Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State on Sunday afternoon arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja after spending about 10 months abroad for treatment for injuries sustained when a small aircraft he piloted crashed.
The governor, who left Nigeria for Germany in October, was supported on his right and left arms by aides while disembarking from a chartered Gulfstream aircraft with registration number G4 at the domestic wing of the airport.
The aircraft touched down on the tarmac at about 12.41pm and the governor was immediately driven to the VIP lounge of the airport in a Toyota Land Cruiser.
Suntai was visibly weak and could not speak, but his associates told journalists that the long haul flight from the United States where he had the last phase of his treatment, made him tired.
He was shielded from responding to questions from journalists by heavily armed security personnel.
But a personal friend to Suntai, Mr. John Dara, said, “I am fully in the picture in all the arrangements for his return and we are really excited to see him back. What is clear is that after the long haul flight from the US, he is obviously weak and tired.
“But we are thrilled by the fact that he recognised each of us and called us by our names. This shows that he is mentally alert and this is an indication that he is capable of running the affairs of the state as governor.”
On why he was prevented from speaking with journalists, Dara said, “Normally, talking to press can be spontaneous and can be organised; but we felt that when he has rested well, it will be easier for him to address the press logically.”
Another associate of the governor and a former of member Niger Delta Development Commission board , Mr. Rima Shawulu, said that Suntai would commence work in earnest.
He said, “We have no doubt in our minds that when he gets to Jalingo later today (Sunday), it will be whether he will resume today or in a couple of days from now. But he is clearly okay and able to function.
“It is what the doctors report says about him that should be followed. When I met him in Germany in February, he did not look like somebody that had lost his senses. We discussed. He told me things and asked me to do some things for him which I did.”
A board member of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prof. Jerry Gana, who was part of a Peoples Democratic Party team that welcomed the governor, also told journalists that Suntai was strong enough to start work.
He said, “We thank God for his safe arrival and he is hale and hearty as you can see. We give God the glory that he has returned to start work as governor in his state.”