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Zamfara: On DMO’s N14.26bn funds and APC’s macabre dance

Happenings in Zafara State this past week have shown that the APC in the state and all its vuvuzelas have surrendered their shame and dignity…

Happenings in Zafara State this past week have shown that the APC in the state and all its vuvuzelas have surrendered their shame and dignity as an offering and/or groveling ticket at the doorstep of the federal mascot who prances as its head. The comments by APC in the wake of the communication by the Debt Management Office (DMO) that Zamfara State has N14.26 billion of money waiting somewhere and the claims by the APC spokesperson in Zamfara state “that former Governor Matawalle did not fail to collect the total sum of N20 billion on the said loan rather, it was largely due to his carefulness and prudence that he decided to only utilise the funds as the contract progressed” is the saddest joke of the year. Had they any shame, they ought not to have said something so pungent to the public.

Whereas I don’t hold brief for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, led government of Dauda Lawal Dare, it is easy to laugh off the above suggestions by the APC. When details of the Gusau Airport were shared by the current government, they made it clear that the amounts claimed to have been spent on the project can’t be justified based on the level of work done. Contracts were alleged to have been ballooned out of proportion. The erstwhile governor and the APC didn’t register any serious defence of the alleged outrageous airport expenditure at that time, and I can only assume it was because the evidence presented by the current government was incontrovertible. I find it rather insulting that these same people are now registering a very watery explanation.

To claim that N14.26 billion and $655.563 belonging to the people of Zamfara state have been stashed somewhere presupposes that these monies were moved from where Matawalle left them to an unknown storage until the DMO exposed them. In actual fact, however, the new governor simply has not accessed the borrowed funds. The insinuation of the APC spokesperson, in his badly concocted press release that Matawalle left the state with billions of funds is that Governor Dauda is trying to deny the availability of the said funds because of an ulterior motive.

Unfortunately for the APC, they didn’t realise that in conceptualising that poorly written press release, they have indicted the former governor and promoted the government of Dauda Lawal Dare. This is because, unlike Matawalle who borrowed for the sake of the airport project but ended up with nothing to show for it, Dauda Lawal Dare has resisted the temptation to tamper with the remaining funds perhaps until such a time when he is very sure he could utilise it for the airport project. If this is the case, then it is a prudent gesture, indeed. So, who, between the under minister of defence and the current governor, has demonstrated more shame and restraints?

I have said it before that it is criminal for a party that got power and bungled it to even comment on the affairs of the one that unseated it, especially when such comments are all but an attempt to indict and inflict fatal injuries on themselves. This is exactly what the APC has done. The Zamfara state government has explained that it didn’t borrow any money, nor has it stashed the money away. I think the APC’s self-serving public statement is a confirmation of the party’s unwillingness to acknowledge the failure of the former governor, especially in areas where the current governor is leaving a trail of positive impact.

Matawalle left all sectors of the economy in shambles and accumulated a debt of N1.4bn which led to WAEC withholding results of citizens. In contrast, Dauda Lawal has made appreciable progress steadying the economic feet of the state while also intervening to cause WAEC to release all withheld certificates of many students who may have been denied tertiary education as a result of the seized documents. And where Matawalle fought insecurity with lamentations, Dauda is facing it with action. The establishment of the ZCPG and the governor’s recent interface with the chief of defence staff requesting for more military deployment in the state is evidence that he would act, collaborate, and lobby reinforcements rather than hobnob with criminals and cry foul in the end.

Everywhere one looks across Zamfara state, the evidence of modest progress is visible. Had Matawalle focused on governance while he reigned as governor, Governor Dauda will not have to almost start from the scratch. Health centres and schools are undergoing a general overhaul across all the local government areas of the state. Strategic roads are being constructed to ease the movement of goods and services and raise the economic profile of the state. Agriculture is also firmly receiving the attention it deserves. Only recently, Governor Dauda launched the distribution of agricultural assets and vital farm inputs to farmers in Birnin Magaji, Zurmi, and Kauran Namoda local government areas of the state. And instead of commending the government, the APC which had been in hibernation chose this time to bare their faces of shame.

The good news about the APC’s shenanigans is that we witnessed Matawalle’s reign as we are witnessing Dauda’s and the difference is as clear as night and day. The people of Zamfara state are capable of differentiating between the propaganda-packed government of Matawalle which they rejected, and the steady feet governance of Dauda. Like me, I am sure they don’t need the APC to tell them how to hold Governor Dauda accountable when the time comes.

Umar Sani writes from Gusau, Zamfara State

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