Senator David Bonaventure Mark, the man at the seat of power in the Senate possessing a wealth of experience, and depicting the character of a charming intellect has an interesting profile. Born in Otukpo, a popular town in Benue state, on the 8th of April 1948, and happily married and blessed with beautiful and vibrant children, is a dogged and patriotic Nigerian who is proud of the green-white-green of our national colour and is dedicated to being a lasting flag bearer for our dear country, Nigeria.
He attended primary school at St. Francis Catholic Practicing School Otukpo, Benue state, between 1956 and 1961 before he proceeded to the most popular Military Secondary School in Nigeria, the Nigerian Military School Zaria, Kaduna, in 1962 and passed out in 1966. That military spirit in the Military made him to proceed to the Nigeria Defense Academy (NDA) Kaduna on the 3rd Regular Course in 1967 and graduated in 1970 to become a Communications Engineer in the Nigerian Army after a period of four years. During the intensive military training course, he graduated as one of the best students in his class, in both examinations and active training, and being a sports lover he faced no difficulty with the training as it was his hobby. During the same year of graduation from the NDA he was offered admission by the School of Signals Bradford, England where he broadened his knowledge and acquired more knowledge in his field which prepared him for greater challenges in time to come.
Consequently on his return from England, he enrolled for a College program simultaneously in the College of Military Engineering Poona and Military College of Telecommunication Engineering Meow in the year 1971 to broaden his knowledge more on Signal and Telecommunications and graduated 1975, during which he was recommended for promotions on several occasions and was granted on his excellent performance and clean records in the Force. Consequently, on his promotion to the rank of a Senior Officer in the Army, he was called to the Command and Staff College Jaji, Kaduna State from 1978 to 1979 to receive leadership training for senior duties and appointments as a Senior Army officer. He could not have risen to the status without hard work, patience, discipline and God’s grace. Following the sequence of events, he further consolidated the professional knowledge of his career by attending the Nigerian Defense Academy – WASHINGTON DC USA, between the years 1990 and 1991, proceeding to the reputable and distinguished Harvard University, Boston, USA between 1991 and 1992. One can draw from these events that Mark rose to the apex of his career through training and in discipline.
David Mark had an exciting knowledge filled with experience as a young telecommunications engineer in the Army and gradually rising from the position of a Junior Officer to the position of a Senior Officer.
After He graduated from Nigeria’s apex military training school, the Command and Staff College (CSC) in Jaji, Kaduna, he was posted to the Corps of signals as Commandant. Here, apart from training the officers and the men of the Corps of signals, he had the responsibility of training all the officers and soldiers in the Nigerian Army in communications and related fields. The school was the supervising body of the degree course in electronics offered by the University of Ife (the present Obafemi Awolowo University).
It has been the tradition that officers who perform excellently while at the CSC, are brought back to Jaji as Directing Staff ( the equivalent of a Lecturer) to teach. This was the case with David Mark when he became Directing Staff in charge of Staff Duties, He was later appointed the Directing Staff in charge of Tactics and operations, where he oversaw and coordinated all trainings relating to military strategies, operations and tactics. The department was also responsible for teaching military – civilian relationship and military history. Still at Jaji, Mark became the General Staff Officer Grade 1, taking charge of the planning and coordination of the entire training program of CSC.
David Mark attained the height of his professional military career when he was appointed Commander Corps of Signals, a position all signal officers crave to attain.
David Mark hit national limelight with a big bang when as a young army Major he was appointed Chairman of the Abandoned Properties Implementation Commission in Port Harcourt. His pragmatic handling of the issue has continued to elicit accolades till date. The Government of General Muhammadu Buhari subsequently appointed Lt. Colonel David Mark Military Governor of Niger State.
David Mark in Niger State would be a fat book on its own. Apart from introducing compulsory education for all females, he embarked on the industrialization of Niger State. He exposed both human and material potentials to the outside world. Nigerlites still remember David Mark with great nostalgia as their Military Governor.
