What led to your removal as the secretary to the Taraba state government?
What led to my removal was the political intrigues at the time because I was far removed from what I was accused of. There was no correlation between what they said I did and the actual facts on ground.
The truth is that after the plane crash of Governor Danbaba Suntai on October 25, 2012, I visited the ailing governor in Germany in January this yera. By this time, the deputy governor, Alhaji Garba Umar, had been sworn in as acting governor according to the dictates of the Constitution. Now, after my visit, it was his turn to go there and he went to Germany. When he returned, I noticed quite clearly that Umar was already thinking of supplanting our boss, the governor. This is because he thought the governor was permanently incapacitated. But I refused to give in to his demand that I should do a memo to EXCO to kick start the process of booting out Governor Suntai.
This is the constitutional provision: I would do an executive memo directing the EXCO to authorize the House of Assembly to set up a medical panel to ascertain the governor’s health. Thereafter, anything could happen and in the case of Garba he already had mischief up his sleeves. Pressures were mounting on me from Umar supporters who wondered why I won’t assist their man to become the governor. In fact, by April, the pressure heightened. I was promised the deputy governor’s slot if I would make it happen for Umar.
Somehow, I knew the governor wasn’t permanently incapacitated any way and that Umar was just blindly ambitious. But I have worked with the military where I learnt that loyalty is 100 percent, not 99.9 per cent and I’m 100 per cent loyal to Governor Suntai. Besides, the governor was not permanently incapacitated. What permanent incapacitation means is that the governor would not recover till the end of his tenure or even thereafter. But I know the governor was fast recovering.
So I became an obstacle and the best thing for Garba to do was give me a bad name and hang me.
But your name was mentioned in the flood scandal.
That is the intrigue I told you about. I wasn’t even in the committees who went to buy relief materials or distribute them. I was in the main committee chaired by Alhaji Garba himself. There were committees A and B who were given money. Our main committee wasn’t given any money and Alhaji Garba, the deputy governor, is there to bear me witness.
Go and ask him if he gave me a kobo of that flood fund. But I can point to some people he is having now in his fake cabinet who lobbied for contracts in the flood fund for their wives and relatives. He is with them now in his government. I never lobbied for any contract from the committees.
So why have you been quiet about all the false accusations?
I wasn’t quiet. I and the others are in court now. Immediately, I went to court, he sent two people to me not to go to court. But we went ahead because we need to clear our names.
As the former SSG, do you think Danbaba would ever return and continue as governor because there are moves to ensure the acting governor is sworn in?
Why not? He is getting better every day. He is already back and if not for the machination of Garba, he should have fully resumed now. We are also aware of the moves. This was why Garba used the House of Assembly to say they don’t recognize the governor’s notification of return. This was why he removed the Suntai loyalist from the leadership of the House of Assembly and planted his men there.
This is why we were called thieves and sacked. It is being orchestrated from the start. It is master plan or road map that he is executing. We know his plans from start to finish. Danbaba is fit to rule. An American President ruled that country from a wheel chair, so what is the hullabaloo about the governor not fit to rule? The governor can make full use of all his faculties. So what’s anyone saying?
So what are the wider implications of all of these as the state goes to the poll in 2015?
Let me start with some basic facts.
Taraba state is politically in the North and it is a heterogeneous state with many ethnic groups. A state of about 2.5 million people,we have a unique experience of religious harmony. If you went to any home stead in Taraba, you will find members of all the faiths cohabiting. But Garba Umar does not understand this. He is a stranger in the state. He was born in Makurdi (Benue State) and grew up largely outside. He then worked like all of his life at the UTC company where he was living outside the state. He finally settled in Jos (Plateau). After the crisis there he went to live in Gombe state.
He doesn’t know that in Taraba we don’t miss politics with religion. It is a taboo. Danbaba is a typical christain but his wife is a Muslim. His elder sister is a Muslim. He has brothers and cousins who are Muslims. He lives with them. In my family I have Muslims who don’t see me as a Christians and I don’t discriminate against them either. We could die for each other. We are family. That is the way we are.
What is your view on General TY Danjuma recently referring to the acting governor as “deputy governor”?
That is the right interpretation by the constitution. You see, the good General does not want to be dragged into all of these. But he knows the nation’s constitution and he won’t do anything otherwise.
Recently, your House of Assembly went ahead and swore in commissioners despite a court order restraining it. What is your view on that?
Well, it is unfortunate but then it is part of a long string of the unconstitutional and lawless activities going on in Taraba. For a government to blatantly disobey court orders, that is something else. But then worse things had happened before that. He removed the leadership of the House of Assembly and instituted a docile one. He sacked me and some commissioners and special advisers on trumped up charges. He recently said he won’t recognize the letter transmitted by his boss. He was caught using the governor’s letter headed paper.
He is not a gentlema n and he ambitious. He is manipulating the House of Assembly and making it do unlawful things. You see, the former governor Rev. Jolly Nyame has refused to join Garba Umar in his actions. As a true democrat he knew that Governor Danbaba cannot be pushed out just like that. So he has made his position clear but this has annoyed the deputy governor. So he sacked the head of service who is from the same place as Jolly Nyame.
So what is the way out of all of these crises?
The House of Assembly. It is as simple as that. The members were the ones who started the Taraba crisis, especially the constitutional issues. It is they who can resolve it. Then, of course, the judiciary, who would soon give the necessary interpretation on what the law said about this.
The deputy governor has maintained that he is protecting the governor from a cabal that is trying to rule the state by proxy and steal the money he has saved up.
That is laughable because right now massive lootings are on. He is not saving the governor. He is trying to unseat the governor. Go and see the mess going on in the local governments. The looting is unquantifiable.
I’m in insider and I know. Take the SURE-P funds. That money has all but gone. So how is that protecting savings? Where are the savings? I advise the financial crimes agents to look at the state treasury.