•President: Nigeria’s situation far better than other countries
•Urges citizens to appreciate what they have
•Inaugurates Dala inland dry port, NSIA’s 10mw solar plant, 469 family housing units, other projects in Kano
•PDP condemns attack on president
Deji Elumoye, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano
Angry youths in Kano yesterday staged protests following President Muhammadu Buhari’s official visit to the state.
The youths who were carrying sticks, THISDAY gathered were throwing stones at Buhari’s helicopter, were however dispersed by security agents who fired shots in the air to scare them away.
This was just as the president compared the situation in Nigeria with that of other countries and concluded that the country’s condition was not as bad as being portrayed by some people.
The mammoth protesting youths were chanting “ba mu so” (we don’t want) as they set a bonfire of tires along Hotoro Road where the president had left after commissioning the Muhammadu Buhari Interchange.
The protest came few days after a similar incident occurred in Katsina, the president’s hometown.
Reports have it that some sections of all the four major roads leading the newly constructed Muhammadu Buhari Interchange Flyover were closed for two days in anticipation of the president’s visit. In video clips circulated on social media, other youths were seen throwing pebbles at the president’s helicopter.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday condemned the incident in its entirety.
However, speaking yesterday, at a State Banquet in Kano, to conclude his one-day official visit to the State after inaugurating several projects executed by the federal and state governments and the private sector, the president, according to a statement issued by his Media Adviser, Femi Adesina, stressed that, “we have a great country but we do not appreciate it until we visit our neighbors and other countries where the preoccupation is for people to have one good meal a day.
Speaking in Kano, Buhari said: “When I fly by helicopter, the number of high-rise buildings I see and the amount of development on the ground are fantastic. We thank God.”
Buhari described ongoing infrastructure development across the country as “fantastic”, urging citizens to appreciate what they have as the situation in the country is not dire when compared with other countries.
He urged the elites to encourage and inspire young people to embrace education, saying, “whether we like it or not we are going to leave the country for them.
‘‘They must embrace education for education’s sake. Technology has made it possible for short cuts but nothing can replace real learning. Please encourage the children to learn.”
He congratulated Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State for doing very well on infrastructure, adding that his recent state visits to Kogi, Yobe, Lagos and Katsina showed that the respective governors have done very well, within the confines of funds available to them.
On security, the president, who described Boko Haram as a fraudulent organisation with links to international groups bent on destroying Nigeria, said his administration had succeeded in decimating the terror group, limiting their capacity to inflict harm.
Earlier, while paying homage to the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, Buhari urged Nigerians to respect traditional institutions and accord them the honour they deserve.
The president, who also inaugurated the Emir’s Council Chambers at the Palace, said of the traditional institution: ‘‘This system is good. It is good in the sense that our traditional institutions are respected and honoured.
‘‘It is very important that we have understood the politics and we are respecting people from the bottom to upwards and this is common sense because people matter.
‘‘What the children see now is what they will hope to be in the future and the older ones hope that they can make their influence felt and improve the governance in the country from bottom upwards.’’
He thanked the Emir of Kano for associating him with the success of the traditional institution, lauding him for the vast improvement in the lot of his people, since he ascended the throne three years ago.
The Emir of Kano, who underscored the importance of the visit, thanked Buhari for granting approval to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend the deadline for the phasing out of old currency notes, and by implication the implementation of the cashless policy.
‘‘This is an indication that the president is focused on alleviating the plight of the citizenry and indeed a listening leader,’’ he said.
The Royal Father added that the ongoing electioneering campaigns should serve as an opportunity for politicians to understand the challenges facing the people and devise a means to solving them.
He prayed for peaceful elections, as well as peace and prosperity of the country.
The president had commenced his visit to the state with the inauguration of Dala Inland Dry Port hosted by Kano State government in collaboration with the federal government.
The Inland Dry Port Project was conceived as part of the federal government’s ports reform programme designed to decongest the seaports, while also taking shipping and port services closer to importers and exporters in the hinterland.
Buhari also inaugurated the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA)-funded 10MW Haske Solar Plant in a 24-hectare land in Kumbotso Local Government of Kano State.
The plant, which links industrial customers to an additional power supply, represents a significant step towards efforts to provide clean, reliable, and sustainable energy for all Nigerians.
The 10MW plant is the largest completed solar plant in Nigeria and the first under the NSIA renewable energy platform.
The President also inaugurated the Family Homes Funds Estate, Darmanawa, Kano, which consists of 469 affordable housing units with ancillary infrastructure.
The NSIA funded the project with the sum of $16 million.
The president who was visibly excited about the project, expressed satisfaction with the quality of job done with the installation of the solar power plants.
He was accompanied on the inauguration by Ganduje; the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning; Mrs. Zainab Ahmed; the Chairman of the NSIA Board of Directors, Mr. Farouk Gumel, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the NSIA, Mr. Aminu Umar-Sadiq.
