Contrary to expectations that President Goodluck Jonathan would wade into the current political crisis in Taraba State to resolve it, the Presidency has said that he has no such intentions.
This was revealed by the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak in an interview, who stated that Jonathan’s decision not to interfere should not be misconstrued as an act of negligence, but rather as respect for the rule of law and the country’s constitution.
The crisis in the state started when Suntai returned to the country after spending about 10 months abroad where he received treatment following his October 25, 2012, plane crash.
The move by those in his camp to take over from his deputy, Garba Umar, who served as acting governor in his absence, had so far been resisted by some members of the state House of Assembly. They insisted that the ailing governor must return to the United States to continue his treatment.
Gulak pointed out that the country was running federalism and each state of the federation had constitutional organs to resolve such impasse without external interference.
He said the President would not want to be dragged into the matter.
While he noted that the state House of Assembly is the appropriate constitutional organ that should resolve the crisis, the presidential aide suggested that the national leadership of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party could also consider initiating what he described as a political solution to the impasse.
He said, “What Nigerians should appreciate is that we are operating federalism. Each state of the federation has constitutional organs saddled with the responsibility of solving such impasse.
“Taraba State, like any other state of the federation, has the legislature and the judiciary that are capable of resolving the crisis.
“President Jonathan cannot wade into the crisis in the state. The country’s constitution has taken care of that.
“The President does not want to be dragged into that issue that has religious and political colouration. President Jonathan has been rightly advised on this matter. It is not negligence, it is simply respect for the rule of law.
“We have constitutional organs to deal with the situation. The House of Assembly is the appropriate organ that can resolve it. There is also the option of political solution.
“As part of a political solution, the party at the national level can initiate moves following which the assembly and judiciary will solve it.”
Meanwhile, the former Commissioner for Information in Taraba State, Mr. Emmanuel Bello, has asked the National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, Bamanga Tukur, to be guided on the constitution while commenting on the political crisis in the state.
He said Suntai was fully in charge of affairs in Taraba state and was not ruling by proxy, in an apparent reaction to Tukur’s statement that Taraba could not be governed by proxy, reference to the aides of the ailing governor who brought him back to the state.
Bello, in a statement in Jalingo on Saturday, said it was clear that the Speaker of the Taraba State House of Assembly was acting outside the constitution when he rejected Suntai’s letter to resume duties after the medical treatment.
The statement read, “Bamanga should respect the constitution as he wades into the Taraba crisis and he must make the nation’s constitution as his guide.
“Our country is guided by the constitution and we cannot afford to be lawless; the people perpetrating illegality are those saying they have no regard for the constitution.
“The Speaker of the Taraba State House of Assembly, Haruna Tsokwa, has said he is not interested in what the constitution says. In rejecting Suntai’s letter, he kept saying ‘as far as I am concerned’. He is not interested in the constitution as he is entrenching a strange thing in our national life. I believe he hasn’t read the constitution and if he has, he does not understand its provisions.”
He added, “Tukur should enforce the provisions of the constitution as it relates to the Taraba debacle. If Tukur takes sides in the ongoing imbroglio, we shall vehemently resist him.”