David Mark, One Small Indignity Atop our Giant Indignities
The Yoruba proverb, "bi iya nla ba gbe ni subu, iya ke ke ke a ma gun ori e", does not lend itself to easy translation but I'll give it a shot: when you are felled to the ground by giant indignities, smaller and negligible indignities gather on top of you to complete the rout. This proverb came to mind last week as I read newspaper reports about the latest political stunt pulled by our own "Distinguished" Senator David Bonaventure Alechenu Mark, the man who, regrettably, is Nigeria's Senate president.
Barely seven days after we witnessed the tragedy of his return as senate president, Mr. Mark either looked into his crystal ball or contacted witches and wizards who assured him that he could be president come 2015. If Goodluck Jonathan's trajectory from Otuoke to Aso Rock comes with a strong whiff of the miraculous, what is there from stopping David Mark from "claiming his own miracle" and "possessing his possession" in 2015?
To throw that idea into public consciousness, Mr. David Mark performed his first miracle last week: he willed into being imaginary supporters who are already begging him to run for president in 2015! The road was then clear for the second miracle: chastize those imaginary supporters and disown them in a heady fit of public sanctimony. It's too early in the day! How can you people be begging me to run for president in 2015 when I have only just started my second term as senate president? I want you to stop it please! Let's all join hands with President Jonathan to move Nigeria forward! Bla bla bla and more bla!
Not being the fools that Senator David Mark obviously believes that we, Nigerians, are, we understand only too well the next chapter of the tragi-comedy he is busy scripting in Abuja. His "supporters" will conveniently ignore his protestations and continue to urge him to run. Of course! Mr. Mark's protestations will continue until he discovers miraculously that we are in a democracy and he really cannot prevent people from begging him to run. By 2012 or 2013, Mr. Mark may declare that he cannot be expected to prevent all kinds of emergent "friends of David Mark" groups from printing posters and running campaign jingles for him all over the country. Ultimately, Mr. Mark will yield to "mounting and relentless pressure" to run after consulting God, friends, and family.
We know the script. Mr. Mark thinks he can be president and has already flown the kite. He has already sown the seed in our minds while pretending to be chastising overzealous supporters. The tragedy, of course, is that Mr. Mark is the singular trickster behind the shenanigans of his so-called supporters. Being one of the most illustrious thieves ever to bestride our public space since Ibrahim Babangida foisted him on us in the 1980s, I wager that Mr. David Mark will now need to fund his latest delusions with money stolen from the public till. His second term as senate president will now be expended pursuing this wind and powder.
In essence, now that our reverse psychologist has started his 2015 presidential campaign by making a public show of asking his supporters not to campaign for him yet, Nigerians can look forward to increased pillaging of the budget of the National Assembly: Mr. Mark will have to build a campaign war chest, abi? The hangers-on around him in Abuja will sense opportunity for food and encourage him. He will have to take care of them financially. It is not for nothing that he is uncomfortable with Mr. Dimeji Bankole's ordeal. He knows what awaits him in 2015 after the funeral service of what would have been his defunct presidential campaign.
This is precisely why I sometimes get frustrated with this thing called democracy. It is true that every Nigerian of a certain age has the right to aspire to be president. But president is one thing, the presidency another. Where democratic ethos conduce to a conceptualization of the presidency as a solemn and sacred institution, to aspire to it is the most humbling decision a worthy potential candidate could make. The ethical capital and moral fibre of the man or woman who says, "I think I could be president" are a reflection of the degree of respect they have for the people: the highest office in the land belongs to the people and should only be approached by politicians who understand these imperatives.
In other words, charlatans, election riggers, tested treasury looters disrespect the Nigerian people by even aspiring to the highest and most solemn expression of our imperfect and chequered nation-hood just because democracy says they are welcome to open their mouths and tells us that they want to be president. Today, it is Ibrahim Babangida, tomorrow it is David Mark. Next, Bayo Alao Akala or Gbenga Daniel will wake up and want to be president. Apart from his credentials as election rigger and treasury looter, Mr. Mark also owns the patent to the most egregious bumper-sticker insult ever hurled at the Nigerian people in recent memory: telephones are not for the poor, Mr. Mark had insisted when he was in charge at the Ministry of Communication.
We, the Nigerian people, have been felled by so many indignities and adversarial circumstances that small and opportunistic indignities like David Mark have found ample space to frolic on our collapsed carcass! I feel assaulted that Senator David Mark, a long-time traducer of our hopes and aspirations who should ordinarily be in jail, now wants to be president. Shior!