•ZAMFARA Governor, BELLO MATAWALE Explains
One of the biggest shocks of the last governorship election was the defeat of Zamfara state governor, Bello Matawalle. He lost to Dauda Lawal Dare of the People Democratic Party. Nobody saw the defeat coming. This is because Governor Matawalle was seen and regarded as one of the strongest northern APC Governors considering his popularity in the state and the enormous influence he was perceived to wield on the electorates. He was one of the northern governors that delivered his state for the winner of the presidential election, President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The APC won the presidential election convincingly in Zamfara state and so, many had dismissed any possibility of the PDP getting the upper hand at the governorship election. But, shockingly, that was exactly what happened.
Many have been wondering, what went wrong? How did governor Matawalle, a man believed to be hugely loved by his people and who supposedly had the backing of both the Zamfara elites and the masses to get a second term victory, lose at the polls? And it becomes even more puzzling when you consider that, just a coupl of weeks before then, he had delivered to President-elect Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the presidential election. A fe days ago, the Governor himself shed some light on all that went down during the governorship election in Zamfara State.
The goverrnor made some startling revelation when he said his opposition to the Central Bank’s new naira policy cost him his reelection bid at the March 18 Governorship election. He also said Zamfara saw more military personnel deployed during the election than when the State Government requested military assistance to route out insurgents. According to him, the security situation would have been better than it is today had the military been deployed earlier.
“What’s being said is that we went to the court over new naira notes redesign. They said myself, Ganduje, and El Rufai would be punished accordingly,” Matawalle said in an interview with DW Hausa. The PUNCH reported that Matawalle who ran in the All Progressives Congress ticket, who polled 311,976 votes, lost to Dauda Lawal-Dare of the Peoples Democratic Party who garnered 377,726 votes.
Matawalle emerged governor in 2019 on the PDP ticket after a court of appeal judgment nullified the APC primary elections which made Muktar Idris the candidate and winner of the election. Speaking on DW Hausa, the governor argued that “We have had security challenges in Zamfara State, and we’ve been asking them to send soldiers to us, but they didn’t.
“But three days to the (governorship) election, they sent over 300 vehicles conveying soldiers into Zamfara.
“Such a high number of soldiers. If they could send them to us to fight insecurity, it would be better. But they only sent them during elections.” He accused the Buhari regime of bullying the Zamfara electorate into voting the opposing PDP through heavy military presence.
“They were over 50 soldiers in our polling unit in Zamfara. They were even straight about it that those voting for APC would not be allowed to vote. When I saw that (the heavy deployment of soldiers), I knew they were up to something. That was why it didn’t bother me because I received an intelligence report on what they were going to do against me. Not only myself, but other governors that did something that is considered wrong.
“People were harassed and beaten because they wanted to vote for APC. We all have this evidence on video. When we called soldiers to come to our aid, they didn’t come. But I have left everything to God,” he explained.
But, Matawalle has taken the defeat in good faith. He said despite his loss, the presidential victory of the APC’s Bola Tinubu is enough consolation for him. It was a feat that brought him great joy and personal fulfilment.
He expressed his feelings the way. “Correct, we delivered Zamfara State to the APC during the presidential election. But we lost the governorship. Nevertheless, we are happy about his emergence. If he didn’t win it would have been more painful for us. But I am not worried at all,” he explained.
Already, there are speculations that Matawalle will get a ministerial appointment under the Tinubu administration to compensate him for his hardwork, tenacity and the victory he gave the President-elect at the polls. It is very likely that Matawalle will serve as a minister in the first term of the Tinubu admisteration and then resign his appointment to go contest again for the governorship of Zamfara state, just like former governor Kayode Fayemi after he lost Ekiti to former Governor Ayo Fayose in 2015. Surely, within nthe next couple of months, it will b ecome clear how things will pan out for Governor Matawalle, a man the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is so frateful to for his significant contributions to his emergence as the President-elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
– WALE LAWAL
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