Bauchi, christened on February 3, 1976, ranking 5th in surface area of Nigeria’s constituent states, has experienced different paces of physical development – some fast, some solid, some wobbly and some stagnant. Politically, Bauchi is highly advanced, most unpredictable, and leads the pack, with a resolute desire for change – for the betterment of its folk as the livelihood and sustenance of its citizenry is borne by government and the good that governance delivers to them at any point in time.
The Tatari Ali era of the 2nd Republic were Bauchi’s golden years, and development was rapid. Bauchi fast became a beautiful urban centre with dual carriageways, well built drainages and side walks dotting its major cities of Bauchi, Gombe, Azare and Misau. Gubi Dam was built during this period, which till date is the major source of pipe borne water to the city and its localities. The military era saw the development of hospitals, polytechnics, vocational training schools, and colleges of education. Huge investments were made in the development and expansion of Bauchi’s agricultural resources and endowments, with vast afforestation projects in the Northern District of the state comprising Azare, Shira and Gamawa, to mention a few. A lot of investments went to the development of the Yankari Game Reserve as it opened to the world as a spectacular tourist destination where the wildest of animals can be viewed in their natural habitat. Bauchi had one of the first truly indigenous water bottling companies which was known as Yankari Spring Water.
Bauchi boasted of a Bauchi Meat Factory, and a tractor assembly plant, Steyr Nig. Ltd. Trumpeter was a printing and publishing company owned wholly by Bauchi state.
Not accounting for the very sketchy and brief 3rd republic, Bauchi’s 4th republic was a big bang in both theory and practice! A younger, vibrant and progressive candidate had won the elections and Bauchi was once again set for rebranding. With a technocrat in the seat of governance in the state, Muazu did touch on almost every facet of infrastructure in the state. Over his eight years, roads, bridges, hospitals and hospital wards, and also schools, were built and taken to what can be truly labelled as The Next Level. His works were solid. Bauchi’s amenity ward in the Specialist Hospital is as qualitative as the VIP ward of the National Hospital, FCT; till date!
The Yuguda and MA Abubakar administrations that followed have had their own fair share of projects; like the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Airport built by the Yuguda administration. We also have the massive Gubi Dam expansion project funded by the World Bank, with counterpart funding from Bauchi state government, initiated by the M A Abubakar administration. But eventually, the last 13 years have seen a deficit in infrastructural development of the state and Bauchi cannot sit on the same table with its peers when it comes to showcasing its infrastructural credentials. In fact, younger states like Katsina, Gombe and perhaps Jigawa have fared much better in that regard.
Fast forward to today’s Bauchi. On March 1, 2020, in my article titled, Kaura: Embracing the prosperity in continuity, I expressed delight that our new governor was carrying on with the projects of the previous government.
The legendary MM Way is being completed, and the Maiduguri Bypass is also set for completion. I also mentioned that new roads had been embarked upon and they were being done at quite a brisk pace. Today, these roads have been completed impressively. These include the Sabon Kaura – Miri bypass through to the School of Agric in Yelwa, and the Ibrahim Bako estate road through to the Tirwun bypass, which would both ease traffic and cut out heavy duty vehicle inconveniences that throng the heart of the city. The dual carriage way that also links the Murtala Mohammed Way, passing through Muda Lawal Market, to the Kofar Ran Expressway is also a few notches from being completed. The two bypasses of Miri and Tirwun have opened up entirely new layouts and lots of estate agents and mass housing developers are already busy with marketing and construction. That industry has been effectively activated by these two very critical urban roads. Two township roads in Azare have also been completed, which are the Tafawa Balewa road and the Hospital road.
The ‘masterstrokes’ that have excited me and tickled my fancy are two new urban roads that are currently being developed. One is the access road from Gombe Road through Doya, down to Bakaro and then Kofar Dumi, that will terminate at Ibrahim Bako yet again; and the other is the access road that will connect the age old Mallam Goje Street through to Bakin Kura, which still connects you to the new Muda Lawal dual carriage way earlier identified. Now these two access roads are pathways that have existed before Bauchi was created, yet they have not been created or developed.
Those layouts are right in the heart of town and have somewhat become slums. Ponds that used to form when the rainy season beckons have long disappeared and have become homes and schools. The areas have become so congested and unhealthy and have become breeding grounds for ill health. Dozens of houses, schools and mosques are being demolished and the compensations have been paid up in full for the roads and drainages that will cut through these very densely populated areas.
‘Garin Bauchi’ has finally found someone in quite a while, who is intent on fully taking Bauchi to another level – away from archaic roads, structures and unhealthy living. ‘Dan Gari’, as some politicians say, is duly giving the ‘Gari’ the long overdue upliftment it deserves. Modernity is definitely swinging into those areas as traders and businesses are already swinging in to acquire land and property to build plazas and shops. Other roads in the Central Senatorial District that are at 90% completion are the Sade-Akuyam road linking Darazo and Misau local government areas. There’s also the Alkaleri- Tafawa Balewa road linking Alkaleri and Tafawa Balewa local government area which is 50% completed. Pace is of the essence and time is of value when we speak projects. If those township roads, especially the Mallam Goje and the Doya roads, can be completed within a year at most, then Bauchi would be sitting comfortably in the comity of states that are witnessing true urban transformation.
Soon then we can be talking about the construction of a flyover at Central Market roundabout and at Wunti market roundabout as proposed by some skillful students of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi. As it is, ‘Dan Gari’ is surely serving Bauchi’s infrastructure deficit.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi