Matawalle and the albatross of trust deficit in leadership, By Musa Dangusau


Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state. [PHOTO CREDIT: @officialdrbellomatawalle]
Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state. [PHOTO CREDIT: @officialdrbellomatawalle]

…as the State is battling to survive the twin problems of banditry and kidnapping, with the associated killings of young men, women and children; the wanton destruction of properties, rape and other criminalities never seen in the history of the State, Zamfara seems unlucky to have these compounded by a leadership that has inspired a deep trust deficit.

It is quite unfortunate that the pattern of actions that keep making the people harbour deep distrust for politicians has persisted in relation to the leadership in Zamfara State. Whether in terms of making solemn promises of retaining governance within the outlook of a particular political party and then jumping ship, as a result of ambition and political expediency, or the promise to stick with the people through a deeply troubling period of insecurity, and then reneging on this by travelling abroad, the climate of distrust in the leadership in Zamfara couldn’t be deeper at this time.

It was the great physicist, Albert Einstein, who said, “who ever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” This speaks to the current situation in Zamfara State, in which the State governor, Alhaji Bello Matawalle has been found to be fast and loose with the truth, in matters that require trust and integrity. Hence, it goes without saying that it would amount to a double whammy for the people of the State to repose any strain of trust him in future.

Zamfara, which was carved out of the former Sokoto State by right, is an extension of the Caliphate and the closest to the ancient structure of civilisation. Historically, the people of Zamfara are known to be highly religious and always exhibiting the fine virtues of simplicity, humility, honesty and truth.

The State used to be one of the few that people from far and near cherish in coming to do business, without the fear of being manipulated, cheated or duped, as the average Zamfara man is known to be honest and straightforward, and  without guile.

For the average Zamfara man, his word is his bond, and the leaders of the state of yore have been found to be trustworthy and responsible, which determine the level of trust reposed in them by many, far beyond the territorial extents of the State. From Mallam Yahaya Gusau, to Mallam Ali Akilu, Umaru Shinkafi, General Aliyu Gusau, IGP MD Abubakar, and others too numerous to mention, these are persons known as defined by integrity, and who have been noted as diligent and trustworthy in their duties. They have served at the highest levels in the public service of the country, without betraying the trust reposed in them and their roles, to become sources of pride to the Zamfarawa.

But lately, as the State is battling to survive the twin problems of banditry and kidnapping, with the associated killings of young men, women and children; the wanton destruction of properties, rape and other criminalities never seen in the history of the State, Zamfara seems unlucky to have these compounded by a leadership that has inspired a deep trust deficit.

It is no exaggeration to say that the administration of Matawalle has taken Zamfara back to the Stone Age, as the State is being ridiculed for its leadership, which has made the average Zamfara man appear like a crook, who is not fit to be trusted.

Like the great American leader, Thomas Jefferson once quipped, if a man cannot be trusted with the government of himself, can he, then be trusted with the government of others?

The answer, as far as Zamfara is concerned, is a resounding ‘no’ and this is because Governor Matawalle has introduced falsehood, deceit, and outright lies to the art of state craft, while elevating fake promises, speaking from both sides of the mouth and a high level of inexactitude, such that in less than three years of his administration, the State has moved from its respected position as the home of Sharia to a place where one can lie with impunity.

Recently, when the governor imposed a ban on mobile telecommunications network and other draconian measures on the law abiding citizens of the State due to the escalating security challenges there, he vowed on a Friday inside the Mosque not to abandon the people by leaving the State but that he would stay with them  to bear all the inconveniences, until the security situation improves.

The people sought to trust the governor in this decision and adjusted to the inconveniences, which made many make do with traveling to Sokoto and Funtua and later Zaria in Katsina and Kaduna States to make calls, send messages and carry out other mobile phone-based financial transactions.

But once the ban became effective and communication became difficult, the governor, who is said to always be keeping an eye on his numerous concerns outside the State could not bear his imposed difficulty but took off for Abuja, where things work.

No sooner thereafter, the governor not only extended the period of the telecommunications ban, but he sent his pregnant wife to America to deliver, his children overseas, and he later took the cover of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to leave for the United States, as what many consider as an uninvited guest, where he still is at the moment.

For a measure that the people of the State were compelled to pass through, the governor could not even restrain his family members from travelling outside the State and the country, as they gradually jetted out of the country, as he had done.

But this is only one instance, as many other abound in which the man has been found to have violated his honour.

More remarkably, in 2018, when Matawalle, through the magnanimity of the Peoples Democratic Party, became the gubernatorial candidate, he had invoked the wrath of God to punish him if he ever betrayed the party or its elders.

In a well circulated video clip obtained by some media houses, Matawalle was seen and heard saying in Hausa, “If I ever betray you the elders or my party the PDP, may Allah never allow me to 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.”

He repeated the pledge with even more intensity when some PDP governors visited him in Gusau to remind him of his promise and to plead with him to have trust in Allah who made him governor after he lost the election.

But less than a year after his assurances, Matawalle reneged on all the promises he made to Allah, the party leaders and his colleagues. He did not keep his honour but did exactly what he vowed not to do; he renege on the favour of Allah by defecting to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

At the defection rally in Gusau, he had said, “As from today, I, Bello Matawalle Maradun, governor of Zamfara, am happy to announce my defection from the PDP to the APC. As from today, I am a full APC member and leader of APC in Zamfara.”

With this kind of deceitful behaviour in the leadership, who will trust Matawalle again with any responsible position?

It is highly unfortunate that Zamfara, which prides itself as a centre of piety can be bogged with such indecorous leadership.

Allah shi sawake!

Musa Dangusau wrote from Gusau in Zamfara State.

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