Jalingo — The Taraba State House of Assembly yesterday passed a resolution mandating deputy governor Umar Garba to serve as acting governor pending the return of Governor Danbaba Suntai from medical trip to Germany.
The 24-member house which sat mid day had 18 members in attendance.
Suntai had been away from Jalingo since October 25 when a plane he was piloting crashed near Yola. He suffered serious injuries and was flown to Germany for treatment two days later.
Section 190 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that if a governor is going on vacation or is unable to discharge his functions he should write to the state house of assembly, failing which within 21 days the assembly shall declare the deputy governor as acting governor.
There is considerable disquiet in Taraba State since Suntai's accident, with politicians and activists calling on the state lawmakers to empower the deputy governor to run the state.
When the House convened yesterday, majority leader Charles Maijankai representing Karim-Lamido I Constituency moved a motion under matters of urgent public importance, praying that the House invoked the provisions of the Constitution.
"Even though His Excellency the deputy governor has been performing state functions since the plane crash occurred on the 25th of October 2012, it is only necessary for the house to pass the resolution to pass the resolution mandating the deputy governor to act," he said.
The motion was seconded by Rasheeda Abdullahi, representing Nguroje Constituency.
Also contributing to the motion, deputy speaker Abel Peter Diah said the governor would have transmitted a letter to transfer power to his deputy if he had had the opportunity, as he has done that on three occasions previously when he was going on annual leave.
"The deputy governor has been performing his duties very well. This resolution is just to fulfill all righteousness," he said.
After the resolution was adopted, Speaker Istifanus Haruna Gbana directed the clerk to communicate to the deputy governor to take up the responsibility of acting governor pending the return of Suntai.
He also said since the plane crash occurred the deputy governor has been representing the state, which means he has been acting. "So we have just added a legal tune to what he has been doing. Everything is on course in the state because there is no department or agency of government that is not functioning," he said.
Garba also pledged that the house will give its full support to the acting governor.
Reacting, acting governor Umar Garba said: "It is with great sense of duty that I assume this responsibility as acting governor of the state. May I remind us that the mandate given to me by the State House of Assembly as acting governor is purely for the exercise of the powers of the Constitution of Nigeria and the democratic process. I shall from where my principal stopped, ensuring justice and fairness."
He called on all political and public office holders to be worthy servants of the government and to serve the people diligently.
"The commitment of this government to the maintenance of law and order remains strong and unshakable. I therefore, restate here that the law banning the use of motorcycles of any kind within Jalingo, the state capital is still in force. Anyone caught using motorcycle in Jalingo will bear the full weight of the law."