Idomas are not quite united on the achievements of David Mark, the Senate President.
Otukpo, the home of Senate president, David Mark came into existence long ago. Its history is as old as the migration of the Idoma people from the Kwararafa kingdom-popularly believed to be their ancestral origin, to settle at the south end of the legendary Benue River.
The ancient town which is traditionally regarded as the headquarters of the Idoma kingdom has produced many renowned sons and daughters, just as it still retains its pre-eminence over notable towns in all the nine local government areas inhabited by the Idoma people.
Besides the famous men who have their roots traced to the commercial hub of the Zone C senatorial district of Benue state, the city which now prides itself as the would be capital of the proposed Apa state, has in recent times gained international attraction.
For the fact that one of its illustrious sons holds an exalted office as the nation’s number three citizen, which accords him the privilege of a long convoy made up of important personalities each time he has to visit his home.
Over the years, since Mark’s ascendancy to the political throne, the historic town has become a notable tourist delight, such that economic activities have received a boost and elevated the status of many of the locals.
Another impressive event that has shaped Otukpo lately is the regular golf tournament instituted in the area by the senate president ,which usually brings the world to converge on the heart of Idoma land just as it was manifested in the December 2012 event tagged, “Mark D’ Ball”.
And so, Otukpo to which its people all bear allegiance to as the traditional seat of power, where any Ochi’idoma to have ever reigned or would ever reign must certainly reside according to custom, remains relevant in the scheme of things.
To this end, It has long been expected that the old soldier turned politician, would make necessary sacrifice as the protracted awaited Idoma messiah to deliver the race safely to the promised Apa state, and as well as contribute meaningfully to the development of the area in all of its ramifications.
Based on this calculation, the people have supported the senate president to sustain his seat at the upper chamber over the years, despite dissenting voices that Mark wouldn’t give opportunity to budding youngsters from his home front to make any useful contribution at the nation’s helm of affairs.
Before now, nothing much was actually expected from Mark who was retired from the Nigerian Army in 1993 by late military head of state, General Sani Abacha. He subsequently fled the country on self exile to England for the fear of being eliminated , only to return after the death of his hunter (Abacha) in 1998.
This was because Mark retired as a professional soldier. He was not a politician then, he could not be held accountable to the people who meant little or nothing to his steady rises in the Army. If he contributed anything at all to the development of Idoma land at that time, it was purely on the ground of mercy, love for his people or else self-sacrifice, and if he did nothing as well, no one queried him.
But, things changed when David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark as fondly referred to by his admirers, returned from exile, precisely, on September 5th, 1998 to a tumultuous reception by his Idoma people which instantly made him their Leader.
He was immediately wooed to join the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to contest election into the Senate which he won, and subsequently continued to represent the Benue South Senatorial District over the years since his first election of April 1999 until date.
Even though at his third tenure, Mark went through a keenly contested election on the floor of the Senate, and defeated a former governor of his home state, George Akume to clinch the exalted position of Senate President which he retains presently.
For 14 years, he has been in the senate, almost seven years of his sojourn at the red chamber had been spent presiding over his colleagues, making him the first senate president in the history of the country to break the impeachment, resignation jinx which does not allow his predecessors to fully complete a circle.
What does his position as the number three man mean to the Otukpo people?Infact, what impact has his presidency made to his fatherland? Is Mark indeed a blessing or a burden to his people?
Interestingly, the people of Otukpo did not shy away from responding. “Mark is somebody in Otukpo who could help us to change the face of the city, not just for now but for posterity sake. I think he has not been able to achieve this yet. I feel with his intimidating credentials, and having a name which has become famous on any lip in this nation, the man ought to have duplicated several federal legacies in this ancient town by now,” responded Benard Adah.
But, in the eyes of Sunday Audu, the over 82% of rural feeder roads lobbied to the area by the senate president is worthy of commendation by his kinsmen, as that singular action has made his Tiv brothers of the Zone A and B senatorial district of the state think him selfish.
“I think Mark should be commended by his kinsmen. Just imagine attracting 82% of rural feeder roads to the area. Is that an easy thing to do? As we speak, work has started on some of these roads, and yet small minds have refused to appreciate the man. What else do they want him to do?” queried Audu.
Corroborating his views, Edoga Amos stressed that the senate president has so much on ground to show for the decade spent at the apex lawmaking body, insisting that Mark’s presidency has impacted positively in Otukpo and Idoma land as a whole.
“For instance, the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) campus in Otukpo, the spacious golf field and its activities, which has become of immense economic benefits to Otukpo metropolis and its environs, several overhead motorized boreholes cited at different locations in Otukpo, not to talk of employment provided for countless youth in various government organs through the sole efforts of our own son whose position have done us proud”, Amos added succinctly.
One of the youth leaders of a foremost pressure group in Otukpo, who declined mentioning his name for fear of victimization, “I would sincerely score Mark far below average. His presidency has neither impacted positively on the people or the land. Otukpo has remained what it has been since I was born. There had not been any notable changes and if there is, anyway, it’s probably the deterioration of our roads and some other essential amenities.
“Let me ask you (referring to this reporter), have you visited President Goodluck Jonathan’s village or Governor Gabriel Suswam’s home country? Was it the same thing as it was before they rose to their various pinnacles? If you can honestly answer these questions, then you will understand how this man is eating up our future as budding leaders”, the youth leader opined.
On his part, an elderly resident, Adakole Uloko expressed satisfaction that his boss, as he fondly referred to the senate president, has indeed not disappointed the land of his birth, stressing that Mark had excelled in touching the lives of his people and changing the environment of his ancestry, to a place to be reckoned with in the country.
Uloko, particularly mentioned that the man is a blessing to the entire Idoma community rather than a burden, adding that, “his latest effort to cite a private university in the town shows that he has done so much for the people of Otukpo.”
In the meantime, what is uppermost in the minds of Otukpo people and all Idomas is their expectation of a new state-Apa. To critiques and admirers of the golf addict, Mark, one goal that must be achieved if the man must in the future be reckoned with in the Idoma hall of fame, is the Apa state, a home for the Idoma people to live in, call the shots, govern themselves and be free from playing the second fiddle.
Culled from Dailytrust