By Ismail Omipidan

They have always ganged up against him. But somehow, he had always survived the gang up. David Bonaventure Alechenu Mark is his name. Some hate him, others love him.
But what many did not know, is that like most Nigerian names, whose meanings appear to be a factor in the life of the bearer, Mark’s native name, Alechenu, may have also played a prominent role in shaping his destiny and political journey.
Alechenu in Idoma literarily means “a surprise or the unexpected.” His first election as a Senator was no doubt a surprise to many Idoma people. While in exile, Idoma people had queued behind Chief Steven Lawani, the immediate past Benue deputy governor, after rejecting the leadership of former Senate President, Chief Ameh Ebute, who had represented the area in the Senate, during the defunct NRC/SDP era.
Lawani, had won the Senatorial seat of the area under the defunct UNCP, and was even getting set to take another shot at it on the platform of the then APP, when suddenly Mark returned to a heroic welcome from self exile.
Once he returned, the PDP offered him the platform and without any political bargain, Lawani chickened out of the race. And even though Ebute attempted to stop him on the platform of the APP, Mark was obviously the preferred choice of the people. He was elected Senator in 1999.
2003: But before the 2003 polls, he had fallen out with some prominent stalwarts of the PDP, especially within Zone C, his immediate Senatorial district and the larger Benue PDP. Against all odds, he backed Akume for a second term in office, on the understanding that Akume would pave the way for an Idoma governor in 2007. Although, attempt was made to pull him down at the poll, as most Idoma big names then moved to the UNPP, Mark again triumphed.
2007: However, before the 2007 poll, he had again fallen out with Akume, a thing that never gave him the opportunity to pull the bargain he had with Akume through. In spite of that however, he attempted forcing an Idoma governorship candidate on the PDP, since he was in firm control of the State’s party structure, as Akume had fallen out with Obasanjo. But his instruction that no Idoma man should participate in the party’s governorship primary, organised by the Akume group, a thing that would have made him had his way was not heeded by the Idoma governorship aspirants.
At the Senate primary too, Mark faced a formidable opposition in General Lawrence Onoja (rtd). At the end, although Mark had the highest number of votes, he did not score the required percentage to be declared winner. While Onoja was hoping and waiting for a re-run between them, the party headquarters in Abuja, gave Mark the ticket.
The contest at the General election was fierce. Mark was not only battling with his opponent, Alhaji Usman Abubakar Maishanu aka Young Alhaji of the now defunct ANPP, but was also battling with forces both from within the PDP in the State, and outside the State, but within the North-Central zone. Eventually he won, but not without some controversies, which later ended in the Appeal court, in Jos, where he was adjudged to have won the poll in the first instance.
Contest for Senate Presidency in 2007: If Mantu had succeeded in winning a re-election in 2007, it would certainly have been difficult for Mark to vie for the Senate Presidency, let alone win, as such Mantu’s loss, became Mark’s gain.
But even at that the forces within the North-Central zone of the PDP, linked up with other like minds outside the zone, with a view to stopping Mark from emerging as the Senate President. Curiously, Chief Tony Anenih, who was bitter with Obasanjo then, was the arrow head of the group. In spite of the fact that PDP announced Mark as its candidate, Senators Nuhu Aliyu, Akume, Gbemi Saraki and former Governors Kure, all from PDP North-Central zone, including  Aliero and Yerima among others, met and insisted that “Obasanjo’s candidate must be blocked at all cost.”
This, made Akume to run against Mark, against the Senate Standing Rule, after Senator Aliyu and Gbemi, in that order, stepped down for Akume. But again, Mark triumphed, beating Akume silly at the end of the contest.
2011:Like in 2007, Onoja again in 2011, tried to contest the PDP ticket with Mark at the primary. But unlike in 2007, where Mark failed to make it at the first ballot, this time around, Mark trounced Onoja at the party primary, before Onoja, moved to the ACN, to pick the party’s ticket. Again, at the poll, Mark was returned as the duly elected Senator for Zone C, for another four year term, a victory that gave him the opportunity to offer himself once more for the position of the Senate President, a contest; he won unopposed, despite the obstacles initially placed on his path.
2015:He did not get the party’s ticket on a platter of gold. But he emerged unopposed, following the withdrawal of his major challenger, at the eleventh hour. The withdrawal was made possible through the intervention of the respected Och’Idoma.
At the General election, he emerged victorious. But the Appeal court nullified his election. And by February 13, 2016, he will be returning to the polls. Mark himself is like a mystery. He had in the past survived series of conspiracies against him; therefore I don’t think this one will be an exception. Like in the past, this time too, the forces against him are beyond the Idoma land, but like I said, he would survive it. Let me also hasten to add that Mark is the voice the Idoma people needs today. He may not have done much in terms of physical infrastructure, but he has done a lot in terms of Human Capital development. And evidences are all over.
However, let me also warn, God forbid, if anything should happen and the forces against Mark succeed, the Idoma people should know that they would have been sentenced permanently to a political siberia. A word, they say, is enough, for the wise.

Omipidan writes from Abuja and can be reached

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