Babangida Suntai, younger brother of former Taraba State Governor, Danbaba Danfulani Suntai, died today, Saturday hours after the former governor was buried in his village, Suntai, Bali local government area of Taraba State
The state Information, Commissioner in the Suntai government, Emmanuel Bello confirmed the news of the death of the former governor’s brother to new men.
“The Suntai family has been severely devastated,” a member of the family told The Nation in an emotion-laden voice yesterday.
Babangida Suntai died in Abuja, in an undisclosed hospital.
A family source said he was rushed to Abuja last week for treatment.
Danbaba Suntai, who was governor from 2007 to 2015, died on June 28, two days to his 56th birthday in Orlando, Florida, USA exactly four years and seven months after surviving an air crash in which he was the pilot.
He is survived by his wife, Hauwa and five children; four daughters and a boy.
The last two are twins who were born in US where Suntai was being treated of the injuries he sustained from the plane crash.
Danbaba Suntai’s funeral service was held in Jolly Nyame Stadium, Jalingo –the Taraba State capital.
Among the dignitaries were Governors Ayo Fayose of Ekiti state, Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe state and Simon Lalong of Plateau state.
The governors said they were touched by the late governor’s kind gesture and leadership qualities. They asked Taraba people to learn from the good legacies Suntai left for the state.
Taraba State Governor, Darius Dickson Ishaku said that Taraba, as a State, had entirely crashed with Danbaba Suntai on October 25, 2015 when the ill-fated Cessna 208 aircraft piloted by Suntai had a mishap.
“When Suntai had that plane crash, Taraba State literally crashed with him.
“The future and wellbeing of his family, the sanctity of his administration, and indeed, the wellbeing of the people of Taraba State also crashed with him.
“This is because the very fabric of the socio-economic being of the people of Taraba State was intricately interwoven within the stature of this great man and leader of our time.
“The news of Danbaba Suntai’s demise came to me as a rude shock, because from my human perspective, I looked forward with very high expectation to the day that he would be fully restored and returned home to us.
“But sadly, that was not to be. Words cannot describe the intensity and depth of my grief and the trauma that the immediate and extended family members of Suntai are going through, as well as the gloom that has settled on the government and good people of Taraba State.”
Governor Ishaku described his late predecessor as an “amiable leader and an icon par excellence who was very well known for his frankness, boldness and large heart given to sincere forgiveness.”
The governor remembered the three security aides of the late governor who survived the plane crash.
They were: Aide de Camp (ADC), Iliya Dasat, Chief Detail Joel Danladi and the Chief Security Officer (CSO) Tino Dangana who has been reappointed by Ishaku as his CSO.
They were asked to stand beside their late boss’ casket for the cameras and recognition.
Governor Ishaku thanked all Nigerians, especially those who stood by the late governor during his trying moment and in death.
He said that the love they showed him was a great source of strength to the family and the people of Taraba State.