With all the quarantine going on world-wide, and the recent introduction of the Covid-19 popularly called Corona virus in Lagos, I will have no choice but to also shut down by writer’s borders, and I will restrict my pen and keyboard movements to Bauchi alone. My face mask will have an elongated side, which would extend to not only cover my nostrils and mouth, but my ears as well, giving me adequate ‘quarantine’, from those who may put other primordial sentiments, ahead of their home state, Bauchi, should they find me too patriotic.
In 1999, just at the beginning of the 4th Republic, I had written an article titled, ‘Dawn of a new hope’, which was published in a magazine christened BABBAN GWANI (master builder); under the umbrella of the Bauchi State Students’ Union, of which I was the Assistant-secretary general, and Editor-in-chief of the publication. The dawn of a new hope was expressing optimism that with the ascension of Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu, the Walin Bauchi, as the democratically elected Governor of Bauchi state, Bauchi was going to witness unprecedented change — like, or superceeding the developments of the then Tatari Ali government of the second republic, during the Shagari regime.
Last year, I had visited an aunt at the Amenity ward or VIP section of the State Specialist Hospital which is now the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital and I couldn’t but be amazed by the standard and quality of the facilities in that section. The structure, the beds, the office furniture, and a complete inventory of the equipment and other items in the hospital exuded quality at its finest. It is exactly of the same quality as the National Hospital in Abuja! Mu’azu’s works, roads and even the Emirs’ Palaces that were built or renovated at that time impress upon high quality and standards!
On the 2nd of April, 2014, in my column FAIR TRUTH, on the Blueprint newspapers, in an article titled, ‘Yuguda, A three-pointer and hat-trick’; I wrote about an earlier resentment to the idea of an airport, and a second thought and reckoning, that an airport was not just a luxury, but a necessity, in view of proceeding events and developments, that would need an airport if they were to come to life, and if Bauchi were to gain maximum utility, from the surrounding projects and discoveries. I was enthralled and I wrote, “the airport is no ordinary airport, but ranked 5th in the country, and the biggest in the north-east. I gather that the airport is also awaiting presidential approval to be designated as a cargo airport. It boasts of the biggest and longest runway which conforms to the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) specifications for an international airport. The discovery of the Kolmani OPL 809, an oil well near the Yankari Game Reserve, has broadly changed my perspectives, and today I am more than jubilant that the airport is in place. With an oil well housing billions of cubic metres of gas, a game reserve of international acclaim, and the possibility of Bauchi airport being designated as a cargo airport, it’s Eureka for Isa Yuguda”. At the time, a cargo plane was one of the first airplanes to land at the airport, to test run the runway, which was the highlight and selling point of the airport.
Not long after, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, cited an Airforce Base, right beside the airport, which not only provided development for the nearby local inhabitants of the area; but security for the nearby Lame-Burra forests of the Ningi/ Bauchi axis, which reportedly had bandits and other terrorists, beginning to make it there home. M A Abubakar Esq., graciously provided the land, with the state government paying a whopping compensation of about 400 million Naira. He also built a dual carriage way, from the eastern bypass of Bauchi, running towards the airport, which is a project that when completed, would complete the Bauchi Urban look, as one moves from Bauchi town, towards Kano and beyond.
A 7 man team from the NCAA, National Civil Aviation Authority, had visited Bauchi where the Governor, Bala Mohammed, Kauran Bauchi, enthused that his government was preparing to turn the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport, Bauchi, into a regional hub. He envisaged that making the airport a regional hub will enable Nigerians, especially from the north-east, to travel to major cities of the world such as UAE, China and Saudi Arabia. This vision would be complementing the idea of the airport, ab-initio. His government has ensured that daily flights now come in and out of Bauchi, easing business, governance and safe guarding air travellers the rigors of poor road networks especially in the north-east, and the other attendant insecurity issues.
Work has returned to various sites within Bauchi metropolis, all of which were inherited from the previous government. Of course many new projects have also been embarked upon but some of the old ones are very critical as they adorn the city centre, and would certainly be inimical to the development of the state if abandoned. Instructively, some very salient roads have been opened up and work is going on at a very brisk pace. These are the Sabon Kaura to Miri bypass, and the Ibrahim Bako to Tirwun
Bypass which would both ease traffic and heavy duty vehicle inconveniences, thronging the heart of the city.
Kaura has also instituted the Barota agency, to combat the menace of commercial vehicles’ activity, which is fast turning the city centre into one big touts market. Previous endeavors have failed, as the operators seek one injunction or the other, from courts that have continually protected them, at the detriment of the general citizenry. Kaura has secured a legislation to give the proper legal impetus to the Barota, to execute its mandate, without hindrance or the preponderance of court orders.
Development is only visible, when years of projects and ideas are supported by years of continuity and support for the original ideas of the initial projects. Dotting public space with abandoned works, uncompleted structures, and repealed or disbanded institutions does not help the management of scarce resources, especially that of a disadvantaged state like Bauchi of the now famed north-east misadventure. Kaura will do well — very well, if he continues on this path of Bauchi first, projects first, aside any other sentiment. Kaura is embracing the prosperity in continuity and that will definitely augur well for the prosperity of Baucheans.