When Governor Bello Muhammad (Matawallen Maradun) took the mantle of Leadership in Zamfara state, he met on ground a daunting task of piecing together a fragmented society bedeviled with unprecedented security situation as it was. The combined forces of the military, the police and plain clothes Security was mounting on its oars to end the social problem, but as they kept succeeding, so the menace took its new turns. The solution, certainly, lies not in fire power alone. There was the need to look outside the box.
Hence, Governor Matawalle came as a blessing to the people of Zamfara as he brought his quality experience and knowledge as the Chairman of House Committee on Security and his vast outwards experience, to chart a new course of action. He immediately instituted a truce between the bandits and “Yan sa kai” and the bandits just as the security holds its fire.
For more than five months now, there has been calm and tranquility but for some hiccups which is always normal with shortcomings in every human project. Both the bandits and “Yan sa kai” in the state have released a total of over 300 of their victims and are ready to release the rest very soon. Concurrently, the process of disarmament began. Over 150 sophisticated weapons have so far been surrendered by the repentant bandits. This ingenuity was applauded by prominent Nigerians including President Muhammadu Buhari.
But then, after disarmament, what next? What is needed to be done to prevent the future occurrence of the menace? Governor Matawalle has put a machinery if resettlement mechanism in form of Ruggas in each of the three senatorial districts in the state. These settlements will be housed on 100 hectares of land each and will have all the social amenities including schools, clinics, roads, earth dams and grazing fields. Ultimately, this may finally signal the end of banditry in Zamfara state. Indeed, these Ruggas are already in their various stages of development.
With the attainment of peace so far in the state, Governor Matawalle is now focusing more of his attention on human and infrastructural development. Human development is vital in a society so much ravaged by banditry where people no longer farm, travel, go to the market and even conveniently go to work in offices.
Hence, one of the first things he did was to address the problem of civil servants. In studying that, he discovered that there were 1,400 civil servants employed but not paid for more than a year by his immediate predecessor. He set up a committee to verify them and found out that although some have gotten jobs somewhere others have died. A total of 1, 040 eligible ones were, thus, reinstated and paid. Similarly, a total of 556 classroom teachers employed by the past administration and were not paid since their employment were equally paid and enrolled on their regular monthly salaries.
As part of the empowerment also, Governor Matawalle initiated a monthly stipend for housewives who are engaged in micro economic activities to cater for their family. In this arrangement, 1,800 women are being selected every month and are advanced a grant of N20,000 each. This is expected to continue for at least the next six months so that a majority of segments of the society is empowered with a tool to create subsistence base for as many families as possible.
This year is the first year in eight years the people freely went back to the farm. In preparation for reinvigorated farming activities in the state, the governor resuscitated the state fertiliser blending plant and has at today, produced over eleven trucks of assorted fertiliser and will continue to produce more for the benefit of farmers. Moreover, Governor Matawalle announced this week that he has secured a Central Bank of Nigeria loan of N3.8 billion for rice farmers in the state.
On education, the government began by addressing the ills in the basic education sector. Apart from re-instating the 556 teachers, the government awarded contracts for the construction of over 600 blocks of classrooms and the renovation of over 300.
Moreover, all promotions and entitlements of teachers were taken care of. In the tertiary sector, the governor secured a N1 billion education intervention from TETFUND for the state university and his administration initiated and sponsored 200 of the state indigenes to study Medicine and other professional disciplines abroad.
On health, Bello Muhammad has injected into the sector a means of upliftment in terms of renovation of health facilities, improvement of work conditions for personnel and the supply of ambulances to all the 17 general hospitals in the state.
As the Governor often says, the administration has spent much of its energy in securing peace for the state but the era of development is here now. It is expected that the people will join hands with the government to sustain the peace and attain the much needed development for the prosperity and well being of all citizens of Zamfara state.
Bappa is media aide to Zamfara state governor