Understanding the hullabaloo behind call for Matawalle’s probe

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By Toby Prince

“Must we always kill our best?” This poignant question, credited to the late Ken Saro Wiwa, resonates deeply in the current political climate of Nigeria, particularly in the case of Bello Matawalle, the Minister of State for Defence. Matawalle, a former governor known for his vocal advocacy for the common masses, now finds himself at the center of a probe by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). One can’t help but resonate with Wiwa’s sentiments.

There seems to be an orchestrated campaign to undermine Matawalle’s efforts and derail him from his ministerial duties. It is a lamentable situation where those who are keen on disrupting peace and progress are hell-bent on pulling down those who strive to uphold them. This probe, however, appears to be less about justice and more about political manoeuvring. This move reeks of desperation and hatred, as it is clear that the petitioners are hell-bent on punishing Matawalle for his hardened support for this administration and his unrelenting efforts to combat banditry in Zamfara and other parts of the country.

It is crucial to recognise that Matawalle’s vocal stance against insecurity and his determination to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians have made him a thorn in the flesh of those who benefit from the status quo. His commitment to this administration and his unapologetic support for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu have earned him the ire of those who seek to undermine the government’s efforts.

Matawalle’s tenure as the governor of Zamfara State from 2019 to 2023 was marked by his relentless efforts to curb banditry and uplift the common masses. His persistence in getting support to combat banditry in the state was frustrated by powerful personalities that traded gains gotten from the continuity of insecurity. His dedication was such that he was ready to lose his immunity for the sake of the people. Now, as the Minister of State for Defence, he continues to serve with the same zeal and commitment. Yet, his detractors seem hell-bent on tarnishing his reputation and derailing his efforts.

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The EFCC’s probe into an alleged N70bn fraud during Matawalle’s tenure as governor is a classic example of this. The allegations, based on phantom contract awards and diversion of funds, were brought forth by the Tinubu Youth and Women Network. This group, led by Aliyu Yunusa, has been vocal in its demand for a swift investigation. However, one must question the motives behind this sudden urgency. It is no secret that Matawalle is a vocal and proud supporter of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. His unwavering support for the administration has earned him many admirers, but it has also made him a target for those who oppose the administration.

The hurriedly packaged petition against Matawalle seems to be a thinly veiled attempt to punish him for his political affiliations. They have failed to take into account the rigorous process of investigation that a probe entails. But one must ask, is this probe truly about ensuring justice, or is it a tool being used to silence a vocal supporter of the administration? The timing and circumstances surrounding the probe raise serious doubts about its legitimacy.

However, the EFCC’s response to the protesters, calling for a thorough investigation, is a welcome development. It is essential to ensure that any probe is thorough, impartial, and free from political interference. Matawalle’s innocence or guilt must be established through a fair and transparent process, rather than relying on unsubstantiated allegations and malicious petitions.

In a deep cross-examination of precedent occurrences leading to the vile protest, one can undoubtedly conclude that the call for Matawalle’s probe is nothing but a witch-hunt, orchestrated by forces that seek to discredit and silence him. This action is a disservice to a man who has dedicated his life to serving the people. More of a classic case of shooting the messenger, as Matawalle’s efforts to address the root causes of insecurity have exposed the complicity of some powerful individuals and groups. The petitioners, hiding behind the cloak of anonymity, are attempting to divert attention from the real issues, and creating a distraction from the progress being made in the fight against insecurity. This is a blatant attempt to discredit his efforts and undermine his contributions.

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In light of this, we must revisit and reaffirm our commitment to the fundamental principles of justice and fairness, which are the very cornerstones of our society. Every individual, including Matawale, is inherently entitled to the inviolable presumption of innocence until proven guilty, a sacrosanct right that must be upheld at all costs. We must resist the temptation to rush to judgment based on unsubstantiated allegations and instead allow the due process of law to unfold unhindered, permitting the truth to emerge organically. While the allegations of corruption are grave and warrant a thorough investigation, they must not be exploited as a political weapon to settle scores or silence dissenting voices. Matawale’s detractors, in their zeal to discredit him, have failed to recognise his unyielding resilience and unwavering dedication to his duties. Despite the allegations and the ongoing investigation, Matawalle continues to serve with unrelenting passion, remaining steadfast in his role as the Minister of State for Defence and persisting in his advocacy for the welfare of the common masses, a testament to his unshakeable commitment to the greater good.

Matawalle’s achievements as a former governor and his current efforts as Minister of State for Defence speak volumes about his dedication to the Nigerian people. His commitment to transparency and accountability has earned him the respect and admiration of many. It is, therefore, ludicrous to suggest that he is suddenly unfit for office or that he has become corrupt overnight.

In conclusion, the probe against Bello Matawalle appears to be more of a political vendetta than a genuine pursuit of justice. A handy work of political jobbers, whose unpatriotic pursuit is only based on selfish reasons and self-aggrandizement. It is a clear example of how political rivalries can overshadow the true purpose of institutions like the EFCC. Instead of being used as a tool for justice, the EFCC is being used as a weapon in a political battle. This is not only unjust to Matawalle but also undermines the credibility of the EFCC. The EFCC would do well to prove this obvious narrative wrong.

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Matawalle’s probe is nothing but a desperate attempt to discredit a vocal and effective leader. This is nothing short of a witch-hunt, rather than a genuine desire for accountability. We must not allow the forces of hatred and desperation to succeed in their efforts to undermine the progress being made in the fight against insecurity. Matawalle’s commitment to Nigeria and its people is unwavering, and we must stand with him against those who seek to destroy our country.

As we ponder on Ken Saro Wiwa’s question, “Must we always kill our best?” we must also ask ourselves, “Must we always let political rivalries overshadow the pursuit of justice?” The answer, undoubtedly, should be a resounding “No.” Let us transcend the mundane and divisive realm of petty politics, and instead, unite in our support for those selfless individuals who are tirelessly dedicating themselves to the noble pursuit of our nation’s advancement.

*Prince is a communication expert based in Abuja.

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