By RUDOLF OKONKWO
“We need to change our attitude on how we report things about our country and we should emulate the foreign reporters who never report negative things about their countries.” David Mark, Nigeria’s Senate President, complaining about social media being used to insult Nigerian leaders in a speech to reporters covering the Nigerian Senate.
I’m going to use some bad words in this column. If you cannot stomach them, please stop reading.
I do not waste my thoughts on some Nigerian politicians. Despite their antics and cries for attention, I dismiss this bunch of political actors. Some are so rotten that I consider them irredeemable. Some are so insignificant in the overall reformation scheme that I feel they will wither away as soon as the cord of corruption is cut off. Some are nothing but stagnant balls of smoke made of sheer ignorance. Mr. David Mark was one of them. But he shouldn’t be.
On a second thought, David Mark is much more than all of the above. He is not just irredeemable. He is also contaminating. He is not just insignificant. His dirty fingers are scratching the canvas of Nigeria. He is not just a stagnant smoke of ignorance on Nigeria’s sky. He is also in motion.
In short, David Mark is a lucky bastard. And nothing is scarier than a government of lucky bastards in the life of a nation.
Mr. Mark went in front of reporters that cover the senate, men and women that he has pocketed, to complain that the social media is used by faceless people to insult Nigerian leaders like him. He grumbled that these disgruntled operators of social media have no way of retracting their stories. His solution: that the government should control social media to stop its users from insulting leaders like him.
What the likes of David Mark do not know is that social media does not operate in a vacuum. It needs content to exist. And social media content is provided by people like David Mark.
Social media thrives on the idiosyncrasies, excesses and stupidity of politicians and celebrities. Those in the limelight who do not wish to be in the spotlight of social media should retire to their villages and wait for death. For instance, nobody in social media is losing sleep over Arthur Nzeribe, who is currently at his Oguta home awaiting death. David Mark can do the same in one of his homes in Benue, Ghana, Caribbean, the US, Belize, the UK, Ireland etc.
For those unfamiliar with the pedigree of the senate president, here is it in brief. David Mark is a leader in that class of miseducated men and women who rode the wave of unaccountable leadership, looting and ruining Nigeria until the nation became a failure. These are the men and women who failed Nigeria with such a staged craftsmanship that the nation they failed works perfectly well for them. If Nigeria were a tree, these men and women cut the tree and told it where to fall.
For those who need more details, this is the essential biography of David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark. Born on April 18, 1948, in Otukpo, he joined the Nigerian army and became prominent as a Major when he was named Secretary of the Abandoned Property Implementation Commission after the Biafra-Nigeria Civil War. In the 1980s, he reemerged as one of the so-called Babangida boys. He became the military governor of Niger state from 1984- 1986. When Babangida took over as Nigeria’s military dictator, he brought Mark close as his Minister of Communication. He played a prominent role in the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election. He headed the gang that threatened to kill M.K.O. Abiola if the military had dared to hand power over to him. He fell out with Gen. Sani Abacha who retired him from the army and he went on exile. At the beginning of this current democratic dispensation in 1999, he became a senator representing Benue South senatorial zone. He supported Obasanjo’s effort to amend the Nigerian constitution to serve a third term. For that effort he collected the lion share of the billions that Obasanjo’s supporters used to bribe senators. He became the Senate president in 2007 as a reward for his loyalty to the PDP.
David Mark is a lucky bastard. Not even one of the 400,000 people of his other country, Belize, will nominate him to be a janitor for their senate.
Even though he believes that a sergeant in the army is better than a university graduate, nobody knows if Mr. Mark can write his name. But we know that he can open offshore accounts in New Jersey and the Cayman islands. We know that is the place he hide most of the Gulf oil windfall for himself and his boss, Babangida. We know that is where he hide proceeds from NITEL deals he cooked up as Minister of Communication when he famously said that poor people had no need for phones and as such he siphoned the money allocated to his ministry. We know that he spent about 6 million British pounds sterling to purchase significant interest in the 18-hole St Margaret’s Golf Club in Ireland. We know he owns a 2.5 million British pounds sterling home on Thames River in London. We know he has millions and millions of pounds sterling in trust for his numerous children and wives all over Europe and America. We know this because his nasty divorce from wife number five, Victoria Preye, exposed some of his hidden investments.
Despite his enormous stolen wealth, here is what David Mark’s epitaph will say. “Here lies a man who admired the trappings of Western civilization but was ignorant of its tenets.” It is the same epitaph for Idi Amin, Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida and Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga.
On top of David Mark’s head roves a giant question mark. When he opens his mouth remarkable gaffes gush out. It is a mark of complete genuflection of a nation that such a scion of corruption is at the head of the upper house of the people’s assembly. His bland mind marketed as diplomatic is impervious of his environment. Otherwise he would have noticed from his hospital bed that it was Israeli media that kept the heat on until former Israeli President Moshe Katsav was sentenced to seven-years for rape.
David Mark is a shameless hypocrite who has absolute disdain for Nigeria. That such an uninspiring character is angling for the presidency of Nigeria is a testament to the hopelessness of the Nigerian project. Put aside his pedigree, Nigeria’s number three man is as shallow as they come. Otherwise he would have heard that it was Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post newspaper that singlehandedly exposed President Richard Nixon as a crook and forced him to resign.
David Mark is old enough to know that “the only countries where newspapers are full of good news are those countries where the prisons are full of good people.” If David Mark is just ignorant, I won’t be scared. I will simply hope that soon, like other ignoramuses like him ruining Nigeria, he will die off with his stupidity and leave Nigeria to its fate. But David Mark is much more than ignorant. He is deliberately manipulative and mischievous. And that is dangerous.
David Mark is a lucky bastard. If an American newspaper places its searchlight on him for just 24 hours, as soon as the report comes out, Interpol, FBI, Scotland Yard, KGB, SSS, MSS, BNI, ICPC, EFCC etc will all be fighting over whose handcuffs will be on David Mark’s hands, legs, waist and ankles.
Mr. Mark hates a marketplace of ideas because he has no confidence in his own opinion. So he dislikes any media that challenges his opinion and tries to hold him accountable. He has been so used to being worshipped that any deviation from that is considered demeaning and insulting. For Mark and his likes, not appending to their names their fake doctorate degrees or their worthless grand commander of a corrupt and crumbling federal republic is already an insult in and of itself. But Mark is perfectly retaining his right to insult Nigerians, disrespect them and treat them as imbeciles who have no idea what one plus one is.
This is why David Mark does not like the social media. He cannot buy them over. He cannot pay them retainership to publish only favourable stories about him. He cannot get them to submit drafts of their stories to his office for approval before publication.
He cannot fly them to an expensive resort hotel and give them lectures on how to do their jobs as the Fourth Estate. He is mad because he cannot stop social media from writing what one of his six wives said in anger.
Mr. Mark loves the compromised media that does not ask him what he does for Nigeria for which he gets paid over N600 million a year. He loves the compromised media that will quote him as saying, “I will defend Nigeria’s unity with the last drop of my blood,” but won’t ask him why he renounced Nigeria’s citizenship to become a citizen of Belize when his investment in that country was threatened. He loves the compromised media that will not ask why he loves Nigeria so much but will rather go to Israel for a minor medical treatment.
David Mark is a lucky bastard. The best way to properly insult him is to ignore him. That is what I will go back to doing now that I have let out steam.