RIGHT OF REPLY: SUN SETS FOR DAVID MARK
I read with dismay a putrefied and jaundiced article fabricated by one professional charlatan called Dan Ekah titled “Sun sets for David Mark”. Ordinarily, I would have ignored this poorly-scripted piece which was in breach of professionalism but because of Dan’s deliberate embarkation of black propaganda- denigration and demonization of his enemies so as to gain cheap popularity – hence the need to put records straight.
First, the inglorious title of the article suggests that Senator David Mark is dead. And for Dan to long for the death of a fellow human being qualifies him as one of the popes of sinners. It shows how bitter he is about the existence of Senator David Mark. What a pity! This allusion was further reinforced when Dan Ekah curiously on page three of the piece called for what he described as the Kogi debacle to be meted out on Senator Mark. The interpretation of this statement is that he wants David Mark to die after his victory and Dan Ekah’s master, Onjeh would inherit the victory for the benefit of Ekah. Manifestation desperation! What a shame!
Before I delve into the main purpose of the article, I make bold to state that if Dan Ekah had been a good professional, his piece ought to have been titled, In Defence Of Senator Akume. I spotted desperation on Dan here as someone eager to do a hatchet job for a price. Dan Ekah has acquired a notoriety for pen thuggery.As it is now, it is crystal clear that Dan Ekah has become a hired ‘pen assassin’.
Few years ago, Dan Ekah was paid to malign the immediate past Governor of Benue State, Dr Gabriel Suswam.He did similar thing against Senator Mark using pseudo name in the power steering magazine. Despite these, Dan Ekah whose state of sanity appears to be grossly questionable is still walloping in abject poverty. What is he doing with all the monies generated from this ignoble venture?
I deliberately brought out this prelude for us to properly comprehend the fiendish character called Dan Ekah. The reason behind this cacodemonic personage vituperations against the distinguished Senator will be exposed towards the end of this fraction. But first, let me dwell on all the issues raised one after the other.
Dan Eka, unintelligently, put a poser: but for the past 16 years since the new political dispensation, has the Idoma fared better and has David Mark really fought or protected the Idoma cause in Benue State? My answer to this question is in the affirmative. I say this because of avalanche of capital and human development witnessed in Idoma land since the advent of David in the Senate.
Senator David Mark took advantage of his mandate shortly after his election into the upper chamber in 1999 to critically look into the problems confronting Benue South Senatorial district. What he saw convinced him that leadership anchored on humanistic posture as well as corporate social responsibility would certainly propel Benue–South Senatorial district to the needed citadel of development. This, the Idoma high Chief has done creditably well.
Taking cognizance of the role of corporate social responsibility to community development, Senator Mark, like a Trojan horse swung into action with his developmental programmes in accordance with the yearnings and aspirations of his people.
The first thing that caught the attention of Senator Mark after his inauguration in the Senate in 1999 was how he could strategically place his kits and kins in places of influence.
But with good brinkmanship, Okpokpowulu, as the Senator is popularly called in Otukpo, the Trado-Political capital of the Idoma Nation was able to lobby for positions for members of his constituent. The Idomas have been given juicy appointments through his efforts at the National level. This, it was observed include the appointments of four Idoma as ambassadors at various times since Mark became a Senator.
Senator Mark had also facilitated the appointment of Dr. Grace Ogwuche and Dr. Jerry Agada as Ministers in both Chief Obasanjo and Yar’adua’s regimes. He also played a key role in Chief Audu Ogbe becoming the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party after the exit of Chief Banabars Gemade in 2001. He was also instrumental to the appointment of Hon. Sam Ode as Minister of State for Niger Delta. He again ensured the appointment of Comrade Abba Moro from Okpokwu Local Government Area as Minister of Interior. This very critical appointments have empowered very many sons and daughters of Benue State, especially Benue–South Senatorial District.
