Salisu Abdurahman, 28, from Kofar Arewa, Daura town, Katsina State, owns a Fura and Nono joint. He is widely known for his support for President Muhammadu Buhari and has been nicknamed ‘Mai Furan Buhari’ because every time the president comes around, friends and customers get a free treat. This singular act has endeared him to many people and he has quickly become a sensation. In this interview, he talks about his love for the president, running his business and more. Excerpts:
Daily Trust: How did you start the Fura and Nono business?
Salisu Abdurahman: Before now I was just loitering around, doing several odd things to make a living. I started as a bus conductor, then worked at building sites and so on. I later realised that such jobs would not enable me go to school. Growing up I loved school and learning how to read and write was my major objective then. So, I started saving as little as I could. I talked to my mum who usually kept my savings and told her point blank I couldn’t continue such work and needed to go to school. I had savings, so I started buying containers and spoons with N900 capital. I gave N300 to my mum who started doing fura for me before she later died. I began to realise profit of between N300 to N400 daily, which was my main target for getting steady transport fares to and from the school I wanted to enrol in and also feeding money.
I started in 2007, when I was in JSS 1. I was over-age when I started school. I enrolled myself. All I did was ask my mum and then request that my dad accompany me when I wanted to get enrolled. I was accepted and so I took advantage of my Arabic knowledge background to develop myself in school.
DT: Why were you nicknamed ‘Mai Furan Buhari’?
Abdurahman: It’s because of the love I have for the president. I grew up seeing my father exhibit open love for the president. My father has Buhari’s posters, from his time in the military till present day, pasted on his room’s walls.
Also, growing up, I disliked hearing people criticise Buhari unnecessarily. I challenged those who did that in my joint. That was how my nickname stuck. Some accused him of not bringing development to his home town like other leaders or share gifts when he was around. They mocked me with this and that was when I assured them that anytime he was around they will get free Fura and Nono. That was how it all started.
DT: Have you ever met the president?
Abdurahman: I only came close to him when his sister died some few years back. People went to condole with him and I was opportune to shake his hand. This was around 2003 when he wasn’t fully into politics.
DT: What challenges do you face in your modest business?
Abdurahman: Like most businesses, having enough capital to boost it is a challenge. The freebies I give definitely cut down my profit, but I’m not deterred. After every one of such days, I have to borrow from close friends or relatives to start up again.
To be honest, I do this business for many reasons. Aside getting daily income to support me and my family, I do it to send a signal to youths, especially those who are all out for white collar jobs. No matter how small a business is, it is far better than being idle. I uphold it because there are people who benefit from it, too. A typical example are those I buy millet from and those I get Nono from. There is also those who earn a living working with me. I love what I do, and it gives me joy, no matter how little the returns are.
DT: Recently when the president was re-elected, were you able to give some freebies?
Abdurahman: Definitely. It was superb. Many people kept calling to know when the ‘free Fura and Nono day’ would be declared. I was busy attending to many invitations of dinner and hangouts for the celebration that I could not find time to organise mine, not until last week. It was well-organised and attended by people from the villa, like Malam Garba Shehu, the newly-elected House of Reps member Fatahu Mohammed, and other politicians.
DT: This will be Mr. President’s last tenure. Will the freebies continue?