24 November 2012

Nigeria: Taraba - Between the Executive and Acting Governor


On Wednesday, 14th November, 2012, the Taraba State House of Assembly (TRHA) swiftly halted what looks like a steady slide into constitutional crisis in the state with the timely mandate it gave to the then Deputy Governor, Alhaji Umar Garba to, with immediate effect, function as acting governor in compliance with section 190 of the 1999 constitution (as amended).

It was a historic and landmark legislative duty done to fill the apparent leadership vacuum created in the state following the unfortunate and tragic plane crash involving the executive governor, Danbaba Danfulani Suntai about 21 days earlier and who is said to be currently recuperating from the serious injuries he sustained in a German hospital.

Owing to the delicate circumstances leading to the emergence of the acting governor (which is the first time it happened in the political history of the state), expectations are mixed in the minds of both the optimists and pessimists with the former expressing their belief in a more prosperous future and the latter maintaining a casual approach in their perception, definition and interpretation of unfolding events.

In any case, prevailing political realities strongly suggest that the acting governor, Garba is poised to continue from where his boss and executive governor Suntai stopped as he stressed during his maiden state broadcast to the people of the state in these words: "May I remind us that the mandate given to me by the State Assembly today as Acting Governor is purely for the exercise of the powers of the constitution of Nigeria and the Democratic process. I shall continue from where my principal stopped ensuring justice and fairness".

Notwithstanding Garba's open pledge to ensure continuity in the running of government business through upholding what he inherited from Suntai's administration by way of consolidating and improving on policies, programmes and projects he met on ground, certain changes, particularly pertaining to general administration, are more likely to come on stream in the next few weeks in tune with his vision, mission and approach to governance. This is the simple truth since he is not Suntai and individual difference is inevitable and a natural law which every man does obey either consciously or sub-consciously and irrespective of one's identical antecedents to another.

A flash back at the political antecedents of Suntai and Garba reveals that both were products of destiny and great beneficiaries of divine favours. In 2007, Suntai was not even among the contestants of the gubernatorial primary elections of any of the political parties, yet he became the governor. In similar manner, Garba was not among the front runners for selection/endorsement as deputy governor when the immediate past Deputy Governor, Danladi Sani Abubakar, was impeached by the TRHA just a month ago, yet in less than a month, he became the deputy and now acting governor. Apart from President Goodluck Jonathan, I doubt if there is any politician in Nigeria that is so overwhelmingly favoured by the supernatural forces of politics than these two - Suntai and Garba!

This instant ascension to power by Garba is akin to a popular Hausa idiom which holds that; "A dare daya Allah kan yi bature" (it takes God just one night to create a white man) and the acting governor should not only be mindful of this fact, but should be grateful to Allah by doing all that is possible, to run an open, accessible, listening, responsive, accountable, transparent, prudent, tactful, proactive, pragmatic, and effective administration in the interest of social justice, fair-play, enduring peace and rapid socio-cultural, technological, economic and political advancement of the state.

Having been chosen by Allah to lead the state at this crucial stage of its development, Garba should avoid adopting the "do or die mentality" that is commonly seen in myopic-minded leaders and embrace the principle of inclusive government that would ultimately strengthen the feeling of goodwill, togetherness, neighbourliness and sense of belonging amongst the different strata of the Taraban society.

Taraba State is at the moment under-going a transition which made it instructive to call on all Tarabans to intensify prayers for both the full recovery of the executive governor and Allah to give the acting governor the good health, strength of mind, wisdom, foresight, intellectual sagacity, courage and perseverance to superintend the affairs of the state in the most appropriate, progressive, and satisfying way. As a highly successful businessman, the acting governor is relatively more business than politics inclined; he therefore seriously needs the maximum understanding, co-operation and prayers of Tarabans to survive and completely overcome the challenges rooted in the topsy-turvy terrain of politics with all its attendant brouhaha and shenanigans.

Thankfully, it appears he is set to achieve this based on the general outpouring of support, allegiance and best wishes that greeted his pronouncement and resumption of duty as acting governor by Tarabans from all walks of life. All we hope and want in Taraba now is for this state-wide, timely, logical and commendable show of solidarity to Garba to continue in the weeks or months ahead.

Zongre wrote from Jalingo,

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