David Mark has to his credit appointment of Late Chief Adejo Ogiri as a member of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission , Professor Samsundeen Amali, Vice Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Hon. Patrick Ogbu, Chairman, Board of the Nigerian Television Authority [NTA] who succeeded incumbent Deputy Governor Benson Abonu, Gen. Geofrey Ejiga Rtd, member, Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone, Port-Harcourt, Ms Alice Ochai, member, National Centre for Women Development, Dr. Isaac Egboja, Chairman, Governing Board of National Veterinary Research Institute, Mrs Theresa Ikwue, member, Board of Directors of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Hon. Andrew Odumu, member, Benin-Owena River Basin Development Authority, Hon. Mike Inalegwu, member, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria as well as many others who have been appointed Chairmen and members of Board of Federal parastatals.
As part of his constituency projects, the then president of the Senate, David Mark, constructed some critical development projects in all the nine local government areas in Zone C. The constituency projects which fall under the MDGS cut across water, health and education sectors. The projects include the construction of earth dams at Entekpa in Otukpo Local Government Area, Ankpechi in Ohimini Local Government Area, Oshigbudu in Agatu Local Government Area and Apa-Agila in Ado Local Government Area, Akpegede, Otobi – Otukpo, Otukpo – Nobi, Amla, a multi-purpose dam at Otobi- Akpa, a model health centre each has been constructed at Akpegede Otukpo as well as Egba-Agatu respectively. Senator Mark also constructed a three-classroom block with VIP toilets and hand pump boreholes in LGEA Primary School Ochobo in Ohimini Local Government Area, LGEA Primary School Otobi–Akpa in Otukpo Local Government Area, Holy Cross Primary School Okporikpo in Ojigo ward of Okpokwu Local Government Area, Central Primary School, Ibilla, in Oju Local Government Area, LGEA Primary School Opaha in Apa Local Government Area, Methodist Central School Igumale in Ado Local Government Area as well as LGEA Primary School Ohuma in Obi Local Government Area. Also, the okpokpowulu constructed a block of three classrooms each in St. Joseph’s primary school, Otada- Otukpo, LGEA primary school, Ukwonyo- utonkon, LGEA primary School, Okuntungbe, Obi LGA, LGEA primary school, Inyuma-Oju, Igumale Community Secondary School, Igumale, Ado LGA, LGEA Primary school, Emichi-Otukpo, and LGEA Primary school, Ipega, Adum-Aiona, Orokam.
But the senator’s developmental antecedents predate his senatorial quest. Right from his military days, Mark who believed in participatory paradigm of development fought and champions the re-creation of Ado and Apa Local Government Councils which were hitherto proscribed. More instructive is the fact that David Mark is not from any of the two local government areas. The re-creation of Apa and Ado local government areas was to facilitate quick development of the localities.
Before now, David Mark, got the ancient town of Otukpo telephone exchange digitalized so as to keep the city in touch with the wind of globalization. He also facilitated the establishment of two Federal Government Colleges in Idoma land: Federal Science and Technical College, Otukpo and Federal Government College, Otobi. Today, a lot of people are benefiting from these facilities.
Senator Mark successfully lobbied the Federal Government to award the contract for the Oju–Otukpo–Oweto road. With the road nearing completion, the people of Apa and Agatu Local Government areas of Benue State are beginning to feel the impact of government. The work will soon be completed as the Loko bridge is nearing completion. It has almost been linked across river Benue. Similarly, the Otukpo multi-purpose dam at Otobi –Akpa which when completed will not only boost agricultural productivity but will also provide electricity to the swelling populations of Otukpo and its environs in addition to the provision of potable drinking water will create tremendous job opportunities for the inhabitants of the area. Not less than fourteen communities will benefits from the dam.
Dan Ekah like the proverbial ‘Obagwu obiodedo’ in his infantile population libelously alleged that Senator Mark shared N30bn meant for the Otobi multi-purpose dam. What a lie. It shows his level of understanding of the working of government. Or should I say because he is a serial and pathological liar it is expected? Mark does not award contracts, therefore couldn’t have negotiated how money should be shared.
