By FEMI ADESINA
I spent three days in Daura, Katsina State, about a fortnight ago, visiting with our former President and my principal, Muhammadu Buhari. I got more than an inkling into how he spends his days in retirement in that modest abode and verdant community.
Even out of power and office, Buhari is in so much demand. So many people just want to meet and greet, see the iconic man, and possibly have a handshake. If protocol aides were not available to schedule visitors, the place would be a bedlam. A riot of sorts. Very strange and curious for a man who does not share money. We no dey give Shishi (apologies to Obidients).
I had accompanied him to Daura after handover of power on May 29, 2023, and stayed for two days. My early September visit was the first after that homecoming trip.
Was it a delight to see the man again after three months? Sheer pleasure. That winsome smile, the firm handshake, going down memory lane, and other delightful stories we shared.
He filled me in on how he spends his days. Resting, reading newspapers, following developments across the world, receiving visitors, loads and loads of them coming in buses, and going to the farm at least four times a week.
I was intrigued by the last one. A visit to the farm. I’d been to Daura a number of times, but I never got to the farm. So, when he said he would go the next day, I promptly indicated interest in joining him.
Departure from the house was fixed for 4 pm. I got to the rendezvous point with 20 minutes to spare, to join the other aides. At the dot of 4 pm, former President Buhari came out. Always as prompt as clockwork.
Koza Farm is about 8 kilometers from the house, located near Jassai and Saitawa villages. It was established over 40 years ago.
Vast. Vast is the description of the farm sprawled across 36.4 hectares of land, bound by the Koza Dam, with the waters shimmering in the late afternoon sun. The dam never dries all-year round.
To actually call it a cattle farm is a misnomer, as there are many other things being reared and cultivated in Koza Farm. A checklist, as given to me by Sulaiman Umar, the farm veterinarian, whom I engaged in a conversation during the visit.
Apart from cattle herd in ranches, you also have legumes, tree crops, horses, sheep, camels, other livestock, dairy unit, orchards. There are over 1,322 economic trees, 130 cattle as at time of visit, attended to by 34 staff, including professionals, farmhands, technical people, and security men.
In the orchard, you have lemon, mandarin, grapefruit, avocado, mango, apple, banana, cashew, date palm, moringa, pomegranate, orange, and many others.
There were horses, Sudanese sheep, camels, and the star attraction, cattle, including imported azowoark, bokolo, black angus, and locally bred ones.
The cattle were secure in their enclosures, feeding quietly. But Umar told me that they could also be let out to graze on the vast grassland, which is within a fence, with no risk of their straying into any farmland to cause havoc to crops. Yes, President Buhari shows the way. No danger of herders and farmers clashing here.
The cows were well fed. Robust. Former President Buhari gives a good number out as gifts. How do I know? I’ve been a beneficiary, when I was burying my mother over 10 years ago. Pastor Tunde Bakare also told me he received five when he was burying his mother. The farm is a commercial enterprise, and obviously doing very well.
It would take hours to walk the farm. Hours on end. See Buhari striding like a young lad, a man knocking hard at 81 by December. I thought I was fit. Relatively, despite my bulk. But after about 30 minutes, I was already breathing like a wild hog. You this man, you are not fit o. Lol. Those things you do on treadmill are just child’s play. Walk round Koza Farm four times a week like Buhari does, and know what fitness is.
I salute the other aides who kept pace with the honest man from Daura. Well, they do it four times a week, and are used to it. I didn’t pretend I could compete. I proudly maintained a far distance at the rear, chatting with the veterinarian. It was a good smokescreen for lack of stamina. You sure can’t blame me.
*Adesina was Special Adviser to the then President Buhari on Media and Publicity, 2015-2023.