By Isidore Mbadayai Vengkani
Taraba state was created on August 27, 1991, by Babangida’s led Military Administration and the first Military Administrator appointed by the regime was Navy Captain Ambrose Adeyemi Afolahan and that appointment was dated August 28, 1991.
His reign as the military Administrator of Taraba state lasted for only five months. Within that period Captain Afolahan laid solid foundation for putting all necessary things to fast track rapid socio-economic development of the state.
Reverend Jolly Nyame became first elected civilian Governor of Taraba in January 1992 under the platform of Social Democratic party, SDP, which gave birth to the third republic. Jolly Nayame who was elected to serve for four years could not finish his tenure because the tenure came to an abrupt end on November 1993, that is to say, his reign as Governor lasted for only 22 months.
The collapse of the third republic gave birth to about three military administrators in the state and these included Col. Yohana Mamman Dickson, Compol. Amen Edore Oyakhire and Col. Aina Joseph Owoniyi and this period lasted for about five years and five months.
Then came 1999, precisely on May 29, Jolly Nyame having been elected was again sworn in as the Executive Governor of Taraba state under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP and the journey of the fourth republic began in earnest on May 29, 1999.
Reverend Jolly Nyame served as the Governor of Taraba for two consecutive tenures, commencing on May 29, 1999 to 2003 and the second tenure started on May 29, 2003 and ended on May 29, 2007. He successfully handed over to Pharmacist Danbaba Danfulani Suntai having serving the state for 8 years as stipulated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The ascension of Danbaba Danfulani Suntai as the Governor of Taraba state in 2007 was not very smooth as was the case when Col. Aina Joseph Owoniyi handed over the mantle of leadership on a platter of gold to Former Governor Jolly Tavoro Nyame. In 2007, it was full of political intrigues, sensationalization, name calling and all forms of unthinkable and unimaginable scheming all in the name of politics.
In the real sense of it, Danbaba Danfulani Suntai was a child of necessity. His emergence was meant to sheath swords of warring members of the same political platform, the PDP. The initial choice of members of the PDP was Danladi Baido Tijos.
Finally, the matter was laid to rest when he, Danladi Baido was substituted and Pharmacist Danbaba Danfulani Suntai eventually emerged as the flag bearer putting an end to the political crisis of the party and all resources and strength were then channeled towards winning the 2007 elections.
Collectively the party despite many of the myriads of disagreements eventually emerged victorious and Danbaba Danfulani Suntai became the Governor.
Similarly, Danbaba Danfulani Suntai finished his first four years successfully and it is on record today that Danbaba Suntai is one leader that understood the political history and peculiarities of the state.
Having understood the needs and desires of the people Danbaba Suntai took the bull by the horn and started putting structures that would fast track economic transformation that would put the state strategically in the map of the country.
In spite of all the efforts put in place by Gov. Danbaba Suntai his ticket in 2011 became another political brouhaha in the political history of Taraba. Going by the noble achievement of former Governor Danbaba Danfulani Suntai one would have expected that the party would unanimously canvass for him to be voted so as to consolidate on the gains so far achieved by him.
2011 elections is another political journey that will linger for so long in the history of Taraba State because of the height and dimension it took owing to political tussle and maneuvering all in a bit to vote out Danbaba Danfulani Suntai.
Such plans were orchestrated by the civil servants who considered some of actions and pronouncements as unfavourable and they felt it was an insult and wanted to change the mindset and the thinking of the people.
Most civil servants went back to their respective constituencies with the intent to frustrate his second coming.
Unfortunately such gang up did not yield results as electorates unanimously returned Governor Danbaba Danfulani Suntai to continue with the good works he has started in the state.
It is on record today that Governor Danbaba Suntai left lasting and enduring legacies for the state.
- Today Taraba state has one of the fastest growing Universities in the country with about three sets to its credit,
- The relocation of College of Education Jalingo to Zing and
- The movement of Taraba state Polytechnic from Wukari to Suntai to give way for the establishment of Federal University at Wukari, which is expected to graduate its first set this year. These are unequalled feats in the history of the State.
In the area of Agriculture;
- Dominion farm is in Taraba today; courtesy of Danbaba Suntai,
- Farming of cassava was boosted in the state as well as
- Completion of cassava processing plant which was started by former Governor Jolly Nyame and it is the first of its kind in the Country.
Other areas touched by the Suntai’s Administration was the buying over of the Mambilla Beverages Company in Kakara, Sardauna local government, producers of Highland Tea. Also within Suntai’s period as Governor roads and bridges were constructed which included the reconstruction of Jalingo Garba Chede Road, the two bye pass roads within Jalingo apart from other township roads that were constructed by him and all these happened within the span of five years.
Local government councils were also not left out as all the 16 councils were mandated to construct four kilometers each and today some council in the state have tarred roads courtesy of former Governor Danbaba Danfulani Suntai including Yangtu Special Development area.
Unfortunately, some of these wonderful initiations were unnecessarily delayed or could not see the light of day because it was a day Tarabans would not forget in a hurry and that fateful day was Thursday 25th October 2012, barely one year and some months when he was voted in for the second tenure in office, he crashed in Adamawa State just some meters away from the Yola International Airport on the eve of Sallah.
Danbaba Danfulani Suntai’s accident shocked not only Tarabans but also the entire country thereby creating another phase in the political history of our time in Taraba state. TO BE CONTINUED!