Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Nigeria's Senate President;; a brief history

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Nigeria's Senate President; a brief history

Investigations by Saharareporters have uncovered questionable deals involving David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark, a retired army general who was on June 5, 2007 chosen as President of the Nigerian Senate. Mark’s election to head the upper legislative chamber made him the third most powerful Nigerian in the current political order.

As Nigeria’s Minister for Communications in the 1980s, David Mark acquired a reputation for speaking in a gruff manner. His most notorious gaffe was a statement that telephones were not meant for poor Nigerians. The statement was in response to criticism of the scarcity of telephone lines as well as their high cost.

The first of the deals that catapulted David Mark into questionable wealth came from a $77 million “telecommunications deal” which he brokered while he was Communications Minister under General Babangida. The gist was that Mark procured aircrafts for the nation’s telephone company- NITEL- at highly inflated prices. Mark made an instant profit of $70 million which he shared with President Ibrahim Babangida in accounts opened in Jersey and Cayman Islands. From this single deal, David Mark had set aside the sum of £6 million in a “trust” for his children as well as invested in real estate for his numerous wives and children in the UK and Ireland. In a remarkable, if curious, decision, Mark also invested the sum of £5.9 million in the 18-hole St. Margaret’s Golf Club near Dublin, just a five- minute drive from the International Airport in Dublin, Ireland...

He was one of the key figures who prevailed on Babangida to annul the elections of June 12, 1993. That annulment scuttled Nigeria’s effort to embark on a credible democratic path. Mark and General Dogonyaro were among then serving officers who threatened to kill the president-elect, Chief M. K.O Abiola, if the military head handed over power to him.

In 2006, Mark emerged as an arrowhead of senators who supported a controversial constitutional amendment that would have seen President Obasanjo run for a third-term in office. The campaign was marked by massive corruption. The presidency handed fifty million naira to each senator who agreed to vote for the reprehensible amendment. Though the measure was defeated in the National Assembly, David Mark never gave up. He was quoted as saying that only retired military officers should be voted to power in Nigeria saying that "A sergeant in the army is better than a graduate".

Records available to Saharareporters indicate that, in 1996, Mark took up Belizean citizenship when his investments in that small island nation were threatened. Mark and his now estranged wife, Victoria Preye, as well as two of their younger kids still carry Belizean passports.

Further, he disclosed an earned income abroad of £45,000 a year, whilst his Nigerian income as a senator was put at £1,636 per year, clearly a lie told to British authorities. His disclosure demonstrated that he operated his English bank accounts throughout the period.

Non-citizen, corrupt and anti-democratic

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