Still fuming at the prolonged absence of their governor from his office, leaders under the auspices of the Taraba State chapter of the Conference for Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) have threatened to compel the state House of Assembly to declare him incapacitated.
They urged Sunday that the House should invoke Section 189 of the 1999 Constitution as amended should the state government continue to hide from the public the true health situation of Governor Danbaba Suntai.
Similarly, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Sunday condemned the poor handling of the reported illness of Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State.
Suntai, who was on October 25 last year involved in a crash of a plane that he personally piloted, was immediately evacuated to a German hospital where he was said to be fast recuperating
But outraged by the refusal of the state government to make known to the people the health situation of the governor, the leadership of the CNPP who was at the press centre of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Taraba State council Sunday vowed to invoke Section 189 of the constitution.
Flanked by the leaders of the various registered political parties in the state, the chairman of the CNPP, Hamidu Suleiman, lamented that despite the various visits by top government functionaries to Germany where the governor is hospitalized, none of them deemed it fit to speak to the people of Taraba on the issue.
Suleiman who doubles as the state chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) observed that "a delegation which we were reliably informed comprised the Chief Judge, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and the Speaker of the House of Assembly, among others travelled to Germany to see His Excellency."
Since their arrival, the CNPP noticed, the delegation had been mute over the health of the governor, a situation which the group said had continued to keep the entire people of the state and the nation at large in the "dark."
"Ever since the delegation arrived in the state, there has never been any official communication from them and this gives credence to the rumours milling around that the governor has brain damage, thereby being totally incapacitated," it said.
However, the Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism, Emmanuel Bello, said the state had on several occasions made known to the public the health condition of the governor who according to him "will soon be back to the state."
Insisting that "no other state is informing its citizens of the health condition of its governor like Taraba State," he said that "it is not true that we have kept the people in the dark concerning the health of our governor."
He further continued, "The constitution is very clear in this matter. We have complied with every provision of the constitution. The constitution does not provide for an unusual takeover because we are living in a democracy."
Wondering why the residents of Taraba had been "kept in the dark" by government officials, the CNPP urged Bello to as a matter of urgency to disclose the "governor’s state of health, failure of which we shall be compelled to mandate the state House of Assembly to invoke the provisions of Section 189 of the 1999 constitution as amended which borders on the incapacitation of a governor and the way forward."
Disputing the various pictures of the governor which were displayed on social media as well as on the pages of different newspapers, the CNPP said that if the governor had actually recovered as they claimed, "we want to see him exercising, eating, walking, etc on Twitter, iPod, etc."
"It is high time they stopped deceiving the people by feeding them with false information because we expected the government delegation that visited him to brief Tarabans and Nigerians on their arrival, but they have failed to do that which means that something is seriously wrong somewhere with our number one citizen," the CNPP said.
The Section 189 of the constitution the CNPP referred to reads: "(1) The Governor or Deputy Governor of a State shall cease to hold office if:
"(2) Where the medical panel certifies in its report that in its opinion the Governor or Deputy Governor is suffering from such infirmity of body or mind as renders him permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office, a notice thereof signed by the Speaker of the House of Assembly shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Government of the State.
"(3) The Governor or Deputy Governor shall cease to hold office as from the date of publication of the notice of the medical report pursuant to subsection (2) of this section.
"(4) The medical panel to which this section relates shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Assembly of the State, and shall comprise five medical practitioners in Nigeria:
"(5) In this section, the reference to ‘executive council of the State’ is a reference to the body of Commissioners of the Government of the State, howsoever called, established by the Governor and charged with such responsibilities for the functions of Government as the Governor may direct.”
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Ahaji Lai Mohammed, the ACN also criticized the "choreographed visit" to Chime in London by a delegation of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), which was "apparently designed to reinforce the line being peddled by Gov. Chime’s supporters rather than keep the people of the state better informed of the true situation of things."