Some say it is an uncommon feat. Others believes it is unprecedented. And more than a few summed it up as divine. Which ever side of the divide one belongs, the ultimate truth of Senator David Mark’s success as the president of the Senate is that there is the Hand of God here. Except destiny and just a few who are knowledgeable enough to understand the political arithmetic, majority did not give him a chance.
His re-election as the president of the Senate for the second term in June 2011 has been viewed by national and international observers as signaling the consolidation of representative democracy in the country.
Many have even associated the person of Senator Mark as synonymous with the deepening of Nigerian democracy which has witnessed stability since his first coming as Senate President in 2007.
This, in addition to his unique style of leadership characterized by team spirit, hard work and transparency which has resulted in the cohesion in the Senate, the National Assembly and by extension the national polity. This unarguably led to the consensus and his eventual unanimous re- election in 2011. Even his foes agreed that David Mark is unbeatable.
Before the emergence of Mark, the leadership of the Senate nay National Assembly was usually foisted on lawmakers by the strong men in Aso Rock in collaboration with the ruling party at a time when democratic procedures, constitutional provisions and the standing order of the Parliament were jettisoned.
However, there was a major paradigm shift in 2007 when Mark appeared on the scene precisely on June, 05, 2007. Late President Umaru Yar’ of blessed did not bully or forced the legislature on the choice of its leadership like his predecessor did. His Presidency was not interested in imposing a leadership on the National Assembly. Al least due process was observed.
For the first time, in the contemporary political history, the Senate was left alone to freely choose its leadership in an election keenly contested on the floor. Mark became Senate President in an election keenly contested by three other very influential Senators from the North Central.
Through a popular open voting, Mark defeated his major arch rival, former Benue state Governor George Akume by 69 votes to 39 even after the other two ranking contestants ; Senators Nuhu Aliyu and Gbemi Saraki Fawora stepped down for Akume.
The then Clerk to the National Assembly, Nasir Arab and his Deputy Yomi Ogunyomi allowed the election between Akume and Mark in spite of the Senate ranking rule 97 which barred new Senators from contesting for the Senate Presidency.
The election of Mark through an open democratic means marked the paradigm shift that turned the Senate around and put it on the track as true representative legislature.
Immediately he was inaugurated, Mark set out to lay the solid foundation for a united, dynamic and result oriented Senate which principal agenda would be to uplift the living standard of Nigerians in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
Mark further fortified the unity and focus of the Senate by refusing to set up a kitchen cabinet despite pressures from certain Senators who wanted desperately to be in control.
Such is believed to be part of the factors that contributed to the undoing of former Senate Presidents . Wabara and late Okadigbo whose kitchen cabinets succeeded in pitching them against other senators remain reference points Under Senator Mark’s leadership, the senate has risen as not just representatives of the Nigerian people, but indeed true statesmen on whose shoulders we can lean on it matters.
The invocation of the doctrine of necessity to save a rudderless political ship remain a reference point in our political history. Besides, the successful amendment of some sections of the 1999 constitution which previous legislature could not realize was made possible by the Senator Mark/ Ike Ekweremadu leadership of the Senate.
The Senate has made it manifest that it is possible to work harmoniously with the executive arm of government to deliver services and dividends of democracy to the people without rancour. As the Senate under Mark marks its one year of the 7th senate of the 4th national assembly, there is even greater vigour and hope the this session would even be better.
What is more , Mark and his colleagues have set sail to replicate the successes recorded in the 6th Senate. All the grey areas in the constitution constituting imbalance in political equation of Nigeria have listed for legislative attention while over sight functions to ascertain the degree of compliance by the ministries, departments and agencies ( MDAs) to appropriation acts have been reinvigorated.
Senator Mark has constantly assured his colleagues whom he refers to as “ my bosses” , that only those things that promotes unity, happiness and prosperity of Nigeria would occupy their attention and influence their actions. All bills whether executive or private member bill or motions must be the ones that have direct positive bearing on the security and well being of Nigerians.
It is expected that in the next days, weeks, months and years to come, the 7th Senate would through its legislative actions prove more to Nigerians that it can be relied upon when it matters.
Paul Mumeh, Chief Press Secretary to the President of the Senate.