by Stanley Azuakola
The governor of Benue state, Gabriel Suswam, was in New York this week, where he visited the Taraba governor, Danbaba Suntai, who is recuperating from an airplane accident he suffered in October 2012.
In the last one month, there has been intense politicking in Taraba as forces for and against the continued stay of Suntai as governor even when he has been away for about 8 months, have been locked in battle. Many within the Peoples Democratic Party in the state are pushing for the state assembly to declare Suntai incapacitated so that the acting governor Umar can become the substantive head.
As a result of all these controversies, there has been an increase in the number of stories emanating from the United States where Suntai is recuperating, claiming that the governor is almost set for return.
Meanwhile, some news outlets are insisting that Suntai is brain damaged and now suffers from a speech impairment.
However, Suntai’s latest visitor, Gov. Gabriel Suswam disputes that assertion. He claims that the Taraba governor is not suffering from memory loss.
“I met with the governor, and from my personal findings, I think the man is physically and mentally fit now as against all the media reports that we have been receiving in Nigeria; because when I got to his place, he recognised me immediately. He called me by my name and asked that I sit down beside him.
“We held several discussions. He asked me about the political situation of the country. He also asked me about the security conditions back home and I gave him the needed responses. He later rose up and walked normally, without support from anybody, to the rest room and still came out of the toilet by himself without anybody holding him. He asked for food and ate in our presence,” said Suswam.
Suswam further said that Gov. Suntai recognised both him and his wife. He said he called his (Suswam’s) wife by name “just to show that he is not suffering from memory loss as reported in the media.”
“When he saw me, he greeted me, he smiles, you know, we have a name we call ourselves, I call him, Malam Suntai, he calls me Alhaji Suswam, when I called him Malam Suntai he burst into laughter,” he said.
The Benue governor also disclosed that while he was with his Taraba counterpart at the Sea View Hospital Rehabilitation Centre and Home, where he is recuperating, he put calls across to both President Goodluck Jonathan, and VP Namadi Sambo, who both spoke with the ailing governor.
When asked why the governor has still not returned since he is reportedly in good shape, Suswam said, “With what I was able to gather from his doctors around him, I think they want to watch him closely, to be sure he can undergo a long distance trip. Apart from that, the governor looks very agile and can still function as a governor.”