“I am so traumatized, troubled with heavy loans. Currently, any significant business transactions have stopped in my company. I need help to regain even half of the money I Invested in Kano State constituency projects,” the contractor cries out.
On 19 November 2018, ASASCO Nigeria Limited was among other contractors that secured Kano constituency projects amounting to over N17 million.
Projects include the construction of two blocks of classrooms at Bindawa Primary School at the sum of N11,340,568.39 million and another one at Yanbundu Primary School at the sum of N5,975,752.56 million with reference number BPE/SEC/2161/1/9.
They were nominated by the member representing the Bichi constituency, Hon. Lawan Shehu.
A Constituency Project or Zonal Intervention Project is any project that is conceived, designed, or executed within a legislative constituency with the collaboration, input, or influence of the legislator(s) representing that particular constituency.
It is meant a project in any community that is nominated into a budget by a particular legislator for his/her constituency.
They are usually designed, funded, and executed with the participation or collaboration of the legislator in the process and are funded directly from the budget of the state government.
The constituency project in Bindawa was nominated due to the fact that the community which has over 500 children has no formal structure for both western and Islamic education.
On a visit to Bindawa village, it was observed that children of the community either help their parents to fetch firewood from the farm, engage in farming activities, roam the streets, or engage themselves in unproductive activities.
Discrete investigation revealed that on 28th November 2019, ASASCO Nigeria Limited granted an irrevocable Power of Attorney to SOA Alkawari Nig Ltd., to execute both contracts. Another finding from the investigation was that the Hon. is a Director at ASASCO Nigeria Limited, a reason which probably necessitated the transfer of the contract to SOA Alkawari Nig., Ltd.
The contractor (SOA Alkawari Nig Ltd,.) abandoned the site of the construction of the two blocks of classrooms at Bindawa Primary School and Yanbundu Islamiyya School due to the non-payment of some constituency projects executed in the Bunkure Local Government Area.
An elder of the Bindawa community in Bichi LGA, Haruna Ahmed cried out that their children are becoming worse on a daily due to a lack of education.
“I made an effort to make sure Bindawa benefits from the construction of one block of two classrooms in 2020.
“The building has reached linter level but for over 3 years, the construction has stopped. We are hoping that the state government will complete the project as our community has no single formal school.
“Majority of our children have to trek for about 15 kilometers to school in the neighboring village in search of formal education.
“The stress has made most of the children lose hope in western education,” he narrated.
Investigation revealed that the construction of one block of two classrooms in Bindawa village is the first of its kind but the project is left uncompleted due to none payment of the previously executed project in Bindawa village.
The part of the construction work that is completed has turned into storage for stems and grasses by community members instead of being used for academic learning by children of the village.
Also, at Yanbundu in Bichi, LGA, residents complained that Islamiyya School children suffer unhealthy learning conditions, after the Kano State Ministry of Works and Transport ordered the demolition of some classrooms at Yanbundu Islamiyya.
During a site verification visit, this reporter observed that pupils at Yanbundu Islamiyya School were learning in an open space as the only available classrooms were not enough to contain the pupils.
In an interaction with Mallam Dahiru Abubakar, the founder of Yanbundu Islamiyya School in Bichi, LGA, he lamented that the lack of classrooms has massively decreased the number of his pupils in the school.
“When the construction of the constituency project commenced, I was instructed to demolish a block, with the assurance that government will construct a new block of two classrooms for me.
“Initially I refused to pull down the building, I wanted them to complete the construction of the new blocks classrooms but after many arguments, they insisted and I agreed to flatten the block.
“But after some months, the contractor left without any notice, and for over 3 years the building has been at linter level.”
Dr. Auwalu Halilu, the Kano State Coordinator of the Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All, (CSACEFA), said poor infrastructure contributes to the number of dropouts which affects the system of education.
These basic structures, the majority of school-age children will detest school since structures serve as a motivator for children’s attendance, he added.
