Nine unbroken days of work and travel came to a slight pause on Tuesday with a final hurray at Jigawa State, where President Muhammadu Buhari and his team commissioned legacy projects at Hadejia, Birnin Kudu, and Dutse, the State capital.
The peregrination had started in Bauchi, to Lagos, Dakar in Senegal, to Daura, then to a two days official visit in Katsina, to Kano, and finally, Jigawa State.
Anarchists and liars from the pit of hell thought they could throw a spanner in the works of what was a resounding reception for the President all round, when they concocted a story that the delegation was attacked in Kano, and the convoy pelted with stones. Really? Must have happened in their addled and befuddled imagination.
They even said the windshield of one of the choppers we used was broken. Really? And we that were onboard didn’t know. It amazed me to no end to see the fake news leading rag sheets posturing as newspapers, and becoming major talking point on television and radio stations. So we were this idle to waste precious time and space on something that didn’t happen. A major political party even issued a statement on that falsity and fickleness. O ma se o.
Well, the point of focus in this piece are some revelations that came from Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State during a State Banquet to honour the President and his team. He spoke frankly, honestly, of how President Buhari has helped all States in the country, irrespective of political party affiliation.
The country was in dire straits when President Buhari came in 2015. Federal Government was already borrowing monthly to pay salaries, while at least 27 States couldn’t pay at all. And that was at a time when oil prices had crossed 100 dollars per barrel in the international market. At a time the country should be swimming in petrodollars, it was wallowing in lack and penury. What happened? Grand larceny. Plunder. Unmitigated looting.
Let’s hear from from Governor Badaru Abubakar, of how President Buhari came to the rescue, and dazed all the State Governors:
“I want to use this opportunity to congratulate my father Mr. President on the various success stories he recorded, laying a solid foundation for the socio-economic development of our beloved country, and the continued enhancement of democracy.
“In particular, I appreciate the President for his achievements in so many areas for the development of this country despite the collapsing economy he inherited when oil prices dropped to less than $30 per barrel, production dropped to 500,000 barrels per day, as against 2.3 million barrels per day.
“Baba has achieved what the PDP 16 years cannot achieve. On road infrastructure, you are aware of what he inherited, more than 300 road projects were abandoned at the time President Buhari took over.
“Today, most of them are completed and very few are in their last stages of completion. And in addition to that, he has awarded a lot of contracts for road construction. Examples we have in our State, so that you can understand what I am talking about. Kano-Maiduguri dual carriageway was awarded some 12 years before President Muhammad Buhari and virtually nothing was happening on the site when we came in, and today the first and second phases of that road have been commissioned, and the last phase will soon be commissioned.
“This is a gigantic project that you have seen for yourself. Again, the Shuwarin-Kwanar-Huguma road that was awarded almost 7 or 8 years before the coming of President Muhammad Buhari. When he came in, there was nobody on site, he paid and re-mobilised and today the road is completed.
“So, we have many examples on what he has done in road infrastructure across the country. Close by, you have seen the Abuja – Kaduna- Kano Expressway, the Kano-Katsina Road project, the Kano-Gwarzo-Dayi Road project, and this is happening in almost all parts of the country-the 2nd Niger Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, across the whole country.
“So, when oil was $100 per barrel; they abandoned the projects, but President Buhari continued with the projects, with one third of the money they were getting.
“In education, we have seen tremendous development, so many around the country and if we come local, we see the new University of Science and Technology, Babura; they have started construction, the two Colleges of Technology and that of Agriculture in Kirikasamma and the one in Birnin Kudu, as well as the Hadejia Science and Technical school.
“In addition to that, we complained and asked for support for the Kafin Hausa University and the President graciously approved the sum N3bn for that university.
“All these are across board in the country. But I am giving the example in Jigawa State. That is the nature of the development that Baba has brought to the table in this country.
“In health care, we have seen a lot of support. The President took over the resuscitated Jigawa State Specialist Hospital, and converted it to a Teaching Hospital with massive investment, constructed the General Hospital in Taura, that is one masterpiece, and supported us heavily during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We got a lot of support again through the Federal Medical Centre in Birnin-Kudu.
“And again, I say these are all projects that cut across the whole country. If I start talking about Jigawa; the same way Kano Governor will start talking about projects in Kano, the same way even Nyesom Wike will stand up and start talking about projects Baba did in his State.
“You have seen the tremendous development in the rail sector. The Kaduna-Abuja, Lagos-Ibadan, the Itakpe-Warri, and on-going projects that have been awarded including Dutse-Kano, Kano-Danbatta-Kazaure-Gwiwa-Daura-Katsina to Niger Republic.
“Compensation has been paid, and contractors have mobilized to the site. The rehabilitation of the Nguru-Gagarawa to Kano rail line has commenced. And again, this is done across the country.
“On Social Investments, in Jigawa alone, 164,000 families received your N5000 monthly support, and again this is across the whole country.
“Baba is feeding 1 million of our students, creating 9200 food vendors to supply food to those students. Not to talk of the N-power, the Trader Moni, and the GEEP, these are unprecedented social investment we have witnessed at this time, I can go on and on and on.
