Sani Abubakar Danlad
Perhaps, for the first time, Taraba State deputy governor, Alhaji Sani Abubakar Danladi, faces a major political test as the state’s legislature commences
impeachment process against him, writes Wole Ayodele
For Alhaji Sani Abubakar Danladi, Taraba State deputy governor, this is definitely not the best of times. On Tuesday, September 4, 19 out of the 24 members of the state House of Assembly signed an impeachment notice in which they accused him of gross misconduct and abuse of office.
There had been speculations in the past that the House of Assembly had concluded plans to impeach Danladi but on each occasion, the assembly had vehemently denied such moves, perhaps due to the leakage of the plot to the public.
However, the recent move to impeach him caught not many people unaware perhaps with the exception of the deputy governor himself as it was widely presumed that the matter was a wild rumour or at best, that the issue had been laid to rest.
But in a well thought out plan on Tuesday, 19 out of the twenty-one members who attended the day’s sitting including the two from Karim Lamido, Danladi’s constituency, signed the impeachment notice which signaled the commencement of the process of his impeachment.
That day, Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Charles Maijankai, who incidentally is number three to the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Istifanus Gbana, on the floor of the assembly. Though, the constitution stipulates that at least 1/3 of the members must sign the impeachment notice, the nineteen members represents over 2/3 of the members of the Assembly indicating that the move was a consensus of the assembly.
Apart Diah and Maijankai who championed the impeachment notice, other signatories are Hon. Daniel Ishaya Gani (Wukari 11); Hon. Mohammed D. Gwampo (Yorro); Hon. Ibrahim Adamu Imam (Jalingo1); Hon. Yahaya Abdulraham (Gassol 11); Hon. Bonzena K. John (Zing); Hon. Edward G. Baraya (Karim 11) and Hon. Gambo Maikudi representing Bali 1 Constituency.
The notice was also signed by Hon. Hamman’Adama B. Abdullahi (Bali 11); Hon. Haruna Tsokwa (Takum 1); Hon. Iratsi Yohanna Adaki (Ussa); Hon. Joseph Albasu Kunini (Lau); Hon. Josiah Sabo Kente (Wukari 1); Hon. Adamu Tanko Maikarfi (Gassol 1); Hon Mark Useni (Takum 11); Hon. Mohammed Abdulkarim (IBI) and Hon. Mohammed G. Umar (Gashaka) as well as the only female member of the House, Hon. Rashida Abdullahi representing Nguroje Constituency
In the notice, the lawmakers drew up three impeachable offences against Danladi whom they accused of using his office to among other things, loot and divert public funds and also lacking capacity to function as deputy governor.
Out of the 24 members that attended the September 4 sitting, only two members- Dr. A.A. Jugulde representing Sardauna Constituency and Hon. Aminu J. Umar from Jalingo II on the platform of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), refrained from signing the document while Hon. Emmanuel Dame representing Ardo-Kola Constituency was absent at the sitting.
In the particulars of allegations against the deputy governor, the lawmakers alleged that he had used his office and influence to divert the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) facilities such as ICT Centre, motorized borehole and solar lights to Yagai Academy, a private school owned by him. By so doing, the legislators said Danladi had denied the less privileged members of the state access to use of the facilities, thereby contravening the oath of office he swore to observe and protect. He was said to have perpetrated the acts in 2010.
The assembly also accused the deputy governor of using his office to acquire a large expanse of land in Jalingo, the state capital on which he built Yagai Academy and other multi million naira business ventures amongst which are Yagai Water, Yagai Printing Press and Yagai Restaurant which according to assembly are worth over a billion naira.
The legislators also held that the deputy governor had engaged in sharp practices in government to unlawfully enrich himself, funds which he allegedly used in acquiring, building and funding Yagai Academy, unarguably the best among private schools in the state.
They said Danladi’s total emolument as deputy governor could not justify his investments in Yagai Academy and in so doing, he had not only breached the code of conduct for public office holders but had also created in the minds of the people of the state, the impression that the government condones with impunity, the looting and diversion of public funds.
The legislators further noted that the deputy governor’s declared asset on assumption of office was not more than N56 million and that Yagai Academy was incorporated in 2009 with a share capital of N2 million. They stressed also that before he became the deputy governor in 2007, he was neither in business nor own any business that could yield any reasonable income.
