BREAKING: Bawa Vs Matawalle: The Joke Is On Us, By Comfort Obi

Life is funny. I am trying not to say it is a b**ch. But its twists and turns, often times, leave one breathless. And wondering. And asking questions which answers leave one more confused.

Or, how does one explain and/or understand the story of the immediate past Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle and the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa? It is unprecedented. And makes any Nollywood block buster green with envy….CONTINUE READING

Their story, known to Nigerians, still needs retelling because it passes all understanding. By retelling it, perhaps, one would manage to make a head and a tail out of it. For me, it took time to sink. And since it sunk, I have been singing my late mother’s favorite song. Literally translated from Igbo to English it says: “Nobody should boast with the World. Don’t boast with the world because it could suddenly turn upside down, and leave one confused.”

The song tells the story of Matawalle and Bawa. For, honestly, not a few Nigerians are confused. Both men, prominent Nigerians. Powerful. Members of Nigeria’s powers-that-be.
Abdulrasheed Bawa
Abdulrasheed Bawa
Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State
Bello Matawalle

A couple of months ago, precisely in the month of May, both men were in the news, flaunting their powers. Bawa seemed more powerful and more sure-footed than Matawalle. It didn’t matter that, at the time, Matawalle was a State Governor, with Executive powers. The guys love to be called Executive Governors. But power pass power. Bawa was in a position to make Matawalle shake and cringe. He was in a position to scare him. He was in a position to lock him up. And Bawa never hid it. He flaunted it. And taunted Matawalle with it.

Matawalle was in a disadvantaged position. He had just lost his second term bid to Zamfara State’s Governorship seat. Big deal. To lose all that executive power. The loss not only embarrassed him, it hit him hard and left him confused. So confused and uncoordinated was Matawalle after his loss that he held everybody, but himself, responsible….CONTINUE READING

He even neither spared then President Muhammadu Buhari nor the whole of the Presidency. Matawalle pointedly held both responsible for his misfortune.

He said the Presidency worked against his re-election bid. Meaning that even though he is of the APC, the Presidency worked with the opposition to defeat him, to reduce him to the unenviable status of a one-term Governor. He said his sin was joining two other others – immediate past Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai and incumbent Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello – to take Buhari’s Government to the Supreme Court over the Naira redesign and the unprecedented cash crunch and suffering that came with it.
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Not a few people dismissed him as a drowning man, clinging to any straw to survive, especially, with the EFCC on his neck. Others said his statement was to curry the favour of then President-elect, Bola Tinubu, who like Matawalle and his two colleagues, was against the Naira redesign and the declaration of the old Naira notes as illegal tender.

It was at that most frustrating period of Matawalle’s life, when he was at his most vulnerable, that the EFCC, under Bawa struck. While Matawalle was lamenting his loss at the Governorship polls, EFCC accused him of monumental corruption. The Commission gave him the treatment it gave former Governors Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State and Willie Obiano of Anambra State.

While both Fayose and Obiano still had some weeks to stay in office, the EFCC gave them notice that they would be guests in their cells as soon they leave office. Meaning: Exiting from the luxurious life in Government House to the EFCC cell. Seems like descending from Heaven to hell.

However, Fayose did not give the Commission the joy to hunt him down and arrest him. As “crazy” and defiant as ever, he packed a bag, and the minute he handed over to his successor, he headed to the EFCC Head Office in Abuja, donned a T-shirt on which was written – “EFCC here I come.” He pulled the rug off EFCC’s feet. And made his ordeal very ordinary. The story the next day was Fayose’s “EFCC here I come” t-shirt.

Obiano was not as smart as Fayose. He gave the Commission the joy to embarrass and arrest him at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, on his way to the United States of America, the very day he handed over to his successor.

So, it was the same treatment the Commission promised Matawalle. It gave the then Governor notice of his would-be arrest, notice that he would be its guest as soon as he hands over to his successor. But the Commission did not reckon with Matawalle’s state of mind at the time. For, him, it was like a case of “he that is down needs fear no fall.” Or even more appropriately put: “If I have to go down, I will not go down alone.”