Also, in attendance at the event were Kolawole Owodunni, NSIA Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer; Mallam Ali Goni Kadugum, Executive Member Non-Executive Director; Olubisi Makoju, Executive Director; and kabir Suleman Oniyan
The NSIA was appointed by the president as funds and project manager with a specific mandate to conceptualise, develop, construct and operationalise a 10MW solar project on a 24 Hectare parcel of land in Kumbotso Local Government, Kano State.
Haske Solar Company Limited – the project vehicle whose name means light in the Hausa language – is jointly owned by the federal government, Kano State Government, and the host Local Government – Kumbotso.
The inauguration came on the heels of the inauguration of the 2,600 Housing Estate on Potiskum road, Damaturu, Yobe State, a project executed by Family Homes in partnership with Yobe State Government.
On the Dala Inland Dry Port, the Minister of Transport, Mu’azu Sambo, recalled that in March, 2006 the Federal Executive Council had granted approval for the establishment of this critical transport infrastructure at chosen locations across the country.
He said the infrastructure would undergo a concession to private sector operators on Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) with a strategic framework to Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) model.
‘‘Dala Inland Dry Port at Zawachiki in Kano State was among the six Inland Dry Ports approved and the concessioned went to Messrs Dala Inland Dry Port Nigeria Limited,’’ he said.
According to him, the dry port has been designated a Customs port with all the prerequisites of an international port including Customs, Immigration, Port Health Officials and Government security agencies.
He thanked Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State for his investments on infrastructural development particularly, road networks amongst others which has made the Dala Inland Dry Port a reality.
Reiterating that the Dala Inland Dry Port (DIDP) is a Port of Origin and Final Destination, the Minister called on national and international maritime practitioners, shippers, shipping companies, landlocked countries and port users to take full advantage of this facility for import and export of their cargoes.
On the 10MW Haske Solar Plant, the Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, described the solar plant as a significant achievement in Nigeria’s power generation, achieving the energy transition goal as well as increasing the share of renewable energy in the power mix.
The Minister revealed that the construction of the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant project is almost completed, while other power plants projects are at various stages of completion.
Also speaking, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed that over 16,000 houses have been successfully built in the past four years by Family Homes Funds Limited, under the guidance of the Ministry.
She recalled that the Ministry together with the NSIA established Family Homes Funds Limited with a structured approach to address the housing deficiency issue in the country.
Her words: ‘‘We had a vision to support your government’s housing agenda by ensuring we cater for the low-income earners of Nigeria by providing quality houses that are affordably priced”.
According to the Minister, the agency now has a strong presence in all the six geopolitical zones and through its projects, created over 75,000 direct and indirect jobs.
‘‘There are completed and ongoing housing projects funded by Family Homes Funds in 12 states of the Federation and in the next two years, we intend to build additional affordable houses in all 36 states including the FCT,’’ she said.
While in Kano, the president also inaugurated the National Tier IV Data Centre under the supervision of Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and office complex of Galaxy Backbone Limited.
‘‘The Tier IV Data Centre is the highest anywhere in the world and this is the best Centre in the country and the first in Northern Nigeria,” the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, told the president at the unveiling of the plaque to commemorate the formal inauguration.
The president also inaugurated the Cancer Treatment Centre at Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital, Giginyum Muhammadu Buhari Road Interchange at NNPC Mega Station Hotoro and Aliko Dangote Ultra-Modern Skill Acquisition Centre, Zaria Road.
PDP Condemns Attack on President
Meanwhile, the PDP has condemned the attack on the president.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Debo Ologunagba, in a statement said, the organised attack on the person of the president was outright treasonable and a sacrilegious assault on the national sovereignty, which must be condemned by all.
The main opposition party said more disturbing was the fact that the APC presidential campaign allegedly sought to humiliate and harm Buhari, while performing his official duties in Kano.
“Our party is alarmed that this attack is part of APC presidential candidate’s alleged plot to undermine the presidency, cause confusion, trigger violence in the country, disrupt the conduct of the 2023 general election and derail our democracy, having realised that he cannot win in a peaceful, free and fair electoral process.
“It should be noted that the APC presidential candidate has been displaying open aversion and making inciting statements against President Buhari since Mr. President’s declaration, in line with democratic best practice all over the world that, Nigerians should freely vote for any candidate and party of their choice in the 2023 general election,” Ologunagba further alleged.
The PDP recalled Tinubu’s infamous statement in London, where he declared to his supporters that, “political power is not going to be served in a restaurant, it is not served a la carte. It is what we are doing; it is being determined; you do it at all cost; fight for it, grab it, snatch it and run with it.”
Ologunagba added: “Only recently, Asiwaju Tinubu further incited his followers against President Buhari at APC’s Presidential Rally in Abeokuta, Ogun State, where he accused Mr. President of attempting to subvert the electoral process.
“It is now clearer why the APC presidential candidate brazenly established a militia code-named “the Jagaban Army” which is designed to undermine our national security, unleash violence on institutions of democracy and disrupt the electoral process.”