Family members of the ailing Taraba State governor Danbaba Danfulani Suntai said they will celebrate this Christmas in desolation.
Suntai’s only surviving uncle, Pa Timothy Mai Komo, told Daily Trust at his residence in Suntai town, Bali local government, on Friday that the absence of the governor has taken its toll on the mood of not only the family but the entire Suntai community.
“You see, we are missing our son. If he were well, you would have seen cows being slaughtered in this house for Christmas celebration,” Pa Timothy said.
Governor Suntai has been in a German hospital since November receiving treatment due to injuries he sustained when a small aircraft, Cessna 208, he was piloting crash-landed about 30 miles to the Yola airport in Adamawa State. He was flying with five others from Jalingo, the Taraba State capital.
Suntai’s uncle said his nephew does not discriminate his kinsmen on the basis of religion.
“He (Governor Suntai) doesn’t discriminate among us. He distributes cows to us during festivities. During Christmas, Governor Suntai will send me a cow. But as you can see we don’t have any cow to slaughter for Christmas. We would have started celebrating if he were around. We’re missing dearly him,” he said.
Also speaking to Daily Trust, another kinsman of the governor, Alhaji Sule Musa Suntai, said he fell ill since he heard that the governor was involved in plane crash.
“He has been very dear to us right from his days as chairman of Bali local government. He did so many things to us. He brought development to our village; he secured admission for our children, built roads, schools, police station, hospitals for us,” he said.
Pointing at our reporter’s guide, Alhaji Musa said “this boy is my son. He’s now studying at the university courtesy of Governor Suntai. There are many of them like that.”
The two elderly men said the entire village has been praying for the quick recovery of the governor.
“Everybody here is missing him. He has done a lot to all of us. If not because of this tragic incident…you can see that everywhere is quiet because we are all sad,” Pa Timothy told Daily Trust.
When asked about the governor’s health and how they get information about him, he said: “we get to know about the governor’s state of health through his ADC in Jalingo.”
“We are also being briefed on his state of health by his brother Babangida and his wife. We’re still praying for him,” Pa Timothy.
When our reporter went to the governor’s residence in Suntai last Friday around 10:45 am, the house was empty with only two plain cloth policemen keeping vigil.
One of the policemen on duty said no family member of the governor lives in the building. “They all moved to Jalingo,” he said.
Daily Trust observed that the residence was deserted; the flowers were drying up because they clearly have not been attended to for some time. The only thing that catches the eye in the governor’s house are the ostriches, and an antelope wandering in the compound.
Speaking to Daily Trust at his residence, the district head of Suntai, Mr Danjuma Auta, said he was optimistic that the governor will bounce back. “Our son is recuperating and we are all praying for his early return,” he said.
Daily Trust observed that billboards were erected in Bali town and Suntai by local government authorities supposedly to welcome Governor Suntai home. The billboards with Suntai’s photograph read thus: “Oyo yoooo, our son.”