Reacting, the contractor of the Bindawa and Yanbundu village constituency projects, Alh. Sa’adu Lamido Jummare, Director Operations of SOA Alkawari Nig Ltd, said: “Our Company has executed many constituency projects in Kano, but none has been paid for, despite investing our resources.
“No mobilization fee was given to us; we used our funds to carry out the construction work to the level of which the one block of two classrooms is.
“The uncompleted projects in Bindawa and Yanbundu villages were constructed with loaned funds.
“We observed that the state government has refused to pay for the 2019 projects we executed in Bunkure which is why we decided to halt the construction of classrooms in those two communities.
“Our company has run into a big loss for over two years; no business transactions of any form due to paucity of funds.”
A company that usually operates multi-million business transactions, in aspects of construction and agriculture, has today waked up to be in the deep water of loans, he added.
“Our distress situation came up after we completed the two school projects in Bunkure, without the government fulfilling the agreement of payments, despite the fact that we paid 15% contractual arrangement to the Member representing Bunkure constituency at the State level, Hon. Muhmmad Uba Gurjiya.”
Completed but unpaid constituency projects in Bunkure LGA
Another investigation revealed that on 22 July 2019, Messrs. SOA Alkawari Nig. Ltd., was awarded a contract to construct a classroom block without an office at Sanda Primary School in Bunkure LGA at the sum of N9,813,647.87 million with reference number PBE/CP/20119/BNK/03/1/4.
In the same period, precisely on 22 July 2019 Messrs SOA Alkawari Nig. Ltd., secured another contract to construct a constituency project of a classroom storey block SUBEB type at GGSS Gurjiya in Bunkure LGA at the sum of N29,914,190.86 million with reference number PBE/CP/20119/BNK/02/1/4.
As of the last check by this reporter, both constituency projects in Bunkure LGA have been certified completed by the Kano State Ministry of Works and Transport, but yet unpaid.
Children enjoy unpaid constituency projects in Bunkure LGA
A visit to Sanda Cikin Gari Primary School in Bunkure, the construction of a constituency project of two classrooms blocks by SOA Alkawari Nig Ltd., at a sum of N9,813,647.87 million has been certified completed; from the outside and inner view of the building, the environment looks conducive for learning.
The classrooms were tiled, fitted with furniture and fittings, and two Lithium 2.5 and 1.5 kva generators.
Alh. Jummare, the contractor, recounted that “after I have completed the construction of the classroom project at Sanda, I refused to hand over the keys to the school authority due to the fact that my payments were still pending, after some months, the Personal Assistant to the Hon. Member Representing Bunkure Constituency, Alhaji Magaji Ibrahim, pleaded with me on compassionate grounds to hand over the keys to the school management, and I did.
The Headmaster of Sanda Cikin Gari Primary School, Bunkure, Musa Muhmmad Sanda lauded the project executed by SOA Alkawari Nig Ltd., “It is one of the best projects ever executed on the school premises.”
Not only students in Sanda enjoyed the unpaid project. In Gurjiya town also in Bunkure LGA, the construction of classroom storey block SUBEB type by SOA Alkawari Nig Ltd., at a sum cost of N29,914,190.86 million was constructed and certified completed by Kano State Ministry of Works and Transport, but the contractor is yet to be paid.
Abubakar Musa, a junior secondary student of Government Secondary School Gurjiya, facilitates that, “we are really enjoying the constructed classrooms, and it’s very conducive for learning as we sit on modern plastic chairs which are far better than the old wooden chairs.”
However, despite the construction of the edifices by SOA Alkawari Nig Ltd., in Bunkure which were all certified completed, the Member representing Binkure Constituency at the State House of Assembly, Hon. Muhammad Uba Gurjiya did not pursue the contractor’s payment for over 3 years now.
The contractor, Alh. Jummare said after concrete assurances by the Hon. Member that he will get paid after the project was executed, the company went ahead to loan the sum of over N50 million from Global Fort-Favour to execute the projects.
“I have made countless efforts to receive our payment, but till today, no positive outcomes from either Hon. Gujirya or Kano State Ministry of Works and Transport.