In the same guise, Dan Ekah foolishly attempted to recreate history when he said the Oju- Agatu-Oweto road was under construction long before Mark’s voyage into politics. But we cannot be cajoled by Dan whose incoherent piece is a product of lunaticism. We are all living witnesses to Mark’s effort at actualization of that laudable project. Maybe, it was Dan who reverted that same road back to us when it was diverted to Kogi State. I am not disappointed at Dan Ekah’s spew of lies because that is his stock in trade. Only a few months ago, he shamelessly lied against Chiefs Ene Edache and David Ekwo that they were responsible for his retardation in life. Upon investigation, it was discovered to be a hoax.
Senator Mark also lobbied both the Benue State and Federal Governments to electrify Otukpo – Oju and Otukpo- Agila electricity projects in addition to the proposed Igumale cement company.
The People’s Senator as David Mark is fondly called in Benue State established garri processing plants at Ado, Apa, Ohimini, Okpokwu and Obi Local Government Areas and donated them unconditionally to the inhabitants so as to reduce the incidence of poverty in the areas.
Taking cognizance of the role of sports in human development, Senator Mark established an ultra-modern golf course in Otukpo. Today, hundreds of youth from the area who have taken advantage of this benevolence are competing with their peers from other parts of the country. Golf tournaments in Otukpo have empowered hundreds of people economically. These tournaments have also become a veritable avenue for the people of the area to showcase their cultural heritage. He also established David Mark Football competition for all secondary schools in Benue-South senatorial district so as to discover young and raw talents. Only recently and during the competition which took place at Jesus College, Otukpo, a player, Oya Ogebe, was discovered and invited to the under 16 female national team. David Mark as a motivator procured all her training needs as well as fund needed for her up keep while in training. He also established a football club known as Apa United and Apa Queens. This is besides Mark D Ball fiesta, which has given platform to our local artistes, our children in the Clinic and for young and adults opportunities to showcase their talents.
Similarly, Senator Mark in order to propel Otukpo and Zone C in general to the desired level of development established a radio station (Joy FM) in the area. This station has not only contributed positively to the employment status of the Idoma land but has also become a veritable source of education, information and entertainment for the people.
Also, Senator Mark personally built and donated a full study centre worth N60m to the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) Otukpo study centre so as to bring University education closer to the people of Benue South Senatorial District, he built the computerized JAMB Centre which now affords the children of Benue South the opportunity like their counterparts in other places and reducing the distances. In other to tackle the dearth of university education in his constituency, Senator Mark also lobbied the federal government to establish a medical campus of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi. He lobbied the Federal Government to convert it into a full-fledged Medical university but which the APC-led government has reversed. Already, an expanse of land has been acquired for the take- off of the varsity. The institution is to be located at Akpa in Otukpo Local Government Area. In the same vain, King David University, a private institution is being sited at Akpegede while he has established scholarship for all indigent students of Benue State. The scholarship has given succor to thousands of students from all the three senatorial districts of Benue State. It is instructive to note that David Mark scholarship scheme, headed by James Alachi, a Professor of Theatre Arts, is the only Private Scholarship Scheme that has embraced the entire state. No fewer than 20,000 students of Benue South Senatorial District have benefited from this scheme since its inception .
This gesture no doubt motivated traditional councils both within and outside the Benue South- Senatorial Districts to confer on the former President of the Senate honorific chieftaincy titles. Also, some universities in appreciation of Senator Mark’s philantropism conferred on him honorary doctorate degrees
As a practical demonstration of his love and commitment to his people, the former Senate President when he was serving out his fourth term as Senator representing the Benue South Senatorial District had toured about 50 developmental projects already executed or in the process of execution within his constituency.
These projects which covered the entire nine local government areas in Benue-South Senatorial District were in the areas of education, water supply, health and community development.
Aside projects executed using personal resources, there were key projects within the constituency which were funded by the Federal Government, but which were attracted to the constituency by the former Senate President, through his political brinkmanship.
One of the most strategic projects executed by the former Senate President, David Mark, in the last few years was the gigantic motorized borehole at the premises of College of Education, Oju, meant to serve students of the institution and inhabitants of the host communities. The motorized borehole has 12 taps for the students and the host community for potable water supply. The decision after the execution of the project was that 8 taps be dedicated to the student population, while the remaining 4 taps for members of the host community to check another violent conflict over the struggle for pipe-borne water from exploding again.
