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. 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 the 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 in 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 the 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 cities 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, among 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.
It was 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, Ahmed 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 that 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.
“Do not 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 accompany 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.