Despite frequently blaming traditional rulers in the state for aggravating the security and humanitarian crisis in the state, the governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, on Wednesday distributed 260 luxury cars to these traditional rulers.
The cars include several 2019 Cadillac models.
Mr Matawalle has frequently blamed traditional rulers in the state for allegedly aiding the terrorists, also known as bandits, who are carrying out a campaign of violence in the state.
The gunmen primarily attack rural and farming communities.
Many communities in the state now pay protection taxes to these gunmen.
Those that refuse or cannot pay up are attacked, their livestock rustled, farms destroyed and residents either killed or abducted.
The state is plagued by widespread violence, and poverty that had resulted from an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.
Mr Matawalle has also blamed some chiefs for setting up their own vigilantes, which he said are provoking a vicious cycle of reprisal attacks.
In October 2019, a committee set up by the governor to proffer solutions to the violence in the state stated that some traditional rulers were colluding with bandits, and recommended their dethronement.
The committee, headed by a former Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammad Abubakar, also disclosed the bandits had collected over N3 billion as ransoms from the families of abducted persons in the state.
The governor is yet to implement most of the recommendations of his own committee.
His spokesperson, Zailani Bappa, told this newspaper the governor dethroned two first-class emirs for allegedly supporting bandits.
Mr Bappa said the car gifts were part of the efforts of the state government to solve the lingering security challenges in the state.
He pointed out that in the same vein; the government gave 200 Toyota Hilux vehicles to security agencies in the state to aid their operations.
“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,” Mr Bappa added.
“The car donations from the state Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs was part of the responsibilities of the government being delivered to the traditional rulers just as other government ministries are also doing without people saying nothing.
“The government has completed and will commission 147 primary healthcare centres in all the political wards across the 14 local government areas. That was despite being among the state with least federal allocation and poor Internally Generated Revenue.
“The government has constructed 1000 classroom blocks across the state and employed 600 teachers. The car distribution has not in any way stop other developmental projects the government has embarked upon,” Mr Bappa told PREMIUM TIMES late on Wednesday.
Car distribution ceremony
In a statement, the government said the vehicles were commissioned by the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, at the Government House in Gusau.
The statement added that Mr Matawalle said the gift was a gesture to recognise the status of the traditional institutions as the custodians of religion, culture and vehicle of cohesion and peace in the state.
“It is in view of the high esteem with which my administration regards our traditional leaders and institutions that we decided to procure brand new cars, Cadillac 2019 Model, for 17 Emirs, 13 Senior District Heads and 230 District Heads across the State,” he said.
“Governor Matawalle assured that his administration will continue to work with traditional and religious leaders to ensure lasting peace and harmony in the state.
“I would like to assure you that my administration will continue to work in line with the mission of uplifting the dignity and sanctity of our traditional institutions through all possible means. We are currently rehabilitating and reconstructing some of the palaces of our emirs across the State. Some of these projects would soon be completed, the spokesperson,” Mr Bappa said in the statement.