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EMPTY NOISE.I'VE NOT SEEN THE PERSON THAT'LL BEAT SUNTAI – BARRISTER GEBON T. KATAPS

By NBF News
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As we approach 2011, what issues will likely influence the voting pattern?

I think Tarabans are going to vote for a much-focused person, a godly person. Someone who has what it takes to make a difference in their lives. These are the parameters.

You are part of the government. Would you say you are satisfied ?

I say without any fear of contradiction, I am satisfied with the level of development by the current administration.

Evidence abound of the monumental strides of this administration and the people will not be deceived or cajoled, because these things are physical and can be felt and seen by all.

Feelers the government is getting from the people are also positive.

In Taraba State now, so much has happened in the last three and half years. So I am satisfied, the people are satisfied and I believe these will transform positively for the administration in 2011, putting into consideration all the problems and distractions the government had to contend with before settling down.

Some people argue that Taraba state has become atomistic in terms of religious differences. Do you see that as an issue in the elections?

No . Some people may want to make religion an issue, but I am telling you categorically that anybody that is campaigning on the basis of religion will lose. Tarabans are too wise for that. I will give you my personal example. I come from the Mambilla Plateau and my village is Bambiye. I come from a royal family. We are partly Christians and partly Muslims.

So, if I want to campaign on the basis of religion, don't you see a conflict there? People will judge you on the basis of your antecedents and your capacity to convince them on what you can do.They will look at the candidate, his credibility and then make up their minds.

What are the high points of the Suntai regime?
I can tell you that the man is God-fearing, too frank and down to earth. He calls a spade a spade. People are used to being told what they want to hear. He tells them the truth and that is the problem. I want to tell you that this is his distinct advantage . In this state, if the governor tells you it is 2 pm you look at your watch it is 2 pm. It makes following and leadership easy.

This is the rhythm we are trying to work out. Why is it that people like to hear sweet things that are sometimes untrue and misleading. Even things that are detrimental to the welfare of the people and the state. They don't want to hear those hard ones that will enhance the development of the state and ginger people to do what they are supposed to do. I was elected thrice as local government chairman here, was attorney general and commissioner for Justice in Nyame's regime.

I was special adviser and commissioner for works. I want to say that I have gone round. I served in the military administration, Nyame's administration, and I am in a position to compare all of them. Someone who has been in politics from 1999 to 2010 should be able to tell you the details and interests of every prominent politician. I think I am in a position to say when somebody is deceiving the people.

So, we have been in the system and know how it works.

Let me tell you, between 2007 and 2008 Danbaba Suntai was distracted by litigations.

He contended with litigations from candidates of other political parties who felt that they shouldn't have lost to him at the polls. He had issues even within his own political party, when some aspirants went to court to seek to replace him because he was allegedly not 'properly nominated'.

But of course as a lawyer, I disagree with that because I understand the issue and process of nomination and I have read the case of Gov. Amaechi of Rivers State, and I know the Supreme Court ruling on valid nominations. I was at the Court of Appeal and of course I know what it has pronounced as valid nomination. That is by the way. Between 2008 and now, if the man has done the kind of work he has done in Jalingo, like opening road networks, establishing a university, he deserves more time.

Meet all the stakeholders from all the local governments in the state and they will tell you what he has done especially in schools, on poverty alleviation, potable water supply and so on. I am saying this from my background. He has tried to evenly develop all the local governments in the state. If I have to rate him, I will give him 75% and above, and then by 2011 we should be able to determine how the man should be rated exactly.

Before 2007, if you went to the office of commissioners, permanent secretaries you would wonder what manner of people we are in this state. He came in and changed their stations, renovated and furnished their offices, gave them official cars, sent them on courses and generally improved the welfare of civil servants in the state. You can verify these things. Even high court judges, magistrates had no official cars before he came in.I think these are the indices to be used to assess a leader.