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Spare a thought for the people of Benue South – they are stuck with David Mark


Spare a thought for the people of Benue South – they are stuck with David Mark

The senate has been in screening mode this October, as nominees of the president for both ministerial and INEC positions have taken turns responding to questions from the senators. In all this time, former senate president David Mark has not contributed a single thing – no comments, no questions, not even a point of order, just loud arrogant silence. In fact, Mark has made no contribution on the floor of the senate since he stopped being senate president.

If Mark truly regards and appreciates the people of Benue South who have sent him to the upper chamber of the national assembly for a record five times, then he should resign.

Mark is the longest serving senator in the upper chamber, having been elected in 1999. He became senate president in 2007 and by 2015 had become the first man to lead the senate for an unbroken eight years. With the victory of the All Progressives Congress in 2015, Mark had to relinquish that position after he had already won his senate seat. Since then – unfortunately – he has maintained a low profile.

Senators sit according to their ranking. The highest ranked senators sit after the majority leader (in the case of the ruling party) or minority leader (in the case of the opposition). Mark chose to shun the sitting arrangement, opting to sit at the very last row in the section of the chamber reserved for PDP senators. He hardly exchanges banters with his colleagues, makes it a point of duty to come into the chamber after the senate president is seated and leaves most times before adjournment.

Unfortunately, Mark’s withdrawal is Benue South’s loss. If he maintains this subdued attitude, then it would be difficult to see how he can effectively represent the views of his senatorial district and state in the senate; introduce legislation; debate legislation; present petitions; or do any of the other functions of an elected senator.

An argument can be made that Mark is going through these lengths in order not to distract his successor, Sen. Bukola Saraki. If that is actually the reasoning however, then the best service he can give to the people of Benue South is to resign. An example of this can be found in the United States, where John Boehner, the speaker of that country’s Congress and third in line to the presidency has announced his resignation as speaker. In order for him not to become a distraction to his party and successor by becoming an ordinary floor member after holding such a position, Boehner has decided to resign altogether from the US Congress. The alternative for him may have been to be a Mark, but he must have reasoned that such a move was not good enough for a member of the US Congress. After 16 years in the senate, maybe it is time for Mark to do a Boehner.

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