On allegations of incompetence as deputy governor, the Assembly noted that since assuming office as chairman of the state’s Boundary Commission, he had either failed, neglected or refused to call any board meeting in the face of abundance of community rivalries/disputes bordering on boundary delineation which is the statutory responsibility of the Board of the Commission.
His alleged refusal to properly discharge the functions of his office, the lawmakers said had created disaffection, favouritism and undue interference in the running of government, contrary to the oath of office he took. Besides, he is also facing allegation of unduly interfering with the postings and transfers of indigenes of Karim-Lamido local government area where he hailed from in circumstances that has caused disaffection among the people and portrayed government in bad light.
Though House Committee Chairman on Information, Hon. Daniel Ishaya Gani, told newsmen that the impeachment plot was entirely the business of the House, there are insinuations that the State Assembly is acting the script of the state governor, Alhaji Danbaba Danfulani Suntai.
“The drama playing out in the State House of Assembly can be described as the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob. There is no way members of the State House of Assembly would unanimously move to impeach the deputy governor without the consent and approval of the governor. In fact, the House can be described as an appendage of the executive,” said Mr. Haruna, a civil servant in the state while commenting on the development.
Despite the myriad of allegations leveled against Danladi, THISDAY gathered that the impeachment move may not be unconnected with the current face-off between the governor and Danladi on the one hand and Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan, Senator Abubakar Tutare and the immediate past PDP Chairman in the state, Alhaji Abdulmumini Vaki on the other hand.
Although, they are members of the same political camp, Senator Aisha Alhassan fell apart with the governor during the last PDP congresses in the state where the trio accused Suntai of sidelining them in the composition of party executives in their various wards while Alhaji Vaki is said to be aggrieved over the governor’s decision to throw his weight behind the present chairman of the party, Chief Victor Bala Kona.
THISDAY checks revealed that the deputy governor was alleged to have held a meeting with the trio in Saudi Arabia during the last Umrah though associates of the deputy governor who spoke to THISDAY on condition of anonymity debunked the allegation and insisted that Senator Tutare did not go the for lesser hajj while Vaki had already returned to Nigeria before Danladi went for the religious exercise. Sources also said Senator Aisha was in Dubai for a knee operation at the time.
That aside, one Emmanuel Ando told THISDAY that the decision to impeach Danladi was part of conditions given by Jolly Nyame before he returns to PDP with his supporters. But close allies of the governor were said to have insisted that the last thing he (the governor) would do is to accept conditions from Nyame’s camp before returning to the party.
Before his emergence as the deputy governor, Danladi was a notable member of Nyame’s political camp and at a time, Special Assistant to Danladi Baido, former Commissioner for Finance who won the PDP gubernatorial primaries and was substituted with Suntai by Nyame on the orders of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
As part of efforts to compensate Baido, he was requested to nominate the running mate to Suntai and he settled for Danladi in addition to being appointed Chief of Staff in the Suntai administration. But when Nyame and Suntai eventually fell apart, Danladi stayed with Suntai and went ahead to ensure that PDP defeated Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the party Nyame and Baido had defected to in the height of their political crisis.
Analyzing the development, a public commentator in the state, Comrade Steven Andrew, said the deputy governor’s travails are part of the schemings ahead of 2015 general election. “It is not a hidden fact that the deputy governor is interested in going to the House of Representatives in 2015 and equally, a very prominent member of the House of Assembly is believed to be warming up to contest for the position. Therefore, it is only natural that between now and then, as politicians, they would continue to plot against each other and seize every opportunity to stay above each other.”
But while the impeachment saga has continued to generate as much attention in the state, THISDAY gathered that Kona, a former chairman of Jalingo local government area and immediate past Special Adviser to the governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, has being tipped to replace Danladi as deputy governor.
Kona, who played a prominent role in Suntai’s re-election in 2011 is said to have tremendous goodwill across the state occasioned by his above average performance as chairman of Jalingo, a position that gave him leverage at the grassroots and among the traditional institutions in the state.
Though the deputy governor is expected to respond to the allegations within fourteen days of having received the notice, after which the matter would be referred to the State Chief Judge who would then set up a committee to investigate the allegations and determine his culpability. But as it is, not a few people in the state believe that his impeachment had been concluded and it would require a miracle for him to survive the plot.