After a meritorious performance in Niger State, the State of General Babangida, David Mark now a Colonel in the Nigerian Army, was appointed Head of Communications Ministry. He has always been a complete believer in the policy of leading by example. Mark, as Minister of Communications was definitely in his real elements. In his professional calling he introduced Mobile Phones and Digital Telephone Systems in Nigeria, while NIPOST was recognized and the city coding system introduced.
David Mark as Minister of Communications stopped the monthly subvention to NITEL from the Federal Government. He generated revenue internally for all Ministerial Expenditure with respect to NITEL. By the time he left the Ministry the epileptic NITEL had started contributing to the Federal account.
David Mark was probably the youngest member of the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC). Mark was retired from the Nigerain Army in the year 1993 by Nigeria’s maximum military ruler, General Sani Abacha. He fled the country and went on exile to England coming back when Abacha died in 1998.
David Mark returned from exile on 5th September 1998 to a tumultuous reception by his Idoma people, which instantly made him their leader and responding to the yearnings and aspirations of the people, he joined Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and was privileged to contest elections to the Senate. He was subsequently elected to be the representative for Benue South Senatorial District under the umbrella of the PDP during the Senatorial election of April 1999 in which he won gallantly. He was sworn in as Senator of the Federal republic in June 1999 and 2003. During these tenures he was Chairman Senate Committee on Police Affairs; Member Senate Committee on Defence and Member Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts.
Again in April 2007 David Mark was re-elected and on 3rd June was sworn-in as distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the 3rd consecutive time, being an attestation of his acceptance by his constituents. On 5th June Senator Mark went through a keenly contested election on the floor of the Senate, in which he won for the exalted position of Senate President. He was consequently sworn in as the President of the Seventh Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In addition, he was Chairman Joint National Assembly.
Achievement in the Senate
In the Senate, David Mark has supported a number of bills. These include the Anti-corruption bill, Niger Delta bill, Minimum wage bill and the Universal Primary Education bill. While he was Chairman Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Mark initiated a strategy in conjunction with other stake holders, which has resulted in an improved image for the Nigerian Police, as well as an enhanced pay package. The Police Equipment Fund, which received his blessing, has contributed towards better equipment, arms and vehicles for the Police.
In his constituency, Benue South Senatorial District, Senator Mark has established at least one cottage industry in each of the nine local Government Areas, giving assistance to ailing Community Banks, rehabilitation of primary schools, youth empowerment projects, and facilitation of employments for Idomas at the State and Federal levels.
Senators Mark’s greatest legacy could however be seen in the unequalled emphasis he has placed on the educational development of Idoma youths and all Nigerian youths in general. In this regard he has instituted the David Mark Scholarship Scheme, through which he disburses N10 million annually to indigent students from primary to tertiary levels, this has been increased to N18 million with effect from the 2008/2009 session. There is also an annual inter-secondary school quiz in which winners are given cash prize and issued scholarship.
He also established ‘The 18-hole splendour’, which is fondly called the Otukpo golf & Country Club, which is classified as the second largest in Africa, a place where golf competitions are organized and golf players visit very frequently. He also setup a radio station in Benue State called, Joy FM 96.5, established in Otukpo Town, which offered employment to over 40 Nigerians, and has become the needed communication link between the Idomas and the outside world. Apart from all these, David Mark had been the moving spirit behind some Federal government projects in Idomaland. Some of these are: The NITEL Digital Telephone Exchange in Otukpo town; The Federal Government College, Otobi; the Otukpo-Oju federal road and the Otukpo – Oweto federal road.
The achievements of Senator David Mark cannot contain here. In the history of the world, Senator David Mark is the first senator to maintain the seat of Senate President for two consecutive times. This is attributed to his personality characteristics as a distinguished Nigerian. Without fear or contradiction, one can confidently say that no Idoma individual has done as much as David Mark in the development of Idoma land and no Nigerian Senator have accomplished such an enviable landmark in his senatorial district. It is therefore not a surprise that this courageous man, an academic with charming intellect deserves the Award of Excellence as a distinguished Nigerian.
Senator David Mark at the moment is the longest-serving Senatore and Senate President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2019