A STATE MUST NOT BE LEFT TO STAGNATE BECAUSE OF ONE PERSON OR THE INTEREST OF A FEW. WE CALL FOR CIVILITY AND THE CIVIL THING TO DO HERE IS TO ABIDE BY THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION ON THIS MATTER.
We have observed, with increased worry, the tragicomedy coming out of Taraba State in the last two days. An otherwise calm state is being turned into a theatre of dangerous political game capable of throwing the state into serious political crisis, the precursor to anarchy. A clique of self-conceited politicians and power-hungry relatives of Governor Danbaba Suntai appears to have gripped the state by the jugular, riding on illegitimate powers to call the shots – in the process undermining constituted authorities, and indeed the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Mr. Suntai, who was flown to Germany, and later the United States after he suffered life-threatening injuries in October 2012, has been out of his domain for upwards of 10 months. In the absence of the governor, the Taraba State House of Assembly, in December last year, declared his then deputy, Garba Umar, acting governor, in line with the constitution.
However, Mr. Suntai’s continued absence from the state gave rise to agitation for the State Assembly to declare the acting governor the substantive chief executive, as also provided for by the constitution. Section 189 of the 1999 constitution empowers the State Assembly to impeach a governor when he is medically incapacitated to discharge his duties.
As the calls grew, the governor’s loyalists spent the past months assuring the state’s distraught citizens that their governor was fully alert and functional, and was only days away from full recovery, to resume work.
All of that flopped on Sunday with the manner Mr. Suntai was literally evacuated from the airplane in both Abuja and Jalingo in a clear testimony the man was physically and mentally unfit for the rigorous schedules of a state executive.
In the past two days, the state has witnessed a series of fast-paced events, including a purported letter from the governor notifying state lawmakers he could not physically greet at the airport, of his return and preparedness to start work. On Wednesday, Mr. Suntai again, allegedly dismissed his cabinet, in disregard for widespread condemnation from Nigerians asking his family and close allies to allow him fully recover, free of the normal processes of state functions.
We at PREMIUM TIMES agree with Nigerians making those calls, and believe Mr. Suntai has been turned into a hapless tool in the hands of self-serving associates who use him as a conduit to perpetuate their selfish ends. The fact that Mr. Umar and members of the state House of Assembly were barred from meeting the governor only lent credence to the stories making the round that Mr. Suntai is permanently incapacitated to be able to hold a sensitive position like that of a governor. The two actions were equally invitations to anarchy.
The Taraba tragedy once again underscores the pervasive amnesia in the public conscious, of not taking stock of history in picking lessons to treat our daily challenges as individuals and as a nation. The Umaru Yar’adua saga should be fresh in our national psyche. It is therefore shameful for such a perilous drama to repeat itself within the span of a short time.
It is even more appalling that the nasty spectacle has so far continued unabated with some people now apparently taking decisions in the name of the governor who many believe is mentally incapable of taking those decisions. The asinine announcement that Mr. Suntai had announced the dissolution of the state executive council is a prelude to what may come if something urgent is not done to check the situation. What this power drunk cabal tries to do is to create a parallel government aside the one in place presently. This is unacceptable.
PREMIUM TIMES strongly condemns this utter disrespect for the rule of law and uncivilized crave for power by a few individuals against the interest of the people and constitutional provisions. The people of Taraba State deserve a better deal. A state must not be left to stagnate because of one person or the interest of a few. We call for civility and the civil thing to do here is to abide by the constitutional provision on this matter.
If Mr. Suntai can prove his wellness, he should go forth and claim his seat. Otherwise, the state assembly should not hesitate to impeach him, as the constitution provides, for the state to move on. Eyes would also be on law enforcement agents and other stakeholders. They should not allow themselves to be used for parochial interest of an insignificant number of people.
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