Leadership (Abuja)

31 December 2012

Nigeria: 2012 - for State Governors, It's Season of Mishaps and Fatalities

They are by virtue of their office, the chief executives of their respective states enjoying the best money and power could provide for them. In recent times, some of them have come under some kind of mishaps, some self-induced while others were by sheer fate. OLAOLU OLADIPO in cataloguing the travails of some of them states' number one citizens, tries to look at the toll on governance of the respective domains as well as how they have become somewhat endangered species.

The atmosphere in the rusty township of Fadan-Kagoma in Jema'a Local Government Area of Kaduna State was solemn and sober as dignitaries who came from far and wide were in a reflective mood for the occasion.

Nigerians from diverse background (both lowly or highly placed) came to be part of the requiem mass held at the Saint Paul's Catholic Church for the late Governor Patrick Yakowa who alongside former National Security Adviser, General Andrew Azazi and others lost their lives recently.

Those who came to the church that fateful day included President Goodluck Jonathan, Yakowa's successor and former deputy, Alhaji Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, Senate President, Senator David Mark, Speaker House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal. Others were Yakowa's colleagues at the Governors' Forum; scores of serving ministers, bishops led by Cardinal John Onaiyekan.

It was an event that tested man's capacity and ability to suppress emotions as those present in their hundreds though moved but had to hold back tears as the late administrator turned politician was lowered into his grave.

Eulogies and tears flowed freely as he was laid to rest by the officiating priests, with the president leading the mourning party that also included traditional rulers and politicians who were on hand to bid Yakowa bye from his earthly sojourn as he translated to the other world.

Few days earlier, the diseased had died alongside General Azazi met their untimely death while making their way back from a function in Yenagoa, Bayelsa where they had gone to be part of the burial of late Pa. Tamunoobebara Douglas, father of the Presidential Adviser on Research, Documentation and Strategy, Mr. Oronto Douglas, when they met their deaths.

Others involved in the accident were Yakowa's Special Adviser, Dauda Tsoho; Azazi's bodyguard, Warrant Officer Mohammed Kamal and two naval pilots, Commander Murtala Mohammed Daba and Lt.-Com. Adeyemi Sowole.

Those who should know however stated that Yakowa would have survived the crash had he listened to the call of his host and governor of Bayelsa State, Hon Seriake Dickson who reportedly prevailed on him to be entertained while waiting for his helicopter said to be making its way from Kaduna to pick him up.

Yakowa was not as lucky as other members of the privileged ruling class who have had to hibernate in various hospitals across the world where they have been receiving treatments for what could be termed as serious ailments that they have been dodged with.

Just a day after the unfortunate Bayelsa incidence, his Enugu State counterpart, Sullivan Chime was reported dead by rumour mongers who alleged had given up the ghost at an undisclosed hospital somewhere in India where he is said to be receiving treatment for the yet-to identified ailment. It took the efforts of the state government officials who made frantic efforts to debunk the rumours.

Reports had it that Chime has been away from active duty since September 2012 when he was reportedly ferried away to India for the medical attention and that the date of his return seems rather uncertain as at the time of filing this reports owing to the serious nature of his ailment, which some believe is in dire state.

The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chucks Ugwoke not only dismissed the news as mere rumour, he went ahead to state that his principal was 'hale and hearty' and would soon be returning to the state in due course. Ugwoke went further to issue a press statement on behalf of his sick boss expressing his (Chime's) condolence to the people of Kaduna State on the death of Yakowa.

Following on the heels of the Chime information mix-up was yet another report of the death of Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State, who like his Enugu State counterpart had been sick and undergoing medical treatment overseas, specifically in the United States of America (USA).

An online newsblog, www.saharareporters.com had reported that the death rumour was a mere hoax stating that though the governor was alive, his health seemed very precarious as he was in the United States of America (USA) receiving regular dialyses for a kidney related ailment disease, thus giving a hint on what could be ailing him.

As with Chime, Imoke has been out of the country, thus fueling the suspicion that he may have passed on but his aides maintained that nothing untoward had happened to him saying he only needed to take time off to address a health condition contradicting speculations that he has issues with his kidneys.