“Still in the situation, our company met with some state government officials who promised to process our payments; they demanded 50% returns (bribe), which the company paid.”
“I went to the Kano State Ministry of Finance, and spoke with the Commissioner, he also assured prompt responses. Later I communicated with the Hon. Member on the status of our agreements with him through a telephone call.
“He told me that Kano State Government is also owing his father’s company over N200 million.
“This corresponds with a rumor I heard that Hon. Gurjiya stopped our company’s payments to approve his father’s payments who is also a contractor.”
An undercover investigation revealed that SOA Alkawari Nig Ltd. paid 15% contractual agreement paid by the contractor (Alh. Jummare) to secure the constituency projects (construction of classroom blocks in Sanda Cikin Gari and Gurjiya villages in Bunkure LGA) to Hon. Muhammed Uba Gurjiya.
The Hon. received the sum of N4,100,000.00 (Four Million One Hundred Thousand Naira) from a UBA Bank Account of SOA Alkawari Ltd., on 7/24/2019 through JAIZ bank to a proxy beneficiary identified as Abdul and Brothers Enterprise.
Despite paying the amount, the facilitator of the constituency projects in Bunkure, Musa Balarabe, an Engineer with the Kano State Ministry of Works and Transport also received the sum of N704,305.00 (Seven Hundred and four Thousand, three Hundred and Five Naira) only on 28/11/2019.
The payment was made by SOA Alkawari’s Ltd., through Union Bank Account at Hotoro Branch to Engr. Musa Balarabe’s personal account with First Bank. The reference number of the transaction is 162442127682.
Again, SOA Alkawari Ltd. paid the sum of N575,409.00 (Five Hundred and Seventy-Four Thousand, Four Hundred and Nine Naira) only to Engr. Musa Balarabe’s Account at First Bank on 27/11/2019 with the reference 150656717787.
Investigation revealed that the payments were contractual kickbacks for the two constituency projects in Bunkure facilitated by Engr. Musa Balarabe.
A separate 12% contractual agreement payment amounting to N1,534,22.00 million (One Million Five Hundred and Thirty-Four Thousand, and Twenty-Two Naira) only was made by SOA Alkawari Ltd., to the Member representing Bichi Constituency, Hon. Lawan Shehu through Alh. Shuaibu Tukur Badamasi a Sectary of ASASCO Nig. Ltd., the contracting company on 11/27/2019 through a First Bank Account.
In a telephone conversation with Hon. Gurjiya told this reporter, “I don’t know the contractor has not been paid, honestly he executed a standard project in my constituency.
“I am not the one approving payments, there are other contractors whose six years of contractor payments have not been released, government is the one in charge of the payments.
“The system of the government is unfair, but hopefully I will strive to see his payments have been approved,” Hon. Gurjiya promised.
He, however, referred this reporter to the Kano State Ministry of Finance for further investigations.
In an interview with an official who wished to remain anonymous at the State Ministry of Finance said: “The ministry is responsible for paying general projects in Kano state, but for constituency projects, it is the responsibility of the House of Assembly Member representing the LGA to forward and pursue the payments of their contractors.”
Ministry of Works and Transport Paid SOA Alkawari Nig Ltd on Vouchers
In 2019 and 2020, the Kano State ministry of works and Transport awarded 5 contracts to SOA Alkawari Nig Ltd., the contracts include the construction of classrooms block at Sanda and Gurjiya in Bunkure LGA, Bindawa and Yanbundu in Bichi, and the construction of a Shariah court at Dorayi in Gwale LGA.
Balarabe Musa, an engineer at Kano State Ministry of Works and Transport, who is the facilitator of the Gurjiya and Sanda projects in Bunkure LGA, certified that SOA Alkawari Nig Ltd. executed a quality project which is up to standard.
He disclosed that after the constituency projects in Bunkure LGA were completed, the Kano State Ministry of Works and Transport paid SOA Alkawari Nig Ltd., on vouchers.
This publication is 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 MacArthur.