From Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
The Supreme Court recently passed a landmark judgement sacking Senator Abubakar Sani Danladi representing Taraba-North senatorial district, and ordered his replacement with Senator Shuaibu Lau, after a two year legal battle.
While the judgement itself is not unprecedented, it crowned the political career of Senator Danladi as arguably, the most interesting in the country, characterized by dramatic vicissitudes, legal battles, impeachment, and even chanced elevations, that one begins to wonder if this is one turn too many for the now former lawmaker.
However, time will tell, if he has reached his political apogee and has now taken a downward progression or just another quiet before he shoots to greater height again.
Danladi became significantly consequential after he emerged as the running mate to Danbaba Suntai and eventually the deputy governor of Taraba state, in 2007, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Suntai was brought in to replace Danladi Baido as the party’s flag bearer after some intrigues played out and, Danladi, a Baido’s protégé at the time, was called in as running mate to Suntai as compensation to Baido.
Baido, was the state’s Finance Commissioner before resigning to run for the governorship. But his name also featured on the list of “indicted politicians,” in the run up to the 2007 polls, in the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure.
Danladi enjoyed the most cordial relationship with his principal, Suntai and were reelected for a second tenure, in 2011. But they had hardly taken off, when according to sources, Suntai learnt that his deputy was going to replace him before long. This led to the collapse of the enviable relationship between the governor and his deputy, and before long it became noticeably sour, thus leading to the unceremonious removal from office of Danladi, in a botched impeachment. He was so “disgraced” that even his closest associates deserted him at the point. Maintaining a low key, Danladi began a strenuous legal battle to challenge his impeachment. He lost up to the Appeal Court, but still continued to the Supreme Court where he got justice and was restored to his previous position.
However, political watchers familiar with Taraba politics told Daily Sun that the forces that sent Danladi parking in the first place were the same forces that ganged up to ensure his return in a desperate move to oust the then acting governor, Garba Umar who was a major threat to the actualization of a “Southern Taraba Governor agenda.”
And Danladi returned to power barely six months to the end of the tenure. He had the opportunity to gun for the governorship of the state or throw his weight behind the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Aisha Alhassan, who had openly identified with him at his time of need and betray those that brought him back, but he chose to go along with the cabal-as it was then called, so as not to rock the boat.
Daily Sun further gathered that as acting governor, Danladi did not only pay himself for all the time he was away, but also paid himself all his severance package. Based on the political calculation at the time, he was able to muscle the senatorial ticket from the former acting governor, Garba Umar, who has since gone into political oblivion. But like the ousted lawmaker, his replacement, Lau, never contested for any primary. How the court arrived at its decision remains a mystery to political watchers in the state.
Investigations by Daily Sun revealed that in the run up to the 2015 polls, former acting governor, Garba Umar, Lau and former governor, Reverend Jolly Nyame, picked the nomination form to run for the Taraba-North senatorial district. While Nyame, did not make any reasonable push, Umar and Lau were the front runners. But at a meeting in Abuja where the positions were shared, Umar was handed the ticket, having sacked him as the acting governor.
However, once they were back in Taraba, Danladi, being the acting governor at the time, was said to have mounted reasonable pressure on Umar to abandon the ticket for him. That was how he got on the ballot. And because he enjoyed good relationship with the then party’s candidate, who is now the governor, no one raised an eyebrow over the development.
Ironically, the good relationship he enjoyed with Governor Darius Ishaku before and shortly after the election was short lived. It became apparent that the duo were no longer having the best of times following the allegation that Danladi was nursing the ambition to run against Ishaku for the governorship of the state in 2019.
He had to address a press conference to debunk this in a move seen by many as mere political theatrics. But like most politicians do, no threat to their political ambition is treated with laxity.
Sources told Daily Sun that the allegation that he was going to run for the governorship of the state was the beginning of his problems. The same forces that helped him return as the acting governor and eventually as the senator now turned against him, again.
Interestingly, the same Supreme Court that ruled for his return as acting governor on the 23rd November, 2014, sacked him again, on the 23rd June, 2017.
During a courtesy call on Governor Ishaku by the Senator designate, Shuaibu Lau, the governor said that there was “something about the red chamber that turns people into a very arrogant being”, and advised Lau not to “also get intoxicated with whatever it is”.
For most people, this was taken as referring to Danladi and another senator in the state with whom he had also enjoyed cordial relationship previously but who like Danladi, is now said to be at loggerheads with the governor. But before now, Danladi’s constituents had threatened to commence a recall process against him when the governor was tour of the area. However, the Supreme Court sure saved them from the stress. The question now is, would Danladi be able to rise above this challenge and still retain political relevance and maybe further his political career? Or could it be that this is one turn too many for him? Whatever turns out to be the outcome, one thing that is clear, according to political pundits in the state is that the governor still needs Senator Danladi ahead of 2019, as most of those who fought for the governor have either defected to the APC or are no longer with him.