GOVERNOR BELLO MATAWALLE: REDEFINING THE FRONTIERS OF GOVERNANCE AND DEVELOPMENT
By Muhammad, Bashir Maru
His Excellency, Dr. Bello Muhammad Matawalle, emerged Governor of Zamfara State when the state was on the brink of socioeconomic collapse. Prior to May 29th, 2019, Zamfara citizens were marooned between the devil and the deep blue sea: this was literally symbolized by the pillaging administration of former Governor Abdulaziz Yari on one hand and the rampaging bandits unleashing terror on another end.
Zamfara was hitherto synonymous with sanctioned state looting, banditry, endemic poverty, hunger, disease, palpable social discontent and all-round retrogression. It boasted of the highest maternal and infant mortality rate in Sub-Saharan Africa; an incontestable position down the ladder of human development index, and other accompaniments of failed leadership.
But when His Excellency Dr. Matawalle heeded the divine call, he hit the ground running. Within one year, the gloomy trends have been supplanted by a new era of peace, progress and prosperity for all.
Today, Zamfara is earning accolades as a global model for good governance. Governor Matawalle’s achievements have stunned critics and cynics, restored hope to a fragmented populace and set Zamfara on the pedestal of socioeconomic recovery and growth.
It is noteworthy to highlight some key achievements of the Governor Matawalle Administration in just one year, as follows:
Considering that sustainable development cannot be achieved amid insecurity, Governor Matawalle moved to address the lingering insecurity challenge, which had cast Zamfara negatively in the global spotlight.
The Governor met with President Muhammad Buhari and Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. He also met with the Service Chiefs; the Hon. Minister of Defence; traditional rulers, community and religious leaders; leaders of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN); Civilian Joint Tax Force (CJTF) and other notable stakeholders. His subsequent negotiations facilitated the release of over 800 captives, including several expatriates, by bandits.
To consolidate the new found peace, the Government spearheaded the disarmament of bandits, resulting in the handover of a cache of sophisticated arms and ammunition to the State Government.
Furthermore, over 200 surveillance vehicles, equipped with hi-tech security gadgets, were procured for distribution, to boost the capacity and morale of security forces. That’s in addition to deployment of drone technology. Today, Zamfara is peaceful, with over 25,000 persons hitherto displaced returned to their homes, and hundreds held captive reunited with their families.
No society advances above the educational level of its citizens. Hence, in its 2020 Budget, the Government allotted 19% to Education, the highest provision in the state’s history. From this, N7 billion was earmarked for renovation of science schools and training of science teachers. The provision also covers renovation of five secondary schools, with all public primary schools earmarked for remodeling.
Furthermore, the Governor approved the promotion of 6,709 primary school teachers who had 5 to 7 years backlog of promotions, and their salary arrears cleared in September 2019. In addition, 556 teachers neglected by the previous administration, were reinstated, and over 200 students granted educational scholarships to study abroad. To complement Government’s efforts, the First Lady, Hajiya Aisha Bello Matawalle, placed 41 orphans on academic scholarships.
Moreover, Governor Matawalle awarded contracts for the construction of 613 primary school classrooms, while equipping them with 14,810 desks and chairs; 962 desks for staff and modern ICT centres. N4.5 billion was earmarked for the execution of these projects.
Governor Matawalle further visited TETFund, where he secured One Billion Naira Intervention Fund for Abdu Gusau Polytechnic, Talata Mafara and the enlistment of Zamfara State University by NUC.
Health, they say, is wealth. The leadership of Governor Matawalle accorded priority attention to revitalizing the once moribund health sector. 17 ambulances were immediately procured and distributed to General Hospitals across Zamfara.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, Zamfara State Government promptly constructed and equipped the Damba Infectious Disease Center; purchased hundreds of tricycle ambulances for distribution to health centres and procured ventilators, patient monitors and COVID-19 Zero-Contact Booths Testing equipment. Hence, Zamfara successfully discharge all its cases of COVID-19.
