The outcome of the just concluded Zamfara State Governorship Election which saw the incumbent Governor Bello Matawalle of the All Progressives Congress (APC) failing to retain his seat is one of the greatest shocks of the 2023 elections as the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) finally regained the control of the state.
Matawalle lost to PDP’s Dauda Lawal Dare who scored 377,726 votes as against Matawalle’s 311, 976 votes.
The PDP is no doubt the number one winner having suffered what appeared a betrayal of trust by the Governor who came to power gratuitously by virtue of the Supreme Court judgement which nullified the Zamfara APC Governorship primaries a week to the May 29, 2019 inauguration of a new government.
The then outgoing Governor Abdul-Aziz Yari was fighting tooth and nail with another chieftain of the party, Senator Kabir Marafa for the control of the party machinery. The struggle for the soul of the party between the two gladiators resorted in disputed primary elections where the camp of Yari produced the Governorship candidate in person of Mukhtar Idris who eventually won the Election and other candidates of the party.
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The APC won the election convincingly with Idris, Yari’s anointed candidate, being declared the winner of the election, having polled 534,541 votes to defeat his closest opponent, Matawalle of the PDP who scored 189,452 votes.
However, Marafa camp continued to pursue its case in court that the primary was not properly conducted and in May 24, just five days to the inauguration of a new government, the Supreme Court decided the case by nullifying the primaries conducted by the Yari camp of APC. It also went ahead to void all the votes recorded during the elections for the Governorship and Legislative elections for National and State Assemblies.
The Supreme Court in a unanimous judgement by a five-member panel decided that a party that had no valid candidate cannot be said to have emerged winner of the recently conducted general elections.
So, the first runner up in the election automatically became the winner after the judgement.
This was how Matawalle, who was then the PDP candidate and came a dist ant second in the election, suddenly found himself in the Government House, in what appeared like a dream. He didn’t even come close to the winner, to think of challenging the outcome in court.
But he was lucky to benefit from the misfortunes of the ruling party to become the governor of the state only to dump the party which gave him the platform as is the case with many politicians.
On June 29, 2021, just about two years after his inauguration through the apex court verdict, Matawalle dumped the PDP for the APC and became the leader of the ruling party in the state.
Amidst shock and disbelief, the Governor joined the ruling party, fighting tooth and nail to ascertain his authority as the new leader of the party in the state. His reign was characterised by the increasing activities of bandits whom he worked tirelessly to defeat.
He also came hard on traditional rulers suspected of backing or having links with bandits terrorising the state while he also empowered state vigilantes to join forces with the security agencies in battling bandits in communities and villages in the North West state.
Several factors maybe responsible for his defeat in the just concluded election but the most potent is said to be the fractured state of APC in the state which has seen chieftains and loyalists working at cross purposes to the advantage of the opposition PDP as the outcome of the Saturday’s election has shown.
And from May 29, 2023, the PDP is set to bounce back, by effectively taking over the position of governing the state after suffering a betrayal of trust from its one-time Governor Matawalle.
In this, Matawalle is the greatest loser of the election.