Five months after his boss was hospitalized in a foreign hospital over injuries he sustained in a chopper crash, the Acting Governor of Taraba State, Alhaji Garba Umar, appears to be consolidating and set to emerge the substantive governor.
Alhaji Umar may have finalized his emergence in Nairobi, Kenya when some top Presidency officials, National Assembly members and chieftains of his Peoples Decmocratic Party (PDP) sealed the hope of Governor Danbaba Suntai coming back to office.
The occasion was the swearing-in of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta three weeks ago. Sources told Daily Sun that it was for the purpose of resolving the Taraba’s political imbroglio that made the officials and Umar to embark on the trip.
“The trip afforded the officials and the Acting Governor effectively brainstorming on the political situation in Taraba, and the way forward.
“The Acting Governor was able to frankly discuss the frustrations he has been allegedly encountering in the hands of Suntai family and aides, and how the situation has frustrated the smooth running of governance,” the source offered.
Daily Sun gathered that it was at the Nairobi meeting that Umar was encouraged to take full control of the legislature by getting the members change their leadership.
Barely two weeks after Acting Governor Umar returned from Kenya, 17 out of the 24-member Assembly met and announced the removal of Speaker Istifanus Gbana, his deputy, and the Majority Leader. Interestingly, unlike in many other states that have experienced turbulent changes in their House leaderships, ousted leaders of the Taraba Assembly said they took their removal in good faith.
“This clearly showed that they had succumbed to superior power which definitely operated from outside the state. And with the complete overhaul of the Assembly leadership, dissolving the State Executive Council (SEC) by Umar would be a stroll in the park,” the source explained.
Since Monday’s change of guards at the state legislature, Daily Sun gathered, top politicians appointed by Suntai have begun to switch loyalty to the acting Governor.
“The coup clearly showed that for Suntai, the game is over. Since Monday, those die-hard loyalists of Suntai have begun to worm their ways into the heart of Umar and members of his family. Obviously, they don’t want to lose out of the power game,” a source close to the Government House in Jalingo explained.
Another source spoke on the anxiety which Suntai’s condition had created in the national and Taraba State chapters of the ruling PDP. “PDP at the state and national levels have been worried by Suntai’s condition. The worry is that keeping Umar as Acting Governor indefinitely could take its toll on the fortunes of the party.
“PDP in neighbouring Adamawa State is in crisis. Keeping Umar as Acting Governor indefinitely could send wrong signals that PDP didn’t care about the feelings of Taraba people. This could provide a perfect breeding ground for All Progressives Congress (APC) sentiments,” the source stressed.
For five months, Taraba State had been without a substantive governor. Suntai had been in hospital following injuries he sustained when the small aircraft he was flying crashed near Yola, Adamawa State. He is presently said to be undergoing therapy sessions at John Hopkins Hospital in the United States.