Omololu Ogunmade, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and George Okoh in Makurdi
After coasting home to victory in the Benue South rerun senatorial election, former Senate President, David Mark, has called on all the people of zone to unite in order to benefits from the dividends of democracy.
Mark, who spoke sunday at his Otukpo residence, said his victory was another call to service, which requires the collective effort of the people to ensure a greater Idoma nation.
He said: “Now that the election is over, I beg those who fought me to join hands with me to build the Idoma nation, because this victory is for each and everyone of us irrespective of our political, religious or tribal differences.
“It is only in unity that we will build a greater Idoma nation. That is the reason we must all reconcile and ensure that every one of us join this ship, so that together we will actualise the dreams, wishes and aspirations of our people.”
The former Senate president, who commended the resolve of the people of Benue South to always stand with him, lauded their determination to remain steadfast with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Mark polled a total of 84,192 to defeat his challenger, Daniel Onjeh of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who garnered 71,621 votes. He won in five local government areas while Onjeh won in four.
Celebrating his victory at the election, the National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff, said Senator Mark’s win was a sign of growing confidence in the party.
PDP’s victory dance came just as APC denied issuing a congratulatory message to Senator Mark, saying the leadership of the party was still studying reports of the election and would make its position known later.
However, while congratulating Senator Mark, PDP said the victory left no one in doubt of the popularity of the former Senator president and that of the PDP not only in Benue State, but also in the North Central geo-political zone and other states of the federation.
The party, in a statement issued yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, described Senator Mark as a valuable statesman and national leader intensely needed in the Senate, and thanked Nigerians for their renewed support for the PDP and its candidates as demonstrated in recent elections across the country.
“It is instructive to note that the PDP had won 70 percent of all the polls conducted since May 29, 2015, a development that underlines its deep roots and popularity as a brand, irrespective of the transitory setback of the 2015 general election.
“We therefore call on all members of our great party to respond to the gesture by Nigerians by uniting behind the ideals of the PDP and visions of its founding fathers, and reposition the party for the challenges ahead.
“In this regard, the leadership of the party, the National Working Committee (NWC), the PDP Governors’ Forum, the National Caucus, the PDP Caucus in the National Assembly and the Board of Trustees (BoT), are working very hard to ensure that we have a strong party poised to regain power in 2019.
“Finally, we reiterate our call to all PDP elected and appointed office holders across the country to reciprocate the renewed support by Nigerians by redoubling their efforts by patriotically exerting themselves in serving the people in line with the models provided by the ideology of our great party,” the main opposition party said.
In its reaction, however, APC has said it did not issue a congratulatory message on the outcome of the Benue South senatorial rerun election.
A statement yesterday by the National Secretary of the APC, Mr. Mai Mala-Buni, said the party denied making any official statement on the result of the Benue South senatorial election, adding that the “congratulatory message” purportedly obtained from a twitter handle, ‘@APCNigeria’ did not emanate from the party.
The party noted that the purported twitter message itself was not credited to any APC official and advised the public to ignore the ‘false’ message.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, however, congratulated Senator Mark on his victory in the rerun election.
He described the victory as one which reaffirmed Mark’s April 2015 victory in the district.
A statement by his media aide, Mr. Uche Anichikwu, said Ekweremadu saluted the people of the Benue South zone for their vigilance and gallantry in defence of democracy, observing that the people “proved, once again, that you cannot deceive all the people all the time”.
He stressed that the zone and the nation’s democracy were better off with Senator Mark in the Senate, given his national pedigree, institutional memory, legislative experience, and commitment to national development.
He said: “I congratulate Senator Mark and our loyal party men and women on this well deserved-victory, which reaffirms his previous victory in April 2015. We have always been confident that even if the election was conducted a million times, PDP and Senator Mark would still win as many times.”
On the postponed National Assembly rerun election in Imo North Senatorial zone, Ekweremadu, who expressed concern over the election’s postponement, urged the people to remain calm and steadfast, just as he called on INEC to do everything within its powers to ensure the sanctity of the electoral process.