As generally expected, mixed reactions have trailed the membership of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, PCC, as released by its presidential standard bearer and his running mate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Senator Kashim Shettima, respectively. This is normal, especially when considered that most of those complaining are people who felt left out from the action, perhaps because they feel entitled, due maybe to their long association with the duo.
Many others have, however, commended the list and rightfully so, because, let’s face it, no one among Nigeria’s current crop of political leaders has had the foresight and talent of recruiting better leaders than Tinubu. The record is out there for everyone to see.
It is against this background that no one was surprised at the appointment of Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle of Zamfara state as the North-west Coordinator of the Asiwaju/Kashim Shettima Presidential Campaign. Understanding the enormity of such a task, especially when juxtaposed against the political relevance of the zone will perhaps help readers to appreciate the weight of responsibility on the shoulders of Matawalle and, indeed, the confidence the APC and its presidential candidates have on the abilities of the Zamfara state governor.
The North-west region of Nigeria, comprising Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi Jigawa, Sokoto and Zamfara states, is the largest voting bloc and therefore the traditional battle ground where presidential elections are won and lost. In 2015, the then presidential candidate of the APC polled over 7 million of the 15 million votes that won him the election from this region. The trend continued in 2019.
Why then did Tinubu and Shettima put so much faith on Bello Matawalle? Or more correctly, what promise does Matawalle hold, or what competences or capacity and influence does Matawalle wield to command such confidence from the greatest leadership recruiter that this nation has ever seen?
The answer is in the man himself. Matawalle typifies the term seasoned politicians in all its shades, ramifications and interpretations. Starting off as a teacher, Matawalle has traversed Nigeria’s legislature before emerging governor of Zamfara state in 2019. And it is in this role that the man really stocked his political capital.
Taking over a conflict ridden state at a time public confidence was very low, and an unprecedented lack of unity and harmony among Zamfara elite was the greatest test any leader could face. But, not only was he able to turn the tide, he has steadily guided Zamfara away from extreme insecurity, hunger and leadership kefuffle thereby increasing public morale, he exudes the kind of vision that has positioned Tinubu as Nigeria’s numero uno when it comes to identifying talent and managing crisis.
Matawalle has paid a great price including cutting ties with some very powerful people for the benefit of Zamfara state. Especially remarkable is how Matawalle was able to unite the warring factions within the Zamfara APC. This is is the same crisis and infighting that cost the party the 2019 electoral victory in court, that even the party’s national leadership was unable to broker. But, today, all former governors of the state have been returned to one umbrella and it’s no exaggeration to conclude that APC in Zamfara has never been stronger than now.
Anyone conversant with the crisis that rocked Zamfara APC and how Governor Matawalle was able to navigate that shark infested waters to reposition APC in the entire North-west zone will perhaps better appreciate the depth of wisdom the man possesses and it’s only fitting that Tinubu is leading the cheerleading by imbuing him with such an important task.
No doubt that as leader of Zamfara APC which boasts of names like Ahmed Sani Yarima, Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari, Senator Marafa, among several others, all foundation members of the party not just in the state, but the entire zone means that Zamfara APC has a strong grip of the party in the zone.
Political commentators have identified the appointment of Matawalle as a perfect example of putting round pegs in round holes. The man has risen steadily through the ranks of Nigeria’s political layers to reach this moment and mount this political milestone. It will be no exaggeration to say that Tinubu and Shettima have put their presidential hopes on him, but more importantly, it is no exaggeration to conclude here that the man has the capacity to deliver.
The 2023 elections will be momentous and historical because whatever happens will either make or mar this country and this is specifically why APC and indeed Nigeria yearn for Bello Matawalle’s kind of politics of peace, friendship and progress. Indeed, his appointment to lead APC North-west campaign is confirmation that confirmation that the APC presidential flagbearer is still in the business of recruiting the best people that will get the job done, without sentiments or emotions. This trait may just make all the difference going into 2023.
Musa writes from Gusau, Zamfara state