“In power, in 20 years, Maigatari power station has been commissioned during Baba’s time. And that is providing steady power, 24 hours power to our industrial areas in Gagarawa, Gumel, Maigatari, Babura to Taura and Ringim areas. That particular power doesn’t blink.
In addition to that, he has just awarded the contract for another four substations in Jigawa State, one in Kazaure, one in Babura, one in Birnin Kudu, and one in Gwaram. Sites have been taken over already by the contractors. In addition to numerous transmission lines and support that has been granted to Jigawa State.
“On food security, we cannot thank you enough. Your Anchor Borrowers, your Fertilizer Initiative, and the delight for us to go back to the farm has received tremendous support for our people. Today, in Jigawa, we see farming as a business. And the farmers are the richest group in our economic life today.
“On security, we know what you met, the journey that could take us from Dutse to Kano that we do now in one hour 10 minutes, before you came, it’s normally a journey of two to three and a half hours because of so much checkpoints and control.
“Today, we can move freely at whatever time in Jigawa State and most parts of North Eastern states.
“The level of investment that you have put in security is unprecedented across the country and is yielding positive results.
“When we were at Emir’s palace in Hadejia, he mentioned some, I reminded him some and I still forgot some because they are too numerous. I just remember Konadimawa-Kanya Baba-Babura-Babamutum road that is being constructed now. We have been begging for that road for over 20 years. Isn’t it? The Gaya to Jahun road I mentioned in the palace, there are so numerous achievements that time will not permit.
“So, for us in Jigawa, Baba, we are very very grateful. We have never seen it better in the entire life of Jigawa State. We can only pray for you. We can only wish you long life, good health and prosperity.
“You remember Baba, we came against all odds. When we came in, the economy collapsed and I inherited N114 billion on liabilities and contractual obligations. But I had only N16 million. So, that was bad from the beginning. Then, oil prices collapsed.
“Our grant dropped to less than one third and we were faced with the problem of paying salaries. I remember myself and some businessmen discussing, ‘what brought us into this mess?’ We nearly ran away.
But with your intervention Sir, we were able to do well.
We were able to do all the projects that we promised people to do. If you look, within the first few months, you approved for all the governors salary bailout, all the governors in Nigeria were given money to pay salary arrears, in some states up to eight, 10 months.
“Without that support, it could have been difficult for states at that time to even consider running without these funds. After that, the governors came back to you, ‘Baba, we have paid salary arrears, but we need some support for infrastructure’, you graciously approved N10 billion for each state to start infrastructure.
“We came back to you, ‘okay, we have paid salary, we are doing infrastructure, but the money we are receiving will not be enough to continue to pay salaries’, you approved budget support for us, giving every state N1 billion in the first four, six or seven months. It gradually dropped when oil prices started improving then, it dropped to N800 million per State and N500 million until such a time oil price and the internally generated revenues had improved. Without it, we couldn’t have been able to pay salaries at that time.
“Then, we came back to you again and said ‘Sir, there is this Paris Club issue, our deductions that were not paid to us’. You said: ‘How much?’ We said: ‘ It depends on each State,’ and you approved the payment. Jigawa got close to N43 billion.
“Time will not permit me to continue, but Daddy, you know all the support you have given us. All these monies are what is keeping us in government and we can beat our chests and say we have delivered adequately well for our people.
“Whatever we do in Jigawa State, we owe it to your magnanimity and your support and this support is across all the States and party lines. There is no time enough for me to go over what I have done in the last seven and a half years, but Baba, my pride today is that I can walk on any street in Jigawa State comfortably and people are rejoicing. That means I have done what people expect us to do.”
Hmmmmm. Deep. Factual. Shooting straight from the hips, and hitting bull’s eyes. Yet some people will overfeed, pat their corpulent tummies, and exclaim, ‘Buhari has done nothing for this country.’ Indolent, ungrateful souls.
President Buhari responded by appreciating the warm reception accorded him and members of his entourage from the Emir’s Palace in Hadejia, to the various commissioning locations in Auyo, Birnin Kudu and Dutse.
He recalled that he came to Jigawa in 2018 to perform the flag-off of the Hadejia Valley Irrigation Scheme in Auyo Local Government. “Today, I am delighted to perform the commissioning of the project after the successful completion of its rehabilitation and expansion.
“The project, which covers over 5,700 hectares of irrigable land would significantly contribute to our quest for food security, job creation, economic diversification and the attainment of our objective of non-oil dependent economy.”
The President said he was truly amazed by the extent of projects and programmes executed across all sectors. “I was amazed because of the limited fiscal space that we have faced over the years across all the tiers of Government – but then I recall the financial prudence Governor Badaru has been known for, which earned him the nick-name ‘Mai Calculator.’ “
The President concluded by sincerely thanking “everybody here with us today and for the warm receptions accorded us everywhere we go.”
Yes, the reception was warm everywhere, and President Buhari remains a darling of the people, despite attempts by caterwauling minority to twist and obfuscate matters. Why do the heathens rage, and the people imagine vain things?
*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity