Tinubu, Lawal Dare and mainstreaming of Zamfara state

 

Although Nigeria operates a federation as a system of government, the components cooperate and complement each other in ensuring the smooth running of the country. Zamfara state, no doubt, is strategic to the smooth running of Nigeria at the moment because the state is endowed with huge mineral resources. Unfortunately, in the last decade, the state has witnessed the worse form of violence.

However, since May 29, 2023 when Governor Dauda Lawal was sworn in as the executive governor of the agrarian state, tides are beginning to turn. Suffice to say that before this current administration, Zamfara was always in the news for the wrong reasons – criminal bloodletting and bandits holding communities hostage and collecting tributes from villagers. 

This was to the extent that the international community and multilateral institutions became gravely concerned about the carnage in the state. Hitherto, Zamfara was synonymous with banditry and extortion, raising grave concerns within the international community.

Curiously, since Governor Lawal took over, some measure of peace has returned to the state. This has been attributed to myriad of reasons, principal among which is the purity of Lawal’s motives, and a no-nonsense approach to security matters. Before his time, we have seen government giving bandit leaders largesse to pacify them. That nonsense has stopped. The policy in Zamfara now is “if you do anyhow, you see anyhow.”

Governor Lawal committed himself to tackling insecurity, approving the recruitment of civilian JTFs in all local government areas. These recruits underwent rigorous training to support security agencies with intelligence gathering. Additionally, regular patrols on vulnerable roads and repairs of dilapidated patrol vehicles were carried out.

He also collaborated effective with the government at the center. Despite belonging to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, analysts have applauded him for his power synergy. After all, a sensible politician like Lawal will not prioritise party loyalty above security of lives and property. 

This explains why opinion leaders are urging Governor Dauda Lawal to intensify his collaboration and cooperation with the President Bola Tinubu Renewed Hope government, which has demonstrated in clear terms that governance that delivers the expectations of the people comes first before party loyalty. 

We have seen President Tinubu intervene as swiftly in matters that concern even the opposition-led states. On the other hand, some experts have linked the peace that is gradually returning to Zamfara state with good governance. Since poverty is one of the leading causative factors of insecurity, it then means that when good governance is in place, security issues begin to get resolved.

Lawal’s success is attributed to several factors, primarily his unwavering commitment to security and a no-nonsense approach. He replaced the policy of appeasing bandits with a firm stance, emphasising the consequence for wrongdoing.

Furthermore, he demonstrated remarkable cooperation, even across party lines. Despite belonging to the opposition PDP, he collaborated effectively with the central government led by President Tinubu. This collaboration highlights how prioritising security over party loyalty can yield positive results.

From crisis to progress, Governor Lawal’s achievements in Zamfara stand tall. Let me emphasise the fact that Lawal inherited a state crippled by the previous administrations’ mismanagement. Through sheer determination, he has achieved significant progress.

For three years, Gusau, the state capital, grappled with severe water shortage. Residents were forced to use nearby rivers for basic needs, posing health risks. Within 14 days of taking office, Lawal’s administration resolved this critical issue.

Apart from farming, Zamfara can also be classified as a civil service state, with issues of unpaid salaries. The previous administration had neglected to pay salaries for four months, causing immense hardship for workers. Lawal promptly identified funds and cleared the backlog, providing relief to local government employees and primary school teachers.

This astounding performance can only come as a surprise to those who are not familiar with Lawal’s track record. For the benefit of hindsight, before he became the governor, the Zamfara state chief security officer was already an established leader in the Nigerian banking industry and is known to be one of the key players in the financial sector of the Nigerian economy, as he served as the executive director, Public Sector, North, of First Bank of Nigeria Plc.

Lawal graduated from Ahmadu Bello University in 1987 with BSc. in political science. He obtained an MSc. in political science/international relations from the same university in 1992, and holds a PhD in business administration from Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, before going further to develop himself by taking courses at prestigious universities, including the London School of Economics, Harvard Business School, Oxford University Business School, Massachusetts, USA; Wharton Business School, Pennsylvania; Oxford University Business School; International Faculty of Finance, London; Fitch Training, London & New York, and Lagos Business School, among others.

Lawal is a man with wide experience. He started his working career in 1989 as a political education officer at the Agency for Mass Mobilization for Social and Economic Reliance Nigeria. In 1989, he joined Westex Nigeria Limited as an assistant general manager. In 1994, he was appointed as an assistant consular officer (immigration), and later chief protocol officer, Embassy of Nigeria, Washington, D.C., US. 

He joined First Bank of Nigeria Plc in May 2003 as relationship manager, commercial banking, and was at various times senior manager, Abuja Area office, business development manager, Abuja, principal manager, group head, PSG II, assistant general manager (business development manager), Maitama, deputy general manager (business development manager), Maitama/group head public sector, Abuja. 

Between October 2010 and September 2011, Lawal was elevated to the position of executive vice president, public sector North, of First Bank of Nigeria Plc. In September 2012 he became executive director, Public Sector North, of First Bank of Nigeria Plc.

When Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was Central Bank Governor, Lawal served as his special adviser on Islamic banking, leading reforms that have since allowed the emergence of Jaiz, TAJ & Lotus banks.

Lawal worked sedulously surpassing his targets regularly. Between 2010 and 2011, Lawal rose to be the Executive Vice President, Public Sector North, of First Bank of Nigeria Plc. He joined the Board of First Bank in 2012 & became Executive Director, Public Sector North In 2014, he vied for the position of MD/CEO of First Bank. He lost the race by just a single vote and he resigned from the bank.

Lawal, alongside his very old friend, Munir Umaru Baba, started Credent Capital and Advisory Limited. They launched it with an initial capital base of $500 million which was about N100 billion. With just 15 skilled investment staff, they have invested & managed over $2 billion or N1 trillion for 175+ clients across the world since then.

Lawal also has an honourary doctorate degree in Business Administration (DBA) from Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto. He received the prestigious African Achievers Award in 2021 at the Kensington Palace London.

Against the foregoing bumper resume, there is no way he wouldn’t have performed as governor. Last week, five bandit leaders were said to have been killed in the state. In a bid to solve the security challenges, Lawal’s first port of call was the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the service chiefs, a visit that had synergy as its major prime. 

Recently, when I visited Zamfara state on my way from Sokoto, I noticed a lot of changes. A friend and serving intelligence boss took me round on a tour of six local government areas of the state. As I interacted with people of the state, members of different political parties unanimously said that Governor Dare is their pride, and that they hopefully know that one day President Tinubu will commission projects and give kudos to the security and intelligence corps, both serving and retired, in the state.

Analysts and opinion leaders have urged Lawal to continue the collaboration, citing President Tinubu’s prompt intervention in matters concerning opposition-led states. This collaborative spirit demonstrates that national progress supersedes party affiliation.

God bless Nigeria!