There was this joke making the rounds in the social media about the physical and mental fitness of Taraba state governor Danbaba Danfulani Suntai. Though the situation is critical and serious one cannot but see the funny side of such postings and ingenious thoughts of our people even in the face of tragedy. The author posted something like this – since Danbaba is a pilot and his supporters keep saying he is fit to take back administrative reins from Garba Umar, it is only fair that they fill up a plane with the likes of Hauwa Danbaba, Emmanuel Bwacha, Emmanuel Bello, Aminu Jika, Gibon Kataps, Sylvanus Giwa and the rest. Danbaba should then fly the plane to Abuja, take a stroll to the Aso Villa, say hello to Jonah and Dame Patience; fly to Katsina for lunch with Turai ‘Yar Adu’a, Tanimu Yakubu and Abba Ruma, then fly back to Jalingo and drive to the state Assembly Complex and address the doubting legislators. This, according to the author, will bring to an end the brick-a-brats going on about his health condition.
Though it may sound funny, I agree with the author that this will have been the fastest and surest way of permanently shutting up the naysayers. Almost a month after Danbaba was brought back to the country, he is yet to appear in public, not even once – him of the flying hobby. I have never doubted God’s miracles and sparing the life of Danababa from certain death is one such miracle, for not many survived a plane crash. But those hiding behind the chair that the governor is sitting are trying to stretch the miracle to ridiculous levels. Be that as it may, why are they afraid of allowing the man free rein in public to do as he wishes just like the old Suntai before that fateful evening when he had the plane crash. Hiding the man in the darkest recess of his bedroom and issuing press releases in his name or running to the courts to seek for constitutional protection will neither help the people of the state nor Suntai.
Garba’s antagonists went to the court purportedly seeking for the enforcement of section 190 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) but if truth be told, the unstated intention is to stop the acting governor from taking over governance from a vegetative (permanently?) person. The clear and unambiguous intention of section 190 is the smooth transfer of power between a chief executive and his deputy whenever the need arises. It was inserted in the constitution after the ‘Yar Adu’a saga and is meant to avoid a repeat of that traumatic period. The constitution and its framers didn’t take into account the machinations of some unscrupulous elements holding a chief executive captive and governing in his name.
The constitution is made for men and not the other way. This was the same scenario we were confronted with two and a half years ago when the national assembly in its wisdom invoked what they called “the doctrine of necessity”; a doctrine alien to the constitution and nobody challenged that. Emmanuel Bello, the vociferous spokesman of the anti-Garba group was an Editor at that time and I can’t remember him opposing the doctrine as propounded by the National Assembly. Why is he stridently opposing the application of the same thing in the case of Garba Umar – after all, Suntai has refused to appear in public and there is no independently verifiable report on the true state of his mind. Apart from a video released showing him purportedly swearing Kataps as Secretary to the State Government, which was grafted with another one where members of the House of Assembly visited, no one has seen Suntai in public. His handlers are turning him into an enigma. Howard Hughes did it and got away with it because he was running his private organisation. Katap’s oath taking is a subject for another day but in my opinion any oath taken without the presence of a Commissioner of Oath shall be invalid. If the Taraba state Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) is up and doing, they should look into this.
Seeing the unnecessary tension that gripped the nation during the twilight days of the ‘Yar Adua’a administration and the manner his wife and her co-conspirators handled the issue and the resultant bad blood it generated, one should be forgiven to think that Suntai’s praetorians will spare the struggling state of Taraba and her poor people the traumatic experience the country was forced to go through then. By taking the case to the court, these conscienceless individuals are trying to drag the judiciary into their habitat – the pigsty. When in 2010 the national assembly contrived the doctrine of necessity, I can’t remember anyone running to the courts, so why will any lover of Taraba state go to the court shouting “constitutionalism” because the House of Assembly, after visiting Suntai, pronounced him incapable and unfit to go through the rigours of governing a state? I see similarities in the national assembly’s action in 2010 and that of Taraba state legislators in 2013. I must say they were both guided by nationalism.
Those pulling the strings of this puppet show will surely be responsible for the disharmony pervading the state and should be held accountable by the people whenever the dust settles. Garba Umar was trusted with the affairs of the state for ten months without derailing from a course charted by the puppeteers, whose sole interest is in keeping the acting governor under a tight leash for personal gains – both political and pecuniary. When he decided to kick out some thieves from the cabinet he inherited from Suntai, the puppeteers became desperate which led them to bundling back a bumbling, sick and “brain damaged” Suntai. Suntai was never meant to see the light of the day by this group. All anyone needs to know is that he is ensconced in the Government House in Jalingo, purportedly dishing out orders through his special assistants and a Secretary to the State Government who administered the oath of office on himself.
In the recent past governors Liyel Imoke and Sullivan Chime of Cross River and Enugu states respectively had cause to travel abroad for medical treatment. They came back, address their people through the mass media and continued with their gubernatorial responsibilities and duties. Why is it difficult for Suntai to toe the same line as his colleagues? A healthy and fit person shouldn’t be hidden from the people who voted him into office; Danbaba Danfulani Suntai is the property of the people of Taraba state from the day he decided to go into public service. For some few people to appropriate him to the exclusion of the rest of the populace is criminal. Please sir, come out and drive in an open top motorcade to shame those who say you are sick; failing that then take the advice of your legislators and go take care of your health. They love you more than those whispering sweet nothings in your ears.