LEGISREPORTS NG – There is drama and a constitutional crisis brewing in Jalingo, the capital of Taraba state as both Governor Danbaba Suntai and his estranged deputy, Garba Umar are currently hospitalized abroad.While Suntai is in the United Kingdom in furtherance of his treatment for injuries sustained after a crash, Umar is in Saudi Arabia almost dying from an ailment probably related to a rumoured prostrate cancer.Back in Jalingo, two Secretary of State Governments (SSG), Garvey Yawe and Gebon Kataps continue the battle of attrition on who runs the state. Kataps is Suntai- appointed SSG, while Yawe was appointed by Umar.
The two SSG’s all lay claims to the office in two different locations at Jalingo.It is not clear who Umar handed the state to before he abruptly left for treatment for his illness but sources said Yawe may be the one running the state now. Yawe, an octogenarian and former Chief of Staff to Suntai is now a core Umar’s apologist.Umar is said to be secretly battling the debilitating disease – a situation that causes him to stop many public appearances due to an embarrassing emission of fluids from his loins and soiling his clothes, says an insider who spoke exclusively to LEGISREPORT.Umar has continued to retreat from many functions as his condition worsens. But the embattled deputy refused to go for any medication outside the country for fear that his seat may be endangered.
The source said, “Umar is an old man. Before he came to the state, he was actually treating this ailment but it became worse due to the pressure of office and the various activities he had to carry out. Don’t forget that he is actually an old man. And don’t forget that he has been fighting a cabal that is bent on frustrating him. All these added up to make him very sick both mentally and physically. They are wearing him and he knows it.
”The source noted that at first, Umar delayed his inevitable trip to a foreign hospital for fear that the state’s House of Assembly under the leadership of Josiah Kente might play a fast one on him and impeach him.
He was also scared of the growing animosity from the group largely known as the cabal comprising mostly Suntai loyalists. Recently too, former minister of defense, Gen. T.Y. Danjuma (retd), had joined the fray by openly berating Umar. In many public functions, Danjuma had referred to Umar as deputy governor- a title Umar’s loyalists despise. Umar and his cohorts preferred the appellation “Acting Governor”.
Many argue that the appellation is constitutionally incorrect, noting that with Governor Suntai back in the state, Umar should have reverted to the position of a deputy governor. the matter is now in court for interpretations.Umar, is currently in his second week in a Riyadh hospital. Sources say he may be operated on to stem the tide of urine uncontrollably pouring from his system.
If that happens, Umar may spend more than a month in the hospital and risk getting impeach. According to the constitution, if he is not back in the state after 21 days, he stands the chances of getting impeached. Besides, it is not certain if the House of Assembly approved his trip in the first place.
A close confidant of Umar told LEGISREPORTS that plans are underway to smuggle the ailing deputy governor back to the state to forestall this.If the plan works, Umar may skip the surgery to rush back home to forestall any move against him. It is common knowledge in Jalingo that the speaker, Josiah Kente, and Umar are not on the same wavelength politically.
Both men are angling to unseat the other in an insidious but intense battle for the soul of the state, pointed an expert on Taraba politics, Audu Abbas.Abbas, a jalingo based analyst, noted that the trouble Umar has to contend with in the next few weeks is not the amorphous cabal but the state’s House of Assembly. He said “Kente does not like Umar. And Umar too actually wanted to remove Kente ata time.
The ploy failed but Kente, a vicious politician, hasn’t really forgiven Umar”On his part, Suntai is said to be recuperating. He was first treated at a United State’s hospital but, to every one’s surprise, he was taken to a UK hospital. Suntai who came to Abuja aborad a chartered aircraft was immediately taken to a guest house in Asokoro.
The following day, he was flown abroad in a televised event. In the clip shown on national television, Suntai, wearing a suit, appeared to have recovered considerably compared to the first time he returned last year.
A source at the airport said Suntai spoke in clearer tones and was very aware of his surroundings.As it is, both Suntai and Umar are out of the state now. In their absence, supporters of both men have continued the war of attrition in Jalingo and in Abuja.When contacted, one of Umar’s aide by name Artimas said, Umar went for prayers in Saudi Arabia and he has returned back to the country since 2days ago.
This report was prepared by our reporter in taraba