ZAMFARA State, the 36th in alphabetical order among the 36 states of the Federation, is one of the youngest as well.
It was among the six states created on October 1, 1996, by the late General Sani Abacha, who also created the unofficial six geopolitical zones evenly distributed between the North and South.
Zamfara shot into controversial limelight on October 28, 1999, barely three years after it was created, when its first elected governor, Alhaji Ahmed Sani, the Yerimau Bakura, defied wise counsel and the existing laws of the country and declared ‘full Sharia’, a fad that soon spread to nine other Muslim-majority and three religious plurality states in the North.
Yerima, who had until recent events, been a senator after completing his eight-year two terms as governor of the State, maintained a strong control of its politics. He had passed the governorship of the State to his deputy, Alhaji Mahmud Shinkafi, in 2007.
But when Shinkafi was tired of his overbearing influence he decamped from the All Nigerian People’s Party, ANPP, to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
But during the 2011 governorship election, Senator Yerima successfully defeated Shinkafi through another ally, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, who has just stepped down after eight years.
During the 17 or so years when Zamfara State was under the direct or indirect influence of Yerima and his political group, Zamfara replaced Jigawa State which in 2007, was declared by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, as the poorest state in Nigeria.
Last year, Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, disclosed that Zamfara had 24 government hospitals but only 23 doctors. It receives the lowest cut-off points for admission in most external examinations.
Despite being one of the most natural resource-endowed states in the country with vast deposits of gold, lead and other minerals as well as arable lands that used to supply cotton to textile factories around the North in years past, Zamfara slumped into abject poverty.
Unsurprisingly, it attracted the presence of violent bandits from around the West Africa sub-region who have become another Boko Haram-like threat to the country.
The Supreme Court’s decision affirming that the All Progressives Congress, APC, did not hold any valid primaries and, therefore, nullified the election of its all candidates during the 2018/2019 transitional elections, effectively uprooted the Sani Ahmed Yerima political group from the state, for now.
It gives this embattled state a great opportunity for a new beginning.
The new Zamfara State Governor, Alhaji Bello Mohammed, Matawallen Maradun of the PDP, has a great opportunity to define a fresh developmental template for the state. He should commit strongly to ending the security crisis and make education his priority to pull the people out of darkness.
This opportunity should not be wasted.