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PDP’s Matawalle inches closer to APC after Umahi, Ayade’s defection



The sack of political appointees by Zamfara Governor, Bello Matawalle has fueled speculation that he is set to dump the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the All Progressives Congress (APC).

On Tuesday, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Bala Bello and all 23 commissioners were fired.

A statement by the governor’s spokesman, Zailani Bappa also announced the sack of Chief of Staff, Bala Mande, his Deputy Bashir Maru, all heads, chairmen and members of commissions, boards and agencies.

Matawalle’s planned move is causing disquiet in the camp of former Governor, Abdulaziz Yari and former Zamfara Central Senator Kabir Marafa.

The battle between the duo ahead of the 2019 general elections caused the loss of the state to the PDP.

The parallel primaries they conducted was one of the reasons cited by the Supreme Court for giving victory to PDP candidates in the poll, including the governor.

In February 2021, the APC national leadership led by Yobe Governor, Mai Buni brokered peace, which led to the Yari-Marafa reconciliation

Sources say Matawalle faces stiff opposition from Yari, who governed the state for eight years and is regarded as APC leader.

On many occasions, his successor accused him of massive corruption and failure to crush banditry.

In May 2020, Matawalle commended the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for exposing Chinese nationals who tried to block investigations of a shoddy contract.

The anti-graft agency had, in a sting operation, arrested Messrs Meng Wei Kun and Xu Koi for offering a bribe to stop the probe of China Zhonghao Nig. Ltd, their employers.

The firm, according to the EFCC, mishandled N50 billion contracts awarded by the Yari administration between 2012 to 2019.

But Matawalle said he is still consulting, adding that he never told anyone he had plans to defect.

“There is nobody that I told I am moving to any party. But as someone who is well-groomed in politics, it is only fair to intimate my people about overtures towards me to seek their opinions,” he told Daily Trust.

If the Zamfara helmsman eventually defects, he would be the third governor to join the APC since late 2020.

Ebony Governor Dave Umahi and his Cross River counterpart, Ben Ayade dumped the PDP despite initial denials.

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