Vanguard (Lagos)

9 January 2010

Nigeria: What Will David Mark Be Remembered For?

column

The Evan Enwerem Senate is remembered for being a rubber stamp of the executive. The Chuba Okadigbo Senate is hailed for among others, its sound articulation of legislative procedures, flamboyant ventilation of parliamentary cadence, but also, for the contract scandal that eclipsed it.

The Anyim Senate is positioned in history for its political intrigues and infighting which engulfed it for most of the time. Anyim became the first politician to cut the famous political maverick, Francis Arthur Nzeribe to size having instigated his indefinite suspension from the fourth Senate.

The Wabara Senate is etched in memory for the scams and scandals that collapsed that leadership while the Ken Nnamani Senate is recorded in history for its landmark rejection of third term and adherence to the rules.

Senator David Mark who made significant imprints as an ordinary Senator in all the Senates of the fourth republic is now etched at the point of defining himself for history.

What will the nation remember about the Mark Senate?

As the Senate enters its last full working calendar year it is easily tempting to reckon the stability that has trailed the Mark Senate as its greatest achievement. But cast against its constitutional responsibility of making laws for the good governance of the country such ascription could be easily described as wishy-washy. What is stability in the face of rudderless leadership in the executive arm and popular disenchantment among the populace?

Besides, Mark is yet to overtake the 34 months recorded by Senator Anyim Pius Anyim as Senate President between August 2000 and June 2003.

As such as the Senate reconvenes after the yuletide break next Tuesday Senator Mark is faced with the crucial and really personal task of defining himself and his Senate for history.

Interestingly, he has been largely helped by a national agitation for constitutional and electoral reform, two issues he has readily lapped up.

It is thus understandable that Senator Mark rarely makes a pronouncement or issues a statement without the promise of guiding the Senate towards constitution review and electoral reform.

His prospects despite steadfast reassurances, however, are increasingly dim.

The possibility of amending the constitution this year is clouded by the persisting animosity between both chambers of the National Assembly which has so far frustrated the harmonization of all but one of the several bills separately passed by the two chambers.

All but one of the bills passed into law by the National Assembly since 2007 are all money bills dealing with the budget.

How Senator Mark expects to navigate the river of acrimony that openly flows between the Senate and the House of Representatives to define his place in history will be no easy task.

Besides the lack of concord with the House of Representatives, the Mark Senate will also be distracted as many Senators increasingly focus on their re-election strategies in 2010. Attacks from home will indeed be an increasing distraction for many Senators.

Some Senators in desperation may indeed bite more than they can chew as they confront political alliances weaved against them at home.

Nevertheless many are wondering if the Senate as a body really did not bite more than it can chew when it took a "patriotic" position against the United States enlistment of Nigerians for advanced screening at its ports of entry.

Senate spokesman, Senator Ayogu Eze was in his bombastic elements last Tuesday as he conveyed the dismay of the Senate President on the action by the United States arising from the wayward actions of Umar Abdulmutallab.

The failed Christmas Day bombing of the Northwest Airliner Senator Eze said, will not be allowed to negatively rub against other well groomed Nigerians.

But asked on the failure of this and past governments in Nigeria to conclusively deal with perceived terrorist actions taken against other Nigerians in the country in the name of religion and other vices, Senator Eze flared up as he called for patriotism from the press.

Senator Eze was to give the United States a one week ultimatum to retract its steps failing which he said that the Senate would take up the issue when it reconvenes next Tuesday.

Given the increasing difficulties facing Senator David Mark in carving out a legacy for himself through constitution and electoral reforms his willingness to stand up for the country against the United States could well be a memory that he would be well remembered for. It would be the small David standing up against the giant Uncle Sam!

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