The Governor of Taraba State, Danbaba Suntai, has agreed to step aside until he fully recovers from the injuries he sustained when a small plane he piloted crashed on 0ctober 25, 2012.
His decision is part of the outcome of ameeting he had on Tuesday with the Peoples Democratic Party’s Committee on the state’s political logjam, his deputy, Alhaji Garba Umar; Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Haruna Tsokwa, and the PDP leaders in the North-East.
Umar was consequently directed by the committee to continue as acting governor but with a proviso: He must consult with the recuperating Suntai on major issues in the discharge of his duties.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Hope Uzodinma, made this known in Jalingo just as the members of the state House of Assembly disagreed on whether to end the legislative calendar on Tuesday or adjourn till Wednesday(today).
Uzodinma told journalists that although Suntai was recovering very fast, he was not in a good position to take full charge of governance in the state.
He said, “We have resolved the issue because it is just a family misunderstanding. We don’t have a crisis in Taraba. The governor is relatively very healthy and he has no disagreement with his deputy. In fact, he is in support of the fact that the acting governor should continue and should consult with him on major issues pending when he is ready to take over the full governance of the state. Taraba State has one united and strong government and the PDP is fully in charge.”
Suntai had at the meeting in the Government House pleaded for forgiveness and understanding from the people of the state. He said it was through forgiveness and reconciliation that the state could move forward.
The governor said he was happy to receive the delegation and solicited for prayers to see him through his present predicament.
As he shook hands with each member of the committee, the acting governor, the Speaker and others in attendance, Suntai said, “I am happy to see you, please pray for me. Forgive me if I have made mistakes.”
When he shook hands with Tsokwa, he said, “Mr. Speaker, you know my problem. Please, I want you to help me to pray. God will help all of us.
Turning to the the PDP National Secretary, North-East, Bala Endefo, the governor said, “This one, I have been quarrelling with him. Today, I forgive you.”
His wife, Hauwa, and his main loyalist, Senator Emmanuel Bwatcha, were also in attendance.
The governor had also received the chairmen of the 16 local government councils in the state, who paid him a solidarity visit.
The Chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria, Mr. Kallamu Alhamdu, said the governor was hale and hearty and was able to interact with them with full alertness.
Uzodinma had before the meeting with Suntai told journalists that the only way to resolve the political debacle in the state was for all sides to abide by the provisions of the constitution.
He described the crisis as a family feud, which should be resolved without any side being bruised.
The committee chairman added, “We are in Taraba to discuss with the leadership of the party, members of the House of Assembly and critical stakeholders to see how we can resolve this problem. Many things have happened and they are envisaged, especially in the circumstances we find ourselves.
The acting governor also told journalists after the meeting that a new cabinet would soon be constituted to replace the former executive council which was dissolved by Suntai shortly after he returned from the United States. He said the governor would be consulted before it would be made public.
Umar commended President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Chairman of the PDP for assisting in the resolution of the crisis.
He said, “First of all, let me assure you that today(Tuesday), we have been able to tell ourselves the truth and we have been able to resolve our differences and I am assuring you that today, Taraba is one.
“Let me also say that all of us here were witnesses to the fact that few days ago, there were insinuations here and there and newspapers were carrying so many stories about Taraba State. In fact, Taraba State became a household name in the country. But today, we thank God that all our differences have been resolved and we are all one.
“It was agreed that I will paddle the affairs of the state until my principal is able to come back and resume duties as our governor . It was also agreed that there must be some kind of consultation with the governor.”
On the state executive council, the acting governor said, “I am still in consultation with my boss and as soon that is done, I will let you know about the constitution of the next executive council.”
There was however a rowdy session at the state House of Assembly as members disagreed on whether the current legislative calendar should end on Tuesday or plenary adjourned till Wednesday (today).
Problem started when Tsokwa asked the Majority Leader, Joseph Kuninin, to move a motion to allow the the day’s sitting since the assembly was supposed to end the current legislative calendar last Wednesday.
Kuninin had earlier raised a point of order to the effect that the sitting could not hold without a motion to that effect.
Another drama was to ensue when the assembly wanted to adjourn. The speaker then asked Kuninin to move for end of the legislative calandar. But in doing so, the majority leader moved for adjournment for Wednesday (today).
The speaker called him to order and requested that he (majority leader) should move the motion as they had earlier discussed in a caucus meeting. But the majority leader, for the second time, moved for adjournment.
It was then that the speaker mandated another member, Dr. Abubakar Jugude, to move a motion asking that the current legislative calendar be closed and to resume on October 14.
He was supported by Ibrahim Imam.