By Sulaiman Bala Idris
In an interview with DW Hausa service, the outgoing Zamfara state governor, Bello Mohammed Matawalle, made an outrageous claim on why he lost his reelection bid. He insinuated that military might was used to thwart his chances.
Matawalle’s defeat was the most significant shock of the 2023 general election. He was defeated by an ex-banker the APC bloc ridiculed as an amateur politician who lacked the requisite experience to win a local government election. In a twist of events, the inexperienced politician was officially announced as the governor-elect of the State.
What happened in Zamfara was a gang-up that comprised an incumbent, three former governors, and all political actors against a freshly baked politician who joined the game in 2018. It is indeed a political upset of the century written boldly in the political history of Zamfara.
Matawalle and the APC had tried all possible ways to manipulate the process, from trying to disrupt voting to hijacking the collation of the results from polling units, wards, and local governments.
This is the same Matawalle that allegedly abducted the INEC returning officer of his hometown, Maradun local government, to rewrite the result and allocate unimaginable fake votes to himself—all thanks to the IREV portal for the rescue.
It is hard to believe that a chief security officer of a state ravaged by banditry would publicly claim that 50 soldiers were deployed in every polling unit across the state. That statement is enough reason why the people of Zamfara rejected Matawalle. It indicated that he is ignorant of the security architecture of the country, including the total number of active personnel in each of the security outfits.
Zamfara State has a total number of 3,529 polling units. I don’t know who taught the governor basic mathematics, but he must be an awful teacher. If you multiply 50 by 3,529, you will have 176, 450.
Governor Matawalle’s analogy is that 176, 450 soldiers were deployed to Zamfara. Should we tell him the truth or let reality wake him from slumber? The best option for him is to quietly respect the people’s will and retire in silence and save himself from further embarrassment.
The Nigerian Military has about 230, 000 active personnel, and technically governor Matawalle wants to prove a point that only 53,550 soldiers were deployed to other states across Nigeria on the day of the governorship election; the remaining 176, 450 personnel were actively deployed in Zamfara.
At this point, it’s difficult for any sensible person to logically comprehend the end Matawalle is trying to prove by his words because it defies logic and common sense. Though, he has, on several occasions, proven to be reckless in his actions and even words. We can overlook some statements from a governor who believed that defecting to the ruling APC was an automatic renewal of his second-term bid. He must still be in great shock. But reckless statements capable of distorting facts are what will never be condoned.
The verdict for Governor Matawalle’s claim is FALSE. Not a primary school student will comprehend that ridiculous claim. The governor is out for cheap sympathy. His effort was to change the narrative that he was rejected and defeated by the people.
The resilient people of Zamfara blocked all rooms for manipulations, and it was not business as usual. Of course, the teeming youths of Zamfara state who were fed up with Matawalle’s leadership style are responsible for his loss. Pensioners whose money was withdrawn from the pension scheme and nowhere to be found were also a party to his defeat.
Above all, what happened to Matawalle was divine. Lest he forgets, he was captured in a clip saying: “If I ever betray PDP, may I not live in peace for the rest of my life, I swear by Allah. If I can leave PDP or cheat any of our members, May Allah punish me”.
Enough talk, Mr. Governor. It is time to reflect and repent. It is a new dawn for Zamfara State.
*Bala writes from Gusau, Zamfara State.