Contracts were also awarded for completion of Shinkafi Orthopaedic Hospital and construction of 147 Primary Health Centres in the respective Local Government Wards, along with procurement of beds for all the facilities. The construction of Kagara Hospital has since been completed.
To boost life expectancy in Zamfara, Governor Matawalle kick-started the establishment of ultramodern Women and Children Hospitals across the 14 Local Governments of Zamfara, at a free cost for pregnant mothers and children under five.
Urbanization and Critical Infrastructure
Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State, now wears a new look. Governor Matawalle has executed several impactful projects, including:
- Completion of Canteen Daji Area road rehabilitation;
- Completion of Kwanar Inno Doya, Sabon Gari Road via Sarkin Tasha Mosque, Sardauna Bread linking up to Late Ladan Mada House;
- Completion of road from Old Motor Park near Auwal Bread, beside the railway, linking up to CIS, up to the Government House Road, opposite Jifatu Supermarket;
- Completion of a suburban close along Kantin Sauki line, via the house of Liman Dan Alhaji Sambo, linking up to the Emir’s Palace Mosque;
- Kanwuri Gusau; Tudun Wada; Sabuwar Hanya; completion of road down to Tsamiya Masaka, linking up to Koramar Boko House, also linking up to Sunny Fast Food.
Furthermore, Governor Matawalle synthesized a Rural Transformation Scheme modeled after the Directorate of Foods, Roads and Rural Infrastructures of 1986. Several projects are in progress in many rural areas of Danmarke, Kadaddaba, Ruwan Doruwa, Kanoma, Gwaram and Yardanya, among others.
In pursuit of a robust rural remodeling program, the adroit leadership of Dr. Matawalle identified a plethora of gains in the Rural Grazing Areas program, as a masterstroke to end frequent clashes between herders and crop farmers, while opening massive vistas of investment and employment.
The project will boast of integrated settlements; properly equipped Schools; a veterinary clinic; an earth dam; cattle cottages; grazing yard; abattoir; mosques; cemeteries; overhead tanks; irrigation system; milk collection centre; assorted animal feed processors; traditional community/social arena etc., that make for a good life, sustainable development and catalytic wealth creation. Today, the pilot project in Maradun is at 80% completion. The project will be replicated across the three senatorial districts of Zamfara State.
Industrialization and Foreign Direct Investments
Governor Matawalle maintains an eagle eye for investment opportunities. Upon creating a viable environment for investments by enhancing security, practicing an open-door approach and provision of robust infrastructure; many countries, NGOs and Development Partners now offer to contribute in developing entrepreneurial skills for youth empowerment.
Governor Matawalle is also showcasing Zamfara’s Investment potentials on the global horizon; from the 2019 UN General Assembly in the United States, to the Russia-Africa Economic Summit; and China from 23rd to 24th December 2019, to promote Zamfara State’s potentials in mining, agriculture and industrialization.
In Beijing, China, the Governor wooed investors for a win-win partnership in solid minerals development, stressing that 50% of the 34 commercial minerals listed in Nigerian are found in Zamfara; including gold, zinc, columbite, silver, gypsum, limestone, copper, tantalite and barite. The governor promised added incentives for prospective investors.
Back home, Governor Matawalle laid the foundation for a N9 billion 3-Star Hotel under a Public Private Partnership agreement. This will create more employment opportunities; as several national and international programmes and other VIP occasions could be hosted in the state.
To spur industrialization, Zamfara State Government signed an MoU with African Export-Import Bank in October, 2019. Governor Matawalle also secured a 1 Billion US Dollar investment input to facilitate trade and industry; through revival of cotton production, animal husbandry, beef processing and exploring opportunities in minerals and water resources.
Indeed, a new Zamfara State is being built. With the successes recorded so far, we can boldly say that Zamfara is lighting the pathway in the journey of people-driven leadership, geared towards engendering a greater Nigeria.
Dr. Bashir Maru Muhammed is the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Zamfara State Governor and can be reached via [email protected]