As Muhammadu Buhari‘s tenure as Nigeria’s president came to an end, many of his supporters and kinsmen were thankful for the personal gains they enjoyed and the infrastructural developments his presidency attracted to his hometown of Daura and Katsina State, but many of them were also unimpressed by his performance in office.
Those not particularly chuffed by Mr Buhari’s tenure said widespread insecurity in his native North-west region and growing poverty reduced the gains his hometown and kinsmen may have enjoyed.
Mr Buhari, who is the second Nigerian president from Katsina State after Umaru Yar’Adua, was elected president in 2015 at his fourth attempt. He was a former military leader in the 1980s.
Federal Polytechnic Daura
Federal Polytechnic Daura
Though the Nigerian constitution does not encourage the president or other political office holders to treat their hometowns or states preferentially, they sometimes favour their kinsmen and state of origin in appointments and in the provision of infrastructure.
On Tuesday, Mr Buhari received a hero’s welcome as a durbar celebration was held in Daura to honour him after eight years as Nigeria’s president.
Away from the event, everyone living in Katsina who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES agreed that his tenure accelerated work on certain infrastructures and attracted a few others. Some, however, said Mr Buhari did little to secure lives. They also described his decision to close land borders across the country as “heartless”.
“His major contribution to the state is in the area of political appointments and infrastructural development. He has appointed a lot of people who have helped in recruiting young people from the state. The aviation minister, for instance, has uplifted the status of our airport and has provided job opportunities for several people, just like several others Buhari appointed,” said Bishir Dauda, the National Secretary of Muryar Talaka Awareness Initiative, a group of indigenes of the state.
“We hope the incoming administration will conclude some of the works he (Mr Buhari) began especially the Kano – Daura – Maradi rail line and Kano – Katsina expressway,” said Mr Dauda.
Fatima Lawal, a computer science graduate, said Mr Buhari loves his people and did the best he could for them. She said the president appointed several people from Katsina State into important positions in federal ministries and agencies.
“That alone should count for something. A good legacy. I appreciate it,” the 24-year-old said.
Though Mr Buhari built several infrastructure projects in Katsina during his tenure, most of them were around his hometown of Daura.
Some of the projects built in his hometown are a federal polytechnic, a transportation university named after him, a new mini stadium, the Nigerian Air Force Reference Hospital, a women and children hospital, the Nigerian Army 171 Battalion base, the Nigerian Air Force Response Airwing, an army forward operating base, a Sustainable Development Goals skills acquisition centre, and a part of the Kano-Daura-Maradi rail line.
“This man took all the institutions, railway line… everything that was brought to Katsina to Daura his home area and you think that’s a development? He should have spread them to other areas also; Daura is not the only local government area in the state,” Bashir Ibrahim, a car wash attendant in Katsina, told PREMIUM TIMES.
Residents spoke with bitterness about Mr Buhari’s inability to secure lives and properties in the state. One of the respondents said he stopped respecting Mr Buhari, the night terrorists abducted pupils in the state while the president was in Daura.
“If I were Buhari, that day I would have shown the whole world that I am the president of Nigeria and Katsina is my state. But what did he do? It took him time to even acknowledge that students (pupils) were abducted,” said Lawali Suma’ila, a retired civil servant.
In 2020, terrorists abducted 300 pupils of the Government Science Secondary School Kankara, Katsina.
Aside from the abduction of pupils, several rural communities in the state were sacked by terrorists. Urban and semi-urban areas were not spared. The widespread insecurity elicited an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the state with thousands of people displaced. Thousands more were either abducted or killed.
“Even if he turned Katsina to Dubai, it will be useless because I am now a displaced person. I can’t go to my village in Batsari and I have lost some of my family members to this violence,” Balaraba Lawan, an IDP living in an uncompleted building in Unguwar Masoya Annabi area in Katsina metropolis, said.
The 48-year-old mother of three said she would continue to nurse the wounds terrorists inflicted on her and would not forget what she called Mr Buhari’s indifference to the activities of the criminals.
Another IDP, Sulaiman Tukur, re-echoed Mrs Lawan’s position and several others who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES.
“Maybe he has tried his best as you asked but whatever it is, I don’t care because the reality is that we are now homeless. We have also lost people, so how exactly has his (Mr Buhari) being a president benefited me?” Mr Tukur, who is now living in a farmhouse, told PREMIUM TIMES.
Crippling economic policy.
Residents also complained that some of Mr Buhari’s policies, such as the closure of land borders, were insensitive to the needs of the people at best or heartless at worst.
Katsina State has 12 official borders but the major ones are situated in Dankama, Jibia, Kongolom and Birnin Kuka border towns. Locals in these areas mostly engage in transborder businesses.
Residents of these border towns said the closure of the borders affected them negatively.
“He doesn’t listen to people. He takes decisions and shut his ears from all advice. He thinks he knows better than everyone else. For me as a Katsina man, Buhari is a failure. This border closure has crippled everything,” said Kamal Murtala, a transborder businessman in Jibia town.
In 2019, the president announced the closure of land borders in the country with the view to checkmating the activities of smugglers, improving the country’s agricultural sector and fighting arms proliferation.
Lawal Hassan, another businessman, said he believed the president meant well but his “approach” was wrong.
“It is not about being from Katsina State,” Mr Hassan, a 47-year-old resident of Jibia, said on the phone. “I think he has failed generally. For us in Katsina, we are not happy with him. He shut down the borders, he failed to tackle insecurity in our state and has largely contributed to widening the rivalry between Daura and other areas.”