Dr. Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi is the Executive Director of an NGO called Patriots For the Advancement of Peace and Social Development. In an interview with our Reporter Maiharaji Altine in Gusau, he spoke on many issues pertaining to security and other social sectors in Zamfara state: Excepts-
Question:—- Sir, as an Executive Director of an NGO that focuses attention on peace and social development, what is your comment on the efforts of Governor Bello Matawalle in tackling insecurity in Zamfara state?
Sani Abdullahi :— Thank you very much for this question. We are all living witnesses to the fact that, when Governor Bello Matawalle came on board as an elected Governor of the state in May 29, last year, he met the state on the verge of collapse in respect of security situation. Social and economic activities were completely grounded. Farming which is the major source of survival was almost abundant for fear of the banditary.
Immediately he was sworn in, he started confronting the menace with great vigour, using his versatile experience as former Chairman House Committee on Security and Intelligence . He started with hectic days of meetings with key stakeholders, different security outfits, from the National Police Headquarters, Abuja, meeting with the Inspector General of police, meeting with the President Muhammad Buhari and the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, meeting with the Ex Minister of Defense, traditional leaders, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) leaders and CJTF and other key stakeholders.
Don’t forget that most of insecurity problems were caused by the previous administration under former Governor Yari who created the vigilante group who turned out to be a menace to society.
The vigilante groups only made the situation worse by taking laws into their hands through extra judicial killing of the Fulani in market places. This only aggravated the already volatile situations breeding more inter-tribal enmity.
Moreover, it is obvious that the rural areas and nomadic settlements have been relegated educationally and economically and this situation created an avenue for high rate of crimes.
This informed Matawalle’s decision to provide schools, clinics and earth dams for the Fulanis. This is how the idea of Rural Grazing Areas (RUGA) came up as one of the solutions.
It is worth taking into cognizance that by the use of force through non-professional means only led to creation of many criminals of necessity in situations where innocent people were killed and their relatives joined the bandit syndicate to engage in reprisal attacks against other settlements.
Thus, conflict resolution technique was introduced by Matawalle and the ‘Yan SaKai local militia were asked to release Fulani captives in their hands and that actually paved way for negotiation which led to the release of many captives from the bandits.
With this development, about 800 kidnapped victims were rescued and 25,000 displaced persons returned to their settlements.
Question:– How do you rate Governor Matawalle’s administration having spent one year in office?
Answer :— Well, I can say so far, so good. Although I belong to opposition party, as I also contested the governorship position under APGA along with Governor Matawalle, I will not close my eyes when good things are taking place.
Governor Bello Matawalle was able to improve many lives in the state. Immediately he took over the mantle of leadership, he created empowerment program scheme for women and youths who have been redundant and in object poverty.
In the last one year, Governor Matawalle empowered 6600 youths who are being given the sum of N10,000 each in every month to enable them do small businesses for them to become self independent. Similarly, 11800 women also received N20,000 each.
Another area where the Governor deserves commendation is his effort of trying to settle a backlog of N4.6 billion pension liability he inherited from the previous administrations. Presently, many retired civil servants have since collected their pensions, while the sum of N100 million is earmarked for the payment of gratuity every month.
Governor Matawalle inherited 29000 civil servants in the state when he took over, but due to his leadership qualities, he set up a verification committee where it was discovered that, only 22000 were geniune workers, while 7000 were ghost workers.
Governor Matawalle has also done a lot in education sector where in the last one year, he was able to promote 6709 primary school teachers who have not been promoted for over seven years.
The Governor also constructed and renovated many primary and post primary institutions in the state. Teaching and learning materials were also purchased and distributed. Scholarship was paid to students who are studying both with and outside the country while WAEC and NECO which were neglected by the former regime had also been paid.
Question :— Sir, your NGO is more concerned with peace and development. Is there any development in Zamfara state during one year in office of Governor Matawalle?
Answer :– There are lots of development. If you look at the investment sector, you will notice that, it has been revived by Governor Matawalle. He created a viable environment for investment by ensuring security and the general safety of investors. As a result of Governor Bello Matawalle’s open door policy and his effort of maintaining peace, many countries and NGOs now offer to contribute in developing entrepreneurial skills for youth employment and investment in Zamfara.
Governor Bello Matawalle has been showcasing Zamfara’s Investment potentials in the global horizon from the United States of America during the 2019 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA74) to Russia-Africa Economic Summit and his tour to China from 23rd-24th December 2019.
During the series of the UNGA74 in September 2019 side events, Governor Matawalle had a meeting with business moguls and delivered a paper at African Investment Summit titled, “The Investment Climate and the Market of Zamfara State: The Opportunities for International Investment Partnership”, the paper which highlighted Zamfara’s investment potentials in mining, agriculture and industrialization.
During the Russia-Africa Economic Summit in Sochi which took place from October 23rd-25th 2019, Governor Bello Matawalle who was part of the presidential entourage had several bilateral meetings with investors in Sochi, Russia in his relentless bid to engage them in mutually beneficial investment in solid minerals, agriculture, health and industries in Zamfara State.
In Beijing China, he wooed Chinese investors for a win-win partnership in solid minerals sector of the state. Governor Matawalle told the prospective investors of the special opportunities awaiting them in the solid mineral sector of the state, pointing out that 50% of the 34 minerals listed on Nigerian soil are found in Zamfara State some of which are gold, zinc, columbine, silver, gypsum, limestone, copper, tantalite and barite among others.
All these minerals, he said, have mining fields scattered across the state without sophistication and the technological standard to give maximum benefit. He lamented, for instance how in the last 100 years, the gold mined in the state did not exceed 91,000kg. The governor vowed to provide added incentives for the prospective investors in addition to the excellent provision of protection laws by the Nigerian state.
To increase the revenue base of the state, Governor Matawalle laid foundation for the construction of N9 billion Naira 3-Star Hotel under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement between Zamfara state government and Finesse and Esthetics Nigerian Limited.
This joint venture will create about 3,000 jobs in the state while the hotel itself will provide a serene environment to our investors so that they can be comfortably accommodated whenever they are in the state.
He also promised to create enabling environment for foreign and indigenous investors in the state which will in turn open more employment opportunities of various categories to our people.
The state is missing many Federal and International conferences, workshops, retreats and a host of many engagements due to lack of luxurious accommodations. So the 100 Keys Paradise Hotel which is of international standard will accommodate any guest who comes to Zamfara.
Question:– Sir, Zamfara state is known to be a business and tourist centre. What is your assessment on Governor Matawalle’s effort in reviving these two sectors that have been neglected by previous administrations?
Answer :— My assessment is that, the Governor deserves commendation in this regard. Zamfara State government under his leadership in collaboration with the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) has agreed to develop, market and promote the Kwatarkwashi rock which has high potentials to boost local investment in the region, creating employment for the immediate local economy through tourism.
I can also vividly remember that in October 2019 Zamfara state government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIM Bank ), and Secured one billion US Dollar Investment Input to facilitate trade and industry through revival of cotton production, animal husbandry, beef processing company and exploring opportunities in minerals and water resources.
Question :– How about the issue of COVID 19 pandemic?
Answer:— The Governor has been doing well in this regard. He was able to procure 150 rural tricycle ambulances, constructed and equipped Damba Infectious Disease Hospital, procured ventilators, test kits, patient monitors, oxygen concentrators, PPEs and other live-saving gadgets for Covid-19 pulse Oximeter and zero contact booth testing equipment.
Thank you sir,
You are most welcome.