Salis Muhammad Moriki
I have to start by recognising the members of the very committee that worked helter skelter and tirelessly for the actualisation of Zamfara State under the chairmanship of one of the most honest people Nigeria has ever produced, Late Mallam Yahaya Gusau. Those that are dead among them, may Allah grant them Jannah Firdausi, and those alive, I wish them long life and good health.
When Zamfara State was created, none of its indigenes and their well wishers were not happy. Because in this part of the world or in Nigerian set up, development goes with government being in your hands. As soon as Late General Sani Abacha (RahimahulLAH) announced the creation of our state and Gusau as its capital, with 14 Local Government Councils on 1st October, 1996, we went into jubilation and celebration. Though, I was young and full of youthful exuberance at that time, I knew creation of a state had many advantages. At that time, those working for the old Sokoto State and many indigenes scattered across the federation knew what I am talking about. Being independent and free is something very important.
THE 1st ADMINISTRATION OF COL. JIBRIL BALA YAKUBU
After he was announced as the Military administrator of Zamfara State, he assumed duty with full force and determination. Although there was constraint by very limited financial resources, Colonel JB Yakubu could be remembered for his efforts and doggedness in establishing various government structures in the State. Kudos should be given to those patriotic indigenes, who donated their buildings and resources and even rented them to the Government at very lower price. Much could not be achieved during this administration apart from establishments of structures for government to take off, and also sharing our resources with the senior sister State, Sokoto. Despite being an indigene of Nasarawa State, Col. Jibril Bala Yakubu exhibited high level of love and patriotism for Zamfara State and it’s people.
DEMOCRACY AND 1st INDIGENOUS GOVERNOR ALHAJI AHMAD SANI YARIMA IN THE STATE.
We woke up in the morning of 8th July 1998 with a sad news that our President, General Sani Abacha had passed away in a mysterious way. That changed the focus of Nigeria’s Government and policies. Immediately after his predecessor, General Abdussalami Abubakar was sworn in as the Head of State, he mapped out the plans that metamorphosed the country into a democratic nation, Olusegun Obansajo as the President and Senator Ahmad Sani Yarima as the Executive Governor of the State.
The tenure of Governor Ahmad Sani Yarima would be remembered for many things, prominent among which is the introduction of Sharia. Before Sharia was introduced, Zamfara State was nothing but just a state. Not many people knew its existance, especially those from the South and few from the North. But after the introduction of shari’a legal system, not only Nigeria, the whole world, knew about Zamfara State. This gave the Governor privilege to be honoured by the Saudi authority by leading him into Ka’aba. Indeed, this is an honour given to whom honours are due. Former Governor Ahmad Sani Yarima, a Prince and economist, he led the state with so much energy. He was everything as a Governor. His Government was more of typical example and replica of a government of stomach infrastructure. He didn’t mind concentrating on physical development. Despite being a new state, he engaged so much on social welfare to the extent that he won the loves and supports of the common man. He extravagantly spent the state’s resources in that area. Many people secured loans from the state through MDAs he established, but refused to service the loans and the Government had forgiven them.
However, Ahmad Sani Yarima gave education much priority. He introduced so many measures to encourage the youths to go to school, among which, was monthly stipends for tertiary students apart from scholarship. I could remember in 1999 in my school, admission was released but there was no Zamfara state indigenes in my department and some other departments, except few of us, because no one applied. The school authority sent a delegation to the state government informing them of the development, so that Zamfara indigenes would be sent to the school to fill their quota. And that’s what happened. Before we graduated, If Zamfara indigene was looking for admission, he faced difficulty because there were many seeking for the admission. I believe t his was as a result of the measures taken by the government. So also agriculture was at its peak. He gave many people loan to boost their produce. Many people were engaged. I could remember in 2002 or 2003, figures from the Federal Ministry of labour and productivity showed that 76.6% of Zamfarans were employed and productive.
The eight years of Ahmad Sani was that of dictatorship. He was the Governor alone. Despite the presence of many prominent senior citizens of Nigeria in the state like General Aliyu Gusau and others, they hardly had say in the affairs of the state except, perhaps, lobby. The Governor had stepped on many toes. He was the alpha and omega. He was fearless. This can be testified after the introduction of Sharia legal system in the state. The whole world; Federal Government, international community, organisations and other individuals were against him, pressurising him to compromise and relinquish the policy, some through moral suasion, others harshly, but he stood his ground since his people were behind him.
He left the State in a state of bankruptcy due to his extravagance and without much to show in terms of physical infrastructures, but as a hero with many followers. He was the most popular person in the state. He’s the most prominent politician in the state. His deputy, Mamuda Aliyu Shinkafi succeeded him via the influence of his Late brother, Marafan Sokoto, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi.
MAHMOOD SHINKAFI AS A GOVERNOR
After he succeeded his master, things had changed drastically. Many people believed he would follow the path of his predecessor, but proved them wrong. He didn’t engage in stomach infrastructure, he was more of provision of physical development and metamorphosing the state from micro economy to macro economy through establishment of solid mineral processing companies and international cargo airport that never was. And that was what the state needed. He renovated many schools to high standard as tertiary schools in the South, even though, no qualified teachers. More capital projects were initiated like cargo airport, investment house and ministry of finance, but due to time constraint, partial recession and corruption in the administration as he was not fully in charged of his government, those projects were abandoned.
