By Soni Daniel & John Mkom
*Asks Suntai to seek further medical attention
*Suntai warns Tukur to stay out of Taraba politics
JALINGO—Convinced that the ailing governor of the state, Danbaba Suntai, cannot give his best given his current medical state, members of the Taraba House of Assembly Monday mandated the Deputy Governor, Garba Umar, who has been acting in the past ten months, to continue.
The seven members, who met briefly on the floor of the House, were led by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Mr. Tanko Maikerfi, and adopted the position earlier canvassed by both the leadership of the House and representatives of Taraba State in the National Assembly.
At the plenary, the members reasoned that Suntai was too feeble to be saddled with the onerous task of leading the state and pleaded with him to return to the United State for further medical attention while his deputy continues to hold fort for him.
The members noted that Garba’s acting would continue until Suntai was strong enough to take over the mantle of leadership.
Mark Useni kicks
But the member representing Takum 2 in the House of Assembly, Mark Useni, kicked against the decision of the seven members, which he said was not up to the quorum stipulated by the law and described their decision as illegal and of no consequence.
Useni noted that the Taraba House of Assembly Calendar ended last Wednesday and there was no reason why a clandestine meeting should have been held for the sole purpose of giving a tacit endorsement for Garba to continue to act when the governor was on the ground.
Useni said: “What these few members did was nothing but a town hall meeting and not a meeting of the House, which had proceeded on vacation.
“For that reason, all the actions the few members purportedly took amounted to illegality, which cannot stand.
“As far as the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is concerned, Governor Danbaba Suntai remains the governor of the state and should continue to rule the state and its people. That is the position of the law.”
Division in Assembly
The Taraba Assembly is divided over the leadership of Suntai and Umar with the majority backing the latter.
The majority led by the Speaker of the Assembly, Haruna Tsokwa believe that the Acting Governor should continue with his work while the governor should go back and seek further medical attention because of his feeble health.
But Suntai’s supporters are against any suggestion of their boss leaving the scene for the deputy and insist that he hands over the reins of power with immediate effect to them.
With more two thirds of the lawmakers backing the acting governor, many feared last night the stage was set for Suntai’s impeachment, if his loyalists insisted on his takeover of the administration.
Suntai at the weekend, warned the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, to be neutral or stay out of the political crisis in the state.
Suntai, who spoke through the former Information Commissioner in the State, Mr. Emma Bello, accused Tukur of taking side in the unfolding crisis in Taraba instead of offering fatherly advice in a bid to end the rancour arising from the bid by Suntai to return to his office.
Tukur apparently incurred the wrath of the ailing governor, when he told the media in Abuja on Friday that the party would resist the bid by Suntai to run the state by proxy.
Tukur also announced that he would personally visit Taraba to find an answer to the crisis, which he noted hinged on politics and intrigues.
But the governor warned that the chairman must at all times learn to be guided by the laws of Nigeria and stop playing to the gallery just to score cheap points.
He threatened to resist any attempt by the National chairman of the PDP to take side with a faction in the state crisis.
He rejected the claim that he was running a government by proxy, pointing out that it was his deputy, Umar Garba, who was doing so. Suntai noted that it was wrong for Umar to resist his sack of the Exco and asked Tukur to call him to order.
“Tukur should enforce the provisions of the constitution as it relates to Taraba debacle but if he takes side in the ongoing imbroglio we shall vehemently resist him.
“Rather, the deputy governor, Umar Garba, is the one attempting to run a parallel government. Suntai sacked his cabinet. The deputy governor is questioning that. He is wrong,” the governor said.