By Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo
There is a reason why history books are bought off the bookseller’s desk fast. It is because men read them to see where others who have gone before them stumbled and where they conquered. History does points us to the right direction after a close perusal of the lives of yesterday’s men. And because of this, Nigerian history will not judge the aides and ‘friends’ of Taraba State Governor Danbaba Suntai well if they do not turn away from preparing a path of death for the ailing man. Recall that Mr. Governor had gone on an adventure flew himself and the result was an aircraft accident that has kept him bedridden ever since. The intrigues and dirty game been played by his aides, the “Cabal” do not bode well for him.
These same political intrigues prior to the death of former President Musa Yar’Adua and now is being over seen in Taraba in the case of Suntai by Nigeria’s Goodluck who suffered from a similar fate. Members of the National Assembly were quick to assert their authorities during the face off between Rivers State Lawmakers, are also turning a blind eye towards the happenings in Taraba. The state is completely crippled, the political “Cabal” aides and enemies of democracy are the ones in charge of a peoples mandate that should have been long rectified in line with the provisions of Nigeria’s constitution. Here, we take a look at some of the similarities between the late President’s hugely publicized sickness and that of Suntai.
- Media Frenzy
Both had the media feasting on their absence. Several opinion pieces were written for and against the return back to the country. The headlines were awash with the stories of Mr. President. Any headline with Yar’Adua in it was an instant hit. Because, the people were starved of information from those who should know and announce it, people believed anything and everything they read on the pages of newspaper. So far, Suntai had not gotten as much publicity as Yar’Adua but of course that might be because he is ‘only’ a Governor. Musa Yar’Adua was the President of Nigeria so his illness attracted huge media attention both home and abroad but it took the intervention of the Late Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunyili who was then a member of the Federal Executive Council to burst the bubbles for civil led group to pressure the political class for an intervention.
- Foreign Hospitals
Both were rushed for medical treatment outside the country. In the case of the late President, he was initially receiving treatment in Germany but because of security issues and especially the fact that the German hospital was opened and easily accessible, the President’s men moved him to the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Saudi Arabia. While for Suntai, his treatment base has been London although, like Yar’Adua, he was initially being treated at a German Hospital
- Premature First Return
Their handlers prematurely returned both to the country in order to forestall political usurpation. For Yar’Adua, the same thing had earlier been done when he was Governor of Katsina state. It was said that the then deputy governor had given up that Yar’Adua was dead after spending six months in a German hospital until he suddenly arrived in the state over night. This became popularly known as the ‘Katsina trick’ in that state. Later when he became President, Yar’Adua handlers will again try this trick but it unfortunately boomeranged following his demise.
When Suntai was brought to Nigeria on October 25, 2013, and was said to have returned to resume office, the state was bedeviled by a serious political crisis which led to the polarization of the state assembly with the emergence of the G16 which stood firmly against his resumption and the G8 which backed his move to resume office.
- Incoherent Speeches
President Yar’Adua’s health issue started long before his Presidency began. But during those very sick moments, attempts were made to make Nigerians believe that all was fine. Who can forget the famous “UMORU, ARE YOU ALIVE? THEY SAY YOU ARE DEAD” call by Former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Obasanjo had put the phone on loud speaker and Nigerians could hear faintly the voice of the man who will eventually be their President.
Again, at the height of his illness as sitting President, Yar’Adua was made to speak to BBC Hausa service just to prove that he was fine. Nigerians were not deceived this time around though as they could ‘hear’ from his feeble two line sentence that he was a man battling his life.
Upon his second premature arrival into the country last weekend, Governor Suntai spoke to the press. He told the Press he had just returned from Abuja whereas he was coming from London.
- Cabinet Black Out
Yardua’s medical treatments was kept a secret not only from the Nigerian masses but also from the President’s immediate cabinet, at Federal Executive Council Meetings, Ministers keep asking for updates of the President’s status with none of them with any precise information. Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan often said he didn’t know what was happening in Saudi Arabia. In fact the Vice-president could only talk to the Yardua’s ADC or CSO through out this President. He was not even allowed to talk to First Lady, Hajia Turai. It was that bad.
- Government By Proxy
Just like Yar’Adua, members of the Taraba cabal are running the state by proxy in the name of the Governor. It is obvious that these men have ulterior motives and would rather ground the affairs of the state than allow the Deputy take over government.
The Suntai cabal is said to be championed by General Danjuma and former Governor Jolly Nyame. It is reported that they want Suntai back at the Government House just to stop Gamba from succeeding in declaring Suntai as being incompetent to govern.
If there was one image that Jonathan cut throughout the health crisis of the President, it was that of a man loyal to his boss. One that will do nothing to harm the powers of the president. Loyalty became Jonathan’s middle name, he didn’t make any move to exercise presidential powers fully until when it became obvious that the President was unlikely to ever rule again. It was at this point that Jonathan began to fully behave like the commander in chief even to the extent of removing service chiefs and reshuffling Yar’Adua to displace some members of the perceived cabal. Umar has also at least publicly emphasized his support for Suntai and the fact he is only holding forth till his boss’s return. Recently, an aide to the Acting Governor told the press that ““Our concern as a government is to see that the executive governor gets medically fit. The acting governor is doing everything morally and financially possible to ensure his boss gets well and all these struggle for power by his associates is unfortunate,”
- Court Actions
In both cases, their long absence from the seat of power became legal issues and the courts were asked to interpret and rule on their prolonged absence. The Federal High court had ruled that there was no vacancy in the seat of the President and that then Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan can act in his stead without a letter transmitted to the National Assembly on his absence authorizing Jonathan to act. The Taraba case however, is still in court.
- Second Premature Arrival
Yar’Adua was returned to the country still a very sick man the second time, it seemed his handlers didn’t learn from the first experience of rushing him back. He was locked up in Aso Rock for days no one could gain access to him including the Vice-President.
Similarly, Suntai was for the second time returned to the country on Saturday and the ‘friends’ made sure that he was not welcomed nor seen by Deputy Governor, Umar Gamba.
This is the part where we will want a departure from the Yar’Adua similarity because eventually Yar’Adua died. He suffered and was sacrificed on the altar of power. At the expense of maintaining political power, having gone through the hazards of holding on to power against the constitution of the land. One hopes that Suntai’s Aides and ‘cabals’ will learn a lesson and allow the brain damaged man return to London to complete his treatment. He obviously is unfit to govern Taraba, at least posterity will judge the hijackers right and he will be remembered for what he stood for and his commitment to the people of the state.
If they however, refuse to do the right thing, as it should, posterity will go the Yar’adua way. Where is Aondoaka now? One of the key actors during the Yar’adua era… Power is elusive; the nations democracy will remain threatened if these criminals are allowed to perpetrate themselves in power. The National Assembly should act Now!!