EARLY last week, one of the greatest beneficiaries of all that is good in Nigeria, David Mark, the Senate President, addressed a Senate retreat at Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. Given the state of things in our country, it was appropriate enough, that the theme of the retreat was “National Assembly and National Security: Securing the Future for Development”.
Mark warned that Nigeria risked breakup if the cycle of church bombings by Boko Haram was not checked on time: “We cannot just go with the rule of law…the way Boko Haram is going, if nothing is done to halt it, God forbid, it may result in the break-up of the country”.
David Mark was not done, asking ‘the leaders of Northern States’ to think properly before they allowed what he called “a few selected cabals in Boko Haram to bring the North to its knees with what they are doing”.
The Senate president also momentarily played the religious zealot, adding: “if we allow it to go on, it will encourage disunity and religious war, because there is limit to patience. Christian leaders have been appealing against vengeance. But for how long will the people continue to listen, while they are being killed?” Responding to arguments that the insurgency might have socio-economic roots, Mark disagreed, accusing that “the same people who are crying about underdevelopment in the North are responsible for the current situation”.
Mark’s absurd statement
Well, well! How do we deconstruct David Mark’s speech? Did the man forget that he is the second highest-ranking Northerner in the administration? Who are the “Northern leaders” he warned to think properly before ‘a few selected cabals in Boko Haram bring the North to its knees’? Mark should go the whole hog by unmasking “the same people who are crying about underdevelopment in the North”, while being actually “responsible for the current situation”.
This absurd, typically self-serving statement, true to Mark’s entire political career, has naturally shocked people around the North. Prof. Ango Abdullahi, former Vice Chancellor of ABU and a notable Northern elder, offered Mark a riposte: “we are replying David Mark, President of the Senate, because he was biased and not honest in his take on failure to overcome the Boko Haram insurgency. What he said is false. He is the third person in Nigeria and second in the North and yet he is accusing us of doing nothing on Boko Haram.
He was to say all of us (along) with him had failed but he removed himself and blamed us for the Boko Haram issue. If he is saying that he is not a Northerner, there is no problem and now we know where he stands. He has also failed to organise a meeting and means of approaching this challenge as number three and second in the North.
All we know is our traditional rulers and religious leaders of JNI and CAN are working and it is him that failed, and wants to create more division in the region”. Belatedly recognising the faux pas he committed, David Mark offered an amendation to his original accusation against Northern leaders: “when I made my comment, I didn’t exclude myself from Northern leaders. I am part of them”. But in recent days, all kinds of dubious groups have been rented to attack Northern leaders on Mark’s behalf!
For me, what is worrisome is this serial, self-serving opportunism, that is the hallmark of the man’s political career.
When he distanced himself from “leaders of the Northern states” to denounce “a few selected cabals in Boko Haram (whatever sense that statement made!), he was only opportunistically trying to position himself as championing the concern of Christians in the North; and by stating that “there is limit to patience…for how long will people continue to listen, while they are being killed?” Nigeria’s number three citizen was subtly encouraging/justifying revenge attacks! Yet, as a politician with a rumoured ambition to run for presidency in 2015, he quickly retreated and now said “I didn’t exclude myself from Northern leaders.
I am part of them”. David Mark is a past master of hunting with the pack and running with the hare! His years in Nigeria’s Senate, especially since 2003, have been dogged by the controversy of stolen mandates, which somehow ended in his favour, by an increasingly compromised judiciary.
But have we forgotten that this serial opportunist was one of the greatest defenders of Obasanjo’s Third Term Agenda? Yet, when the Nigerian people defeated the obnoxious attempt to crock our constitution, David Mark was imposed as Senate President by Obasanjo; he thus emerged the greatest beneficiary of the democracy that he laboured to subvert!
Given the crisis which faces the country today, its no use for those in positions of leadership like David Mark to engage in banal generalisations or opportunistically attempt to exploit the situation to further political ambitions.
If he knows people responsible for the carnage in the land, his patriotic duty is to name names! Besides, as one of the leaders from the region, how much work has Mark done to help stem the slide to anarchy before raising the red herring of war? As an ex-soldier, he knows more about war than most of us; unfortunately, there are very few Nigerians who own golf courses abroad that they can run to, if war breaks out.
That is why people like David Mark who has spent his entire lifetime taking so much undeserved goodies out of Nigeria, should help heal wounds not add salt to injuries or join the chorus of war in this land!