By Yinka Odumakin
GOVERNOR Bello Matawalle has emerged as the new face of northern Nigeria we have been yearning for. Since Nigeria abandoned the path of federalism for unitary rule, it has witnessed a virtual collapse of productivity as most people now live on handouts in a rental economy.
As against the early years of independence when all sections of the country were involved in one productive activity or the other and generating, we have become the global headquarters of poverty as our economy is based virtually on commodities that we add no value to and return to us processed and we have to sweat to own.
This crisis has eaten up most of the country but is worst pronounced in the north where little or no serious economic activities are going on outside governments sharing money from federation account and being spending officers.
Even in the Southern part of the country, we have reached a point where young people now find idle life so attractive rather than a life of productivity. This is one of the major issues in restructuring campaign which essentially is about resetting to federalism that once made all sections of Nigeria productive.
The debate has been so enervating and unfortunately those who assumed the best life in this unproductive arrangement have of late been mouthing “we don’t understand what restructuring means.”
It has pleased God to bring Governor Matawalle of Zamfara to shut off such insincerity and I am so proud that he is a friend I met long before he became governor through my brother Bashir Hadeja.
We would spend hours upon hours at the Abuja residence of the former House of Representatives member and discuss till late in the evening sometimes on various national issues.
Then in 2019, he threw his hat in the ring for the governorship of Zamfara State. Interestingly, a Prophet told him he would become the next governor of the state and he went for the election and was declared the runner-up.
Those who were in the know of the prophecy went to ask the man that his word had fallen flat but he told them that Matawalle would still be the governor. And before anyone could call him a false prophet, the contradictions the now sacked APC chairman built up in the party matured and the court ruled it had no candidate for the election and ordered the runner-up be sworn.
“Barrister” Oshiomhole said INEC could not present Matawalle with certificate because he did not meet the constitutional spread to be governor in clear ignorance of the fact that once a party/candidate was disqualified, it is as if it never participated in the election. Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu read the law clearly and declared him winner.
After a year in the saddle, we met last week and spent almost three hours to review his report card and I was glad that he has turned Zamfara story from one in which you heard only of banditry and other criminal activities.
Matawalle is about to put Zamfara on the global map of state players in solid minerals in a country whose constitutional constraints had put its resources out of the hands of state actors but at the expense of criminals. It has in fact been established that the bulk of banditry in Zamfara State is alll around Gold.
Matawalle confirmed to me what has happened. He said: “I came in and saw the vast opportunities abounding in the state and what it could mean for our people and state as well as the Federal Government. Unfortunately, some people before us saw what they could benefit from the resources we have and decided to promote criminality in order to scare away investors.”
What did he do? He declared war on bandits in the state and started to recover the mineral fields from them ”But I know the limitations of that as killing bandits or putting them in prison has never cut the production line. It occurred to me there must be some way of stopping them at the lines by engaging these young people in productive activities before they are produced into criminal gangs.”
He developed a plan that would make the state an effective player in its solid minerals. He came across party line and approached the Presidency. The President who was impressed with what he had done to restore peace in the state gave him hearing and even took him along on a trip to Russia where he allowed him to speak on solid minerals.
He used the opportunity of the trip to show the President what can come of the soil of Zamfara. It impressed him as he spoke clearly about solid minerals in his “Democracy Day” speech.
All is getting set for pilot of prosperity we have always talked about under Federalism starting from Zamfara which should spread all over the country as we are about to see that “restructuring “ is not about “dividing” the country but bringing out the best of all sections under Federalism.
At the 2014 National Conference we displayed the list of solid minerals deposit of the north which showed that oil and gas is little or nothing but nobody looked at it because of the fixation on the immediate gratification of sharing of oil dollar monthly by gamblers in suit.
It has taken COVID-19 to show us how unreliable that mono product which we have wasted further billon dollars searching for all over the north in recent time. A far sighted Matawale told me ”Look at what is happening to the prices of other commodities under COVID -19 and take a look at the price of gold for instance. It has been going up and up. There is a great opportunity for us in solid minerals “
This gentleman will go down in history as the one who ended a great contention by practically opening our eyes to the reality of the wasted opportunities of the choice we have made over the years. And when anybody says he does not understand “restructuring “ again, we will ask him to go to Governor Matawale.
Speaking at a public lecture in Abeokuta, weekend, former President Olusegun Obasanjo warned that a bleak future awaits the country, owing to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he counseled that six areas needed quick attention.
“The first is food availability and security. The second is employment and job security. The third is change in the pattern and style of living, including travelling.
“The fourth is innovation, science, technology, digitalisation and artificial intelligence. The fifth is local content, raw materials and substitutes. The sixth is diversification of the economy and enhancement of export commodities.
“It is up to us to take these six areas very seriously. With good leadership and right policy and with the public and private sectors working together, and the civil society joining hand, all the six areas can be taken care of and we can safely put the pandemic behind and move the country forward,” the former president said.
According to him, “For us in Nigeria, we have no alternative but to get it right, otherwise, the future will be worse than the present that is uncertain and bleak with economic downturn and pervasive insecurity.”
Calling out Yahaya Bello
WHAT level of irresponsibility would make a state governor to be disputing the existence of coronavirus in his state as the pandemic kills people left, right and centre?
That is the question the country should ask the governor of Kogi, Mr Yaya Bello over his virulent denial of COVID-19 in his state. The governor was almost throwing punches at officials of disease control the other day when they visited the state in an exhibition of executive rascality.
Now the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Nasir Ajanah has entered the COVID witness boss to testify of the existence of the terrible disease. How many people that are not prominent have died in the state. How many people are living recklessly now at the word of their governor? Where on earth do we get these types as our leaders? Farewell, my Lord.