Nobody gave him a chance in the 2019 Zamfara State governorship election given the fact that he contested on the platform of an opposition party save for sheer providence. Against all odds, Bello Muhammed, emerged the 4th democratically elected governor of Zamfara after a Supreme Court judgement, which invalidated the victory of the then ruling party in the state for refusing to hold valid primary elections.
There were people who believe Matawalle, as he is fondly called, did not prepare for the task of governance. Nonetheless, the man has started proving cynics wrong.
On assumption of office on May 29, he summoned a meeting of all stakeholders on the security logjam in the state followed by taking practical steps by visiting areas affected by banditry and kidnapping for an on-the-spot assessment of the security situation in the state.
In what looks like a proverbial ‘Midas touch,’ the initiatives of Governor Matawalle have started yielding results almost immediately as many bandits repented and surrendered their weapons. Precisely, 216 riffles were recently handed over to the state government by the bandits who have now turned a new leaf after embracing a peace deal brokered by the governor in collaboration with the state command of the Nigeria Police.
It is interesting to note that prior to his emergence as governor, Zamfara State was plagued with insecurity occasioned by activities of cattle rustlers, bandits and kidnappers. It is no gainsaying the fact that thousands of lives were lost while unquantified property perished within the period.
Few days after taking over the mantle of leadership in the state, he stunned his political supporters and foes alike when he led security agents to Zamfara forests in search of bandits terrorising the people.
Also, days later, in a collaborative move towards ending the growing rate of banditry and kidnapping in the state, Governor Matawalle visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja.
The governor met with the president in order to brief the latter on the control measures being taken against insecurity by the new administration in Zamfara.
Meanwhile, in order to demonstrate his political will to tackle banditry and kidnapping, the new governor suspended a first-class traditional ruler over alleged involvement with bandits in the state.
Now, relative peace has returned to the once troubled state, which attracted national and international attention owing to mindless killing of innocent Nigerians, a development that also threatened national food security drive as rural farmers were the worst hit by the menaces of cattle rustling, kidnapping and banditry. The good news is that bandits are now willingly releasing their kidnapped victims without any demand.
He promised to reinstate 1,400 civil servants unjustly relieved of their appointment by the immediate past Governor Abdulaziz Yari led government after a verification exercise. The state government under his stewardship has also settled the backlog of over N1billion debt in exam fees of senior secondary school students owed NECO and WAEC, which the previous government accumulated and couldn’t pay.
Of great economic importance to the state and the nation at large is the miraculous resuscitation of the Zamfara State Fertilizer Blending Company after 13 years of abandonment. It has now resumed production after it stopped working since 2006. The revival of the company followed a lifeline visit by the governor less than a week after his inauguration. This will get hundreds of Zamfara youths gainfully employed in the shortest time possible and as well, stem the tide of insecurity.
Matawalle has started assembling his team members and with the choice of persons so far, he has shown that he is taking the state to greater heights in no distant time. To the surprise of many, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda, a former minister of Finance, was appointed honorary special adviser to the governor.
The other appointees are, Alhaji Bala Bello Maru as the new secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Abubakar Dauran as senior special adviser on security matters while a former military administrator of Nasarawa State and a former minister of Environment, Col. Bala Mande (rtd) is Matawalle’s Chief of Staff.
It is therefore not surprising that for her part and in order to complement her husband’s effort to offer free healthcare services to women and children in the state, the wife of the governor, Hajiya Aisha Bello Matawalle, has promised to establish a Task Force to promote women empowerment and girl-child education in the state.
Zamfara and its people had being through a lot in the last few years, hence they deserve a better deal of good governance and security now and henceforth as started by Governor Matawalle, who has left no one in doubt that there is certainly a new Sheriff in town.
Tsiga wrote from Funtua.