Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State, who was seriously injured when his plane crashed on October 25 in Yola, capital of Adamawa State, may have suffered extensive brain damage. As a result, he allegedly failed to recognize members of a presidential delegation that visited him at a hospital in Hanover, Germany, an authoritative source has told SaharaReporters.
A source close to a senior member of the delegation described the trip to see Mr. Suntai as highly secretive. SaharaReporters learnt that members of the delegation had officially traveled to Vatican City in Rome to witness the consecration of Archbishop John Onaiyekan as a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. After the ceremony in Italy, the delegation then made a quick detour to Germany to see the injured Mr. Suntai. A trip put together by Gladys Modupeola Quist-Adebiyi, a staff of the Protocol Department at the Presidency was led by Senate President, David Mark. The delegation included Governor Ibrahim Yakowa of Kaduna State, President Goodluck Jonathan’s Chief of Staff, Mike Oghiadomhe.
Also on the delegation was John Kennedy Opara, the secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) and the Chaplain of the Presidential Villa Chapel, Venerable Obioma Onwuzurumba. Our source said members of the delegation were shocked to see Mr. Suntai in a vegetative state. “His condition was so bad that they could not publicly disclose his condition after they returned to Nigeria,” said the source. SaharaReporters gathered that Mr. Suntai suffered brain damage in the crash of the small plane he was piloting. The crash happened a short distance from the Yola airport. Initial reports from eyewitnesses said Mr. Suntai had died, but it later emerged that he had survived the crash, albeit with critical injuries. He was transferred to the National Hospital in Abuja before being airlifted to Germany after President Jonathan had visited him and given a rosy picture of his condition. Four state officials traveling with Mr. Suntai in the crashed plane were treated in hospitals in Adamawa and later transferred to Germany for treatment after a public outcry.
Since Mr. Suntai’s airlift to Germany, officials of the Taraba State Government have engaged in propaganda, claiming that the governor was making remarkable recovery. But sources, including an official of the state government, admitted that Mr. Suntai’s mental faculty had deteriorated since the accident and that his memory was virtually impaired. “It is possible that he suffered brain damage because there was some delay before he could be taken abroad,” said a state official. Contacted by SaharaReporters, a Taraba-born political activist who is based in Abuja, said he also heard about the visit to the ailing governor by Senate President Mark’s delegation.
He wondered if Mr. Mark’s silence on Governor Suntai’s health status signaled a scheme by President Jonathan to delay the swearing in of the deputy governor as the substantive governor. “We all know how President Umaru Yar’Adua’s people continued to deceive Nigerians that the man was recovering well and how they even brought him back in a comatose state and declared that he was in control of Nigeria,” said the activist. He added: “I hope President Jonathan and the PDP are not planning a similar scenario, whereby they will declare that Governor Suntai is in control until they find a malleable successor who suits them.”
The activist stated that the Presidency should state the truth about the injured governor’s condition to enable the people of Taraba to move ahead with a new administration. “The fact that the people of Taraba have not heard from or seen the governor since the air crash on October 25 2012 means that the man is no longer fit to govern them,” he said.