Daura, the country home of President Muhammadu Buhari in Katsina State, is gradually becoming an alternative seat of power under the current administration.
Aside from the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the country’s seat of power, and London, President Buhari has spent more days and performed critical state functions in Daura since he took over the mantle of leadership in 2015.
Like what was obtainable during the administration of Buhari’s predecessors – Olusegun Obasanjo (1999 to 2007), the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua (2007 to 2010) and Goodluck Jonathan (2010 to 2015), the Presidential Villa becomes virtually relocated to the ancient city of Daura whenever the president visits the place.
Aso Villa, as it is popularly known, became the country’s seat of power when the federal capital was moved from Lagos to Abuja in 1991 during the regime of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd).
The Presidential Villa is located at the Three Arms Zone, with the offices and official residences of the president and those of the vice president.
During his era, Obasanjo, at different occasions, operated from his Ota Farm, while Jonathan did same from his Otuoke country home in Bayelsa State.
During visits to these places, they practically moved along with the paraphernalia of Aso Villa as they received guests and performed some state functions there.
Every time President Buhari visits his Daura country home, either privately or officially, the small town becomes a beehive as top government officials, politicians, businessmen, colleagues and family members troop to visit the president at his residence.
During such visits, the president’s moderate residence, located at the Government Reserved Area (GRA) in the outskirts of Daura Local Government Area becomes Mecca of sorts for guests waiting to have an audience with the president.
Whenever Buhari visits Daura, the relatively quiet Umaru Musa Yar’adua International Airport, located in Katsina, the state capital, witnesses the arrival of private jets conveying governors, ministers, senators and members of the House of Representatives, top businessmen and even foreign heads of state who drive along the 74km road to Daura to meet the president.
Hoteliers equally cash in with the few available hotels booked during any of such visits. This, perhaps, prompted the state government to upgrade its Daura Motel to accommodate the influx of guests. Still, many guests travel by road to sleep in neighbouring towns like Katsina and Kano so as to catch up with the president.
As soon as the president arrives, security is beefed up in his country home and power supply witnesses instant improvement as residents once told the president during one of their visits.
Each time the president goes on a visit, the Emir of Daura, Umar Faruk, normally receives him after landing at the newly constructed helipad a few meters away from his country home. Thereafter, the president begins to receive guests like family friends, former classmates and youth corps members serving in the town, amongst others.
During festive seasons like Sallah breaks, the president only attends eid prayers and proceeds home to receive guests from across the country, who travel to Daura to pay him homage.
The state governor, Aminu Masari, normally sets the ball rolling with his Sallah homage. Serving and former state governors, ministers, members of the National Assembly and top politicians then follow suit.
Daily Trust Saturday observed that meetings during some of these visitations are held behind closed doors, an action which, at times signifies that the president attends to official matters, even from his country home.
In August this year, the president hosted his Guinean counterpart, Alpha Conde in Daura. In the past, he had hosted Mahamadou Issoufou of the neighbouring Niger Republic.
Daura Emirate often adds colour to the president’s visits. For instance, during the visit of the Guinean president, the emirate organised a special durbar for the visitor. For an hour, the two leaders and other dignitaries were treated to a special durbar.
One after another, district heads, together with their entourage across the Daura Emirate paraded on horses to the admiration of the visitors. After the display, the Emir of Daura, Umar Faruk Umar, expressed joy, saying, “We are thanking our visitor, President Conde for the visit to the country and Daura to celebrate this year’s Eid-el-Kabir with the president.”
As in the Villa, the president had also hosted Senate President Ahmad Lawan in Daura. While leaving the president’s residence, Lawan reaffirmed the commitment of the parliament to pass the 2020 budget before the Christmas break. The budget was passed on Thursday.
The president had made many key policy statements in Daura. For instance, it was while there that he ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) not to give a cent for the importation of food into the country.
The president gave the directive when he hosted the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors to Eid-el-Kabir lunch. He said the foreign reserve would be conserved and utilised strictly for diversification of the economy and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food import bills.
“Don’t give a cent to anybody to import food into the country. We have achieved food security, and for physical security, we are not doing badly,” he said.
Presidential aides usually accompanied the president, including his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who issues statements on the engagements of his boss during such trips.
Sometimes, the host state usually takes advantage of such visits for the president to commission some completed projects, especially on road construction.
During the recent visit, aside from performing the groundbreaking ceremony of the University of Transportation, President Buhari took the time to drive and commission a road project executed by Governor Aminu Bello Masari.
President Buhari also received a delegation of Katsina State Elders Forum in Daura, led by the representative of the chairman of the Forum, Alhaji Aliyu Saulawa.
The president was also honoured in his country home to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of Community Secondary School, Daura.
Buhari and five others founded the community secondary school, which is now renamed Pilot Secondary School, Daura. The leader of the team of the Old Boys Association who honoured him was Alhaji M.T Bature, the Sarkin Kudu of Katsina.
One important thing the president never missed during his visit to Daura is finding time to visit his farm to see his animals and crops. He hardly skipped this during such visits.
Also, it was gathered that the president normally visits his village, Dumurkul, to meet old relatives to exchange pleasantries and good wishes.
But the running of government outside the Presidential Villa, Abuja is not limited to Daura as the president has also been carrying out official duties even outside the country.
So far, President Buhari had visited 40 countries, spending 405 days. Out of the days, he had spent 240 days in the United Kingdom.
The president was in Saudi Arabia twice in May this year. First, he was there between May 16 and 21 for lesser hajj. On May 30, hours after he was sworn in for second term, he left the country for Saudi Arabia for the 14th summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), hosted by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. He returned to the country on June 2.
On Saturday, November 2, 2019, President Buhari left the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the UK again after attending the Economic Forum of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh and performing the Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) on a private visit.
The president left the country on October 28, 2019 on an official trip to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and returned to the country on November 15, 2019 from the UK.
Earlier this year, Buhari was on a 10-day private visit to the UK from April 25 to May 5.
Daily Trust Saturday checks revealed that President Buhari was in the UK in 2018 from April 9 to 21 for his annual leave. In May, he had a technical stopover there. Between May 8 and 11, the president was also there. Similarly, he was there from August 3 to18.
In 2017, the president was there from January 19 to March 10 on medical leave. Two months after, he returned to the country. He went back and spent 104 days, from May 8 to August 19, 2017.
Buhari was in the UK between February 5 and 10 in 2016 on vacation. In May (13-15) of the same year, he was there for the anti-corruption summit. Also in 2016, the president was in the UK to treat an ear infection.
During his last trip to the UK, President Buhari had continued to discharge its official responsibilities.
He signed the amended Deep Offshore Act, a legislation which is expected to help the Federal Government to generate at least $US500million of additional revenue in 2020, and over $US1billion from 2021.
Also, President Buhari met with the nanagement of Pearson Educational Group in London on Wednesday, November 13, 2019. He was joined by Minister of Education Malam Adamu Adamu, the executive secretary, National University Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed and High Commissioner of Nigeria to UK, Justice Adesola Oguntade, among others.
On November 10, he had a meeting with The Reverend Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Lambeth Palace, London. On Friday, December 29, 2019, Buhari attended the 5th summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
The foreign trips have already taken him to China, India, Jordan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Chad, France, Turkey, Poland, Malta, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and Ghana.
Others are Cameroon, The Gambia, Niger Republic, Mali, Qatar, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Togo, Republic of Benin, Germany, Senegal, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, and Equatorial Guinea.