By Senator Iroegbu
The campaign to get recuperating Taraba State Governor, Mr. Danbaba Suntai, back in office got a new verve yesterday as former commissioners in his government launched an attack on the acting Governor, Alhaji Garba Umar, whom they accused of plotting to stop his resumption of duty.
The former commissioners, under the aegis of Forum of Former Commissioners of Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State, fingered Umar of being involved in what they described as a ‘coup project’ aimed at unseating his boss by bullying and other unconstitutional means.
The forum in a statement yesterday, which was read by Mr. Rebo Usman, said the actions of Umar was a threat to democracy and must be stopped.
According to him, the acting governor, unlike his counterparts in Enugu, Cross River and several other states that experienced long absence of their governors as a result of one ailment or the other, is bent on hijacking power “by all means” even if it means flouting the constitution.
He said instead of supporting Suntai to fully recuperate to hasten his resumption and work as a team to move the state forward, Umar had resorted to inflicting emotional torture on the governor and blackmailing him.
The group, comprising five of the sacked commissioners, including Usman, Jonah Agyo, Yakubu Agbaizo and Mrs. Charity Green, accused Umar of conniving with some powerful personalities from the “core North” to perfect strategies to prevent Suntai from returning to office.
Usman said: “To ensure the successful implementation of their agenda, media propaganda and systemic weakening of the Danbaba’s political followership were the main strategies. Also, irresistible financial inducement of some political power brokers in Abuja and some hungry politicians from Taraba State were seen as an effective tool.
“As far as we are concerned, the action of the acting governor is like a coup. His actions of sacking commissioners and the chief of staff, meant that he has automatically assumed the position of governor.
“This is simply a coup because the deputy governor has used all manner of strategy and has laid down a foundation, which if not corrected, will affect the country’s democracy and constitution. The deputy governor does not have Taraba people’s mandate. I am calling all Nigerians to respect the constitution of the country.”
The forum further listed some of the strategies to oust Suntai to include a change of leadership of the House of Assembly “to pave the way for leadership that will eventually help him actualise his dreams.”
It also accused Umar of removing five commissioners and the Secretary to the State Government because he could not convince them to vote for a resolution of the state executive council that would have facilitated the production of fake medical report on the governor that would empower the state assembly to declare Suntai incapacitated.
Umar, it added, had also increased the monthly security vote from N80 million to N200 million to fund the ‘Garba Umar Coup Project’ and giving funds to the governor’s wife in order to blackmail her into supporting the alleged coup project.
In her contribution, Green, who was the Commissioner for Women Affairs, alleged that a recent video in which Suntai was said to have confirmed that he was not medically fit enough to resume work, was “doctored.”
She said despite the efforts of the “propagandists” to twist what the governor said, the video was enough evidence that Suntai was healthy enough and not “brain damaged” as claimed by his opponents.
According to her, “The latest of Garba Umar’s media propaganda is the doctored video clip making the rounds in the social media…to suit his coup strategy. This only exposes him (Umar) and the authors of that report the more.
“They should have known by now that their blind desperate moves to unseat Danbaba Suntai have only gone to show the public that he (Suntai) can talk, read and understand all forms of communication as against their long standing propaganda that the governor is brain-damaged. One wonders how a brain-damaged person could have responded to those questions as logically as the governor did in that widely publicised video clips.”
Also, the President of Taraba State Elite, Dr. Yakubu Fisse, warned against a dangerous ethno-religious division being created by the leadership impasse in the state.
Fisse said the state had been living in religious harmony until the quest by the acting governor with the backing of some people to impose himself on the people of the state.
He said: “Before now, Taraba has never had divisions between Muslims and Christians, but what the deputy governor is doing right now is entrenching deep division between the two religions, which was not so before. What the deputy governor is doing is a betrayal of trust, which amounts to treachery”.