An Open Letter to the Distinguished Senator A.B David Mark

Posted: May 6, 2015 in BENUE, federal, life and human interest, Opinion, political, Politics, press releases/ News letter
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By Ede Ogaba Ede

I write this open letter to you, my distinguished Senator; the very Distinguished President of the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria Chief, Senator David Bonaventure Alechenu Mark, GCON as you visit Ado local government area today in the course of your solidarity/electioneering tour of your senatorial district.

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Sen. David Mark

This letter is not designed at tarnishing your good credentials neither is it an exercise of crying over spilt milk. Rather, it is a cry for attention; a passionate appeal to you to take a second look at an issue very dear to the people of Ado local government area and Idoma land. Fortunately, His Excellency, Mr. President shall be with us at Otukpo in two days time and so it’s a great opportunity for you to share this matter with him.

I am one of your loyal and very supportive constituents who have on several occasions stood up to your defence when entrenched reactionary forces of ethnic bigotry and backwardness took salvos at your person. At every occasion, I have consistently stood up to them and the interests they represent.
I am enthralled and proud of your achievements as the President of the Nigerian Senate. You brought stability and credibility to the Senate and transformed it from a House of leadership crises and banana peels to one that today commands the respect of all Nigerians.

There is no doubt, Your Excellency that you are a great statesman. Your leadership of the Senate both in times of turbulence and times of calm marks you out as a true statesman. Your espousal of the doctrine of necessity at a time the country was almost drifting apart due to the question of succession to the terminally ill President Umaru Yar’Adua was the magic wand that kept us together.

I also wish to acknowledge here that apart from your quality leadership at the Senate, you have attracted a number of projects to your constituency, among them, the multi-purpose Otobi dam, the Oweto Bridge, several projects in water, health and education sectors under the Millennial development Projects (MDG’s), establishment of the medical campus of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi at Akpa and the establishment of the Otukpo study centre of the National Open University of Nigeria.

There is however one very vital project which escaped you and which you should make a major priority in the next legislative session for its relevance to the people of our constituency. It is a project you could have done before now with ease and resounding acknowledgement but unfortunately, failed, neglected or forgot to do it.

That project is the Otukpo-Igumale-Agila-Ngbo road; an inter-state federal road to link our constituency, Benue South Senatorial district to Ebonyi state. That road, when constructed would open up another corridor of development in Idoma land, providing great benefits to several communities in Otukpo, Ado, Okpokwu Obi and Oju local government areas among others.

It would not just link up Benue state to Ebonyi state; it would also open up the economy of the two states, facilitate movement of goods and services between the north and the eastern part of the country and also help douse the tension and needless bloody clashes between the Agila people of Benue and the Ngbo of Ebonyi state.

Your Excellency, I know that, that road was included in the 2011/2012 federal budget after much lobbying by some prominent Idoma sons among them, Chief Mike Onoja, a retired federal Permanent Secretary and Chief John Aboh, former Group Managing Director of the defunct Oceanic Bank. I also know that what was needed for that road to be constructed then was for the National Assembly which you have the privilege of presiding over to appropriate sufficient funds to it and then, for you, my senator to monitor its implementation.

Unfortunately, sufficient funds were not appropriated for it despite several presentations made to you. Till date, that road has remained untouched; worse today than it was then. Some of the pictures here tell the harrowing experience the people go through using one section of that road.

You could recall that soon after your re-election into the Senate in 2007, the Agila community, to which I belong, paid you a solidarity visit at your Otukpo residence during which we complained bitterly about the state of our insecurity and made a strong case for the construction of that road as one way of reducing tension along the Benue/Ebonyi state boundary and in particular the incessant bloody clashes between us and the neighbouring Ngbo people of Ebonyi state..
Not long after that, on 25th July 2007, the Ngbo Ejeogu people of Ebonyi state also paid you a visit at your office in Abuja where they also complained about the conflict with us and the need for your intervention.

Whereas they made the preposterous claim that the entire land that is today Agila belongs to them and is therefore part of Ebonyi state, they didn’t lose sight of the benefits of the construction of the Agila-Ngbo road as they also called for its construction “to enhance trans border cooperation.”

Your Excellency, the security situation in Agila is not new to you. It is a community on a constant standby; a community at war that never seem to end! I still remember that when you came to Agila in 2007 during your electioneering campaigns, it was to a people yet to recover from a pre-dawn attack on them two days earlier. I recall that when you went to Ogbilolo, one of the scenes of heavy fighting, you picked a number of the expended shells fired by the invaders. I was by your side and I still remember what you said, Your Excellency, when you saw their dare-devilry and the sophistication of their weaponry.

I also remember, very vividly the look of melancholy and agony on the faces of those in your entourage who saw the gory pictures of teenagers, young children and adults who were mowed down innocently by the weapons of war from across the border. Of particular note was the case of Miss Grace Ori Echo, a young, brilliant 18 year old girl who had just finished from the College of Education Oju and was home to see her parents. She had gone to the farm to fetch firewood for use at home only to be abducted few metres away from her home, savagely killed and had her arm chopped off. It was such a gory sight even for a picture!

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That part of your constituency and indeed the whole of Ado local government area need your attention. It is a place everyone including the state government seems to have forgotten, yet it is one that has over the years consistently provided bulk support for the People Democratic Party (PDP).

The people of Ado are yet to get commensurate reward for their labour and support for you and the PDP. While we appreciate the few appointments to our sons and daughters, we wish they were more in number and the positions given more substantive and impactful.

We are sad and baffled that the problem of insecurity in Ado is being ignored and has not even been mentioned on the floor of either the Senate or the House of Representatives. I hope we are not waiting for Agila and subsequently the entire Ado to be overrun before we start taking the matter seriously. Agila is strategic to Ado and anything that happens there affects the security and peace of the entire local government area.

When in June 2012, a powerful delegation of the local government council took the matter to you in Abuja and our representative at the House of Representative it was to seek through you, the intervention of the federal government. While you received the team, Hon. Hassan Saleh, our able representative shunned them and refused to even receive the delegation though he knew and approved their coming.

The highly volatile and unpredictable security situation in Ado is not imagined. It is real, it is serious and it is highly combustible. It is important to note that the age-long fight with our bellicose neighbours from Ebonyi and Enugu states for the right of ownership and use of what clearly belongs to the Idoma nation is not confined to Agila. Ulayi, Ijigbam and Ekile districts are equally affected, though in varying degrees.

The bloody massacre that took place at Egba, Agatu where over 84 of our brothers and sisters were savagely killed, most of them in their sleep could have been averted if the government had been more responsive to the security concerns of the people and had taken appropriate steps to contain the build up to the explosion. Regrettably, they did nothing and today, the whole Idoma nation is in mourning.

Your Excellency, there is no doubt that you are returning to the Senate on May 29, 2015 as there is no alternative to you on March 28. The Ado people would as usual support you massively. However, we would wish that this time, you will take the issues raised here as priorities; work for the construction of that vital inter-state road and bring the full weight of the federal government into resolving that inter-state boundary conflict which if not done could mean continuous bloodshed and permanent under-development of the area.

That, I think is not your wish for your own people. As I round up this short letter, please accept my felicitations on your victory and the assurances of my continuous support on issues and programmes that promote development in Idoma land. Thank you, sir, for reading me.
idomapeopleofnigeria.com

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