Hauwa Gambo: Why it is (now) difficult to feel sympathy for Suntai (Y! FrontPage)

by Hauwa Gambo


No man, or group of people, has the right to punish an entire people simply because he wants to hold on to the trappings of office.

We live in a sick nation. One that punishes its own people with the most ham-fisted, hopeless leadership one can find this side of the globe.

That is no exaggeration. With an inflation rate of averagely 10.54 percent, unemployment of averagely 23.90 percent (that is without the data for under-employment and unemployability), below-poverty-line inhabitants above 70 per cent, over 4,000 officially killed by Boko Haram in four years, outside of those killed by post-election violence, police brutality, armed robbery and kidnappings and other national festivals of tragedies, amongst others; Nigeria is, to channel the clichéd articles you read in everywhere from Sahara Reporters to the comment boxes of any site for Nigerians, a walking disaster.

One can hardly blame the towncriers of woe.

It is a degenerate crisis of yet rapidly degenerating proportions. Such proportions that it takes only for a governor to build a few roads in the case of Babatunde Fashola, build a few schools in the case of Godswill Akpabio, or embarrass a few teachers in the case of Adams Oshiomhole for us to begin to praise them for inventing water.

Nigeria has very little margin for error. But if our messed up leaders have any clue that with this depressing state of affairs, we cannot afford any tomfoolery, there is no clue. They just continue to take the piss.

It was barely three years ago that the President of 170 million Nigerian people disappeared from his duty post, and put the country through a harrowing experience of forged signatures, fake BBC interviews and the most immoral of power mongers not named Ibrahim Babangida. Nigerians have yet to recover from that – but our politicians always learn the wrong lessons.

So it is that, in a country where the executive is too powerful and the legislatures almost always an appendage of the Governor;’s office, we have had governance ground to a halt more than once in different states when an assortment of governors including Sullivan Chime of Enugu, Liyel Imoke of Cross River, and most recently Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta have left the country over various health challenges and with no clue who is in charge.

Leaving already questionably governed states without any compass because they insist on an amoral grip of power that doesn’t even belong to them in the first place.

It is from this morass of moral incapacity that Nigerians have been afflicted, quite literally, with a sickness which latest expression comes in the form of the Taraba governor, Danbaba Suntai.

At first it was a personal tragedy for which Nigerians were ready to share compassion. A sitting governor, riding a private helicopter himself, got into an accident that left him and his aides paralysed, or left for dead.

Flown abroad because, of course, there are no hospitals in his state capable of caring for those so unfortunate, he has been incapacitated for months. Thankfully, Nigeria is – some of the time – a nation of laws, and so the Deputy Governor took over the state’s affairs and the legislature stood with him.

The semblance of governance continued. Things have not gotten better in Taraba I assure you, but at least they had not gotten noticeably worse.

Until Suntai and his gang decided to turn personal tragedy into national farce. Swooping into the country on Wednesday, he declared himself fit to resume work and yet was unable to step, un-aided by at least 5 people, even from his own private airplane

How can a man clearly unwell, and demonstrably incapable of running the affairs even of a mom-and-pop shop insist on taking the reins of power?

Sadly, in that process of desperately hanging unto power, even at the risk of mis-governing and then condemning the hundreds of thousands of citizens of that state to the consequences of a sick leader, Suntai has drained every reasonable man or woman of the capacity to feel any sympathy for him. The current spectacle of a man too tired to speak to the public able to somehow muster the energy for a power tussle with his own deputy and legislature is beyond cringe-worthy; it invites contempt, for him and for those behind this.

No man, or group of people, has the right to punish an entire people simply because he wants to hold on to the trappings of office. No one deserves the terrible accident that has left the governor a different man; still, no man’s personal destiny is worth the suffering, death, and poverty of thousands of my brothers and sisters in the North.

If Suntai wants our sympathy, he should do the proper thing, since at least he can speak. He should order his cabal of power-mongers to surrender him, as dictated by the constitution, to an independent panel of medical doctors appointed by the Speaker of the state legislature.

If he is found fit to lead, then this entire constitutional crisis that has afflicted Taraba can immediately end and the people can resume being governed. If he isn’t, then he should be sent away to a hospital where he can be treated – and to opprobrium.

It is time to stop treating with kid gloves selfish, morally bankrupt leaders who insist on treating Nigerians with disdain, and with, yes, wickedness. They do not deserve the compassion they refuse to show the rest of us.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Comments (4)

  1. Correction: I think it should read”this entire constitutional crisis that has afflicted TARABA” and not JIGAWA. Second to the last paragraph. Good piece any way

  2. I Can now see that the HEAT is on! God bless my State.

  3. Errrrm…sincere opinion? I think dis piece is really biased and lacks objectivity..you av literally slaughtered Suntai,d’u work for the deputy governor ni? I know that Naija is struggling through a lot of downs at d moment buh den,it’d help if blogs and sites were writing unbiased.. I mean even if the poor guy was aided out of the plane,nufin says he’z unfit to re-assume position/duty,on d oda hand, if he’z rili unfit,y z he clamouring 2take bak d seat? Dah would av been one hell of a writeup..Bye yah

  4. Well said, and I also share the same views with you. But its not JIGAWA like you mentioned, Its TARABA state. Cheers

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