Taraba: Nine Assembly members hold plenary session on Suntai without mace
Nine members of the Taraba State House of Assembly on Monday rose from a brief plenary reiterating their previous rejection of the letter conveyed to the assembly by Governor Danbaba Suntai that he had resumed work.
The plenary session which held without the mace was presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Tanko Makarfi, in the absence of the Speaker, Mr. Haruna Tsokwa, who had yet to return from Abuja where he attended the Peoples Democratic Party mini-convention.
The nine legislators were among the 16, who had on Thursday asked Suntai to go back to a United States hospital for further treatment and allow his deputy, Alhaji Garba Umar, to continue to run the state in acting capacity.
Six lawmakers who were part of the 16 did not participate in the sitting.
However, the Majority Leader, Mr. Joseph Abasu, said that other members of the assembly would respond fully to the development on Tuesday (today).
'We have resolved that we will not talk until tomorrow (Tuesday). We just came back from Abuja and we are trying to gather our facts before saying anything,'Abasu said.
But another member of the assembly, Mr. Mark Useni, described the plenary as a ruse. He said the assembly was supposed to have ended its legislative calendar last Wednesday, but could not because the speaker was nowhere to be found.
Useni said, 'Taraba House of Assembly was supposed to end the current legislative calendar on Wednesday, but was not officially closed because the Speaker who was to close the calendar was absent. The closure was supposed to be backed by two-thirds of the assembly and if there should be any extension, it should still be approved by two-thirds of the assembly. So their so-called plenary is a ruse. We were even told that they read from a prepared speech.'
However, the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr. Aminu Jika, has dismissed a rumour that Suntai had travelled out of the state to continue his treatment.
Jika, who spoke in Jos, Plateau State on Monday, said the governor was in Jalingo and that the letter to the assembly still subsisted.
The Chief of Staff said, 'There is only one governor in Taraba State. There can never be a governor and an acting governor in any state. It is an insult to even assume and claim that. Somebody is wrong somewhere and I think sooner than later, it will be sorted out.
'I see my boss on a daily basis and his improvement has been wonderful. Since he was taken to Germany and from there to the US after the plane crash , it has been a wonderful story and we thank God for that. 'Yesterday (Sunday), I was with him and he was playing a game with his sister and he was very alert and active. He even watches television before he goes to bed.
'I am very satisfied with the state of his health. I think sooner than later, Governor Suntai will be doing more than he is doing now in terms of discharging his functions and in terms of giving leadership to the people of Taraba State. If not for the politics over his health condition, we would not have reached this situation. I still don't understand why people are doing what they are doing. Why should people hide in Abuja and Lagos and be saying what they don't know about. We want them to play the game by the rules. We will not rush him (Suntai) because of what people are saying.
'Leaders and chief executives don't have to be in their offices before they can function. Governor Suntai is giving directive on the running of the state and he does not need to be physically present before things are done.
'After all, leaders who are well don't do the work themselves, they can be anywhere and delegate functions. It is the prerogative of chief executives to work from anywhere in the world and anywhere in the country . In short, he is doing well; he is recuperating and we're not going to rush him until he is medically advised.
'I have no doubt in my mind that the governor is on course and his transmission of the letter to the Speaker, House of Assembly, according to Section 190 (2) is valid; there is no contest over that act of the governor and we are doing everything possible to go through this initial challenge.'