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 peaceful environment 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 so far:
Using his versatile experience as former Chairman House Committee on Security and Intelligence for four good years to engage in round table discussions with key stakeholders, different security outfits, from the National Police Headquarters, Abuja, the IG of police, President Muhammad Buhari and the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Ex Minister of Defense, traditional leaders, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) leaders and CJTF and other key stakeholders. With every consultation, a fact stands out that the crisis has taken ethnic dimensions most especially after the creation of predominantly Hausa ‘Yan Sa-Kai vigilante groups by the former governor.
Matawalle brought the conditions of the rural areas and nomadic settlements who had hitherto been relegated educationally and economically to the front burner. He has created schools, clinics and earth dams for them. This is how the idea of Rural Grazing Areas (RUGA) came up as one of the solutions.
He ensured ‘Yan Sa-Kai local militia released Fulani captives which paved way for negotiation and led to the release of many captives from the bandits.
The Governor secured the release of twenty five Fulani abductees through the diplomatic approach. The abductees who were held hostages since 9th April, 2019 in Dansadau Emirate of Maru local Government area of the state were mostly women and children. And many more freed persons who hailed from Mai-Awaki village of Dan Sadau, Maru Local Government areas and others from Mutunji and Magama villages under Dansadau Emirate Council of Maru local government area. Matawalle also went on to secure release of ten foreign nationals.
Also victims of human trafficking from Zamfara were handed over to the state government at the Government House. The rescued victims were received by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Bala Bello Maru representing His Excellency Governor Bello Matawalle.
Not forgetting the five kidnapped victims were also rescued from Gidan Jaja axis and reunited with their families, with another set of 14 victims of kidnapping regaining their freedom from bandits including the District Head of Wuya Alhaji Umaru Usman following efforts made by His Excellency Governor Bello Muhammad (Matawallen Maradun) to secure their release. The freed captives all hail from villages in Anka Local Government Area, ten of them from Yar Tasha, three from Wuya and one from Ruwan Zabo.
These releases and several others not captured here for time constraints cumulatively totaled about 800 rescued kidnapped victims. With relative peace attained in many volatile areas, more than 25,000 displaced persons returned to their settlements. All these coming with recovery of numerous weapons from bandits and various cache of ammunitions.
In the area of education, Governor Bello Matawalle approved the promotion of 6709 primary school teachers who have 5 to 7 years unsettled backlogs of promotion and these have settled in September 2019, awarded contracts for the construction of 613 primary school classrooms across the state and the renovation of 342 others and equipping them with 14810 desks and chairs, 962 desks for staff and modern ICT centers. The sum of 4.5 billion has been earmarked for the project.
Alao the procurement of 2000 mattresses for GGUSS Kotorkoshi and fencing and renovation of the school. The Governor reinstated 556 teachers employed and dumped by the previous administration. The First Lady sponsored the scholarship of 41 orphans to complement the Governor’s effort.
Governor Bello Matawalle visited TETFund, and secured One Billion naira intervention for Abdu Gusau Polytechnic, Talata Mafara and Enlistment of ZAMSU, sponsoring foreign Scholarship for 200 students for undergraduate studies in Engineering, Medical Courses etc in India, Cyprus, Sudan and so on. He kick-started UBE pilot scheme for the construction of International Standard Primary School in Maradun.
In the area of health, Governor Matawalle’s government made procurement of 17 Ambulances distributed to Gen Hospitals in the state. Procurement of rural Tricycle Ambulances, renovation of Kagara hospital, award of contract for the completion of Shinkafi Orthopedic Hospital, procurement of ventilators, test kits, patient monitors and other live-saving gadgets for Covid19 and zero contact booth testing equipment, construction of Damba Infectious Disease Hospital, award of contracts for the construction of 147 primary health centres in each wards and procurement of beds for all the facilities, revived a contract for the completion of Shinkafi Orthopedic Hospital at a new agreed cost of 2.7bn Naira. Governor Bello Matawalle empowered the Zamfara State Drugs and Medical Consumables Management Agency with necessary inputs to produce drugs.
And he didn’t stop there, he has gone further, to invest in the state. Having created a viable environment for investment by ensuring security and the general safety of investors, employing open-door approach by Governor Bello Matawalle, many countries and NGOs now acknowledge the regained peace, serenity in Zamfara State and the efficient leadership and offer to contribute in developing entrepreneurial skills for youth employment and investment in Zamfara.
Governor Bello Matawalle has been showcasing Zamfara’s Investment potentials in the global horizon from the US during the 2019 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA74) to Russia-Africa Economic Summit and his tour to China from 23rd-24th December 2019.
During the series of the UNGA74 in September 2019 side events, Governor Matawalle had a meeting with business moguls and delivered a paper at African Investment Summit titled, “The Investment Climate and the Market of Zamfara State: The Opportunities for International Investment Partnership”, the paper which highlights Zamfara’s investment potentials in mining, agriculture and industrialization.
And the keeps reminding everyone that the best is still on the way