance.
During his tenure as President of the Senate, a new phrase was added to Nigeria’s political lexicon on Tuesday, 9th February, 2010 when Senator Mark and his colleagues tested extant laws of the land in order to navigate a way out of the turbulent headwinds of a constitutional crisis through the invocation of the Doctrine of Necessity.
Mark who will be vacating the seat in few weeks time, brought his leadership qualities to bear as president of the Senate when he invoked the Doctrine of Necessity to solve the political quagmire occasioned by the ill-health of the late President Musa Yar’Adua.
It would be recalled that the late Musa Yar’Adua during his Medical vacation abroad, did not transmit a letter to the Senate meant to transferstate powers to the then vice president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, as the constitution required.
However, Mark in his wisdom declared that he was invoking the Doctrine of Necessity, a term which was not yet known in the nation’s politics, to fill the power vacuum by authorising Jonathan to become acting president pending the return of the late Ya’Adua.
This gesture by Mark calmed the political tension that was building up in the country over the president’s absence.
That singular action ended the constitutional crisis then. On several occasions, Mark’s interventions and wise counsel have rescued the nation from the precipice.
In 2012, he was on hand to save the nation from the catastrophic oil subsidy riots. Mark and his colleagues also resolved the rift between the government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as well as their Polytechnic counterparts to return to classes after one year of industrial dispute in 2014.
Similarly, Mark as then President of the Senate waded into the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) strike action and succeeded in getting the medical doctors back to work during the outbreak of the endemic Ebola virus disease.
In a pioneering act that mirrored under Senator Mark, the National Assembly in December 2008 returned the sum of N7billion unspent fund to the national treasury.
In the Senate, Mark is popular for his belief in participatory democracy and the rule of law. His political and social ingenuity in handling bills and motions have always been to the admiration of his colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as Nigerians who keenly watched his presentations during plenary session.
Under him, the National Assembly, passed into law the Anti-gay Bill, otherwise called Same Sex Marriage law against all pressures from the Western world.
At the moment, he is pushing for a clear position from the federal government on the persistent clashes between the Benue people and Fulani herdsmen.
As an outstanding parliamentarian, Mark is devoted to the social, economic and political growth and development of Nigeria. He is a shrewd and excellent politician, and indeed one of the best managers of democracy.
He contested the 2018 PDP Presidential Primary in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and lost to formal vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
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