At least N66million of federal government funds has been disbursed to companies with unclear registration statuses for projects that were either poorly executed or not executed at all in the Tarauni Local Government Area of Kano State, investigation by Daily Trust on Sunday revealed.
These projects, which were approved as constituency projects for the local government, were commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Education through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
But despite their importance to the educational goals of the government and those of the beneficial communities, the situations of the projects have left little or nothing to write home about.
One of the projects, which could be argued to have been executed, albeit poorly, was the construction of a block of two classrooms, an office and a store at Dantsinke Primary School in the local government area. But the condition of the project was such that teachers and pupils in the school are living under the fear that the roof could collapse on them at any moment.
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Teachers in the school said it was difficult to maintain the attention of the pupils during class hours because they were mostly fixated on the situation of the roof, and many parents have expressed fears that the school is endangering the lives of the wards.
Abubakar Sani, the headmaster of the school lamented, “We are just taking risks and managing. However, we have reported the issue to the authorities concerned and waiting for action.”
He revealed that the building at Dantsinke Primary School was constructed in 2021 but many people thought the structure was decades-old because of the shoddy work done by the contractor. He said the school needed more seats as most pupils study on bare floor.
In 2021, the federal government released the sum of N66.8million with the aim of executing projects across various schools as constituency projects in Tarauni Local Government Area. Dantsinke Primary School was one of the beneficiaries and its project was handled by Global Castle Nigeria Limited, which got N12million on March 23, 2021 for the construction and furnishing of a block of 2 classrooms with an office and store for the school.
Another contractor, Rahza Software Ltd, was also awarded the contract to provide furniture for the school at the sum of N6.7million. While the payment to Rahza had been released on March 16, 2021, checks by Daily Trust in late February revealed that the project was not delivered and pupils are being taught while sitting on bare floor.
“There is no set of furniture brought in here separately from these ones provided with that building,” the headmaster of the school said, while pointing at the project executed by the other contractor, Global Castle.
Other contractors that benefitted from federal governments N66.8m are: XYZ Multi-Synergy Limited, Blue Diamond Oil and Gas Ltd, and Duo Creed Global Limited.
An investigation by our correspondent revealed that Duo Creed got N13.8m in March 11 for the construction of a block of 2 classrooms with furniture at Government Girls’ Secondary School (GGSS), Kauyen Alu. But it was discovered that there was no public school in the said area with the closest public school in the area being GGSS Unguwar Uku and no contract was executed there.
An official of GGSS, Unguwar Uku, who does not want to be mentioned, said the last project executed in the school was several years ago and was constructed by the former chairman of Tarauni Local Government.
“Not even a single block has been brought to this school in the last two years,” he said.
Similarly, XYZ Multi-Synergy Ltd was awarded the contracts for the renovation of a block of 2 classrooms with furnishing at Kundila Secondary School and for the construction of a block of 2 classrooms at Tarauni Primary School and was paid N9.4m and N7.8m for the projects respectively since January 2021.
But during a visit to Kundila Secondary School in late February, it was discovered that the renovation of the block of two classrooms was shoddily executed as doors and windows had undergone several repairs while others are falling apart. Officials in the school revealed that the renovation was that of a dilapidated building.
While the Kundila project could be said to have been shoddily executed, findings showed that the second contract, the construction of a block of two classrooms at Tarauni Primary School, was not delivered.
A similar situation to the Tarauni Primary School project was also discovered at Kundila Islamiyya School, which was supposed to get a rehabilitation centre. The project was awarded to Blue Diamond Oil and Gas Ltd and the payment of the sum of N8.6m was released on April 19, 2021 to the company.
However, investigations revealed that the project was not delivered as the said school had no rehabilitation centre when our correspondent visited in early March, almost two years after.
Residents around the area, who confirmed the school as the only one called Kundila Islamiyya, said it had no rehabilitation centre.
An official of the school who asked not to be identified said, “There is nothing like that in this school. Some renovations you see here marked by a politician were carried out by the school and volunteers. There are some little renovations, which are majorly painting, but not on any rehabilitation centre you are talking.
On the situation of the contracts at Dansinke Primary School and Kundila Secondary School, Aminu Abdullahi, an architect and a retired civil servant who had worked as a site engineer for more than 30 years, said the reason could be summarised basically as lack of professionalism and the use of substandard materials.
Four contractors’ statuses unknown
A review of the statuses of the five companies contracted for these projects revealed that only one (Rahza) has an active registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), while the statuses of the other four – Global Castle, Duo Creed, XYZ Multi-Synergy and Blue Diamond) – showed that the companies were inactive and their statuses were unknown.
An inactive company, according to the CAC, is one that has not updated its data. Such a company has failed to comply with sections 417 to 424 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) Act, 2020, in filing and updating its annual returns with the CAC.
Section 417 of the CAMA states that every company must make and deliver its annual returns to the CAC every year. This means that these four companies have failed to meet up with the obligatory provisions as stipulated in the sections of the act to qualify them for the award of contract.
This is also a contravention of section 16 (8) (d) of the Public Procurement Act 2007, which states that a bidder may have its bid or tender excluded if the bidder is in arrears regarding payment of due taxes, charges, pensions or social insurance contributions, unless such bidders have obtained a lawful permit in respect of the allowance, the difference of such outstanding payments or payment thereof in installment.
While searching for the addresses of the companies, it was discovered that Global Castle had listed its address as No.6 Chari Close, Maitama, Abuja, and Duo Creed listed its address as Suite 17, Bulama House, Abuja, but neither of these addresses could be traced to either company. A dispatch rider (M S Logistics service) was commissioned to trace the address but said he could not contact the company after several visits.
Similarly, XYZ Multi-Synergy, which listed its address as No.2 Ashton Road, Kano, could not be traced to the address. Our correspondent visited the address but there was no trace of any company there as the place was designated as a residential building.
For Blue Diamond, which listed its address as 6th floor, National Merit Award House, Maitama, Abuja, a letter dispatched to the company for an explanation was duly signed and acknowledged but has not been replied.
Facilitating agency mum, lawmaker feign ignorance
When contacted, the lawmaker representing Tarauni federal constituency, Hafiz Kawu, said the facilitating agency was responsible for the contracts, and therefore, should be contacted.
“Kindly channel all your request to the relevant agency as enshrined in the law. They are saddled with the full responsibility of procurements, monitoring and evaluation of all constituency and capital projects executed. I think they are in a better position to address all your queries and enquiries,” he said.
But the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), which is the facilitating agency, despite acknowledging a Freedom of Information request on the projects, did not respond to all enquiries.
Also, a letter sent to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, which is another facilitating agency, demanding explanations on the said project, was acknowledged but not replied.
This publication was produced with support from the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) under the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development Inclusivity and Accountability Project (CMEDIA), funded by the MacArthur Foundation.
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