June 26, 2023

When fate had the last say in Zamfara


Gov Dauda Lawal


AT a glance, the title of this piece suggests something of a chronicle of the hurdles that the new Governor of Zamfara State had to scale before landing his mandate. This may well be the case. However, it will be greatly unjust to discuss Dauda Lawal Dare’s emergence as governor of the state without at least highlighting the failure that is the person of his predecessor, Muhammad Bello Matawalle.

If Dare was fated to be governor, then Matawalle was simply a child of destiny who happened to be in power. Sadly, like one whose palm kernel was graciously and perhaps undeservedly cracked by benevolent spirits, the Matawalle simply didn’t know what to do with power. Even the most sycophantic of Matawalle’s followers will agree that the man had only two preoccupations as governor of Zamfara State. At the beginning of his administration as a newly minted supreme court governor, his leadership model was characterised by the penchant for blaming even his most egregious failures on the past APC government. This lasted for his honeymoon period as a PDP governor. Then, he shifted to APC and voila, his lamentations and attacks shifted to PDP godfathers of his imagination.

Though, he was ostensibly seen as an unwanted guest in the APC, but he fought his way to ill-advisedly dine with his unrepentant political adversaries, who set stringent conditions for Matawalle’s return to their, APC fold. Suddenly, inebriated with power, he forgot his path and believe his new hosts will give him a smooth sail in 2023.

And it was in the middle of this chaotically unchecked failure of Matawalle that Dare’s ambition and acceptance rose like a phoenix from the ashes of ruin that Zamfara State had become under Matawalle. As expected, the attacks and campaign of calumny shifted from PDP godfathers to the shining star whose acceptance among Zamfara people was raucous and unapologetic.

There’s something about Dare that Matawalle could not understand, especially since he was never elected by the people of Zamfara State but foisted on them by the might of the Supreme Court. He, therefore, did not possess the tools to correctly analyse the imperative for the kind of widespread acceptance and love that Dare commanded as an aspirant and even now as a governor, albeit, early in his administration.

In retrospect, if Matawalle had a discerning mind, it would have occurred to him that the kind of vicious and, I dare say, pedestrian campaign that he sustained against the PDP and its guber flagbearer while hoping that the courts will somehow come to his aid as usual was responsible for driving the popularity of Dare even higher. Fortunately, the courts, being blind to sentiments, emotional blackmail and falsehood, stood strong on the side of the people. Not even the blackmail card, played as it were, with wild claims that the then PDP aspirant was sponsoring thugs into Zamfara State, was able to dim the lights of Dare. The rest, as they say, is history.

As one who never takes responsibility for his foibles, Matawalle blamed everyone but himself for his failure at the polls. The most sensationally outrageous tirade was that aimed at the APC government at the centre, which, he claimed, was responsible for his modest walloping at the polls. As one who predicted the fall of Matawalle, I’m even surprised that he polled that high number of votes looking at how repulsively pungent his failure smelled; which can be attributed to his power of incumbency.

Yet, because he lacked the capacity to swallow his bitter pills without complaints, Matawalle has gone to the streets again to cry to whosoever cares to listen that the cars retrieved from his home by the present government using the instrumentality of a valid order were not corruptly acquired with the shared patrimony of the people of Zamfara State. He claims they were part of his stock as a car dealer. The man must believe he’s funny enough to charm his way into our pity corner with such outrageous claims. Not even his claims that security forces executing a valid order of court looted everything, including jewelry belonging to his wives, can sway us into subscribing to this attempt to insult our collective sensibilities. Well, the police have challenged him to come forward and back his claims with evidence. But we all know he has none. Simply put: Matawalle’s ramblings amount to the wild thrashing of a drowning man.

The beauty of Dare’s victory, and I’m sure this fact has not been lost on the people of Zamfara, is that it’s not only Matawalle that has been drowned by his Dare’s emergence. This is because, in defeating the APC, Governor Dare has effectively put paid to the entire gang of erstwhile democratically elected governors as well as senators and other so-called strong men of Zamfara politics that have kept the state on her knees for over two decades. Symbolically, this is the first time since 1999 that the PDP will be taking over power from the APC in its various names of old through the ballot.

This is why the task ahead of Governor Dare is herculean, indeed. Thankfully, there’s enough evidence in the governor’s first days to suggests that he came prepared to uproot the misgovernance of previous governments. It’s not surprising then that his actions so far entailed valuable visits to strategic agencies of government like the Water Board, the Yariman Bakura Specialist Hospital, the Ministry of Finance, among several others, for a first-hand assessment of the level of rot in the state. Feelers from these visits have revealed the level of neglect and mindless rape that Matawalle and his co-travellers have subjected the state to.

Governor Dare has also been meeting with forward looking stakeholders to discuss his implementation plan for the total overhaul of the structure of criminality, dereliction of duty and total disregard to the plight of the people of Zamfara that characterised past administrations. Chief among this parley has been his meeting with members of the Zamfara State House of Assembly where he reiterated his commitment to the Zamfara Rescue Mission. His meeting with security chiefs also sends a clear signal that there’s a new sheriff in town. Indeed, these engagements have birthed very valuable policy directions that the governor is taking very seriously.

As a citizen of Zamfara State, it gives me great pleasure to be alive, to witness the possibility of a new Zamfara State. I’m even more elated to know that we have a governor whose stellar academic credentials can only be matched by his experience of public service which we are confident he will translate into the business of governance in the state.

It’s in this light that while Governor Dare is setting all machinery to swiftly get the state out of the woods, Matawalle and his legion should be reminded that Zamfara State is in safe hands and no amount of distractions and treacherous media hype will make our governor derail.

Kabiru, a political analyst, wrote from Gusau, Zamfara State