President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki has described a former President of the Senate, David Mark, as a stabilising force in Nigeria’s socio-economic and political sphere.
He paid this tribute as Senator Mark retires from active politics to become a peace ambassador for Benue State and the country after 20 years in the Senate.
Mark’s media assistant, Paul Mumeh, disclosed this in a statement made available to OpenLife.
In the statement, “Senator Saraki noted that his predecessor has set a record as the longest-serving Senator since 1999, the longest-serving President of the Senate, and referred to him as an officer and a gentleman.
“Senator Mark is our own equivalent of the US Senators Robert C. Byrd (51 years, five months, 26 days), Daniel K. Inouye (49 years, 11 months and 15 days) Strom Thurmond (47 years, five months, eight days), Ted Kennedy (46 years, nine months, 19 days and Patrick J. Leahy (44 years) in terms of institutional memory that he embodies.
“Saraki acknowledged that Mark remains a stabilising force in or out of the chamber, pointing out that he remains relevant even when he left the position of the primus inter pares in the Senate.
“While Mark’s record in the Senate remains unbeaten, it is necessary to mention that he is a bridge builder and consummate politician.
“My colleagues and I, in the 8th Senate, appreciates his humility, brilliance and patriotism.”
On Sunday, at a thanksgiving service held at the St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, Otukpo, Benue State, Mark appreciated the people of his constituency for the support given to him for the past 20 years, also thanked God for his mercy on his immediate and political families.
He appealed to the people to forgive him in case he made any mistake in the course of his 20 years in the Senate.
He said, “When I came back in 1998 after my exile, I went round all the parts of my senatorial district and this I have done to appreciate the support of the people since the last 20 years.
“It is through the support you gave to me that made it possible for me to be the longest-serving senator who contested six times and won six times.
“In the course of my political career, I may have made certain mistakes, those mistakes were not from the heart but from the head. Therefore, I should be forgiven and I hope at the end of the day, history will be kind to me.
“Now that I have retired from active service, I will devote my time to be a peace ambassador for my senatorial district, Benue State and for Nigeria.”
Speaking at the thanksgiving service, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, described Mark as a role model whose humility and services to the state and the country would remain indelible.
“I am proud to identify with you for your selfless services to the state and the nation, as well as providing mentorship to upcoming leaders,” the governor said.
Also, a former Minister of Interior and now senator-elect to succeed Mark, Abba Moro, said the former President of the Senate did not betray the trust of the people of the senatorial district.
“Nobody, living or dead in this senatorial district, has made the kind of impact that Mark had made in the past 20 years,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu also paid a glowing tribute and commended Mark’s leadership qualities.
“Your place of honour as a fine, perceptive, detribalised, patriotic, astute leader and a true democrat is unarguable and unshakable.”
“Your capacity as a wise, experienced, patriotic and true statesman manifested at a very trying time in the nation’s history when you guided the National Assembly to invoke the Doctrine of Necessity to steer the country away from palpable constitutional crisis,” he said.
Born in Zungeru Niger State April 1948, David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark, GCON retired from the Nigerian Army as a Brigadier General.
He attended St. Francis Catholic Practicing School before attending the Nigerian Military School and the Nigerian Defence Academy. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1970 and became a Captain in 1971. He was Commandant of Static Communications in 1974, then later held a political post as Chairman Abandoned Properties Implementation Committee in the Eastern region in 1976.
Mark was the military Governor of Niger State from 1984 to 1986.
He was the Minister of Communication and headed the Communications Ministry and its two major parastatals: Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST).
As Minister of Communications, he was sometimes known for his blunt talk.
During a two-day walking tour of facilities in Akure in 1989, some union workers complained that some of its members had not been promoted since 1978. Mark’s response was that those who have not been promoted may have to be retired, meaning that unproductive workers will have to be let go. He also espoused the opinion of death penalty for telecom cable thieves, as well as a policy of dismantling under-utilized telecom facilities citing political considerations for giving allocations to towns with limited use of phone networks.
He joined the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP at the rebirth of democratic governance in 1999 and won the Benue South Senatorial seat.
Mark was elected as President of the Senate of Nigeria on June 6, 2007 to 2015.
His military fearlessness engineered his courage by telling the UK to “keep their aid” , when the UK criticized Nigeria’s Prohibition of Same-Sex Marriage bill, threatening to pull their foreign aid.
Mark, an Idoma Christian, is married with children. He enjoys golf, tennis, and squash and has a country home with a helicopter and helipad.