BY AHMED TUKUR LAFIA
Former President of the Senate, David Mark, has everything to remain ever grateful to God and the people of his Benue South senatorial zone for his political influence and limelight in the country. However, the same people that assisted him to achieve his political height in the country cannot give same testimony of David Mark, who of recent was in the news after long silence in the media.
The news this time around, is that the former President of the Senate is on the wrong side of history following the fire that razed part of his palatial country home in Otukpo, the headquarters of Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue state. The inferno is believed to have gutted properties worth millions of naira that included two ambulances and 15 motorcycles.
Senator Mark, a retired Brigadier-General and one of the most influential Senate Presidents Nigeria has ever produced, served as chairman of the National Assembly in his capacity as the President of the Senate between 2007 and 2015 having served as a Senator for eight before his enthronement as the number one Senator for another eight solid years, the first to achieve the feat since the birth of the present democracy in 1999. It is in the light of these that it is expected that a lot of people will call to sympathize with him over the unfortunate incident. It is also expected that any sane mind will feel for the former lawmaker over the incident and thank God that no loss of life was recorded.
Senator Mark can be described as a retired gallant military officer turned politician, who is loved by his people that gave him their mandate to represent them as a Senator for 20 solid years until 2019 when he decided to step aside for one of his ardent supporters to take over from where he stopped as a legislator.
Even though, he stepped aside, his biological daughter, Blessing Onuh was accorded honour by the same people as they elected her into the House of Representatives as a legislator representing Otukpo-Ohimini Federal Constituency on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), a party that was not popular in Otukpo at the time she was elected.
For these, there ought to be many reasons why David Mark that has enjoyed so much display of love by his people to learn to appreciate them in return for their kind gesture but it doesn’t seem to be the case. The reported fire incident is one that is certainly too far from being just an incident as it only succeeded in placing a burden on the former President of the Senate, David Mark, and his admirers. Simply put, the fire incident has opened up and exposed Mark’s refusal to give back to the society a little portion of what he garnered using their votes and position. How else would one explain the usefulness of some of the properties that were razed by fire that ordinarily ought not to be found in a private residence no matter the circumstance? How can one explain the two Ambulances that got burnt in his house when hospitals within Otukpo Local Government Area do not have any functional Ambulance?
Secondly, in this era where the unemployment market is saturated with young boys roaming the streets of Otukpo, how can a genuine leader that has the love of his people at heart allow 15 motorcycles to get destroyed and became a complete waste.
Giving the present understanding that indicates that some of the projects carried out by legislators fall within the “Constituency Projects” of members of the National Assembly that are funded by the national budgets, it would be sad if the destroyed properties in Senator Mark’s residence in Otukpo are part of the “Constituency Projects”.
After attaining power and spending two decades in the corridors of power, the society and particularly the people of Benue South are in high expectation that a personality such as Mark should be able to feel their pulse and see reasons for community service as the best of gift of time rather than amass wealth that has no relevance to luxury life style.
It is in the light of the fore going that observers and commentators over the fire incident believe that the vision and focused of every leader with Senator Mark’s pedigree should be the ability to develop a model for community development and the capacity to translate that vision into beneficial reality in a manner that carries the followership along.
The demand of the people from such a leader is one that is expected to assist in offering selfless service to his immediate community that has given and done so much for him. Pointedly put, without Otukpo Local Government Area in particular, Benue state and Nigeria, David Mark wouldn’t have been President of the Senate.
The unfortunate fire incident has exposed Senator Mark as one that is more concern about himself and his immediate family than the general welfare of the people he represented at the Senate for 20 solid years. Certainly, 20 years in the life of a people cannot really be quantified thus nothing would be too much for the people. It wouldn’t have cost Senator Mark anything if he had donated the Ambulances to the General Hospital, Otukpo that has no functional one for years now, just as the Motorcycles would have been more beneficial to the unemployed youths of Otukpo than getting them destroyed by fire.
Having Ambulances at home can never be part of luxury but share leadership hangover and greed as no matter how bad the situation might turn out to be, Senator Mark can never ride in an ambulance or the motorcycles.
It is time that leaders in Nigeria should start working towards seeing aspects of themselves mirrored in the lives of the people. Mark missed appreciate such an understanding thus failed to recognised that fact that the Ambulances would have gone a long way in serving the community if he had donated them to hospital than stationed at his residence rendering no service whatsoever. Leaders must see community service as more beneficial rather than primitive accumulation and amassing of wealth.