Mahmud Shinkafi was too soft to be a leader. He was kind as a person, but too weak as a leader. His tenure was characterised by political crisis between his followers and that of his predecessor, Ahmad Sani which led him to decamp from ANPP to the ruling party, PDP. Unlike his former boss, he was not in charged of the state’s affairs, according to his critics and many observers. Many people believed his chief of staff, Musa Zubairu Nasarawan Mai-Layi and party chairman, Late Alhaji Ibrahim Mallaha were the de facto governors. He was there as a stooge. It was said that there was a time a commissioner was removed by these people without his knowledge. And contracts were awarded by these people without even consulting him.
Commissioners and other government officials had field days. Many enriched themselves, richer than even the Governor. Corruption was rampant. Hoodlums had field days, the government recognised them to the extent of given them monthly stipends for just what they were. Everybody was a politician including civil servants and traditional rulers for fear of being victimised just like the case of Bakura Emirate Council. This encouraged large number of youths to abandon education and engage in political rascality.
His tenure was short, just four years, The leader of the opposition Senator Ahmad Sani led his then, party ANPP and defeated him.
ABDULAZEEZ ABUBAKAR YARI AS A GOVERNOR
When Mahmud Shinkafi had problem with his former boss, Senator Ahmad Sani Yarima, he abandoned his former party, ANPP and joined PDP as mentioned above, and he decamped with all his commissioners, LG chairmen and almost all the members of parliaments both federal and state, leaving Senator Ahmad Sani Yarima with only two members of the House of representatives, namely Hon Abdulazeez Yari Abubakar and Hon Bello Matawalle and some other loyal members of his party.
Being one of the actors in the political happenings in the state at that time, I know the antecedents that led to the assumption of Honourable Abdulazeez Yari Abubakar as the governorship candidate of the then ANPP and later Governor of Zamfara State. To cut a long story short, the irony is that Honourable Bello Matawalle, the present governor, initiated that and recommended him to be the candidate of ANPP to Senator Yarima. And that recommendation later brought about the disagreement and misunderstanding between Senator Ahmad Sani and Bello Matawalle which led him (Matawalle) leaving the Party and joining PDP.
After the election of 2011, Senator Yarima dethroned MAS as he was popularly called. People were full of hope that things would change from bad to good. The Government enjoyed mass support from the people thinking that it could be the second coming of Yarima, where stomach infrastructure would be the cardinal principle of the Government, but were taken by surprise, as reverse was the case.
His government had received huge amount of money from the federal government through Paris Club refunds and other interventions and it had achieved so much in the area of road constructions. He completed some of the capital projects initiated and left by the former government, despite the economic recession, like ministry of finance etc. He disengaged traditional rulers and civil servants from participation in politics, and also ceased to give hoodlums relevance in politics and otherwise. But his Government is trailed with many accusations.
Governor Abdulazeez Abubakar Yari, immediately he came into office, had confrontation with the state NLC via the issue of verifications, accusing the former government for employing more than 10, 000 workers at the tail end of its tenure without following due process and considering the economic situation of the state. Then, the issue of minimum wage which is, up til now, has not been resolved.
Since the creation of Zamfara state, the state had not faced security challenges as during his tenure. Thousands of innocent people were maimed and massacred by bandits, cattle rustlers with the Government doing little. Sequel to this, Senator Saidu Dansadau wrote a letter to the President and the National Assembly urging them to declare state of emergency in the state. Likely, this led to the intervention of Federal Government to deal with the situation. The Governor was accused of junketing around the globe, paying little attention to his primary responsibilities in the state.
Education has deteriorated during his years. In some of the WAEC and NECO exams chart, Zamfara state became last after some states like Yobe. Even Borno State, where Boko Haram made the students to remain in their homes for years was better than us. None of Zamfara students would secure admission into tertiary institutions, following government refusal to pay for their NECO/WAEC fees.
His tenure was brutally ended for his vested interest and draconian attitude towards fielding his preferred candidate and stooge, his finance commissioner Alhaji Shehu Koguna. He forcefully wanted to enforced him against other candidates including his deputy and other stakeholders like Senator Kabiru Marafa and the present PDP governorship candidate, Dauda Lawal. This led to unceremonial exit of their party from leadership via court ruling. This gave the opposition the chance to lead on a platter of gold. And the present governor, Muhammad Bello Mawalle came in as the governor.
GOVERNOR BELLO MATAWALLE
Government of Bello Matawalle was the luckiest among the governors of the state. He came to power on a platter of gold. He was enthroned through the verdict of the Supreme Court after the internal crisis that consumed the then ruling party APC. The governor spent many years struggling to be the governor since 2011. He came at a time when insecurity was at its peak and the economic situation was not favourable – the state is still the headquarters of poverty in the world and Nigeria in particularparticular.
At the beginning of his tenure, he tried to bring down the insecurity by engaging the bandits through peace accord. There was little break and ceasefire with the bandits before it was deteriorated following the non commitment and insincerity from the government and bandits respectively. The security situation has continued to be the major problem in the state.
Governor Bello Matawalle has focused more on his politics than the affairs of the state. He decamped from the very party that made him governeor to the ruling party which most of the political analysts aligned it to his ambition to win second term in office.
He needs to focus more on develooemmt than his political activities. MAY ALLAH HELP TO DO GOOD FOR THE STATE.
In reality, within 26 years of our existence as a State, we have achieved a lot in terms of human and physical development when compared to other sister states created the same time or even senior sister states.
But the question is, when putting into consideration, the about N2trillion the state received since its creation, has that reflected in what we are seeing today?
LONG LIVE ZAMFARA STATE, LONG LIVE NIGERIA.
Salis Muhammad Moriki