Matawalle, who governed insecurity-plagued Zamfara appointed as minister of state for defence under Tinubu

PRESIDENT Bola Tinubu on Wednesday announced the appointment of Bello Mattawalle, the former Zamfara state governor, as the Minister of State for Defence.

Mattawalle’s previous role as governor was marked by heavy criticism due to insecurity issues that plagued Zamfara state under his administration.

Others whose appointments were announced are former governor of Rivers State Nyesom Wike as Minister for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mairiga Mahmud as Minister of State and several others listed here.

Mattawalle, who served as the governor of Zamfara state between May 2019 to 2023, left the state as one of the worst hit by terrorist attacks in Nigeria. Attacks by a group of terrorists known as bandits went rampant under his watch leading to the killing of thousands of people in the state and across the Northwest region of the country.

While the responsibility for safeguarding citizens’ lives and property falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government, state governments often contribute additional efforts to address security challenges within their respective states.

During Matawalle’s tenure, Agriculture which is the major source of income for the residents of the state suffered devastation as these terrorists continued to impose protection levies before being allowed to cultivate farmlands or harvest ripe crops.

Some measures which were introduced by him to address the challenge such as shutting down telecommunication, restriction of vehicular movements, shutdown of markets and directing police to allow the residents to bear arms failed to put an end to the menace. Death due to terrorist attacks rose from 307 in 2018 to 743 in 2021 and 650 in 2022.

Prior to Mattawalle’s departure from office, terrorist activities such as abductions, looting, and killings escalated throughout the state. In some parts of the state, the terrorists run parallel administrations, collecting taxes and levies and making laws.

His appointment as the minister of state defence means he’s to work with Mohammed Badaru, who would be heading the ministry of defence.

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The Ministry of Defence, is a government agency with the statutory responsibility of overseeing the defence profile of the country from the perspective of the Armed Forces. It supervises the Defence Headquarters, the Services namely, Army, Navy and Air Force as well as Tri-Services Institutions/Parastatals.

Matawalle’s track record as a governor in terms of security casts doubt on his ability and capacity to oversee a ministry that focuses on protecting the lives and properties of Nigerians, however, some pundits are of the opinion that it makes him apt for the position.

President Tinubu’s list of ministerial nominees submitted to the senate had earlier been criticised as being stacked with recycled politicians rewarded for their loyalty to him and the party. The list includes a notable count of nine former state governors and other politicians who had previously held office.

Observers have raised concerns, noting that the president’s political considerations appeared to have taken precedence over his earlier commitment to forming a cabinet majorly peopled by technocrats.

Included in the list are ex-governors who are under criminal probes for allegedly embezzling public funds in their states. One is Atiku Bagudu who was accused of helping the late Sani Abacha, the brutal military dictator to loot public funds and likewise, Matawalle being investigated over alleged N70 billion theft through fraudulent contracts awarded by his administration. 

The ICIR had reported that killings by non-state actors have continued unabated in many places in Nigeria a few weeks after President Bola Tinubu was sworn in as the president of Nigeria.

Data from SBM Intelligence, an analysis platform, revealed that about 629 Nigerians were killed by non-state actors between May 29 and July 13, 2023.

In his victory speech after securing the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential ticket in June 2022, Tinubu promised to eliminate criminals and terrorists and restore peace and harmony to the troubled states.

Despite the promise made by the President to hit the ground running, data from various sources have revealed that the insecurity issues is yet to improve under Tinubu’s administration.

According to a recent report from the civil society organization Global Rights Nigeria, approximately 555 individuals lost their lives and 267 were taken captive within six weeks after President Tinubu assumed office. The findings, as presented by Edosa Oviawe, the Country Manager of Global Rights Nigeria, during a two-day ‘Conflict Sensitive Reporting Training for Journalists’ event in Abuja, were drawn from a combination of media reports, civil society input, and security agency information.



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    Furthermore, Amnesty International released a report on June 14 indicating that shortly after President Tinubu’s inauguration, over 120 people were killed. 

    The report decried the attacks carried out by armed assailants, emphasizing that the safety of citizens should be the paramount concern of the new administration. 

    Given the persistent security issues that the nation is currently grappling with, it is anticipated that the president would select individuals with proven competence and capacity for critical security roles such as the Ministry of Defence. 

    However, it remains uncertain whether Mattawalle will contribute positively to his cabinet.

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    Nurudeen Akewushola is an investigative reporter and fact-checker with The ICIR. He believes courageous in-depth investigative reporting is the key to social justice, accountability and good governance in society. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 on Twitter.

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    1. The man who was not tackle Insecurity when he was Governor in Zamfara it’s him appointed Minister of State Defense’ I think he will use his opportunity to take the Situation on Seriously’ but last time he suppose to try that’ but even now he can I believe that! He knew who was trafficking them Weapons and taken they responsibilities Said’ Oumer Security Analyst Expert”


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