Zamfara Residents Condemn Tinubu’s Appointment Of Matawalle As Defence Minister After Failing To Secure His State As Governor

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According to the residents who spoke to SaharaReproters on Thursday some hours after Tinubu released the portfolios of his ministers, Matawalle does not fit the new task given to him.

Some residents of Zamfara State have condemned the appointment of the immediate past governor of the state, Bello Matawalle as Minister of State for Defence by President Bola Tinubu.


According to the residents who spoke to SaharaReproters on Thursday some hours after Tinubu released the portfolios of his ministers, Matawalle does not fit the new task given to him.

The Nigerian Presidency on Wednesday unveiled the portfolios of the ministers cleared by the Senate to work with President Tinubu, naming Muhammed Badaru as the Minister of Defence and Matawalle as Minister of State for Defence.


However, a resident of Gasau, the capital of Zamfara State, who simply identified herself as Amina, described Matawalle as unqualified to handle any portfolio related to defence “considering how he failed to handle insecurity during his time as the governor”.

She added that it surprised him that Tinubu, whom many thought would be determined to put an end to terrorist attacks in the country, could not find anyone for the defence ministry more qualified than Matawalle, whose tenure was marred by bandit attacks almost on a daily basis.


“I don’t understand the rationale behind Matawalle’s portfolio. This is the same man that could not do anything to save us here in Zamfara from bandits. We know how the people of Zamfara suffered at the hands of bandits and his administration did nothing to stop them,” Amina told SaharaReporters in a telephone conversation.

Another resident, Yunusa Aliyu of Ruwan Doruwa in Zamfara, described Matawalle’s appointment as insensitive to the feelings of the Zamfara people considering how they suffered from banditry from 2019 to 2023.


He said, “The evidence is everywhere. The president himself knows Matawalle is not the right man for the job. This is someone that people accused of even sponsoring these bandits and now he is appointed as a minister to defend the country.”

Another resident, Shehu Muhammed said, “We have to look at the level his performance during his four-year tenure as the governor of the state.


“If you look at this, you will understand there was no development concerning the situation of security in the state because, in spite of the reconciliation he had with bandits at the beginning of his administration which restored peace for a few months, the situation was bad.

“Apart from that, I don’t think he brought any development in the state pertaining to the security situation. The situation was even worse than before as during his administration bandits could attack any village they wished in broad daylight including our village in Talata Mafara local government area.”

Muhammed noted that Matawalle has also been accused of corruption and embezzling public funds “despite the fact that his subjects were dying as a result of hunger caused by insecurity”.

“Regarding the aforementioned points, how do you think the person that failed to control a small state like Zamfara can come and hold the position of Minister of State for Defence and work diligently?

He, however, added that he was happy someone from the state – which has been like a centre of terrorism in the northwest region – was chosen for the defence ministry.

“l hope he will work tirelessly to see that peace is restored to the state and the country in general,” he added.

Commenting on this, a former lawmaker, Senator Sheu Sani noted that defence ministers ought to be retired military officers due to the high rate of insecurity in the country.

He said, “In view of the security challenges faced by this country, I thought the Defence Minister should be a retired Military officer with experience and records of accomplishments. That office shouldn’t be just political especially at this time.”

Mr Sani, however, added that the appointment of Matawalle as state minister for defence is an opportunity for the former governor to end security challenges in his state.

He said, “Matawalle is the Minister of State for Defence and not the ‘Senior’ Minister. His presence there factored Zamfara and its banditry challenges. This is a challenge and an opportunity for him to takeout Turji, Aleru and other terrorist kingpins in his state. The ‘Senior’ Minister for Defence has no experience in Defence matters. A retired Army, Airforce or Naval officer is the best for Defence.”

The residents’ remarks on the Zamfara security situation during the Matawalle administration corroborate the report of a research group, Taylor & Francis, which says that between January 6 and 8, 2022, armed bandits attacked several villages in Zamfara State, killing more than 200 people and leaving 10,000 displaced.

Barely three months ago, a group in the state, Concerned Citizens for Peace, Security and Development, accused Matawalle’s administration of having strong relationships with bandits terrorising the state.

The group in a statement signed by its Secretary, Abdullahi Sani Anka, said since 2020, they have followed the rise and trajectory of banditry especially in parts of the North West, comprising Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara states with a special focus on Zamfara State, which has undoubtedly remained the epicentre of banditry in Nigeria.

He said, “We have equally X-rayed Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle’s peace accord and its attendant achievements or otherwise since his assumption of office in 2019.

“In a twist of event, we have uncovered a strong collaboration between state officials including traditional rulers and security agents with bandits.

“The peace accords the former Governor paraded as his major achievement was nothing but a high-wired deception to divert attention from the real issues behind the root cause of banditry, its sponsors, and enablers.

“You may recall sometime in 2009, the Governor set up a fact-finding committee on the remote and immediate causes of banditry to unravel actors, agents, and triggers of the banditry.

“The committee was constituted and headed by a former Inspector-General of Police, MD Abubakar, other members of the committee included Senator Saidu Dansadau, Dr. Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi, among others.

“The committee has since concluded its reports and submitted same to the former Governor with far-reaching recommendations including but not limited to dethroning of some indicted Emirs, District Heads, and Village Heads.

“Some other recommendations included dismissal and decommissioning of some security agents found to have aided banditry in one way or the other.

“But, the reports never saw the light of day because those indicted had allegedly threatened to expose the role of some government officials in the escalation of banditry in the state.

“The committee further recommended the setting up of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to address all forms of banditry in Zamfara State.

“However, three years after the submission of the reports, then Governor Bello Matawalle turned a blind eye as he neither set up a judicial commission nor implemented any of the recommendations of the MD Abubakar’s committee report.”

The group alleged that the former governor allegedly used the peace accord to get into the good books of then-President Muhammadu Buhari and through an effective media suppression strategy that involved financial inducement and the instigation of transfer of journalists whose conscience could not be bought over.

“The resurgence of banditry in Zamfara State is on a scale never witnessed before his assumption of office as thousands of refugees wander in parts of Zamfara State with no one to cater for them.

“Matawalle’s strategy had empowered and emboldened bandits to carry more heinous crimes against humanity in the way and manner he related with them through regular phone calls and monetary and vehicular gifts to bandits’ kingpins operating in Zamfara State.

“Until recently it was alleged that one of the notorious bandits’ kingpins allegedly housed in a 4-bedroom apartment at the Zamfara State Government House. The apartment is called Kebbi House where he allegedly stayed for about two years,” the group alleged.

The group added, “We call on the security agencies and anti-corruption commissions to, as a matter of urgency, arrest, investigate, and prosecute the former Governor of Zamfara or hand him over to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to answer for his (alleged) heinous crimes against humanity.”

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