By Lawali Zaki Imrana

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Zamfara State, went on what is obviously a self-righteous drive recently with its call on Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle to resign his position in order “to save the state from collapse”.

To put its message across the party, had to embark on a show of shame by assembling journalists in a desperate but failed move to paint Matawalle in a bad light.

The press conference was addressed by no other person but the sacked former Executive Secretary of the state’s Zakkat and Endowment Board, Prof Kabiru Jabaka. And the PDP’s grouse against the governor which triggered the press conference was his perceived “lukewarm attitude to the suffering of the rural people who are at the receiving end” of banditry activities in the state. Isn’t this laughable to say the least?

When did the PDP begin to empathize with the suffering of the rural people in the state? How can the PDP which is the mastermind of the banditry which has caused a lot of havoc across the state for many years suddenly become the pro-people’s advocate over night?
However, the people of the state cannot be fooled by their antics, they know that this sudden display of emotion does not actually come from the heart.

The smear campaign against Matawalle can be likened to a final struggle of a sinking ship whose captain has lost all hope of survival. It’s public knowledge that the PDP in the State has been on life-support since the defection of Governor Matawalle and it takes just a switch of the button for its funeral to be announced.

And ahead of 2023 general elections, the party’s days of reckoning will soon come.
But who will blame PDP for its onslaught against Matawalle? The party, as analysts are wont to argue, have every reason to be bitter. Beyond ensuring its demise by joining the APC, Matawalle has shown that improving the living condition of the people is not negotiable; he has equally proved that bandits are not faceless and ghosts as the peole were made to believe in the past by bringing them out from their hideouts to negotiation table for dialogue; he has been able to send the message that bandits are defeatable.

So the PDP and its key members who have been hitherto benefiting from chaos orchestrated by the bandits have every reason to be pissed and even envious over the turn of events in Zamfara State.

During the so called press conference, Prof Jabaka also accused Matawalle of traveling to Niger Republic to “watch wrestling competition while the state is burning on daily basis without concern”, while also lamenting the state of education with the closure of schools. Jakada in the same breathe, acknowledged the importance of collaboration with the government of Niger Republic in stemming the tide of banditry in the state but said the timing of Matawlle’s visit to the neighbouring country was wrong. Now our learned professor seems confused here isn’t he?

At least, he understands that getting the support of our neighbours in routing out what is clearly a transborder crime is important, but saying that a sitting chief executive will just abandon his duty post and the masses he swore to protect and has been doing so even at the detriment of his own life, was absurd. And for the professor to have gone public with such notion and utterances shows how low people of supposed high standing could descend to score political point.

Another issue that put the make-believe high integrity of the professor to question is his sudden concern for the long closure of schools owing to the security situation in the state. As an academic, a distant observer would feel that the professor’s ‘concern’ was borne out of love for his calling, but every Zamfara person knows that his position is another failed gimmick aimed at throwing dirt at Matawalle since he was the same man that threw the thought of the deprived to the bushes when while as Chairman of the Zakkat Board, he pocketed the funds meant for the underprivileged, orphans and widows only to start printing posters to show his interest in a senatorial position, come 2023.

It is a failed attempt because every Zamafarian knows that the PDP’s hands are soiled deep in the lingering bloodbath in the state. A look at the party’s hierarchy in the state tells the glaring story of an ownership between the father and a son.

General Aliyu Gusau is a well known top notch of the party at the national level, while his son, Mahdi Ali Gusau is its leader in the state.
During a recent press conference by the APC in tne state, its Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Yusuf Idris alleged that General Gusau’s involvement in bandits activities in the state is deep.
Over the decade, there have been speculations that banditry was just a mere cover for activities of certain highly placed individuals who are profiting from the large deposits of goldmines in the state.

These individuals have been in the shadows, directing activities behind the scene, plundering the state dry of it’s huge mineral deposits while obliterating their footprints with the blood of the innocents. Mention are made of influential politicians, top military officials serving and retired, highly connected businessmen in hush voices, operating as cartel in this massive plunder of our commonwealth.

But the APC briefing of Tuesday, January 4th has given us something to ponder about and thrown up many questions begging for answers. Above all it dragged our very revered General to the court of public opinion which only him can wriggle himself from.

Many are wont to give the revelation by the APC a political colouration by dismissing it as mere opponent’s rant but the accusations are two weighty to be so waved aside. And that is why it is imperative for the security agencies to immediately initiate an investigation into the matter to unravel the true situation of things.

As we await the federal government or the accused to initiate the probe, as citizens the General and his co-travellers owe us an explanations on some of the issues raised during the media interface. We need to know whether the General has a stake in the mining operations in the state as was alleged. The clarification we seek does not amount to questioning his right to invest and own property in his home state but in view of the immense threat mining prospection posed to the citizens both environmental and security wise, but to put the record straight.

That gold mining is linked to insecurity is common knowledge. The rush for Zamfara gold has come with a steep price which the citizens have continued to pay daily with their blood. So there is need for him to clarify whether he is part of the cartel running things there to our detriment.

Apart from the general insecurity thrown up by activities of bandits, there is also the environmental degradation caused by the exploration activities by miners. Large chunk of our farm lands are already under threat with greater portion already lost in the areas that serve as mining.

The unfortunate development has been undermining our position as one of the leading food producers in the country. This is in addition to the health hazards caused by mining activities and its implications on the citizens especially the youth and women who served as labour hands and have died as a result of lead poison related diseases.

Supposing the General is even involved as has been alleged, does he control 70 percent of the operating licences and owned several sites? This is important because it will give insight into how much havoc he is causing us economically and otherwise.

Another issue the General needs to clarify is whether he aided or is aiding the activities of illegal miners of Chinese nationals in the state. In one of such cases, 11 Chinese nationals allegedly brought by him were said to have been released on bail after their arrest, to his son who is the deputy governor.

Why would the deputy governor stand as surety for arrested Chinese illegal miners if the family has no link to them? It was learnt that the resort to illegal miners was as a result of the stoppage of mining activities by the federal government as a measure to halting insecurity in the state.

Despite government effort to stem the rising insecurity, more Chinese nationals are being smuggled in to carry out the nefarious activities.

In 2020, 125 of illegal miners were arrested by the joint task force in one operation alone.
We all know how illegal mining caused the demise of 163 people between March and June in 2010 in the state due to lead poisoning which polluted water sources including wells and rivers. Yet certain elements are hellbent in allowing such activities to thrive for their own shellfish interests.
Lawali Zaki Imrana, writes from Kofar Nasarawa, Kano, Kano State.

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