Against the ideals of his openly declared war against corruption in the state, Zamfara State Governor, Alhaji Bello Muhammad Matawalle is alleged to have spent a whopping N1billion to woo key members of the main-opposition-All Progressives Congress (APC) to join the ruling – Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The amount, it was learnt was distributed last month to APC stalwarts including elected Council Chairmen, their deputies, about 103 Councillors and other vocal members of the APC in the state, whose presence in the state chapter of PDP, the Governor is said to have desperately needed.
Part of the money was also spent on “logistics” to stage defection rallies in the state, it was gathered.
DAILY ASSET was informed that a secret meeting between the Governor and the affected Council Chairmen held in Sokoto early February, where arrangements were perfected for the elected chairmen to defect to PDP.
A source familiar with deliberations at the meeting disclosed that each of the defecting chairmen was given the US Dollar equivalent of N36 million, while other whopping amounts were extended to their deputies, councillors and other stalwarts of the party to enable their preparation for the grand defection.
Following the Sokoto meeting, nine of the 14 council chairmen had defected on February 8, at a grand ceremony in Gusau, the Zamfara state capital.
Those who defected include the State Chairman, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) and Chairman, Birnin Magaji LGC, Alhaji Muhammadu Umar; his Vice, Alhaji Salisu Isah Dangulbi, the Chairman, Maru LGC; Secretary of ALGON and Chairman, Bukkuyyum LGC, Alhaji Nasiru Masamar Mudi.
Others include the ALGON Public Relations Officer and Chairman of Anka LGC, Alhaji Ahmed Balarabe Anka; the Chairman, Kaura Namoda LGC, Alhaji Lawali Abdullahi and Maradun LGC, Alhaji Shehu Muhammad Faru.
The rest are Bungudu LGC Boss, Alhaji Abdulaziz Ahmed Nhuche; Tsafe LGC Chairman, Alhaji Aminu Mudi Tsafe; and Zumi Council Chairman, Dr. Ahmed Auwal Bawa Moriki.
Spokesman of ALGON in the state, who is also the chairman of Anka LGC, Alhaji Ahmed Balarabe Anka, while defending the action of his colleagues, said the decision to join PDP was as a result of the leadership style of the Governor, which has led to the restoration of peace and tranquillity in all parts of the state within a short period of his assumption of office.
In spite of the gale of defections, the Chairmen of Gusau, Gummi, Talata Mafara, Bakura and Shinkafi LGCs have stood their ground and resisted the pressure to defect, it was learnt.
The five Chairmen are said to be loyal to the former Governor, Dr Abdulaziz Yari, who is at a dagger-drawn with the governor as far as politics of the state was concerned.
The 14 council chairmen were elected in the twilight of the Yari administration on the platform of the APC, when it was clear that he had lost the bid to control the state following a Supreme Court judgment, which recognised Matawalle as the duly elected Governor of the state.
A top member of the APC in the State, who spoke with DAILY ASSET said the gale of defections was strange in the political culture of the state, adding that the governor’s political activities smack of a secret political agenda that was yet to be revealed.
“What we see happen is that people defect when elections approach but the Governor is mobilizing new members to the party less than one year into his tenure, this is strange to some of us”, said the politician, a one-time Commissioner in the state.
Meanwhile, discontent has set into the camp of the PDP as the new members of the party appear to be receiving better patronage and attention from the Governor.
Party elders who spoke to DAILY ASSET on condition of anonymity said a gulf was emerging between old members of the party and the Governor.
“The elders of this party find it difficult to see the Governor to discuss serious issues affecting the party but he opens his doors widely to the new defectors from APC,” an elder said.
Asked why the elders have not petitioned the National secretariat of the party, the source said they were afraid of victimization.
“If you speak out, the consequences are clear, you will be branded a bandit or sponsor of banditry and treated like a criminal by the powers that be in the party and other powerful government officials,” he stated.
The source queried why the Governor was committing huge amounts of money to “procure political support” while refusing to pay pension allowances to former governors and other public office holders in the state saying it was a contradiction of his anti-corruption stance.
“If the Governor is fighting corruption and at the same time using state funds to buy political support, what else do you call corruption?” the elder queried.