Before then, the conflict between both parties degenerated into loss of lives when there was strife at the hand-pump, over who to fetch water first. The school almost lost a session due to the crisis. Students of College of Education, Oju, and members of the host community have had varying degrees of conflicts because of the only source of potable water in the area, which was a hand-pump borehole.
Another project which has been completed and delivered to another community is the Motorized Borehole at Ogi in Ado Local Government Area of Benue state. Ogi community which has been ravaged by guinea worm scourge was in conflict with an international non-governmental organisation when the group tried to treat a guinea worm infected stream in the community. That stream was the major source of water in the area. Leaders of Ogi community had claimed that the deity worshipped in the area was resident at the stream, hence their refusal. To solve the impasse, as the serving Senate President, at that time, resolved to sink a motorised borehole where members of the community would access potable water. And today, this debilitating disease is gradually becoming a thing of the past.
Other notable projects by the Senate President include but not limited to the International Nursery and Primary School in Otukpo beside the Open National University of Nigeria at Upu road, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Otukpo-Enugu road, Construction of Otukpo-Ogobia-Adoka-Iga-Ugbokpo-Oshigbudu road. Also, rural roads were given attention. These roads are: Igumale-Ulayi-Ijiban, Oshigbudu-Obagaji-Okokolo, Ugbokpo-Edikwu-Opaha, Adum East-Ohuma-Ojou, Oju-Ebenta-Uwokwu, Ukwo-Aho-Owukpa, Okpudu-Idiri-Ikomija, Ochobo-Agadagba-Onyagede, Adoka- Umogidi-Opaha, Ugbikpo- Ojantele-Ikobi, Ogoli-Ipolo-Ipom/ Icho, Awulema-Alaglanu-Aiegaji, Efoyo-Ikpogo-Omadewu, Adum East-Adiko-Okuntungbe, Otada-Emichi-Okpomaju-Odudaje, Egwanokwu-Aiegaji-Idekpa, Oju-Ojuma-Edumoga-Ohuma and Otukponobi-Ajobe-Otukpo Icho. Most of these rural roads have either been completed or work is on-going. It is hoped that when these roads get completed, it will enhance rural economy to the advantage of the natives.
In the same vein, Senator Mark attracted four National Youth centres for vocational training of our jobless youth. It is hoped that the youth centres which is situated in each of the federal constituencies in Benue-South senatorial district would stem the tide of unemployment situation in the area when it becomes operational. These centres which are situated in Otada-Otukpo, Obagaji-Agatu, Ohuma-obi and Ugbokolo-Okpokwu will not only create job opportunities for the people but will also enhance development of the area.
It is rather unfortunate that Eka, who should be striving towards professionalism in journalism practice will be so sentimental and bias in his write-up. However, I am not surprised that Dan Eka will exhibit blindness not to have seen these projects and efforts of the former Senate President. However, the rural folks and various communities who are direct beneficiaries of these great developmental strides are ever grateful to the Distinguished Senator. Yes, Dan can afford not to have noticed any of Senator Mark’s projects because he is blighted by his hatred of Mark. Hatred that is anchored on selfishness, greed and Kleptomanism. It is noteworthy to ask Dan; where is the JOY FM Hyundai Saloon Car he evaporated with since 2006? Part of his hatred for Mark was the insistence by management of the station that they must recover the car from Eka after his dismissal by the management, and which is still unofficially and unlawfully in his possession .
Dan Eka, as a pathological liar, is not a good student of propaganda otherwise he ought to know that darkness cannot stand the presence of light. For instance, Dan opaquely stated that David Mark stopped General Lawrence Onoja from becoming the Governor of Benue State in 2003 in support of Senator George Akume. The question that readily comes to mind is that: Was Onoja a gubernatorial contestant in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)? Mark as a member of the PDP couldn’t have been powerful enough to help General Onoja actualize his dream of becoming the flag bearer of the defunct United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP). Dan also lied when he stated that Mark refused to help actualize the Idoma’s dream of their son becoming the Governor of Benue State. Put it again, from available evidence, if Dan is responsible enough to check, evidence ought to have shown to him that David Mark took a position in support of Benue South Senatorial District. But the gubernatorial aspirants from Zone C who were obviously motivated by extraneous forces turned down Mark’s advice that Zone C candidates should go home and conduct their primaries for him to take the result from Zone C to see if an Idoma cannot become the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in the state. In fact, it was Senator Mark’s insistence that the position of Governor be rotated to Zone C which Akume’s reneged that brought the disagreement between the duo.
