Out of Nigeria’s estimated population of about 167 million, not many people have had the privilege of having been elected into the Senate four times. The present Senate President, David Bonaventure Mark will by the end of his present tenure have put 16 years of being a senator behind him having served four consecutive terms as a Senator of the Federal Republic. Chief Francis Arthur Nzeribe too is one controversial figure who has been elected into the Nigerian Senate more than twice. While Mark has risen to become the first Senate President to run a full 4-year tenure and the first to be re-elected, Nzeribe was never elected as a principal officer, yet his years in the Senate were not without notable events. Incidentally, some of the longest having Senators have been enmeshed in one form of controversy or the other in time past.
Mark, the Chairman of Nigeria’s 7th National Assembly has been in the Senate since 1999.
Of course no one can deny the fact that Senator David Mark was a key member of a number of military administrations in the country. After his graduation from the Command and Staff College, Jaji, he was posted to the Corps of Signals as Commandant. His career later saw him returning to Jaji where he not only taught but rose up to become the General Staff Officer in charge of coordination.
Mark was no doubt a fine officer and that soon saw him being appointed to the position of the Commander, Corps of Signals.
With the advent of the Buhari administration, David Mark, then a Lieutenant Colonel was appointed as the Military Governor of Niger State.
And when Major General Babangida became the President, David Mark was appointed as the Minister for Communications. While the then Minister prides himself for having been the only communications Minister who dared to disconnect the direct telephone line on the President’s table because the line was on the list of those owing the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), not many Nigerians have forgotten that as Communications Minister, Mark was the one that said telephone services were not meant for the ordinary Nigerian.
The fact that most of those who fled from the Abacha regime were tagged “heroes” paid of for Mark too. He became the Senator representing the Benue South District just 7 months after his return from exile.
In 2007, he was re-elected and he became the Senate President after. In 2011, he was re-elected as the Senate President, though sources within the Senate revealed that a lot of money was spent to actualize the dream of emerging as Senate President a second time.
Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe on the other hand means different things to different people. Till date, whenever the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election is being discussed, Nzeribe’s name still crops up. No one would have thought with his role and that of the Association for Better Nigeria (ABN), Nzeribe would still win any election in Nigeria, not to talk of being re-elected. The annulment of that particular election set Nigeria back by at least five years and it won’t be wrong to say the country is yet to recover fully from that setback.
Nzeribe’s journey to prominence started with a chance meeting with Kwame Nkrumah in 1960. Then, Nzeribe was selling life policies to Black immigrants in Britain. He started working for Nkrumah and by the following year; he already had enough money to buy himself a Rolls Royce! By 1979, Nzeribe claimed that Franz, his company generated an annual turnover of £ 70 million. In 1983, he won a Senatorial seat to represent Orlu. He achieved similar feats in 1999 and 2003.
Nzeribe was in his elements in 2002 when he moved against the then Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim. He was subsequently suspended indefinitely for an alleged fraud totalling N 22 million.
Though till date, Nzeribe claims his Association for Better Nigeria (ABN) did not get any monetary inducement to stall the announcement of the June 12 election results, not many of those who were around then find this easy to believe.
Investigations have also revealed that Nzeribe derived most of his funds from a Trust he set up in the Bahamas and Channel Islands decades ago.
While how he made his millions (in terms of pounds sterling) still remains unclear to many, why he stashed them away in foreign lands is another question begging for answers.
Though his “misdeeds” seem to have been pardoned over the years, they might not have been forgotten by Nigerians, especially those who were around then. He served as the Minister for Information towards the end of the Babangida regime and during the Interim National Government. As the mouthpiece of the government then, many still believe he overdid his job. Back then, he was a man many Nigerians loved to hate.
Ask anyone in Borno State about the political records of Maina Maaji Lawan, and they will tell you that he has been around for some time. Apart from being a member of the House of Representatives between 1979 and 83, he was the Governor of Borno State in the botched Third Republic.
He was elected into the Senate in 1999 to represent Borno North District, he tried his luck in the 2003 Governorship race and lost. He was however elected as a Senator again in 2007 and re-elected in 2011.
In his days as Governor, Lawan set up a committee to consider the closure of some tertiary institutions apparently to discourage education in some parts of the state.