Desmond Mgboh, Kano
Lying on the strip of Bompai Industrial Area, a few meters from the Bompai Rock, Daula Hotel, Kano, was at inception, a pleasurable place- serene and homely. According to Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, way back in 1968, the Audu Bako administration had envisioned a world class hotel that would serve the diverse needs of a fast growing city.
Yakasai, who was Commissioner for Information by 1968 and had chaired the committee that set up Daula Hotel told Daily Sun: “Our thinking was that Kano, as a cosmopolitan area and a big trading and business centre, deserved a hotel of international standard.”
He said the design and construction of Daula Hotel was executed by a London consultant, with an eye for taste and a design for class, adding that it was completed on the basis of some kind of partnership, resulting that the government paid the interests for their construction of the complex in the first three years and paid the principal in nine years,
Commissioner for Commerce, Ibrahim Mukhtar, said government decided to make the hotel a source of revenue and something of benefit to the public, rather than leave it in its present state as an abandoned complex:
“Daula Hotel was one of the best hotels in the country, very suitable in those days, but it was closed down and abandoned for decades. So it was the decision of the state executive council to get a private company, to get an investor who would invest in Daula Hotel so that the hotel business would be continued through on the basis of Public Private Partnership (PPP).
“That was the basis of government’s action. The government decided to have this partnership by bringing in somebody who could manage the place better. But it was that easy. It was that bad that even Kano State Investment Property (KSIP) went searching for investors from outside the country.
“Several invitations were sent out, but the response was negative. At the end of the day, KSIP started searching for an investor within the country, interested in hotel business and nobody was forth coming.
“And then somebody named Mudassir, the owner of Mudatex, was approached. He also rejected the issue of a hotel business and he said that his own business has to do with trading and he was only interested in building a shopping mall.
“Now, after that agreement, Mudassir was invited and he made a presentation before the state executive council. Thereafter and to make it more transparent, other companies were given the opportunity to make similar presentations on the same Daula Hotel with a view to finding out the best for the state government.
“About three companies made presentations on Daula Hotel, with the idea of this PPP, instead of just leaving it as abandoned property and part of it being used by Kano State University of Science and Technology (KSUT), Wudil, and you know they could not maintain it.
“At the end of the day, after all the presentations in different sittings of the state executive council, a company by the name Lambash was given the opportunity.
“His (Lambash) idea was to have a residential area. Some part would be converted to apartments, a part would serve as a mall and in the middle of the complex is the hotel- three in one. That is their proposal, contrary to that of Mudassir and government decided to give it to Lambash Nigeria Limited.
“That was the decision we took a few weeks ago. It would be made on the basis of PPP and the hotel would be handed back to the government after some period of time. And in the interval, the government would be earning some incomes from the hotel based on the agreed sharing formula. In the actual sense, the state government is using their own land as an equity share in the relationship.”
But despite this, the truth is that many people do not align with this thinking.
At KASUT, the bitterness over the eviction of their institute from Daula Hotel premises is evident. Many of the lecturers, who spoke to Daily Sun, had damning verdicts on the government. They held that government was simply allocating different state -owned interests to their proxies at the expense of the development of education. The KASUT chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) expressed strong objection to the move to eject them from the structure of Daula Hotel.
But it is from the political sphere that the fight to stop the privatization of Daula Hotel is felt the most. Technically, the move is seen by the Kwankwassiyya tendency as yet another attempt to undermine the achievements of former governor Musa Kwankwaso.
Not surprising, his close associate and former governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 elections, Alhaji Abba Kabiru Yusuf dragged the state government to court.
The suit filed in July 2020, sought a perpetual injunction restraining all the defendants whether, by themselves, their agents, privies, servants, officials, representatives and or any other person or authority taking orders from them from forthwith tampering, confiscating, building and or developing on the public propriety lying and situated at the former Daula Hotel Kano.
Government’s counsel responded: “This is a public property owned by the people of the state, you must have a locus. Nobody as an individual has the right to challenge a legally binding decision of the State Executive Council. It is like challenging a public decision. It is more of a political decision or a political case against the government or more of a chance to criticize politically.”
On the objection of the lecturers at KASUT: “The property is owned by Kano State Government. The university is owned by Kano State Government and the governor, on behalf of the people, is the owner of these properties. And by virtue of the Land Use Act, the governor can do and undo with the property. And when I say the governor, not Ganduje as a person, but the office.
“It is not a question of the university or whatsoever. It is the same government that allocated or allowed the university to use the facility that is now taking it away or taking back its property. Initially, it was not owned by the university. It was owned by the state government and it allowed a department in the university to use part of the property.
“And if the government is saying that I am taking back my property and I am using it for another purpose, I see no wrong in that.
“It is just a change of policy. The university is being maintained by the state government. There is no difference between the government and the university.”