There’s no problem that money cannot solve unless that problem is wastefulness, as we may be witnessing in Zamfara State.
Zamfara hasn’t been famous for a lot of great things over the past few years. There’s the case of its gold deposits that pops up every now and then, a recent ugly impeachment of a deputy governor and the dozens of terrorist attacks that usually leave many people dead or displaced.
Zamfara State is one of the worst affected states by escalating insecurity that has resulted in thousands of deaths across Nigeria. That gold thing we mentioned a couple of sentences ago is one of the biggest reasons for insecurity in the state.
The illegal mining of gold is a constant source of conflict that has escalated banditry and the trend of kidnapping for ransom in Zamfara. The situation has been so dire that the Federal Government has banned mining entirely a few times in the state in a bid to regain control of the situation. The bans have not worked out so well seeing as the violence has continued.
When Bello Matawalle was sworn in as Zamfara governor in 2019, one of the biggest problems he inherited was insecurity. And since then, he’s tried a few tricks of his own to bring peace back to the state.
One of the governor’s genius ideas was to sign amnesty deals with terrorists to stop their terrorist doings in exchange for freedom and benefits. Material benefits like cars as well as monetary gifts were on the table. If a terrorist could swear on the Quran that they would stop terrorising, they were forgiven.
A lot of critics weren’t on board with this amnesty arrangement, but Matawalle was confident it was the silver bullet to end terrorism in the state. It didn’t work, of course, and the governor complained that the terrorists betrayed him.
It’s like blaming water for being wet.
The failure of the amnesty programme is why the governor is trying out something new.
Matawalle’s big solution
Since 2018, more than half a dozen traditional rulers in Zamfara have been suspended or dethroned after they were suspected of having links with terrorists.
We imagine this is what was playing on the mind of Governor Matawalle when he stumbled on a new genius idea to solve insecurity once and for all.
On April 6th 2022, the governor presented brand new Cadillac cars to 260 traditional rulers in Zamfara. The governor said the luxury gift was a recognition of the status of traditional institutions as the custodians of religion, culture and vehicles of cohesion and peace.
More specifically, Matawalle’s spokesperson, Zailani Bappa, said the gift will help in the fight against terrorism. Bappa said, “The traditional rulers are playing critical roles in the security of the state and the car donations will also strengthen their efforts to address the challenges.”
We assume that he doesn’t mean these traditional rulers will drive Cadillacs into the forests to confront terrorists like it’s a Fast and Furious film. So, what’s the point of this gift?
Data from the National Social Registry (NSR) shows Zamfara has the highest number of poor and vulnerable people in Nigeria, with a record of 3.8 million people. This makes Matawalle’s donation ring as tone-deaf, settling traditional rulers with gifts that cost billions of naira. And worse, driving a narrative that it’s for the good of everyone.
If anyone thinks the Cadillac gift has anything to do with solving insecurity, we have an always-functional national grid to sell you. If we had to guess, this generous donation has more to do with the 2023 general elections than the government’s insecurity claim.