June 8, 2024

Central News

at the center of it

Matawalle as Defence minister is offensive

By Mohamed Sanusi Shehu

Bello Matawalle, former governor of Zamfara State, being made minister took many citizens aback. Indeed, his appointment as minister of state for Defence is shocking and contemptible, some claim.

The reaction to the mere mentioning of Matawale as a possible minister was met with instant  revulsion by a broad spectrum of political observers even among the members of the same party. Particularly for the  leaders across political parties from the Northwest, it was considered a profoundly courageous attack on the reputation and psyche of the region that Matawale will be the one out of the pantheon of  dignified and qualified  persons from the region to represent the Northwest zone in the approximate apex of national  government .

It is unconscionable that a peculiarly failed state governor who particularly made Zamfara State more vulnerable to penury and banditry will be the one to emerge as the ministerial nominee from the geo-political entity. In addition to Matawale’s abysmally disastrous economic policies and infamous raid of the public  treasury, he has also been accused of engaging in societally-risky behavior with bandits and terrorists.

Under Matawale as governor, more than half of the territory of  Zamfara State was under the capture of bandits. The inept leadership of the ex-governor was beyond  cluelessness. On the matter of combating banditry, he was literally in romantic cohabitation with known terrorists’ leaders. Truly, known bandit leaders and terrorists were openly attending social ceremonies in Zamfara Emirates as Matawelle engaged in direction-less negotiations and supposed peace and reconciliation dialogue with dangerous criminals.

Funds approximating  billions of naira went into these talks with zero redemptive results for the besieged and traumatized people of Zamfara State. Curiously, it will indeed look as if the negotiations with the bandits had become the criminal channel for Matawelle to conduct his own “banditry” on the commonwealth of the Zamfara people.

So there were the bandits from the  remote forests and the bandits in the urbane setting of Government House, Gusau. This is the premiere credential of the man being appointed to serve as a minister under President Tinubu .

It cannot be so easily forgotten that ex-governor Matawalle once hosted in almost celebratory fashion a notoriously murderous killer and serial hostage-taker Bello Turji in Government House under the guise of conducting negotiations for peace and settlement

Few weeks after such a dubious theater, the bandit-leader struck in more deadly fashion against the people of Zamfara State.

The years of 2020 to 2023 were era of free reign of terror orchestrated by bandits in Zamfara State under Matawalle as the Chief Security Officer of the geo-political entity . Bandits were openly engaged in a festival of of fear, hostage-taking, cattle-rustling and blood-letting in parades of deadly weaponry including AK-47, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and anti-aircraft munitions. Terrorists and bandits from other restless regions of the North turned the forests of Zamfara State into bazaars in arms trade.

At the time, as governor, Matawalle displayed both gross  incompetence and deficit of compunction of conscience in rising to the challenges of protecting lives and property in his Zamfara home state.

Are these the sterling credentials that Matawalle is now expected to project in his larger national assignment as a Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence?

The ex-governor, who was an abominable failure as a state chief security officer is now expected to play a more challenging role in securing the nation. To dignify Matawalle with a toga of national defence assignment is to create a tragic-comedy with colossal consequences for our Fatherland In a serious setting, Matawalle will not even be qualified to play a serious role in a television drama relating to security. That is how lacking in capacity for any function regarding state or national security.

More frightening is the fact that one is not sure that Matawalle can even be  trusted in serious dialogue relating to Defence. Can anyone really vow that Matawale received proper clearance regarding his alleged diabolical and surreptitious dealings with terrorists and bandits in Zamfara State regarding the nature of his true relationship with the notorious  bandit-leader Turji Bello and the likes?

How come Matawale had refused to respond to the invitation by the Alliance of Citizens for National Security asking that the ex-governor publicly answers media questions about his interaction with terrorists both during and after his tenure as governor? Why is Matawalle dodging such invitations?

President Bola Tinubu would be committing a deathly error to so elevate Matawale in the hierarchy of a ministry whose function has dire consequences for the welfare and lives of Nigerians . While one cannot directly attach the nomenclature of “bandit” to Matawalle’s name, there’s however no doubt that the ex-governor is attached in an  inextricable  umbilical chord of sympathy with bandits and Matawalle himself has said so much in his irrevocable advocacy that the kinetic option should never be part of possible option to deal with bandits and terrorists.

It is not too late for President Tinubu to reverse his decision and save Nigeria from the crass and inept leadership of Matawalle as a Defence Minister.