By: Sulaiman T. Anka
29th May, 2020 marks the first year anniversary of Hon. (Dr.) Bello Mohammed Matawalle’s administration as the Executive Governor of Zamfara State. Under normal circumstance, the first year of a four-year term as enshrined in the Federal Constitution of Nigeria doesn’t give ample chance to enumerate outstanding achievements recorded by elected executive officers within the period. To a majority of political analysts and social scientists, venturing into that is obviously premature and highly undesirable.
But within the Nigerian political context and tradition, short listing records of political and socio economic achievements recorded in the first year of assuming office is a compulsory duty for elected executive officers. Failure to do so could in most instances lead to negative comments and unwarranted insinuations from both supporting and opposing parties.
Naturally, democratic ideals and principles uphold and encourage expression of opinion in an objective and fair manner devoid of rancour and sentiments capable of sowing and breeding discord and apprehensions within the polity. It is perhaps, in a bid to satisfy the information need of the electorate that the affected executive officers consciously strive to highlight the required information related to the previous year of their leadership and reveal future plans.
In as much as it is inherently imbued in human nature to seek information especially on socio-economic issues interwovenly connected to their livelihood and general development, certain things are as crystally clear as the sun over our heads. Hence, the Chief Executive definitely needs not to bother himself about divulging the undisputable facts to the general public if not only for historical purpose.
The administration of Hon. (Dr.) Bello Mohammed Matawalle has in the first instance been able to maintain and steadfastly sustain all the perceived good things carried out by the immediate past administration of Alhaji AbdulAziz Yari Abubakar and has equally succeeded in improving upon them in most cases.
A noteworthy example is the restoration of relative peace and security of lives and properties which had hitherto eluded the state for about eight years. It was a feat achieved within three months of Governor Matawalle’s assumption of duty. There are, admittedly, minor security problems here and there which are obviously associated with political vendetta and mudslinging retarding the progress achieved in this regard.
It can confidently be asserted by any unbiased person that Governor Bello Matawalle has in the first year of his administration demonstrated his ability to drastically reduce official corruption and undeterred embezzlement of public funds with impunity. He is also able to recover and save millions of naira siphoned by public officials by adopting prudent management strategy of public funds through sound fiscal policy.
The saved funds have enabled his government to swiftly construct additional classrooms and renovate others in both primary and secondary schools across the state to provide conducive atmosphere for teaching and learning. Such initiative has similarly afforded his government the ample chance to comfortably sponsor 200 qualified students to different courses in various institutions of higher learning abroad. This is in addition to taking care of those studying locally and nationally.
Through a manifestingly strategic resolve, Governor Bello Matawalle has within the first year embarked on construction and rehabilitation of economically viable roads in some local government areas of the state. He has also achieved tremendous success in constructing and rehabilitating some vital access roads in Gusau, the State Capital, giving it a befitting facelift.
Inhabitants of Gusau town who have for a couple of years been terrorised day and night by violent political thugs and jobless drug addicts have been rid of the problem by the government of Bello Matawalle within the first year. The able leader has through tactical approach integrated the over 8,500 youths into a state-wide programme (ZASIEP) introduced to economically assist and empower them to be useful members of their communities. The number of youths currently benefiting from the programme is astonishing remarkable.
Evidently, Zamfara state’s healthcare delivery service had unfortunately reached a position of “near collapse” due to neglect. Happily, Governor Bello Matawalle has within the first year of his administration reconstructed/renovated the dilapidated structures of some general hospitals in the affected local government areas across the state. He similarly employed medical doctors to work in them in addition to providing required ambulances including other operational equipments.
The information management and dissemination sector has also witnessed unprecedented positive transformation in Zamfara State through reconstruction of existing structures and procurement of ultra-modern digital equipments for both AM, FM and TV stations by Governor Bello Matawalle. The equipments will soon be installed following the completion of the building structures by the government.
One of the most pleasing action taken by the Executive Governor is the re-engagement into the state civil service of 1,040 employed indigenes who were frustrated and abandoned by the previous administration of AbdulAziz Yari. The action was generally applauded by people in the state. Governor Bello Matawalle has further demonstrated his sympathy for the unemployed graduates when he approved the employment of additional teachers to ease the shortage problem.
In recognition of their weak natural traits coupled with the apparent need to assist them develop their potentials, the government of Bello Matawalle introduced and successfully sustain a monthly financial support of N20,000.00 for 1,800 eligible women across the state. The gesture has significantly lifted a large number of the beneficiaries out of abject poverty.
The agricultural sector in Zamfara State has within the first year of this administration witnessed remarkable changes when governor Bello Matawalle resuscitated the unproductive Zamfara State Fertilizer Blending Company. The company which has been abandoned for over a decade now produces assorted fertilizer products for the government thereby saving a lot of money. The government has similarly re-activated the abandoned famous and highly lucrative agricultural programme, ZACAREP by giving it the required support and encouragement it deserves to boost agricultural production and enterprise.
Boosting the morale of civil servants to ensure effective productivity and efficient performance of assigned responsibilities is an important strategy which must be adopted by responsible governments. To this end, Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle has ensured continuous payment of entitled benefits to retired civil servants who had hitherto experienced serious hardship due to none payment. The governor has in the same vein paid the annual leave grant to civil servants after seven years of its eclipse. Public servants have also been given soft loan of rice at a subsidized rate to be paid instalmentally.
Governor Bello Matawalle’s giant stride of forming committees to reform the civil service structure and ultimately sanitize its operation scope which has hitherto been grossly abused must be highlighted. The governor has to this effect restored the payment of motivational allowances to judicial and other essential services staff as an example.
The expenditure incurred by the administration of Bello Matawalle to establish RUGA settlements primarily intended to minimise the incessant Fulani/farmers communal dispute and armed conflict is a commendable step in the right direction. Obviously, the security and socio-economic benefits to be derived from the project cannot be over emphasized.
On a final note, to candidly enumerate all the achievements recorded by the administration of governor Bello Matawalle within the first year of his tenure will be a hard task. A part from the physically solid projects, the policies and programmes he has mapped out are evidently taking shape and will soon be fruitful. The current economic predicament and challenges brought about by COVID—19 Pandemic has to a large extent pose serious difficulties and disrupt the set agenda.
As we have absolute faith in devine pre—destination, we ardently hope and believe Allah will eventually ease the situation, guide and assist Hon. (Dr.) Bello Mohammed Matawalle to continue the good work he started.
Sulaiman T. Anka,
Commissioner for Information
and Culture, Zamfara State.