By Yuguda Muhammad Ilu
One doesn’t need a clairvoyant to tell him that Governor Muhammad Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State is obsessed with his predecessor, Alhaji Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari for obvious wrong reasons.
Getting to a year without any tangible policy direction, Governor Matawalle has to take solace in dragging the name of former Governor Yari to justify his cluelessness and rudderless administration.
The obsession has peaked in the last couple of months when he accused Yari of emptying the coffers of the state, to blaming for rising insecurity which he hitherto claimed to have resolved through granting amnesty to blood thirsty bandits, and recently accusing the former governor of demanding a pension that was approved by a law of the Zamfara State legislature.
Any curious observer of the Zamfara state politics will sympathy with the accidental Governor Matawalle, who was shoveled into power by a controversial supreme court judgement. He’s apparently being haunted by the specter of a stolen mandate. Coupled with his near absence background in education, the accidental governor is mired in compound confusion and delusion.
In quick succession, Matawalle has threatened to personally arrest ex-Governor Yari, repealed the pension law of former governors, their deputies, speakers and their deputies and others, revoked all lands and farms allocations since 1999, and now accusing him of ‘stealing’ funds to pay pensions from Gratuity’s account two days before he left office.
These issues are mind boggling for any student of political science. The pension law was enacted by the Zamfara State House of Assembly.
It was therefore ridiculous the story by the Matawalle’s handlers that Yari had “stole from the GRATUITY ACCOUNT the sum N1.9billion out N2billion two days before handing over. He withdrew the monies exactly on the 27th May 2019.”
To start with, the payment of the pension was done according to the extant laws of the state. There was therefore no infraction of the law.
Second, all the people that were paid were duly entitled to the pension as stipulated by the pension law. There will be a wrong doing if among those paid were people not entitled to the pension by law.
Third, one wonders why the hue and cry about the timing of the payment of the pension- May 27, 2019. Governor Yari was still the governor of Zamfara as at 27 May. His tenure ended on May 29. What then is the fuss about it?
Fourth, the Matawalle hatchet men earlier said the money was stolen only to come later and said he paid pensions to public servants as stipulated by the law. This is a good development.
Fifth, the list of the pension beneficiaries included the immediate past deputy governor of the state, Malam Ibrahim Wakkala, who was Yari’s deputy. Governor Yari paid Wakkala his pension entitlement of N175,000,000 despite the fact he was Yari’s arch political enemy. This goes to show Yari’s benevolence and fear of God. Despite his estranged relationship with Wakkala, Yari didn’t take it personal. He paid Wakkala his due. This is a governance lesson for the power-that-be in Zamfara now.
Sixth, it was on record that before the pension was paid from the gratuity account, the labor leadership in the state were consulted. And the funds were refunded from the proceeds of fertilizer sales. The question Governor Matawalle should answer is where is the N2billion fertilizer sales proceeds.
It is clear that the Matawalle’s honeymoon with the good people of Zamfara has ended. The governor should know that you can fool people for some times, but certainly not all times.
Mr Ilu wrote from Gusau, Zamfara State ￼