By Tope Adeboboye, Assistant Editor, Features
HIS emergence as the governor of Zamfara State was quite serendipitous. Having taken the second position at the gubernatorial polls, Dr. Bello Mohammed Matawalle profited from the shenanigans of the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. The Supreme Court had ruled that the APC had no validly nominated candidates for the 2015 governorship election in the state, and Matawalle, the runner-up in the governorship polls, was proclaimed the new governor.
But at the time he mounted the saddle in Gusau on May 29 last year, his was hardly a desirable seat. Chaos and crisis pervaded the state. Bandits had, for years, taken charge of Zamfara, kidnapping, killing, robbing and maiming at will. Indeed, the entity that Matawalle met had descended into a Hobbesian state where life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
Interestingly, the governor hit the ground running. He started tackling the insecurity pervading the state as soon as he was sworn in. Days into his administration, the governor suspended two traditional rulers – Emir of Maru, Alhaji Abubakar Cika Ibrahim and the district head of Kanoma, Ahmad Lawal – over their alleged involvement in banditry. Shortly after, the governor met with President Muhammadu Buhari and requested the support of the Federal Government in his efforts to rid the state of bandits. He also met with security chiefs. The governor then reached out to the bandits, many of whom have since repented and surrendered their arms. At the moment, relative peace now reigns in a state hitherto bedevilled by acute insecurity.
Beyond that, the governor won the hearts of millions of Nigeria with the nullification of the pension law, which authorised the government to pay annual emoluments totalling about N700 million to former governors and other political leaders in the state. Each former governor was to receive N10 million every month, while generous amounts were also to be paid to ex-deputy governors as well as ex-speakers of the state House of Assembly and their deputies.
Matawalle was particularly lauded for his courage and selflessness, as he too would have benefitted from the humongous pensions at the end of his tenure.
Born on February 12, 1969 in Maradun, Matawalle was educated at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos and Thames Valley University, London. He is a former commissioner in Zamfara State as well as a former member of the House of Representatives.