For Zamfara State that was created out of the old Sokoto State in 1996, attaining peace and development had turned out an uphill task, no thanks to the wave of crimes that once made the state the epicentre of daring banditry and cattle rustling, among others. Before the emergence of the present government headed by Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle on May 29, 2019, Zamfara was under the constant threats of attacks by bandits made worse by the absence of political will by previous administrations.
By the time Matawalle was sworn in as governor, raging activities of criminals had weakened and inebriated the good sides of the state known for its hospitality and plurality. As someone who lived nearly 30 years in the old Sokoto State, including attending Government Secondary School, Bungudu, from 1980 to 1984, then under the headship of our then principal who is now the 18th Emir of Tsafe, Alhaji Muhammadu Bawa, Zamfara, comprising mostly of a peaceful farming populace, was known for its disposition in embracing progress and inclusiveness of all groups, irrespective of ethnic and religious inclinations.
Since his inauguration as governor, Matawalle has been silently involved in tackling recurring incidences of crimes that have thrown Zamfara into a sort of debacle. Worried by the insecurity that was attracting national and global attention, the former member of the lower chamber of the National Assembly deployed an irrevocable commitment towards containing the activities of criminals. Besides visiting towns that have been hard hit by these attacks and loss of cattle through rustling, the state in the past one year has never let go of a silent revolution aimed at re-enacting the peace of yesterday and pushing for development initiatives aimed at empowering the citizenry. Due to his irreversible devotion to ending the scourge of insecurity and broadening the frontiers of development, not only are criminal activities being tackled, the state government has also been involved in the provision of infrastructure.
Beyond the achievements so far recorded by the Zamfara governor, the Matawallen Maradun scored a point by becoming a bridge-builder who not only believes in the unity of the country, but is also willing to engage Nigerians across ethnic and religious divide towards standing tall in defence of our citizens.
The recent 7-day visit by the former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, reflects the commitment of Matawalle in creating a conducive atmosphere for entrenching peace and harmony across various groups in the country. Not only did FFK’s visit unveil the tremendous progress being recorded by the governor, the conferment of the royal title of ‘Sadaukin Shinkafi’ (Hero of Shinkafi) by the Emir of Shinkafi, Alhaji Muhammad Isah Makwashe, demonstrates how traditional institution can deploy its unique nature and structure to foster unity amongst Nigeria’s diverse ethnic group. Calling the bluff off the feuding title holders who recently resigned their royal titles, the Shinkafi monarch stood his ground that indeed Fani-Kayode was worthy of the royal title conferred on him.
There’s no doubt that the monarch’s refusal to cave in to pressure has brought respect to the Shinkafi Emirate Council. By accepting the resignation of title holders and instantly replacing them, the emir has sent a clear signal that tolerance and inclusiveness is the cornerstone of promoting national unity and development. In a nation that is divided along ethnic and religious divide, the conferment of a traditional title on the former minister during his recent visit amounts to a deliberate effort at putting a lie to narratives promoted by ethnic and religious champions whose stock in trade is to see Nigerians through the lens of tribe and religion.
Recent past years have threatened the survival of our nation. Not only has the struggle for restructuring enthroned an irrevocable quest for a just society where Nigerians can live and be protected by the same laws wherever they choose to live, the symbol of inclusiveness as demonstrated by the Shinkafi Emirate Council has become a refreshing hope for Nigerians.
Our nation’s problems have always been wrapped around bad leadership that is being condoned by self-seeking politicians in a bid to realise personal ambition. Considering the negative partisanship that has always been the bane of our development, we cannot afford to diminish efforts aimed at building bridges towards forming a common front for our unity and development.
For Governor Matawalle, apart from engaging critical stakeholders in resolving the Zamfara debacle that had then turned out a hard nut to crack by previous administration, the governor has not only initiated moves at tackling these issues militating against the development of the state, but also remained focused in evolving effective strategies towards achieving the common good for the overall interest of Zamfara citizens.
What is needed now in Nigeria is peace and protection of defenceless citizens against the marauding activities of criminals whose thirst for bloodshed has left thousands dead and unprecedented destruction of property. If we can initiate efforts at building block of dialogue and creating various platforms for dialogue across ethnic and religious divide, then the demons that have always troubled our country won’t have the upper hand.
FFK’s visit to Zamfara state has given an insight into the achievements of Matawalle whose administration has embraced the option of not blowing its own trumpets. Beyond this, the visit revealed how national unity can be enhanced and sustained through engagements with others for the sole purpose of engaging in national discourse for understanding. For such a visit as embarked by the former aviation minister to achieve its objectives, governors should be involved in replicating such visits imvolving critical stakeholders towards creating a new dawn devoid of ethnic and ethnic suspicion.
We achieve a milestone when we interact with others from different zones in a bid to understand the dynamics defining national issues. The greatest hindrance to national unity is entanglement of politics for attaining power. Once political intrigues are brought to the fore, the capacity to rally others for the common cause becomes vitiated and bereft of national inspiration. Matawalle and FFK should be at the forefront of facilitating dialogue that will not only sell the Nigerian Project, but also rally other forces towards deepening democracy and making stronger voices stand up in the defence of our citizenship.
The peace and modest progress being recorded by the Zamfara state government should be acknowledged and built upon. It is laudable that FFK whom some northerners were not comfortable with visited and saw at first hand the footprints of Governor Matawalle who is working so hard to improve on the lives of citizens.
For Nigerians to pass through this present valley of frightening uncertainties, Nigerians across ethnic and religious divide must come together in unity to defeat the monster of disunity threatening our corporate survival.
Other state governors should borrow a leaf from the Zamfara State Governor and the Emir Shinkafi in order to build and strengthen the bond of unity that has made our country survived long years of agitations and threats to our collective survival as a country. Only through this can we avert the hanging clouds threatening to rain and soak us in our mutual suspicion.
By Musa Simon Reef,