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So, he faced the Commission head-long. He fought back in a most vicious unexpected manner. He went for the Commission’s jugular. He, frontally, attacked its Chairman, Bawa, and put him on the defensive.

Matawalle revealed he had been discussing some untidy business with Bawa. The contents of his alleged discussion with Bawa were unsavory. He accused Bawa of corruption. Proof: He revealed that Bawa, allegedly, asked him for bribe to the tune of two million US Dollars so as to stop his (Matawalle’s) investigation by the EFCC. Meaning that Bawa asked Matawalle to buy his “freedom” and a clean record from the EFCC.

When an obviously embarrassed Bawa recovered from the weight of the allegation and challenged him to show proof, Matawalle, with no blink of the eyes, said he had evidence to prove his allegation against Bawa. Case closed!

Then, Bawa took a second hit. About the same time, a group addressed a Press Conference, and alleged that Bawa went on a religious pilgrimage to Saudi with about 18 members of his family and that all basked in luxury. The group alleged that the 18 family menvers stayed at the luxurious Sheraton Hotel which cost it put at 1,500 US Dollars per room, per night. Many people alleged the group was sponsored by Matawalle.

Yours sincerely did not believe any of the allegations against Bawa. I had argued then that Bawa, considering the office he held, would be dumb to ask a Governor, under his investigation, for a two-million US Dollars bribe. I, also, doubted that Bawa would pay such a huge amount of money for 18 members of his family on a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Whatever, the damage had been done.

Bawa became so weakened by Matawalle’s unexpected hit that he did not make a go at Matawalle, as promised, when Matawalle lost his immunity on handing over to his successor. Opinion was that Bawa was busy trying to extricate himself from Matawalle’s weighty below- the- belt bribery allegation.

Unless I missed it, I never really read where Bawa seriously denied the allegations by putting his job on the line. In some climes, he would have stepped down from office and offered himself for investigation, over such embarrassing allegation. That’s taking one’s credibility serious.

In same manner, I neither saw, nor read any proof/ evidence against Bawa from Matawalle. In other climes, he would have been made to make public such evidence given the seriousness of the allegation which shook the foundation of the Federal Government’s fight against corruption. The allegation shook the credibility of the EFCC and the people’s trust in the Commission.

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Or, did Matawalle present his alleged damning evidence/proof, against Bawa, privately, to the appropriate authorities?

That would still not be right. He did not make his allegation privately. He dumped it on the public, in the public arena. So, the public deserves the right to know the details.

I may be wrong, but it must be why we are witnessing this bizarre twist of fate in the case of Matawalle and Bawa where the later has been given a golden handshake, and the former kept in the custody of Security Agents, uncomfortably lying down in the bed he had prepared for the former Governor.

Such drastic change of fate.

Bawa, Matawalle’s hunter, is now the hunted. Bawa has been suspended from office by President Bola Tinubu, and Matawalle, nominated a Minister in Tinubu’s Cabinet. Bawa has been in the custody of the Department of State Services, DSS, for eight weeks and counting, and Matawalle, free as air, preparing to move into a Minister’s office.Does anybody still remember he was under EFCC’s investigation? Soon, he will be addressed as His Excellency, the Honourable Minister. And Bawa? The sacked Chairman of the EFCC. That Commission has gradually become the nemesis of its Chairmen. They never leave the seat in a tidy manner.

I cannot begin to imagine what Bawa, wherever he is now, is thinking, or doing, since after Matawalle’s nomination as a Minister. In his shoes, many would walk the wall. Many would curse the day they met a Matawalle and accused him of corruption.

Speculation is strong that one of the reasons Bawa was suspended from office and put in custody, is Matawalle’s bribery allegation against him. True?

Whatever, what has happened, in a layman’s interpretation, is that Matawalle is clean, and innocent of the allegations against him by the EFCC under Bawa. Otherwise, why was he cleared for a Ministerial appointed by both the DSS and the same EFCC? Or, are there more to all these than the public is allowed to know? Is this a case of “the more you look, the less you see?” Nigeria! The joke is on us!!…CONTINUE READING