The allegations and counter-allegations between the Zamfara State government, under the PDP-led administration of Dauda Lawal, and the immediate-past governor, Bello Matawalle, has continued to open up too big a can of worms as its festering pace has recently reached a crescendo, with the young state majorly at the receiving end of this tussle.
The blame game, which started soon after the new administration in the state entered office on May 29, 2023, continues to unravel things and dangerously hard-to-believe shockers that allegedly happened in the state under the Matawalle administration just at the time when Zamfara State was always on the front pages of newspapers for the unpalatable yet ravaging security issues and developmental challenges.
Indeed, the latest incontrovertible evidence released by the state government leaves behind weighty allegations against the former state governor, who is now the state minister of defence in the Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led federal government of APC.
For instance, following Matawalle’s denial of the allegation of embezzling billions from the proposed Zamfara Cargo Airport project, the Gov. Lawal administration released documents and evidence of approvals and releases of funds to the project that barely took off. Spokesman of the state governor, Sulaiman Bala Idris, in a statement, said it was a “blatant violation of trust” for Matawalle to refute the allegations.
“To avoid doubt, the embezzlement of resources from the people of Zamfara through the airport was just a tiny part of many other acts of theft and financial banditry committed against the people in various incomplete projects,” Idris was quoted in the statement as saying.
It goes without saying that the people of Zamfara would be very pained to hear these stories owing to their plethora of social and security plights, but ever since the release of such evidence, people have remained keen to hear further denial, probably, with similar facts, from their former governor.
A similar allegation exists pointing fingers at the former governor for awarding contract for the repair of Zurmi township roads to Ermano Global Enterprises shortly after its registration, which was clearly against the procurement law and the due process.
As if that was not enough, an allegation of the rehabilitation of Zurmi General Hospital in the contract awarded to BDC Nigeria Construction and Mech. Company Limited without due process was also dangled.
Similarly, Nigerians will hardly forget the EFCC’s disclosure of investigation of Matawalle in the alleged N70 billion fraud, which its Director of Public Affairs, Osita Nwaja, said were diverted from the state’s treasury.
The EFCC’s revelations came barely a day after the then outgoing governor called for the resignation of the then agency’s boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa, for what he put as Bawa soliciting bribe. It was a tit-for-tat tirade that lingered for some time.
Matawalle, later, headed to court to secure an injunction stopping the agency from proceeding with the said investigation.
Soon after, his name was enlisted amongst the first batch of ministers released by the Tinubu administration, a resultant stern rejection ensued by not only the people of Zamfara, but Nigerians alike.
Now, with the appointment of a new EFCC helmsman, Olanipekun Olukoyede, Nigerians are waiting to see the re-opening of the case and, indeed, many others levelled against the minister. The investigation will, at least, clear Matawalle’s name if he is not guilty as he has been insisting.
Suffice it to say that the Tinubu government should lead from the front in the much-talked fight against graft, more so when it involves its inner circle, to set an uncompromising example. Nigerians and the international community are keenly following the early direction of the administration, which is vital in determining its course.
Abdullahi Gidado wrote from Gusau and can be reached via [email protected]