Steve Ogwu Anyebe, journalist, politician and aide to David Mark spoke to Verbatim Special Correspondent, John Idoga in an interview at Otukpo.
Verbatim: As a close aide of Senator David Mark, what do you think are the things that make him special as a politician given his professional background as a soldier?
Anyebe: There is one very unique features David Mark has that is very uncommon in human history. He has that unique ability to adopt to any given situation so remarkably. He can listen to every shades of opinion even for hours without interjection of any kind. He is the type that gives room for everyone to air their views on any given matter before he draws conclusion. For instance, even though he is a hard-trained Military Officer of higher intellectual capacity; he never allowed such military mentality or background to interfere with his civil political adventures. He tries as much as possible to carry everybody along. He never discriminates as he usually allows every stakeholder in every given situation to air their views. Above all, he demonstrates his usual characteristics of humility and patience to accommodate every shades of opinion. Senator Mark never behaves as a boss. These are character traits that make him unique. Sense of accommodation and decorum is his watch-words.
Verbatim: It is being speculated and judging from the body language of your boss that pressures are being mounted on him to contest for the highest office in the land- the Presidency. What is your take on that?
Anyebe: Yes. I’m very much aware of such pressures. Let me say this; this is not the first time pressure of this nature is mounted on the distinguished Senator. Even right from the military era when the then Head of State and Commander-In-Chief, Gen. Sani Abacha died, some young officers in the Army mounted pressure on him to succeed the late Abacha. In 2015 presidential election, he was also pressurized to aspire for the seat of the president. But Senator Mark, a highly principled man and avid believer of the popular 48 Laws of power “not to outshine your masters” told those who were mounting pressure on him that he will never betray his masters. He said he believes that, God, in his own time knows when to make you a leader and that God’s time is usually the best. That spirit of patience has always been the hallmark of his success. He believes in fair-play, equity and justice at all times.
Verbatim: In a nutshell, do you subscribe to these pressures that Senator David Mark should contest for the position of the President come 2019?
Anyebe: Very well. In Nigeria today, I don’t see anyone that is more qualified than the former Senate President, David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark. He has done so much for the unity and development of this country right from when he was a very young Military Officer. As a Major in the Nigerian Army, around 1970 he was given a national assignment which brought him to national reckoning as Chairman of the Abandoned Properties Implementation Committee. It was a very sensitive assignment for a young officer of his status. He distinguished himself in that assignment. Thereafter, the then Head of State and Commander-In-Chief, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari saw the great leadership quality in him, appointed him as military governor of Niger State at the rank of Lt. Col. His records of achievement in Niger State speaks for itself. It was at that time he almost jailed a traditional ruler who tried to withdraw a girl from school for early marriage. Senator Mark introduced compulsory education for girl child in Niger State. The industrialization of the state then was second to none.
In the democratic dispensation, Senator Mark’s political fit is legendary as the only Senate president who piloted the affairs of the senate for an unprecedented period from 2007-2015. Above all, he was the one that saved the nation from unwanted political crises in 2010 for his invocation of the Doctrine of Necessity during the death of late Usman Musa Yar’adua. It is on record too that he did not step on the dreaded proverbial ‘bananna peal’ that was usually responsible for the impeachment of most of the Senate Presidents before him.
He has, through resilience, honesty, transparency and tolerance built a strong political structure for himself across the length and breadth of this country. In the senate, he never regarded himself as the master as he regarded other senators as equal. He even addressed some of his senior colleagues as “my boss”. What else can you find in a leader? I join millions of Nigerians who are mounting pressures on him to contest for the presidency.
Verbatim: What kind of relationship, to the best of your knowledge that Senator Mark earns across the country, who do you think are his political associates and friends to engender his acceptability in case he eventually yields to the pressure on him to contest?
Anyebe: David Mark has been able to build friendship and goodwill over time across the length and breadth of Nigeria through his interactions and friendship both as a person and in his official capacity. Today, he has been accorded numerous chieftaincy titles in the North, South East and West. I can mention a few here, Enyioha of Mbaise, Amulutoro of Egba-land, Dikemba of Nri in Anambra State, Gabi of Lokoja in Kogi State and several others.
It will interest you to know also that, Senator Mark who in military circles belongs to NDA Course 3. His colleagues are all over the country. He has been given a life Chairman of the Association. In Idoma-land, almost all the 9 (nine) Local Government Councils have accorded him one traditional title or the other in recognition of his exemplary leadership and quality services he has rendered. In the National Assembly today, he is the longest serving Senator, from 1999 to date; out of these, senate president for eight years. As a journalist, do your research very well and prove me wrong who can equal this political height.