Dan Eka also ignominiously stated that Senator Mark kicked out Dr. Matthew Oyinu as Deputy Chief of Staff soon after being re-elected as Senate President in 2011. For the purpose of clarity, there has been nobody known or called Dr. Matthew Oyinu as Deputy Chief of Staff. Also, there was no Ibo person as Special Adviser, Medical to the former Senate President.
While trying to cast aspersions on the Okpokpowulu k’Idoma, Ekah vainly imported a divisive element into his write-up. According to him, nobody from Igede or Tiv was in the staff list of the President of the Senate. Perhaps, it might interest Ekah to know that two Special Assistants to Senator Mark as Senate President were Tivs (Hon. Adeguhwar from Tarka LGA and Rev. Fr. Innocent Jooji and one Igede, Hon Samson Okwu who was Special Assistant, Finance). And again from Igede land, Andy Gabriel, Mr. Benard Ube, Peter Adikpe and Mr. Job Ogah were some of the very senior staff of the Office of the former Senate President.
In fact, people such as Chief John Enyi, Dr. Isaac Egboja, Lawrence Edu, Prof. John Ibuh, Chief R. J. Ade, Ulaka Idikwu Ulaka, Augustine Abe and many others were empowered by Senator Mark from Igede land. I am surprised that Dan, who few years ago, was seen complaining bitterly that Senator Mark who could not engage him as one of his Aides recruited people from the Tiv, Igede, Ibo, Hausa, Yoruba and across the country, can today turn around to disparage the Senator as not appointing the Tivs and Igedes in his staff list.
But what Dan has refused to disclose to the people about David Mark not offering him appointment was the fact that he was not qualified to be employed as a staff of the National Assembly. And so when he was asked to bring his document, and he brought a degree certificate in Mass Communication purportedly obtained from Imo State University and upon critical investigation by the Management of the National Assembly, it was discovered that the degree may have been obtained from Government College Makurdi. He also claimed to have acquired a Masters degree in Mass Communication from the Benue State University, which upon critical investigation, it was also discovered that he was yet to enroll into the programme in 2007. Again, even the first degree shown to those who were to issue him appointment letter was not accompanied with any NYSC discharge certificate. A situation that casts a lot of doubts on the credibility of the documents tendered for consideration for appointment.
In order to extricate him from the shame and embarrassment, Senator Mark, in his wisdom, tactically ordered the management to return Dan’s document to him and adviced him to exercise patience. Thereafter, Senator compensated Dan Eka with three cars namely: Audi 100, Toyota and Eagle-Eyed Mercedes Benz, which he is still using till date, and with substantial amount of monies to start his business.
Yes, Dan mockingly referred to me as an apologist of David Mark. I am not just an apologist but an incurable one for that matter. In fact, my being an apologists of David Mark has also helped Eka in several ways. First, it was this symbiotic relationship with Mark’s family that assisted Eka to walk freely as a citizen of this country. First, when the management of Joy FM decided to drag Dan to court for absconding with their car, I pressurized them against it and till date the car has not been seen. It will therefore, be in Dan’s interest to return the car to them as quickly as possible before he is litigated. Secondly, when he also went and lied at the Federal Ministry of Water Resources that he was David Mark’s nominee for executive directorship of Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority, and was to be prosecuted for impersonation/ name droping, I was the same person that rescued him from being prosecuted.
As a professional journalist which he claimed to be, Dan Eka, should be guided by the cardinal principle of objectivity by being fair to all as enunciated in one of the four-wheels of Rotary Club. I also advice Eka to find a noble means of livelihood rather than turning propaganda into a vocation that cannot take him anywhere. I therefore rest my case.
Dr Adakole Elijah lives in Makurdi, Benue state.
Source : Gist Arena