The Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, on Tuesday, formally defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) after months of speculation and denial.
Mr Matawalle announced his defection late evening at the Gusau Trade Fair Complex at an event attended by APC governors, ministers and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
However, sources said the state’s deputy governor, Mahdi Aliyu, and the member representing Talata Mafara/Anka in the State House of Assembly, Kabiru Yahaya, have decided to remain in the opposition People Democratic Party (PDP).
Mr Aliyu was reported to have left the state on Tuesday before the defection ceremony.
Some federal lawmakers from the state who are also members of the PDP had earlier announced their defection to the APC but it is not yet clear whether all the lawmakers joined the governor to the APC.
Matawalle’s long walk to APC
Mr Matawalle’s departure from the PDP followed months of speculation and snubbing the PDP governor’s meetings while hosting APC governors and the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, at Government House in Gusau.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Matawalle on June 12 dissolved the state executive council as part of preparations for his defection..
The governor, however, rescheduled the defection date, ostensibly for further consultation with Mr Aliyu and some state lawmakers who were reluctant to make the journey to the ruling party with him.
Mr Aliyu, who is a son of a former Minister of Defence, Ali Gusau, was said to be opposed to moving into the APC, arguing that the court awarded the electoral victory in 2019 to the PDP and not just its candidates.
With Mr Matawalle’s defection, APC now controls six of the seven states in the North-west geopolitical zone. Sokoto Governor Aminu Tambuwal remains the only governor of the PDP in the zone.
Mr Matawalle was declared governor on May 24, 2019 after the Supreme Court disqualified all the APC candidates in the state in the general election of that year over the failure of the party to conduct valid primaries.
The apex court ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to cancel the votes secured by the APC in all the elections and decide the new winners from the remaining valid votes.
APC had swept the poll in the state by winning the presidential, governorship and all the federal and state legislative seats while PDP candidates trailed in the second position.