Nigeria: Muhammad Badaru – From Governor of Northwest’s ‘Island of Peace’ to Defence Minister

Muhammad Badaru was governor of Jigawa State for two consecutive terms from 2015 to 2023

Residents of Jigawa State were not surprised when President Bola Tinubu nominated their immediate past governor, Muhammad Badaru, for ministerial appointment. After all, he was the leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the North-western state.

Mr Badaru left office in May at the height of his political power in Jigawa, having virtually handpicked Umar Namadi, a member of the political movement that he founded – the ‘Badaru Disciplines’ – as his successor.

Unlike in some other states, none of the political elites in Jigawa challenged Mr Namadi’s nomination. One of the leaders of his group, Zakari Kafin-Hausa, a contractor and politician, was among those who quickly commended the president for the appointment, describing the former governor as a grassroots politician and easygoing person.

However, many eyebrows were raised over his posting to head the defence ministry, given that he was known only as a businessman before he joined politics. Mr Badaru was a dealer in metal scraps before he built his Talamiz Nigeria Limited into a building conglomerate.

He has now joined a long list of Nigerian politicians appointed to head the defence ministry without having a background in the security sector. This has led to concerns in some quarters about his capability to deliver on the job at a time Nigeria is facing diverse security challenges.

Nigeria’s Northwest geopolitical zone is under the siege of terrorists, locally called bandits. Mass abduction and kidnapping for ransom are rampant in five of the seven states in the region – Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto, Katsina and Zamfara. The two exceptions have been Mr Badaru’s Jigawa and its sister state of Kano – the two were a single state until they were split in 1991.

Former President Muhammadu Buhari, appointed a retired army general from Zamfara State, Masur Dan-Ali, as defence minister in his first term between 2015 and 2019. Within that period, the minister’s home state became the epicentre of banditry, despite the Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Abubakar, also being appointed from the state.

It was thought that the security crisis heightened in Zamfara at the time because Governor Abdulaziz Yari and Mr Dan-Ali were not ready to work together to address the crisis. Mr Yari usually absolved himself of blame by pointing out that he had no control over security personnel despite being the chief security officer of the state, while Mr Dan-Ali alleged a lack of political support for his plans from the state government.

Jigawa also recorded cases of violence by non-state actors between 2015 to 2016 in Gwaram Local Government Area where kidnappers called ‘Yan Leda’ were active. But between 2017 and early 2018, the criminals faded out. Mr Badaru, at that time, credited his own political will for the development.

Last February, Mr Badaru told the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council’s (PEBEC) ‘Business Made Easy’ team how his state managed to keep itself relatively safe from banditry in the North-west region.

He said the atrocities were not experienced in Jigawa because his government had addressed the roots of banditry.

He said the administration of Saminu Turaki (1999-2007) “allowed the Fulani to use cattle routes and to some extent forest reserves’, while disputes between farmers and herders were discussed and resolved amicably.

“When Sule Lamido (2007-2015) came, he continued with the initiative, he started providing water in grazing reserves and building schools for nomads. When I came in, I continued with the provision of water and demarcation of cattle routes,” Mr Badaru said.

“We introduced mobile veterinary services in 30 wards that enable the herders to get veterinary services in their own villages, giving the herders a sense of belonging.”

Mr Badaru said the policy averted cattle rustling and killings, adding that it provided the basis for the peace the state was enjoying today.

“If suspicious characters come to Jigawa, we get information from resident Fulanis that such people have arrived and we don’t trust them,” he said.

Mr Badaru said the absence of a similar policy in some states led to banditry that is now rampant in those states.

“But this was not handled well in other places and that was why, probably, you see the escalation. And some states got affected by the menace due to their proximity to the banditry-prone states. If they had treated the issue the same way as Jigawa did, that could not have happened,” he said.

Truly, in his tenure as governor, Jigawa was one of the relatively peaceful states in the North-west. Should this offer hope that his coming on board as defence minister will positively impact Nigeria’s security situation, especially in the Northwest?

Promises to review past reports on insecurity

Mr Badaru and his minister of state, Bello Matawalle, on Tuesday, assumed office at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.

Mr Badaru, in his remarks shortly after officially taking over from Ibrahim Kana, the permanent secretary in the ministry, pledged to review past reports on insecurity in the country.

He said they would not betray the trust of President Tinubu and charged the service chiefs to give him a timeline and requirements to solve Nigeria’s security challenges.

“This timeline and target will be passed on to the president, and trust he will be monitoring us.”The president is ready to give us all the needed support to achieve success because he is an achiever and doesn’t have the patience for failure.

“For the sake of our country, we know that without security, there will be no investment, and without investment, there will be no economic growth,” Mr Badaru said.

The minister assured that his tenure would bring about a remarkable change in the country’s security situation and pledged not to joke with the appointment.

Defence ministry leadership

A mix of security sector professionals and politicians from different backgrounds have run the defence ministry since Nigeria returned to the democratic system of governance in 1999.

The first president, Olusegun Obasanjo, a former army general, appointed another former army general, Yakubu Danjuma, as the defence minister until 2003 when he replaced him with a former governor of Kano, Rabiu Kwankwaso.

Yayale Ahmed, who later left the position to become secretary to the government of the federation, succeeded Mr Kwankwaso in 2007 and held the position until 2008. Mustapha Shettima headed the ministry from 2008 to 2009; Godwin Abbe from 2009 to 2010; and Adetokunbo Kayode from 2010 to 2011.

A retired customs officer, Bello Halliru, was the defence minister from 2011 to 2014 and was succeeded by a retired army general, Aliyu Gusau, who headed the ministry until the end of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in 2015.

Mr Dan-Ali, also a retired general from Zamfara, succeeded Mr Gusau while Bashir Magashi from Kano State, also a retired army officer, succeded Mr Dan-Ali

Profile of the new defence minister

Born on 29, September 1962 in Babura Local Government Area of Jigawa State, the new defence minister attended Babura Central Primary School from 1970 and proceeded to the famous Rumfa College, Kano where he completed his secondary education in 1981.

He proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria for his advanced level and later graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accountancy in 1985.

He was employed in the old Kano State civil service as an auditor with the audit department of the Ministry of Finance. He later resigned and established his own business. He incorporated Talamiz Nigeria Limited, which later gave birth to subsidiaries such as Talamiz Motors, Talamiz Consumer Company, Talamiz Transport, Talamiz Commodities, Talamiz Properties, Talamiz Poultry and Farms, and Talamiz Petroleum.

Others in the group include Talamiz Oil Mill Limited, Socar Talamiz Limited, RMR Shipping Bv, AML Bonded Terminal, and ALUAFRIC Cairo. Mr Badaru was also a director of Sahih Nigeria Limited.

He was the President of the Jigawa State Chamber Of Commerce Industries Mines And Agriculture; President of the Nigeria Association Of Chambers Of Commerce, Industries, Mines And Agriculture (NACCIMA); president of Nigeria-Niger Chambers of Commerce; President of the Northern States Chamber of Commerce; Chairman of Board Of Trustees of Northern States Chamber Of Commerce; and Chairman National Association of Road Transport Owners Jigawa State.

Mr Badaru served as a member of the presidential advisory committee on the Industrial Revolution Plan. He was also a board member of the Nigeria/America Chambers Of Commerce and Nigeria Institute Of Industrialist & Corporate Administration. He was also a Board Member of the Nigeria – Belgium Chambers Of Commerce, a member of the National Privatization Council, a member of the National Council on NSME, and a delegate at the National Conference of 2014.

He was a director with the Africa Merchant Bank Limited and Bank of the North Limited, now Unity Bank Plc, and the patron of the Rice Farmers Association, Kano, and the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Jigawa State.


Mr Badaru is a fellow of the Association of National Accountants Of Nigeria, FCNA, and a holder of the title of Member of the Order of the Niger, conferred on him in 2006.

Mr Badaru first ran for governor in 2011, under the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) but lost the general election to Governor Sule Lamido of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP. Four years after in 2015 he won the seat under the All Progressive Congress (APC).

He was the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Fertiliser and also the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Nonoill Revenue. He chaired the National Election Convention Committee of the APC and was the Chairman Election Committee of the APC.


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