31 December 2012

Nigeria: With Deputy Abroad, Speakership in Quandary

The Kogi State Government Sunday moved to douse tension in the state following Friday's auto crash in which the governor, Captain Idris Wada, suffered a fracture on his femur (thigh bone) that has left him hospitalised in Abuja.

Wada was returning from his hometown, Ayingba, where he had gone to attend the 2012 Igala summit, when his convoy had the accident that led to the death of his aide-de-camp, Assistant Superintendent of Police Idris Mohammed, while the governor's driver, Jibril Isah, was injured and is still receiving treatment at the state Specialist Hospital, Lokoja, but is now in a stable condition.

The state dismissed speculations of a power vacuum in the state in view of the governor's hospitalisation and the absence of the deputy governor, Mr. Yomi Awoniyi, who is on a trip to the United Kingdom, and by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, is expected to take charge of affairs of the state in the absence of the governor.

However, the government said notwithstanding the situation in the state, there is no vacancy, as the governor is in absolute control of affairs of the state.

Responding to THISDAY's inquiry on who is in charge in the state now that the governor is in hospital and his deputy is out of the country, Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Strategy, Jacob Edi, said: "The governor is in absolute control. How can you be talking of a vacancy when the governor is in perfect control?

"He has spoken with key members of his administration. He is in constant touch with the deputy governor, SSG and his commissioners.

"He even asked after his driver and asked that he be moved to Abuja for better treatment but the driver said that he preferred to stay in Lokoja.

"The former chairman of PDP BoT (Peoples Democratic Party Board of Trustees) visited him and they chatted and cracked jokes. The Inspector General of Police was also among the several visitors that came to see him."

Edi added that the governor spoke to him more than three times yesterday and "he is aware of all comments I make on his behalf."

Wada's driver, who is receiving treatment in a Lokoja hospital, was also said to be responding to treatment.

A consultant in the hospital, Dr. Attah Ahmed, told reporters in Lokoja yesterday that the driver was in a stable condition.

"The driver is in a very stable condition. He is healing rapidly. He even ate today (yesterday); there was no problem at all," he stated.

When reporters visited him in the hospital, Isah was said to be sleeping.

Meanwhile, the governor has continued to receive get-well messages from eminent Nigerians.

His Edo State counterpart, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who described the accident as unfortunate, wished Wada speedy recovery.

Oshiomhole, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Peter Okhiria, commiserated with Wada on behalf of the people and government of Edo State.

According to him, "Even as we thank God for sparing the life of the governor, we spare a thought for his aide-de-camp, who died in the accident. Losing such a close and trusted aide could be harrowing, however, our hearts are with you, the immediate family of the departed and indeed the entire good people of Kogi State at this difficult period.

"As you recuperate on the hospital bed, we pray God to grant you the grace to come out stronger in body and spirit to lead your state to the desired destination."

Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, also lamented the ghastly auto crash involving Wada.

Amosun condoled with the government and people of Kogi State on the sad incident.

The governor, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mrs. Funmi Wakama, described the accident as unfortunate, especially coming on the heels of the regrettable death of Kaduna State Governor, Mr. Patrick Yakowa and former National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Andrew Azazi (rtd), in a helicopter crash recently.

While wishing Wada and others involved in the accident a speedy recovery, Amosun prayed for the repose of the soul of the ADC.

However, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Environment, Hon. Uche Ekwunife, urged the governors of the 36 states of the federation to reduce the number of vehicles in their convoys to make their movement more manageable and less prone to crashes.

She said governors' convoys should not comprise more than five vehicles while their speed should be moderated.

Ekwunife, who was reacting to Wada's auto-crash, said apart from the reduction of the fleet in governors' convoys, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) should also monitor the convoys to ensure they conform to safety standards.

In a related development, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has lauded Wada's decision not to be flown abroad for further treatment.

NMA President, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, said in a statement that if others had this kind of faith in Nigerian doctors and health facilities, Nigeria would soon become a destination point for medical tourism.

The association also commiserated with the governor and others over the accident.

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