Deji Elumoye in AbujaGovernor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State has disclosed that a total of 300 people have been rescued by the state government from cattle rustlers, bandits and kidnappers.
The victims, he said, were rescued less than two months of his coming into office.
The governor, who made this known in Abuja at the weekend while signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the President of Africa Export Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), Prof Benedict Oramah, for the bank’s investment of $1 billion in critical sectors of the state, stated that his administration had secured the release of 300 people who had for long been held captive by kidnappers, rustlers and bandits.
According to him, those held captive were released without the payment of any ransom by the state government.
He said: “Our administration is committed to give a full secured state and we have started that by engaging the bandits in peace, which they have accepted to lay down their arms.
“As at today, we have secured the release of over 300 people that are under captivity. The securing of the release of these people was done without any commitment; no single kobo or ransom was paid to the bandits. So we assure you that Zamfara State is safe for investors, they can come to the state. The state government is committed to making sure that everything is out in place to guarantee their security.”
Speaking on the bank’s proposed investment of $1 billion in the state, the governor disclosed that discussion on the development-driven investment started a fortnight ago when he and other state officials, “met with some AFREXIM BANK people in Dubai through the facilitation of the Managing Director of Heritage Bank who promised to connect us with Afreximbank President which culminated in the $1 billion investments the bank has decided to bring to the state”.
According to him, the investment wouldn’t have been possible if the problem of insecurity was not tackled.
According to him, “Zamfara State, as you are all aware, had so many issues before my emergence as the governor, for which reason and to limited time, just a month, God helped us to tackle some of these issues.
“Today, we can call Zamfara State a peaceful state in Nigeria. For your information, for the first time in four weeks, there has been no report of any incident like kidnapping, killing or killing of citizens.”
Matawale expressed gratitude to the bank for the investment of about $1 billion to cover manufacturing, power, infrastructure, mining and agriculture.
“We assure you that we have all the potentials to utilise the said funds in order to move Zamfara State forward,” he said.
Speaking earlier, the bank’s President, Prof Oramah, said the bank’s investments will cut across manufacturing and other sectors in the state for the purposes of opening it up for the required development as against poverty-driven violence.
According to him, the MoU on the multifaceted investments is anchored on Public Private Partnership (PPP) requiring the Zamfara State Government and Afreximbank to leverage on the resources in the state for the general good of the people there and beyond.
He said: “We had a very fruitful meeting with the delegation from Zamfara State led by the governor. In AFREXIM BANK, we are pleased that the leadership of Zamfara State has a clear vision.
“They have identified clearly the strengths of their state, the opportunities and what they need in unlocking these opportunities. They have decided to take their own destiny in their hands, which is actually the foundation of the federal structure that we operate in Nigeria, that states should do all they can to maximise the use of the resources they have for the benefit of their people, so that collectively, we can grow the economy of Nigeria to become more than what it is today.
“So we are proud to be in a very serious discussion with Zamfara State in various areas. We have discussed partnership covering solid minerals where Zamfara State has significant strength. We are looking foreword to work with Zamfara State and our partners to further map the resources and monetise them as quickly as possible.
“We also discussed resources partnership in the area of agriculture and water to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities presented by the system in Zamfara State, not only to generate electricity but also for agriculture.
“In particular is the plan on partnership for reviving the cotton industry in Zamfara State. There is no reason why Zamfara State cannot produce cotton as Republic of Benin which is now the largest producer of cotton in Africa.
“There is no reason why Zamfara State cannot produce more cotton than Burkina Fasso or Mali do today. Everything is there in Zamfara State and history is on its side.
“We also discussed how to support Zamfara State with regards to animal husbandry and production of beef using modern facilities. We are really proud of the success that the government of Zamfara State has achieved within a very short time in resolving the security situation.
“What that demonstrates is that good leadership at the state levels can help us deal with the security challenges that is currently plaguing many parts of the country. Zamfara is a secured state, secured environment that can attract the kind of environment we are talking about.
“So, altogether, the investments we have discussed which we prioritise based on the speed of having to get them done amounts to about $1 billion. We will work very actively with our partners and the government to make sure that we make Zamfara State a shining example of what can be achieved if the government of the different states look inwards and leverage the resources they have for the betterment of their people and we believe that the commitment we have seen so far would lead to the results that all of us will be proud of.”