Education, Infant mortality, Poverty worsened in Zamfara under Matawalle


Bello Matawalle, the outgoing governor of Zamfara state, was lucky enough to become governor in the first place. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the 2019 gubernatorial election did not become governor because he won the majority of the votes cast in the election. He was appointed governor after the Supreme Court ruled that the All Progressives Congress (APC), which won the most votes, did not hold primaries for its candidates in Zamfara state as a result of infighting in the match in time. The court annulled all APC votes and ordered that the candidates of the parties with the next highest number of votes be declared the winners of the election.

But Matawalle was only able to stay in power for so long. After defecting from the PDP, he faced the 2023 election as the APC candidate, but was defeated in the March 18 gubernatorial election by PDP candidate Dauda Lawal.

During the campaign before the 2019 elections, Matawalle promised to fight unemployment and poverty and renew the education and health sectors.

Infographic showing data for poverty rate, debt management and domestic revenue generation Zamfara under Matawalle Poverty rate, domestic revenue and debt management

Matawalle spoke passionately about fighting poverty during his campaign, which he said was driven by insecurity in the state. In 2019, when she was sworn in, Zamfara state was worse than the national average “poverty headcount ratio”, as 73.98% of the state’s population considered themselves poor, while the national average was 73.98%. 40.1%. The state had a higher percentage of poor people than the states of Sokoto, Taraba, Jigawa, Ebonyi and Adamawa, according to a Statista report.

The multidimensional poverty index published in November 2022 indicated that 78% of Zamfara’s population is poor, which means that poverty worsened under Mr. Matawalle, from 74 to 78%.

Mr. Matawalle also underperformed in debt management. In 2019, data displayed the state had a combined internal and external debt of N103.35 billion. The debt increased to N130.1 billion in 2020 and N130.94 billion in 2021. Currently, the state has the second highest debt in the North West region and is ranked 15th out of 36 states in the federation.

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National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)

However, from 2019 to 2021, the state witnessed an increase in its internal revenue generation (IGR), in 2018, generated N8.21 billion, while in 2019, when Mr. Matawalle took office, the state generated N15.42 billion. By 2021, the latest year the data was provided, Mr Matawalle’s administration had increased domestic revenue to N18.5bn, according to NBS data.


While Mr. Matawalle failed to improve the state’s overall economic situation by not fighting poverty, available data shows a slight improvement in the state’s employment data since 2019. In 2018, the state had an unemployment rate of 17.98 percent, while the last NbS data shows that the rate has dropped to 12.99 percent.

As part of its job creation efforts, the state government said it employed more than 6,000 civil servants between 2019 and 2022, including 556 teachers and other health workers. State Chairman of the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC), Sani Halliru, told Newslodge that the incumbent governor kept his promise to provide jobs.


After being sworn in in 2019, Mr. Matawalle vowed to revamp the state’s education and health sectors by announcing free health care for the state’s women and children.

“We are aware that poor education, poverty and unemployment are the causes of criminal activity and I want to plead with members of the public that in the coming weeks we will find practical ways to deal with this, starting with free education and scholarships. Matawalle said.

Some out of school children lining up to buy food.

However, a UNESCO study revealed that the state of Zamfara under Mr. Matawalle made no significant efforts to reverse the threat of out-of-school children. He UNESCO data published in 2023 shows that the percentage of children out of school in the state increased from 41.1% in 2018 to 61.4% in 2022. The state was named among 22 states with an alarming rate of children out of school in the country. In 2020, Zamfara had 422,214 children out of school, according to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), but that number has now risen to 883,953 in 2022.

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Infographic showing data on out of school children and WASSCCE performance in Zamfara under Matawalle

In fairness to Matawalle, widespread insecurity contributed to many parents withdrawing their children from school, especially in rural communities.

Pilotage debts have prompted examination bodies in the country, notably the West African Examination Council, to ban students from the state from taking the 2022 exams, while the National Examination Council (NECO) withheld student results of the state of Zamfara for 2020 for the debts. NECO, in 2020, said Zamfara topped the list of the debtor states of the body. Although the total debt of N3.5 billion did not start during his administration, Mr. Matawalle reneged on his promise to modernize the education sector by not liquidating them.

File photo of students writing exams used to illustrate the story.

Furthermore, statistics from the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) showed that Zamfara students had mixed performances on their public exams. In 2019, only 22.22% of students who wrote the exams passed. In 2020, the state saw its pass rate rise to 44.05 percent, but it plummeted to 9.15 percent in 2021. Public school students were unable to participate in the exams in 2022 due to the debt.


Mr. Matawalle named the health sector as one of his administration’s priority areas. But the data indicated that the state made little progress in the sector under administration. For example, in 2019, the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Program said that Zamfara had 300 doctors. The Matawalle administration increased the number to 350 by 2022. Even so, the state does not meet the World Health Organization (WHO) requirement of one doctor for every 1,000 patients.

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Infographic showing infant mortality rate in Zamfara under Matawalle

In 2021, the state president of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Mannir Bature, lamented the concentration of health workers in the state capital, as well as the general deterioration of hospitals in the state.

“The level of deterioration is discouraging. Only the Gusau General Hospital has the necessary facilities for a decent health facility. In the remaining 13 local government areas, general hospitals do not even have facilities for neonatal care… 78% of human resources in the health sector are concentrated in Gusau, leaving only 22% to be shared among the remaining 13 local government areas,” he said

Mr. Matawalle has also performed poorly in addressing infant and maternal mortality in the state. In 2018, months before he took office, the infant mortality rate stood at 130 deaths per 1,000 live births. The national average is 62 deaths. The rate increased to 136 deaths per 1,000 births in 2021, according to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey of the national bureau of standards.

Despite most development rates worsening during his tenure, some residents of the state believe Matawalle stole billions of naira earmarked for developing the state, a matter currently under investigation by the anti-corruption agency, EFCC, although the governor has denied any bad gear.

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Education, Infant mortality, Poverty worsened in Zamfara under Matawalle

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