Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja; Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has described his predecessor, Senator David Mark, as a patriot and a statesman.
Saraki, in a statement issued in Abuja, by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, yesterday, said Mark has distinguished himself as a Nigerian with vast leadership experience, being a two-time senate president, a retired Brigadier General, a former minister of Communications, and a one-time military governor of Niger State.
“I join all Nigerians in celebrating senator David Mark at 70. Undoubtedly, as our nation’s longest serving senator and senate president, senator Mark has contributed significantly to the growth of the legislature in Nigeria, and distinguished himself overtime in the service of our nation—in various capacities and at various levels—as a patriot and a statesman.
“As you celebrate this milestone of a birthday, we too, celebrate you and pray that the Almighty in his infinite wisdom, grace and protection, continues to guide you in all that you do.”
Mark was senate president from 2007 to 2015.
In his hometown, Otukpo, Benue State, Mark expressed his resolve to devote more of his time to pray for the peace of Nigeria.
He disclosed this, yesterday, during a thanksgiving service to mark his 70th birthday at St Augustine Catholic Church in Otukpo.
“At 70, I will continue to pray for peace from now onwards. I will pray for the peace of the country. I will pray for justice, equity and the various ethnic groups. I will pray for troubled spots of the country,” Mark said.
The former senate president also promised to review his personal relationship with God, over the years, to see his shortcomings and make possible amends.
Earlier, in his sermon, the officiating Bishop of Otukpo Diocese, Most Revd. Michael Apochi decried the continued killings of innocent people across the state and submitted that the story of Nigeria needed conversion.
Also, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, lauded Mark’s outstanding qualities over the years which he noted, contributed to the stability of the senate while he held sway as its president.
Mark’s bosom friend, senator Tunde Ogbeha paid glowing tributes to his friend “of 56 years.”
Daily Sun observed that the service was attended by former governors including Dr. Gabriel Suswam, the Peoples’ Democratic Party stalwarts, both at the national and state levels, as well as other prominent citizens of the country.
Back in Abuja, the PDP also felicitated with Mark.
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, described Mark as an exceptional patriot and outstanding statesman, who has dedicated a greater part of his life to the development of the country.
The party said it is proud of Mark’s excellent performance in his two-terms as senate president, and noted that the Senate, under his watch, played key roles in holding the country togather.
“Senator Mark’s role in leading the PDP-controlled Senate to achieve the first amendment to the 1999 constitution, to among other things insert provisions that ensured credible electoral processes and entrenchment of rule of law, and particularly the granting of operational autonomy to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Judiciary, by listing them on the first line charge on the Consolidated Revenue Fund, remains a watershed in our democratic experience and history.
“Furthermore, invocation of the Doctrine of Necessity, in 2010, to avert a constitutional crisis, as well as the critical interventions of the Senate, under senator Mark, in the resolution of the crisis in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country, stand as credits to his commitment to a stable and united Nigeria, for which the PDP is known for,” the opposition party stated.