Exclusive : Suntai never promised me governorship_ Sen. Bwacha

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Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha has said that contrary to some opinion, former governor of Taraba state, Pharmacist Danbaba Suntai, never promised to make him governor in the 2015 polls.

Bwacha, who was in Kashimbilla, Takum at the weekend where he commissioned a constitiency project, went down memory lane with KWARARAFA REPORTERS in an exclusive chat. He said that all he has been fighting for in his political struggles was for power to shift to southern Taraba, irrespective of who benefits from that.

His words: “my struggle for power shift dates back to Nyame days. Some people think we just started this struggle but it goes far back. When former governor Jolly Nyame wanted to impose Danladi Baido on the state, I objected that plan. I was looking at the larger picture. If power doesn’t shift to the central zone, it would affect the entire arrangement. Nyame is from the North and he had become governor on that quota. Bringing in Baido from the same North would have altered the equation. So, at a time when it was politically suicidal to do so, I kicked against Nyame’s choice. The price I paid was my bid for senate. Nyame blocked it and I said OK, let’s see how you would also sail through with your pet project. Even back then I was thinking power shift. I don’t want to go into nitty gritties. But Ribadu (former Chairman of the EFCC), once asked me at the time if I wanted the governorship because he saw my activism at stopping the Nyame pet project. I told him no. That it could be anyone but that we must respect power rotation. I won at last because power did shift to Central Taraba and Suntai became governor.”

Bwacha noted further that still in the 2015 election, he never wavered from that goal. He recounted his encounter with the then acting governor, Alhaji Garba Umar, who wanted to run for governor. Umar is from the Northern zone of Taraba. Bwacha, fondly called “iron bender” by the elctorate said he tried to dissuade Umar from his plans to no avail. Bwacha said, “I’m happy today because everything I told Garba UTC came to pass. At the time, UTC thought I didn’t like his face. He thought I was just interested in getting power for myself. Yet, I only tried to warn him. After close to thirty years in politics, let me be humble to say that I can give a little advice in that direction.”

Bwacha, in going into details, narrated how his meeting went with Garba Umar. He said, “I didn’t want to go see Umar alone so I asked Engineer Ahmed Yusuf and Isiaka Bawa to come with me. They agreed. So when I got back from the US where Suntai was taken to after the plane crash, I called Yusuf and Bawa. Unknown to me, the two men have been swallowed by the Umar project of self succession. They weren’t prepared to go with me again. While Yusuf said he missed his flight, Bawa wasn’t even picking my calls. This is the same Isiaka Bawa I helped get into the House of Reps. In any case, I went to see Umar. I was blunt and told him that Suntai brought him in because of his age and the hope that he would respect arrangements given the fact that he is a honourable man. I asked if he is aware of the political project of Suntai for power shift. I reminded him of it and said Suntai has not mentioned anyone to me as a possible successor but that he expressly said power should shift. I told him power shift was fair and just as all the other zones have produced governors for the state. I warned against advisers telling him to run for office, stressing to him that many of them are betrayers. I told him of a former commissioner whom we brought out of obscurity to make the chairman of a board and gave him enablement so that we would ward off a certain opposition. I told him of how that one has suddenly betrayed Suntai. I warned about another one who was very close to Sani Danladi but came to me at night to lobby that he became the deputy governor when Sani was impeached. I warned Umar of these funny characters and another one who once said he can’t work with Garba Umar because he believe Umar was Boko Haram. I warned him of the others. I said to him that he should watch them. They would lead him somewhere and drop him. After I finished speaking, Garba Umar took out his phone, fiddled with it and with a derisive laughter dismissed all my points. He said 2015 was far away and we shouldn’t be bothered. I told him that the journey of a thousand miles start in a day. Well the rest is history. The next thing I heard was that I was going to be recalled. Salome Jankada led the charge and I was laughing. If you couldn’t defeat me in an election, is it recall that would be a challenge? Anyway, she failed and Umar, I’m sure, is regretting why he didn’t listen to me. Needless to say, those I said would leave UTC may have done so technically.”

On constituency projects, Bwacha said he is more concerned with projects that benefits the people directly. The annual scholarship scheme for instance is targeted at indigent students. He said he is concerned about health too as is the biggest dividend of democracy for the grassroot. Consequently, six ambulances have been shared in the zone while the hospital in Mararaba has been completed. The one sited in Bibi, Bete ward of Takum would soon be finished and handed to the state government. In his remarks, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Obadiah Zorto, commended the efforts of Senator Bwacha, noting that his contributions are helping to enhance health delivery as a major component of Governor Darius Ishaku’s Rescue Mission. In his vote of thanks, Member representing Takum 2, Dr. Mark Useni hailed the senator and noted that without the daunting efforts of Senator Bwacha, power would not have shifted to the southern part of the state. He said Bwacha selfless commitment to power shift and the subsequent support he keeps offering Governor Ishaku needs to be respected and duly acknowledged by all and sundry. He said the entire citizens of Takum are expressing their gratitude to Bwacha for his statesmanship.

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