Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State is on a flight of fancy. A fortnight ago, the governor doled out over 200 luxury cars to traditional rulers in an apparent show of affluence. The Cadillac 2019 Model cars were presented to 17 Emirs, 13 Senior District Heads and 230 District Heads across the state to appreciate them as the custodians of the peoples’ customs and tradition, as well as to woo them into the fight against banditry in the state.
The governor continued the spending spree last Wednesday with the sponsorship of 97 clerics to Saudi Arabia for the lesser Hajj to pray for the state against banditry and for peace in Nigeria.
While the governor’s intention was genuine, the manner in which he presented the gifts was wrong. Why would a governor give out luxury cars to monarchs who cannot maintain such luxury and those who could not even assure their own security? You don’t give a luxury car to a monarch who has no means of maintaining it. Also, flaunting wealth that is not even circulating in a poor state like Zamfara and anywhere in Nigeria for that matter, is quite unthinkable.
Although the governor is at liberty to extend goodwill to the monarchs, it should not be seen as a political gesture. It is wrong to play politics with the general insecurity in the state and the country as a whole. We however encourage governors to patronise locally-assembled automobiles, if they must give out cars, as is being done in the South-East, in order to grow the local automobile industry.
Now, Matawalle, who superintends over a state that has been under constant attacks by terrorists and local bandits, has indirectly attracted trouble to himself. The governor now has less than 10 more days to meet the deadline of a notorious terrorist, Nasanda, for a N30 million ransom over the alleged killing of his wife and two relations by the state vigilante corps. Apparently waiting to pick their own share of the supposedly new-found wealth, other terrorists might just be squaring up for their own shares of the largesse. Yet, Zamfara is one of the least developed states in Nigeria, despite the humongous amount of money being raked from its gold reserves.
While it must be stated that Zamfara does not own the gold reserves, which actually belong to the Federal Government, the state actually competes actively with private players in the lucrative gold business and was able to sell N5 billion worth of gold to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2020 alone.
Despite the resources at its disposal, however, and compared to other neighbouring states in the North-West geopolitical zone, Zamfara, which could afford to splash over N11 billion on a car bazaar for its monarchs and pay huge sums of money to pacify terrorists and local bandits, has only one university – the Zamfara State University, established two years ago and which currently operates from a primary school with only four permanent staff. Infrastructure development in the state is also at a zero level , except the cosmetic facelifts in Gusau, the state capital.
Despite all these, the fact remains that the Zamfara governor appreciates the importance of security, especially in a volatile state of his, having gone through constant ‘baptism of fire’ in the hands of rampaging terrorists who work in connivance with local bandits to make life unbearable for the vulnerable people of the state.
Just as the governor extended his largesse to the monarchs, security agencies in the state were not left unattended to. Over 200 security vehicles were given to the various security agencies in the state to help them in ensuring security in the state. This is highly commendable and this gesture should continue as development can only thrive in a peaceful environment.
Matawalle’s situation is understandable as he has been in the eye of the storm with terrorists making his state one of the most insecure states in Nigeria. Some of the monarchs had even been fingered as collaborators with the terrorists while some had been deposed after being found guilty of the accusation. Despite the resources deployed by both the Federal Government and the state to contain the terrorists, Zamfara has remained a hotbed of terrorism and local banditry in Nigeria. The governor has remained resolute and determined in the fight against insecurity as he even declared openly that he was no more ready to negotiate with the daredevil terrorists.
We implore the Governor Matawalle to remain focused and committed to this cause. He should also concentrate more on developmental projects and seek to liberate his people through education, instead of trying to score cheap political goals by ”settling” the monarchs and clerics whose contributions to the restoration of peace in the troubled state remain doubtful. While we believe in the efficacy of prayers, we want to state that the solution to the general insecurity, not only in Zamfara but in the entire country as a whole, requires more drastic actions rather than the car bazaar for the monarchs and sponsoring thousands of marabouts to the holy lands for special prayers.