By Sola Olugbemiro
There was a time when Gusau the capital of Zamfara state was a haven of sort. And all the fourteen local governments of Zamfara state had Gusau to showcase as a peaceful part of the core northern states. And journeys from the capital Gusau to any part of the state had a fun filled moments with memorable scenery and a chance to see beautiful landscape and topography of the tribes up north.
But no one expected that such peace and tranquility could fast be eroded by the evil works and attack of villains and bandits.
The same peaceful Zamfara state suddenly was held at the neck by gruesome killings to the extent that the erstwhile governor before the incumbent declared that he would resign because he could not find a solution to tackling the evil attacks of the bandits.
The search of the natural resources in the state by locals and foreigners did not help matters as the race to riches found Zamfara state suddenly being home to strangers who lack moral scruples as wealth became a do or die affair!
On July 2019, the cry against the killings had reached its crescendo as the Senate Deputy Minority Whip, Sahabi Yau’, raised alarm over the increasing insecurity and bloodbath in Zamfara State. “The senator expressed concerns over what he described as the senseless attacks in the state, by bandits, and the alarming rate of bloodbath. While calling on the security operatives to step up their game with the view to returning the state to its old peaceful days, Yau also lamented the wanton destruction of economic activities in the state. He described the killings as unacceptable, the federal lawmaker called on all stakeholders to do everything within their reach to end the killings in Zamfara, and stressed that the search for an enduring peace is a task for all patriots to accomplish.
A year earlier July 2018 the Daily Independent newsaapaper captured the headline: Another Bloodbath In Zamfara As Gunmen Kill 31. The story had it that, “Zamfara State witnessed another moment of blood spill on Thursday when gunmen killed over 31 people in some communities in Maradun Local Government Area of the state. An eyewitness, Bawa Abdullahi, told Daily Independent that the unnumbered gunmen entered the villages and sacked the villagers, unleashing terror on them. He said the gunmen operated unchallenged by any security organ despite the subsistence of a curfew placed in the state. According to Abdullahi, the villages that were attacked included Sakkada, Gyadadde, Sabon Gari, Barin Zare, and Otawa villages. He said seven people were killed in Sakkada; four in Gyadadde; eight in Barin Zare; four in Sabon Gari, and eight in Otawa.”
And in between that one year before the incumbent Governor of the state Bello Matawalle assumed the Executive Governor of the ststa, Zamfara state had become a dreaded zone with the federal government forced to beam its radar on the state as it become worrisome on who could tame the ill wind and menace that had befallen the state.
And thank God Governor Bello Matawalle came to the rescue just at the nick of time. No sooner than he assumed duty, Governor Matawalle extended an olive branch to the bandits. He made peace deals with them.
The governor did not leave any stone unturned to ensure peace returns to the state. He went out of his way to physically condone with victims of violence and families of those attacked by bandits in some villages in the state.
He signed peace deal between his administration and leaders of repentant bandits in the state and openly declared that he would continue to honour the agreement reached with the bandits, who chose the path of peace, but would confront those, who reneged with the full force of the law.
He went as far as the villages of Unguwar Rogo, Karda, Bidda and Kajera under Tsafe Local Government Area as well as Kabaje of Kaura-Namoda LGA sympathizing with victims families.
It has not been unusual for him as he once said recently that, “I have been working round the clock, having sleepless nights, holding meetings with the security chieftains and other stakeholders. We have assurances from the leaders of Fulani groups who have embraced our peace overtures that they will reach out to the recalcitrant groups responsible for the attacks and persuade them to accept our peace pact. And we are committed to dialogue and reconciliation initiative, we will spare no effort in enforcing the security of lives and property of our people.”
And true to his words, Governor Matawalle has more or less brought down the crime rate in Zamfara state as normalcy returned months ago. People can be seen going about their day to day activities as more and more bandits get converted abandoning their erstwhile evil ways of living. Security has been beefed up all around the state as the governor continues to attract investment and development into the state.
The enabling peace that Zamfara state is presently enjoying today courtesy of Governor Matawalle has ensured that the state government has been able to make impact on curtailing the spread of Covid-19 in the state.
But more importantly has been the numerous milestones that Governor Matawalle has been able to achieve in the short term of his government so far.