The state Commissioner for Information, Chief Akin Ricketts, in his reaction to the rumour said Imoke was alive. At a hurriedly arranged news conference organized by his ministry in the wake of the news in the state capital, Calabar, Ricketts stated that "There is no iota of truth in the rumour that Gov. Liyel Imoke is dead."

Stating that no power vacuum exists in the state in the wake of the governor's absence, Rickett said the governor had officially written the House of Assembly transmitting power to his deputy, Efiok Cobham, to enable him proceed on a two-month accumulated leave.

"He is not dead, he is now recuperating. There are strong indications that he will soon return to the country," Rickett said.

On his part, Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State created a stir when speculations were rife suggesting that he might have died after a plane he reportedly piloted crashed at Yola Airport in Adamawa State.

The small aircraft he was said to be travelling in is owned by him. Two of his security aides were with him in the plane when the crash occurred but a statement from the office of Secretary to the State Government (SSG) cleared the air on his medical state, saying that the governor had survived the crash though was seriously injured. Suntai, a licensed pilot was particularly known for his love for flying.

Though the initial treatment he got was from the National Hospital where his condition was stabilized for some time before he was ferried to Germany in an air ambulance for further medical attention at a yet-to-be identified hospital where he had since remained been for some time. President Goodluck Jonathan had visited Mr. Suntai at the intensive care unit of the National prior to his departure to Germany.

Since his departure, a lot of controversies have continued to trail his state of health, with state officials saying he is fast coming out of the pang of the crash. Officials who had visited him insist that there were remarkable improvements in his health; his family members are saying something to the contrary.

At the various state houses of the governors involved, the issues of the health of their main principals has been seen and treated with utmost secrecy by their aides who have elected to horde such information from the public as well as the prying scrutiny of the media.

Added to that, some of the governors had had to depart their base of operations without any form of power transfer to their deputies who (as stated in the 1999 Constitution) should act in their stead. The situation has created chaos in some states regarding who could be said to be in charge with the absence of the boss from duty.

Safe for Chime, who perhaps knew his stay abroad would be long did in fact transmitted a letter to be written to the state House of Assembly before proceeding abroad in duly transmitted a letter to the state House of Assembly for a consolidated leave which had commenced since September 19, 2012.

It took the intervention of the Taraba State House of Assembly to invest the Deputy Governor with the necessary powers to function as the number one citizen of the state who has since assumed duties pending the return of Suntai, which sources stated might not be too soon.

The story of woes suddenly moved over to Kogi State, when the Governor, Alhaji Idris Wada has been flown to Abuja in critical condition, as a result of a ghastly auto crash which claimed the life of his Aide-De-Camp, ADC, Mr. Idris Muhammed in Lokoja Friday.

Though those in the know have been telling the public that the condition of the Igala born pilot-turned politician has stabilized owing to the treatment he said to be getting at a private hospital in Abuja, it was learnt that he would be flown abroad when his condition becomes stable.

Sources who saw the wreckage of the vehicle told the media that the front tyre of the governor's car pulled out while it was on high speed, leaving it somersaulting several times before ramming into an uncompleted building.

The governor was said to be returning Ayingba town after attending a summit of his Igala ethnic nationality that fateful day, to Lokoja, for the Friday Jumat prayer when the incidence occurred at about 1.pm after when the accident occurred at Eleta-Jimgbe (a suburb in Lokoja) which was about five minutes drive away from the Jumat Mosque.

Apparently piqued by the frequency of such occurrences, particularly as governors under its control have mostly been affected, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has directed its members across the country to pray for not only Wada but other governors.

The party in statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh also expressed the party's deep shock over the accident, saying "Our great Party is yet to recover from a rude shock arising from a recent similar incident."

Waxing emotional, Metuh on behalf of the party further wrote"We therefore wish to direct all our members to observe compulsory minutes of prayers for the speedy recovery of Governor Wada and to spare the Party from further painful incidents."

Perhaps prayers are what the party needs at this time to ward off the seeming mishaps that have become the lots of its members, particularly those who belong to the elite governorship club.

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