Suntai 'steps aside' for deputy governor to run Taraba

By The Citizen

The  Governor of Taraba State, Danbaba Suntai, has agreed to allow his deputy, Alhaji Garba Umar to continue as acting governor until he fully recovers from the injuries he sustained when a small plane he piloted crashed on 0ctober 25, 2012.

This was part of the outcome of a meeting  the governor had on Tuesday with the   Peoples Democratic Party's Committee on the  state's political stalemate, his deputy, 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.'