Daily Champion (Lagos)

Nigeria: Landmines in Suntai's Second Term Bid

The notion that politics is full of intrigues and permutations where there is no permanent friend but permanent interest actually played out in Taraba State before and after the 2007 general elections, especially that of the governorship. Hon. Danladi Baido Tijos was said to have won the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary that was held at the Afolaham Square Jalingo on October 9, 2006.

He beat seven other aspirants to become the governorship candidate for the 2007 govenorship election in the state, but his ambition could not be realized as his name top the list of those banned from contesting the 2007 governorship election by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Those indicted were said to be unfit for holding any public office.

Their names were sent to all the political parties to enable them shop for substitutions. That was how Hon. Baido was played out of the game. The PDP then decided to look for a credible and acceptable candidate that will replace Baido. The party (PDP) in the state at its stakeholder's forum held at Dome Tent, Jalingo decided to nominate Danbaba D. Suntai, then the state secretary to the government to replace Baido.

There and then, Suntai became the flag bearer of the governorship election and his name was sent to the party national headquarters where he was screened and later his name was forwarded to the EFFC and INEC for screening. He scaled through all the hurdles and finally became the PDP governorship candidate for the state.

Baido was therefore asked to single-handed produce the deputy governor and of which he did and later was also appointed the Chief of Staff to the State government. But soon after the case of the Rivers State governorship dispute was put to rest by the Supreme Court, same Baido and his political friends including former governor Jolly Nyame as their godfather decided to file a case before the Election Petition Tribunal in Jos against Suntai, saying that his continued occupation of the seat of the state government was illegal, null and void. Baido contended that he was the right candidate for the April, 14, 2007 governorship election conducted in the state and not Suntai.

However, political analysts had predicted that it would happen as far as Nyame and Baido are concerned but the question is when?

It has recently started. A game is now on as both Nyame and Baido are fighting Suntai vowingthat they will unseat Suntai come 2011 general elections as far as politics of Taraba State is concerned. Nyame and his group has forgotten that Danbaba Suntai was not just picked from the grass to become what he is today, he is a politician to the core, he massively won election in 1989 as chairman Bali local government area of then Gongola State. A local government which is believed to be one of the largest local government area then in Nigeria . While Nyame contested the similar position two times for Jalingo local government where his tribes men are said to be majority and failed the election.

However, analysts say the truth is that if Baido had decided not to join the campaign train of Suntai during the 2011 electioneering campaign for the April 14, 2007 governorship election, the Action Congress party (AC) should have won the governorship election because by then, the AC candidate.

Ahmed Yusuf (alias Gamaliya) was more popular than Suntai and he had the financial strength and political clout to unseat the PDP-led government in the state. The PDP in the state was only lucky to win the elections because of the calibre of people that were appointed local government councils caretakers chairmen then. The council caretaker chairmen used all the resources and powers at their disposals to ensure victory of the PDP in all the elections conducted on 14th and 21st April 2007.

Former Governor Jolly Nyame and Baido are truly popularly politicians in the state, especially Nyame who served for more than eight years as governor of the state, but Suntai also politician to the core and being one time elected council chairman of a local government area. He was a member board of directors highland bank Yola then Gongola state, a former Director-General Taraba State Ministry of Agriculture, State chairman of All Peoples Party (APP) during the 1999 elections when the PDP narrowly defeated the ANPP and he served as commissioner of various ministries in the state before he was appointed the State Secretary to Government (SSG) and above, he is a highly educated man.

Analysts argue that with all these and being the governor of the state now, he can not just be pushed easily if he really means to continue in the office as governor after 2011 because as an experienced politician, highly educated and intelligent, he should by now knows the route to get to 2015, even though it is well known in the state that 80 percent of his commissioners, special advisers and personal aids are said not to be with Suntai but with Nyame and Baido as far as 2011 elections is concerned. It is very bitter but it is the truth that these commissioners and advisers are not working towards assisting Suntai to succeed but are playing the game of having their own national cake through the Suntai led administration.

