Gov Suntai Finally Speaks in A Brief Video Address, Inaugurates New Appointees
The brief address was however not live but through a video shown on the state-owned television station in Jalingo.
His failure to do so earlier and appear before the state House Assembly to formally intimate its members of his desire to resume work had created suspicions that he was incapable of continuing to function as the state governor.
Before the video was brodcast, he met with the lawmakers and inaugurated the newly appointed Secretary to the State Government, Timothy Kataps, as well as the Chief of Staff, Mallam Aminu Jika.
The governor, who is recuperating from injuries he sustained last October when a small aircraft he flew crashed, had earlier dissolved the state Executive Council, leaving only his special assistants.
In the address, Suntai commended the people of the state for their prayers and for standing by him in his moment of trial.
“I thank the people of Taraba State for standing by me and my family.I also thank the commissioners for holding the fort while I was away. Also enjoin all of you to continue to live in peace,” he said.
Suntai, who wore a sky blue suit and a stripe shirt, also congratulated the people on the 22nd anniversary of the state which was on August 27.
He had while inaugurating the new SSG and the CoS enjoined them to to work in the interest of the people. The new SSG (Kataps), a former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, took over from Mr. Garvey Yawe while Jika, who once served in the same capacity in 2007, replaced Alhmed Yusuf.
Yawe and Yusuf were among the members of the sacked state Executive Council. The others are all the commissioners and 22 special advisers.
The Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Media, Sylvanus Giwa, had at a news conference in Jalingo, said that the appointments of Kataps and Jika were aimed at strengthening the machinery of government.
The governor also met on Wednesday evening with members of the House of Assembly led by their Speaker, Haruna Tsokwa.
The lawmakers had resolved at their sitting earlier on Wednesday to meet with the governor to confirm his true state of health before taking any position on his letter stating his intention to resume office.
Journalists, who were asked to wait at the assembly complex for the lawmakers to meet with the governor, were stunned when they returned, held a brief closed-door session, and said they would speak to the press on Thursday(today).
Suntai’s Chief Press Secretary, Hassan Mijinyawa, said the meeting was “meaningful.”
The Speaker had on Monday alleged that the House leaders were prevented from seeing the governor.
Our correspondents learnt that the news of the sack of the executive council members had worsened the political logjam in the state as Tsokwa said the governor had no right to do so.
Tsokwa had added that the assembly recognised the Acting Governor, Garba Umar, as the man in charge of the affairs of the state.
Also, Umar insisted that he remained the acting governor until there was a contrary directive from the assembly.
The acting governor, through his Chief Press Secretary, Kefas Sule, said the sacked executive council was worried that some individuals were bent on fomenting trouble in the state. He therefore urged the people to continue with their normal activities.
“We shall definitely resolve this crisis. It is only one government here – the Suntai administration,” he explained, adding that he would address the people of the state on the development.
Umar said since he was empowered in acting capacity, the lawmakers had the right to ask him to revert to his former position as deputy governor or still continue in acting capacity.
“I am waiting to hear from them. As I speak to you, if the assembly tells me to revert to the position of deputy, I will comply,” he said.
It was gathered that some of the sacked commissioners and aides accused Suntai’s wife, Hauwa, of spearheading the dissolution of the cabinet.
Our correspondents also learnt that a faction in the state assembly loyal to Umar insisted on Wednesday that Suntai must appear before them to personally tender the letter he wrote intimating the assembly of his desire to resume duty.
A source close to the faction told Punch that the assembly would have no alternative but to initiate impeachment moves against Suntai and save the state from avoidable bloodshed. It was further gathered that some of the legislators close to the acting governor had started collecting signatures preparatory to the governor’s impeachment.
The source, who did not want his name in print, said the state could not afford any crisis at this point, more so when such could be avoided.
“The pro-Umar lawmakers are collating signatures to impeach the governor because we cannot afford this type of avoidable crisis,” he said.
Suntai’s letter seeking to resume duty had divided the political class as the Speaker of the state assembly had insisted that the governor needed to address the lawmakers or allow principal officers of the assembly to have an interaction with him.
But the Majority Leader, Mr. Joseph Albasu , asked the governor to start work with immediate effect.His position was shared by the attorney-general, who said that Suntai needed not appear before the lawmakers before resuming work.
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