Although he came second in the March governorship election in Zamfara, Bello Matawalle has been a key political player both at the federal and state levels for several years.
The 49-year-old Peoples Democratic Party candidate has been in the political space for at least 20 years, serving as commissioner and member of the House of Representatives.
The March 9 governorship election was his first shot at becoming a governor. He lost out after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) permitted the All Progressives Congress (APC) to field a candidate barely 24 hours to the day of the election.
The electoral body declared the APC candidate, Muktar Idris, winner of the polls.
The collation officer, Kabiru Bala, a professor at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, said the APC candidate polled 534,541 to defeat Mr Matawalle who got a distant 189,452.
Mr Matawalle rejected the result and vowed to “reclaim his stolen mandate” at the elections petitions tribunal.
He said his victory was fraudulently given to the APC and that the election was marred by malpractices in all local government areas of the state.
He also expressed certainty that the court would rule in his favour based on facts and figures at his disposal.
The Supreme Court on Friday ruled against the victory of the APC in the state. The court said the APC did not conduct valid primaries in the buildup to the 2019 general elections in Zamfara.
The ruling was in validation of the judgement of the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, which ruled that no valid primaries were conducted by the APC in Zamfara State.
The Supreme Court also ruled that the candidate with the second highest number of votes in the election, and who meets the constitutional requirement, should be declared winner of the election – thereby making Mr Matawalle a potential governor-elect of Zamfara.
The electoral commission, INEC, is however, yet to declare Mr Matawalle governor elect.
‘Penury to Eldorado’
During his campaign, Mr Matawalle said he would transform the state from “penury to Eldorado” within a few months of his administration if elected as governor of the state.
He blamed the APC-led government for the “total failure” in the state, and pledged to implement formidable economic reforms that would make the state self-reliant.
Speaking at one of his campaigns, he promised to revive paralysed sectors in the state including the civil service and the public health sector.
Born in Maradun Local Government Area of Zamfara on December 12, 1969, Mr Matawalle attended Maradun Township Primary School finishing in 1979. He also studied at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos and Thames Valley University, London.
He worked under the Ministry of Health, in the former Sokoto and as a teacher in Government Girls College Moriki and Kwatarkoshi, before joining the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Abuja, from where he joined politics in 1998 under defunct United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP).
From May 1999 to 2003, he served as Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Commissioner for Environment, Rural Development and then Commissioner for Youth and Sports.
In May 2003, he was elected as member representing Bakura/Maradun Federal Constituency under ANPP. In the House he served as chairman House Committee on Ethics and Privileges, the Position he held till 2007.pix
He was re-elected for a second term in 2007 and decided “in the interest of his people” to decamp from ANPP to PDP which he did in 2009 and in 2011, he was re-elected for a third term under the platform of the PDP.
Mr Matawalle said that he would focus on three key issues – security, education and health – if elected in 2019, and that the state would only move forward if the three sectors were given the attention they deserved.
He also promised to look into some basic social welfare needs of poor people, saying that efforts would be made to avail them of some support to improve their living standards.
He has also expressed worry about the security situation in Zamfara, and promised to run an open administration that would accommodate inputs from all segments of the population to tackle the menace.