Indications emerged yesterday that the ailing Taraba State Governor Danbaba Suntai was flown home to abort a move by some powerful individuals in the state to force the hands of the executive and the state House of Assembly to declare him incapacitated and remove him from office.
Suntai, who arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, at 12.05p.m. after a 10-month absence, was immediately driven in a black Toyota Sequoia SUV with registration Lagos SC 989 AAA for some rest at the VIP Lounge before boarding a connecting flight to Yola.
The governor, who spotted grey suit and blue shirt, was helped down the steps of the light jet that brought him to Abuja and appeared clearly frail.
He did not speak to reporters and barely managed to acknowledge cheers from the crowd by waving to the people before he was assisted into a waiting car.
Former information minister and a member of the Board of Trustees, BoT, of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Prof. Jerry Gana, who was at the airport to receive the governor told reporters that he was thankful to God Almighty for the safe return of the governor.
He said:”After about 13 hours of flight, he will be tired as a human being. He is fine; he wants to rest a bit before the next flight to Yola.
“We thank God he arrived safely; he is very sound but because of the fatigue of travelling, he is going to rest for about an hour or two before the next flight to Jalingo.
“Governance doesn’t mean you will be running around, you have to think and act. There are those who are governing even on wheelchair. We thank God he is safe and that he arrived safely; he is healthy. He will be able to do his work effectively; he is going to Jalingo later today.”
Also, the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Darius Ishaku, who also spoke to reporters, said it was a good development that the governor arrived safely.
The minister, who defended the governor’s decision to remain overseas to properly recuperate, noted that Suntai could not stay abroad indefinitely as he has recovered and, therefore, needs to come home.
Other dignitaries who were also at the airport to receive the governor were the former National Transformation Party presidential candidate, John Dara, and the former Minister of Sports, Damishi Sango.
Dara said:”We were excited to see the governor. What is clear is that after the long haul from America, he was obviously weak and tired but we were thrilled by the fact that he recognised everyone of us by name, which shows he is mentally alert, lucid and that shows that he is capable of running the affairs of the state as governor.
“We have no doubt that when he gets to Jalingo later, it will be up to his doctor who is accompanying him to say whether he should work today. He is clearly OK and able to function.”
However, a prominent indigene of the state, who did not want his name mentioned, said the governor was still not in a good condition of health to enable him perform his functions but that he was brought in nonetheless to enable him remain in office.
The agenda of the opposition, National Mirror learnt, was to activate Section 189 of the 1999 Constitution as amended. The section covers the process of removing a sitting governor from office on the grounds of incapacitation.
The plan was already in top gear when the strategists in the governor’s camp decided to rush the governor home.
A socio-political group, Taraba Justice Forum, had been at the vanguard of calls for the sacking the governor to pave the way for his deputy and acting governor, Alhaji Garba Umar, to become the substantive chief executive.
The group had based its position on the grounds that members of the state cabinet were allegedly cashing in on the poor state of health of the governor to loot the treasury.
It had insisted that Suntai was in vegetative condition without intellectual capacity to run the state, and faulted Senator Emmanuel Bwacha over his claim that only the death of Suntai could make the acting governor to become the substantive.
The forum noted that the lawmaker was guilty of “misinterpretation of section 189 of the constitution”.
Bwacha is the senator representing Taraba South Senatorial District.
He had in a recent interview stated that President Goodluck Jonathan only became the substantive President after the death of former President Umar Yar’Adua and that precedent should be applied to the Taraba situation.
But with the arrival of the governor yesterday, the plan to remove the governor might have been scuttled.
Meanwhile, the governor arrived in Jalingo, the state capital, at 4.20p.m. to a tumultuous welcome by hundreds of residents, who had been waiting to catch a glimpse of him.
Before the team arrived, security at the airport was tight as military personnel and policemen were on ground.
The office of the acting Governor, Umar, had earlier issued a statement that the governor’s entourage would arrive in the state by 8 a.m. instead of the 2 p.m. that was initially announced.
Umar led prominent politicians in the state to receive the governor, who was immediately driven to the Government House in a long convoy that virtually paralysed movement in the state capital.
The governor did not talk to the press on arrival and there was no statement from his media team.
The Chief Press Secretary to the acting governor, Mr. Kefas Sule, said that there would not be any statement for now, but promised to keep the media informed on any development.
Suntai was involved in a ghastly air crash on October 25 last year when a Cessna aircraft he was piloting crashed. Three other persons, including his aide de camp, who were with him, sustained varying degrees of injuries.
He was first flown to the National Hospital, Abuja, and then to Germany a few days later. At the beginning of this year, the governor was transferred to a medical facility in the United States where he had been recuperating.
Source: National Mirror Newspaper
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