In a high-stakes showdown, Zamfara State Governor, Dauda Lawal, and his predecessor, Bello Matawalle, currently serving as the Minister of State for Defence, have ignited a fierce dispute.
This battle revolves around allegations of financial mismanagement related to the Gusau International (Cargo) Airport project.
Here, we delve into the core of this controversy, examining the evidence and counterclaims that have emerged.
The Zamfara State government, under Governor Lawal, alleges that the previous administration, led by Matawalle, embezzled vast sums during the development of the cargo airport project.
Matawalle, however, vehemently denies these claims.
According to the spokesperson for Governor Lawal, Sulaiman Bala Idris, Matawalle’s response has exposed a “blatant violation of trust, opening a Pandora’s box.”
They contend that the financial challenges faced by the current administration are a result of Matawalle’s actions.
It is alleged that Matawalle directed the removal of a substantial amount from the Local Government Joint Account without due process and paid contractors without proper valuation.
The cost of the airport project itself has raised eyebrows.
The claim that the project’s cost was reduced from N28 billion to N11 billion without a corresponding reduction in the scope of work raises questions about the bidding process’s integrity.
Matawalle’s attempts to cast doubt on the credibility of the contractor have also been met with scepticism.
Matawalle’s assertion that the airport project was financed through “contract financing” rather than the “Contract Financing Facility (CFF)” has been refuted.
Documents indicate that state government funds, not the CFF, were used to pay the contractors.
Additionally, payments to the contractor were not based on accurate assessments of the work done, as per the Zamfara government’s records.
Several components of the project, including the dual carriageway, drainage, gate, and the link road, remain incomplete.
The claim that various aspects of the airport are 50-100% completed has been met with skepticism, as progress should be determined by work done and contract documents.
The involvement of aviation authorities in the project came late, contrary to industry standards.
Governor Lawal’s administration asserts that the initial revelations are just the tip of the iceberg.
They have conducted a thorough review of Zamfara State’s assets and liabilities, with more revelations expected in the near future.
Those implicated in financial improprieties will be held accountable, regardless of their social status.
Former Governor Matawalle is not staying silent in the face of these allegations.
He, through his ex-Commissioner for Information, Ibrahim Dosara, accused Governor Lawal of attempting to divert attention from security challenges facing the state.
Matawalle’s statement highlights the improvements in security during his tenure and questions the motives behind Lawal’s actions.