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Taraba: Suntai dissolves cabinet, sacks SSG, Chief of Staff

By The Citizen
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Governor, Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State, yesterday, announced the dissolution of the state executive council.

Apart from sacking the cabinet, Suntai also removed the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and appointed Mr. Timothy Gibon Kataps in his place. Similarly, Suntai fired his former Chief of Staff, CoS, and named Alhaji Aminu Jika as his new CoS.

The governor, who made the sweeping changes through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Sylvanus Giwa, asked all the affected commissioners and officials to hand over to their respective permanent secretaries with immediate effect.

Although Suntai explained that the move was aimed at strengthening the administration, analysts believe the recuperating governor wants to take greater control of his government, which has been in the hands of those he does not trust, for about a year.

The undercurrent has exposed the divided loyalty between those in support of Suntai, who returned to the country on Sunday, and his deputy, Garba Umar, who has been acting in his absence in the last 10 months.

While the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr. Haruna Tsokwa asked the governor to come and address the Housew of Assembly at plenary as a condition for resuming, the Majority Leader, Mr. Joseph Albasu Kunini, asked the governor to start work with immediate effect.

Angered by the controversy generated by the governor's resumption letter, the Attorney General of the state, Timothy Gibon Kataps, said Suntai had resumed work since August 26, 2013, a day after he was flown into the state from the United States.

Kataps, who was later in the day named as the new SSG by Suntai, said that there was no need for the lawmakers to debate the letter submitted by the governor just as he was not expected to address them on his intention to resume work.

Kataps said he had to cut short his trip to Calabar, the Cross River State capital, where he was attending the Annual Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, to clear the air on the matter so that the state was not thrown into avoidable crisis.

The new SSG asked the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Haruna Tsokwa, not to heat up the polity by insisting that the governor should address members of the House as a prelude to resuming work. He argued that asking the governor to appear before the members or the members debating the letter sent to them would amount to over-reaching the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution.

Meanwhile, Governor Suntai yesterday held a marathon meeting with the leadership and members of the state House of  Assembly in a desperate move to break the deadlock over his resumption of duties.

The first leg of the meeting, which started at about 4pm lasted till 7:30pm before the Speaker sent an aide to inform anxious journalists that there was nothing to report to them, as they were continuing late into the night.