Upkeep for one, a livelihood for thousands

As an APC man, I was more than bewildered by what happened in the build up to the 2019 elections in , a thoroughly APC enclave, where PDP dared not even breath! Yes, the opposition party did not stand a whisker of a chance, to clinch senatorial, state and National Assembly seats (except maybe one or two) let alone win the gubernatorial seat. But as luck would have it for the PDP, and as providence would ordain it for Zamfarans; the PDP made it –  all three senatorial seats, and all the House of Representatives seats, and of course the state assembly seats, wielding a majority in the assembly. The clash between the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, and the then governor of , Abduaziz Yari; ended up in a no winner no vanquished brawl that saw neither of the two field their preferred candidates, especially the gubernatorial flag bearer. I couldn’t help but wonder in amazement; could Oshiomhole be serious?

At the end of the day, the tussle went on and on, to the Supreme Court level, and neither Yari nor chair Oshiomhole had their way – incredible! The ruling power, sorry party,  did not have a candidate for the elections. It was a new one, where the judiciary rules against the ruling party, and hands over senatorial, gubernatorial, and state assembly seats to the opposition party. I was livid at my party chairman for allowing that to happen, and not have the party’s highest bodies intercede in the matter and have Zamfara APC move forward with one front.

Not so long after Matawalle was handed over Zamfara on a platter of gold, it seemed as if it was destiny smiling upon Zamfara, and that platter of gold was somewhat of a divine gift! The daily consumption of lives like they were cows in Lagos abattoirs was fast depreciating, and within no time, the governor was hailed as a saviour and conqueror of the banditry and terrorism, that were going on in the state, just a month or two ago. How did he do it? How is he doing it? Some still criticise the whole amnesty-style approach to the near apocalypse in Zamfara, registering hundreds of lives being lost to banditry on a weekly count. One thing is for sure, the abating, in the number of killings and mayhem visited upon the poor villagers of Zamfara, is succeeding and the approach is sustaining this new found peace in the state. For government, security is foremost.

With glee, we were beginning to forget Zamfara and we did not want to hear about it again; well except of course if the nation was going to be making huge revenue from the vast gold deposits in the state, that is estimated to have the capacity to bring in $9 billion into our economy annually. Hmm … I honestly miss Fayemi in that Solid Minerals Ministry, the remapping and diversification drive of the federal government in revenue generation, suffered a huge setback I believe, losing such a cerebral mind in such a critical sector, at such a critical time. Anyway, that is that!

From only God knows where, Zamfara was in the news again! My heart leapt! I shouted, ‘oh ya Allah, not again, please, ya Allah, no one has been found desecrating the qur’an again after their prayers and sacrifices’ (peace offerings). My wife now calmed me down, and said, ‘ah ah nna! It is a letter from the office of the former governor of ’… I said to her, ‘isi gini’? So Zamfara has two offices of the governor? I thought the Supreme Court had ruled over this matter long ago? Why do they want to keep raping our constitution?

She now read the letter (from the former governor, who was paid over N300 million as severance package); that he was requesting the new governor (the one chasing away all the bandits) to pay him his N10 million upkeep of about four months which have not been paid – aside of course the monthly of N5 million.

I knelt down in prostration, ‘chucked’ my forehead on the ground, and I prayed; ‘May Allah be praised, that it is not the killings that are coming back’! I told her that this development had no consequential bearing on the people of Zamfara, who are now living in peace. All Nigerians know that ex-presidents, governors, senate presidents, and speakers (including state assemblies) leave their offices with humongous packages as retirement benefits, severance packages, and a lot more after a quadrennium. However, some states have continued to tweak their legislations, to give unreasonable and ‘fantastically corrupt’ packages and severance pay, as well as to outgoing state executives, and speakers of state assemblies. Successive governments have bumped up their own ‘pays’ as they leave, and this leaves the states doling out millions, sometimes billions, per annum.

This was un-noticed and the states were unperturbed, as the country was on a jamboree for a certain period, and everyone was dipping his hands into the cookie jar, till it got broken. Now there are no cookies, and no jar, because the broken jar cannot even hold the smallest amount of cookies, were we to have them. That is why the legislation in Zamfara and many many states, giving out millions, or billions per annum is under public purview.

Matawalle’s PDP led house of assembly has now, speedily, within the space of a day, repealed the law that gave the office of the former governor of Zamfara state N10 million monthly upkeep; and has amended it, to revert to paying former governors and speakers of Zamfara state the said renumeration stipulated by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission. The N10 million upkeep alone, totalling N120 million in a year (among the many modules of payments) is capable of empowering 2,400 Zamfarans with N50,000 each, annually. Imagine what that could do to the lives of jobless youths, widows, old men and women, and even the helpless bread winners in a war-ravaged area?

Matawalle is surely exuding, in more than one body language; that he is governor, not by luck, or by the gavel of our now brave judiciary, or the ‘alternative’ to Yari and Oshiomhole’s supposed candidates, and neither by the benefits of the years of fruitful political sojourn; but by the divine intervention of the Lord, that has come to rescue Zamfara’s children, and their purses. Matawalle is actually bringing change, and then the Next Level simultaneously. May I suggest to our indefatigable party chairman, Adams Osho Baba, that perhaps, another Ize-Iyamu is in our hands, up north, perpendicularly right above Edo – in the form and storm of The Matawalle of Maradun!

Tahir is Talban Bauchi

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