The Senate is one of the chambers in Nigeria's bicameral legislature,
the National Assembly.
The National Assembly is the nation's highest law-making body, whose
power to make laws is summarized in chapter one, section four of the
1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended.

Sections 47- 49 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, states inter
that "There shall be a National Assembly (NASS) for the federation
which shall consist of two chambers: the Senate and the House of

The Senate is headed by the President of the Senate, assisted by the
Deputy President of the Senate. These Presiding officers serve as
political heads. There are one hundred and nine members in the Senate
representing 109 senatorial districts in the country.

Senatorial Districts are evenly distributed among the thirty six
states with each state having three senatorial districts, while the
Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja has just one senatorial

Since 1999, when Nigeria returned to democracy, after many years of
military rule, the Senate has played an integral role in contributing
to the growth of the nation's political space. Since that time, the
nation has had five Senates. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), held
sway for Sixteen, out of the eighteen years since the return of the
country to democracy.

The All Progressives Congress (APC), only took over in 2015, after
securing majority seats. Since it took over however, the Senate has
been inundated with a number of controversies. Despite the boisterous
posture of the current Senate, some lawmakers, are perceived to have
performed below the bar, while many others have completely gone into
oblivion, by consistently missing sittings, both in the chamber and at
the committee levels.

David Alechenu Bonaventure Mark, was born in 1948. He is a retired
Army Brigadier General. Prior to his political career, Mark served as
a military governor of Niger State and was a former Minister of
Communication. Mark is the longest serving lawmaker in Nigeria's
political history. He has been in the Senate since 1999.

After presiding over the affairs of the Senate for eight years as
President, Senator Mark has suddenly resorted to keeping a low profile
at the Red Chamber, since his fourth reelection to represent Benue
South Senatorial District. He manned the Senate president's seat
between June 2007 and June 2015.

Following the failure of his party, (the PDP) to secure the majority
number of seats needed to retain his position as Senate President,
Mark has gone into political obscurity.

Senator Mark's frequent absence and sudden silence in the Red Chamber,
assumed a worrisome dimension during the well-reported confirmation
hearing of ministers-designate in October 2015. Throughout the
duration of the screening exercise, Mark maintained a loud silence and
refused to participate.

Section 63 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), provides that the
Senate and the House of Representatives shall each sit for not less
than 181 days in a year. This provision is applicable to lawmakers who
are also expected to fulfill this constitutional obligation.

Senator Mark's name was conspicuously omitted when the Senate
president, Bukola Saraki announced the names of the various standing
committee chairmen in late 2015.

Ripples Nigeria observed that since the emergence of Saraki as Senate
President on June 9th, Senator Mark has been keeping mum and
maintaining a solitary posture among his colleagues.

Unlike his colleagues that participated actively since the PDP lost
its majority seats to the ruling APC, Mark has not uttered a word on
the floor of the Senate, even as he has not contributed to debates on
pressing issues in the country.

At the peak of the massacre of natives of Agatu, in his senatorial
district, Mark refused to move a motion on the floor of the Senate to
draw the attention of lawmakers to it. Instead, he resorted to
issuance of press releases.

Similarly, unlike his colleagues that frequently move from seat to
seat to exchange pleasantries and friendly banters with other
lawmakers on the floor of the Red Chamber before commencement of
sittings, our correspondent has observed that Mark is always confined
to his seat the few times he has attended plenary.

Beyond his defeaning silence, it has equally been observed that Mark
has abandoned the reserved seat meant for him as the longest serving
Senator in the chamber.

At the Senate, the sitting arrangement of the Senators is usually
based on their ranking. For instance, a high ranking Senator sits
after the majority or minority leader. This depends on the lawmaker's
party affiliation.

Instead, Mark sits at the last row on the side where the seats of
Senators who are of the PDP are located. He is the last Senator to
enter the chamber whenever he attends and the first to exit, long
before the end of the day's plenary.

Again, unlike the other lawmakers, Mark enters the chambers through
the back door and always in company of two policemen and few aides. He
boycotts the front door, apparently to avoid probing eyes of onlookers
and security checks.

He has not attended one committee meeting, sponsored a bill, moved a
motion or seconded any. He does not belong to any committee and
neither a chairman or a deputy of any. From Aoraan Festus Cmp

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