The only thing that can save Suntai from being embarrassed as regards the 2011 is to take bold steps and do away with his executive council members because most of them are said to be telling people from their local governments and wards that money is no longer in circulation to assist them because Suntai administration is not like that of Nyame and this is to tell Suntai-led the road to 2011 is very rough for him even though some of them that are closed to him are trying to convince him by telling him that all is well and that they want him to continue as governor of the state after 2011.

However, within the two years in office, Governor Suntai was able to win the heart and sympathy of most people of the Taraba State because of his leadership style and effort towards fighting corruption, laziness, idleness, thuggery, immorality and indiscipline in the state. People like Mr. Obadiah Ando, Ambassador Idris Waziri, Amb. Emmanuel Jiwah, Amb. Musa John, Senator Saleh Danboyi, Senator Abdulazeez Ibrahim Jnr. Alhaji Musa El Wakil, Prof. Sa'ad Abubakar, Mrs. Salome Jankada, Alh. Umar Baba, General Theophilus.Y. Danjuma, General A.T. Ibrahim (rtd) Commander Ibrahim Kefas are today saying they are comfortable with what the governor is doing and are all calling for his continuity after 2011 just as Alhaji Isa Tafida, Anthony Jellason, Alhaji Abubakar Bawa, Dr. Alfred Yahaya Kobiba, Senator Zik Ambunu Sunday, Hon. Emmanuel Bwacha, Alhaji Danladi Shehu, Hon. Jerry Dogon Yaro, serving senators of Taraba Central and North, four serving members house of representative, 20 out of the 24 members of the State House of Assembly are all drumming and mobilizing support for Suntai to continued after 2011 not to talk of the council chairmen in the state that are saying it is only during Suntai's administration that local government council chairmen were given free hands and funds to execute projects that will uplift the living condition of the people. The truth is that 80 per cent of the party officals at all levels in the state are also behind Suntai's continuity after 2011.

While the Nyame/Baido faction in the state has people like Alhaji Uba Maigari, former Nyame deputy who was impeached, Alhaji Habu Isa Ajiya former speaker who was also impeached, Senator Joel Ikaya Danlami serving as senator representing southern Taraba who is being tipped as their governorship candidate for the 2011 election, Rev. Habila Ahima, Alhaji Hamza Farouk, Mr. Samuel Galadima former commissioners and special advisers.

The grievances of those against Suntai were that, he (Suntai) is stubborn, rude and has refused to appreciate the effort put in by Nyame and Baido before he became the governor. Their believed is that if not for Nyame and Baido, Suntai would have not being the governor. But unfortunately they have forgotten that, all power, riches and positions comes from God. God has designed a destiny for everybody he has created.

The Nyame group has equally forgotten that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar was the one who financed and influenced Nyame's election as governor of Taraba State in 1991, 1999 and 2003. But after 2003 election Nyame decided not to listen to Atiku again being his political godfather.

Analysts contend that the battle lined has been drawn in Taraba State as regards the 2011 elections as far as the PDP is concerned. Nyame sometime in 2005 stated that after his tenure in 2007 he would be at his country home, Zing, dictating what to be done in the state, and Danbaba Suntai being who he is now after taking over the mantle of leadership from his former boss (Nyame) decided to operate a different style of leadership from that one of Nyame was thinking of dictating and that is one of their major problem.

Also, Suntai decided to dismantle the political structures put in place by Nyame/Baido because of the thuggery activities carried out in the past by those organizations. The political thugs used by Nyame and Baido during the Nyame led government was warned to stay clear of their activities or be ready to face the wrath of government. The unnecessary spending or waste of public funds which was witnessed during the Nyame led administration was stopped by Suntai and these developments did not go down well with some of the Nyame/Baido loyalists in the state. But the truth remains, that nobody can uproot what God almighty has planted.

Apart from other development, the people of southern Taraba are of the total view that, they will give Suntai a second term mandate so that by 2015 the governorship should be their turn since the north had its chances in 1999 and 2003.

But as the house is already divided the 2011 elections in the state will determine who the political godfather of the state is really or who decides who gets what in the state. The national secretariat of the PDP also has a very big role to play as regards the crisis in Taraba.

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