By Elijah Akoji
The Federal Ministry of Education in 2021, budgeted a total of N475,725,591 million for the Construction of Classrooms and Supplies of Educational Learning Material in Katsina North Senatorial District with no specific locations. Elijah Akoji in this investigation for SOLACEBASE, uncovered how officials of the ministry and contractors allegedly pocketed project funds.
This investigation has tracked the benefiting schools across three LGAs in the senatorial districts Daura, Sandamu, and Mani.
The search began from the record of payments made in the whole of 2021 by the Federal Ministry of Education as obtained from Govspend.ng, the benefiting schools were properly captured and identified in the record.
They include Kagare Day Secondary School in Kagare; Sadamu lga, Tsaurara Primary School, in Tsaurara Mani lga, and Mazoji Primary School in Daura, Daura lga. The projects were aimed at promoting quality education across Katsina state considering the increasing number of out-of-school children in the state, according to the report.
According to the Katsina State Annual School Census Report released by the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and UNICEF, in 2022, Katsina State has 775,000 out-of-school children across the 34 local government areas of the state. It also identified banditry as the primary cause of this rising figure.
Records revealed over N40 million have been tracked to have been paid to three different contractors with no company websites or social media account handles for verification of their operational authenticity. One of the contractors, according to the record, was registered as a borehole drilling company, yet it was awarded the contract for the construction of classrooms.
Ruk-Mina Associate Limited, a company with an unspecified business description, located in Kaduna, was awarded the contract for the construction and equipment of One Block of 2 classrooms with furniture at Kagare Day Secondary School in Kagare community in Sandamu LGA.
On the 10th of February 2021, a record of financial transactions from Govspend. ng shows that Ruk-Mina Associate Limited received N10,362,584 million with payment No: 1000775728-6 and payment code: 517001001, for the contract.
But a visit to the location of the project in Sandamu LGA only revealed that the project was built in 2020 by Senator Ahmed Babba Kaita, while other projects identified were executed in different years by UBEC, SUBEB, and AGILE, with no trace of any project executed by the Federal Ministry of Education in the school.
AGILE project in Kagare Day Sec Sch, Sandamu LGA
Dahiru Isah, the principal of Kagare Day Secondary School gave an account of all the projects and the year they were constructed, but could not provide any evidence or record of a 2021 project by the Federal Ministry of Education.
Dahiru Isa Principal Kagare Sec Sch, Sandamu LGA
Isah said, “Here in the school, we have taken delivery of several projects, classrooms, solar-powered borehole, and even the supply of furniture between 2020 to 2023, we don’t have any particular project by the Federal Ministry of Education as you have asked, each building has written on it the year the project was executed and the agency.
“We have the one constructed by Senator Babba Kaita in 2020, and also the one constructed by the state Universal Basic Education Board, Universal Basic Education Board, and AGILE, but for the Federal Ministry of Education, we can’t provide any record for that.”
Carryover Project in Mazoji
At Mazoji Primary School in Daura, a school in an open field with perimeter fencing, you could see the blocks of classrooms from afar. While one of the blocks is still looking new, one might be convinced to say the 2021 Federal Ministry of Education project has been executed and already adding value to education in the state.
But on approach, the building turned out to be a 2020 project tagged (FGN/FME/2020) ‘Constituency Projects’ sponsored by Sen Ahmad Babba Kaita.
This clearly showed that the project is one of the 2020 constituency school projects executed by the Ministry of Education under its 2020 budget, the same year the Ministry of Education earmarked over N1 billion for the construction of classrooms across Katsina state.
It was a fruitless walk around Mazoji Primary School with just two blocks of two classrooms each as the only structure in the school.
The record revealed that Assurur Integrated Services Ltd was awarded the contract for the execution of the project at Mazoji Primary School. The contractor, on the 3rd of February 2021, was paid N22,582,019.38 million for the construction and equipping of two (2) Blocks of 2 classrooms at the school. The payment code was 1000759662-67.
In an interview with Sani Muhazu, the headmaster of the school, he described the mystery behind the project, explaining that the chairs were all supplied in 2021 and executed by former Senator Kaita and that they are projects carried over from 2020 to 2021.
Sani Muhazu, Headmaster Mazoji Primary School, Daura showing the reporter inside view of the 2020 project
“The building was constructed in 2021 but backdated to 2020, it was the period the desks were also supplied but only to one classroom. We realized it carries 2020, so when we asked we were told it’s a 2020 project so it has to be backdated regardless of when it was constructed, this is the only information I have as the headmaster of the school,” Muhazu said, adding that “But it is important to note that the project was facilitated by Senator Ahmad Babba Kaita.”
While it is written on the desk in the classroom “Sen Ahmed Babba Kaita, Constituency Pro ECT 2020,” it remains unclear the particular agency that executed the project.
Mazoji Primary School ECT 2020 Constituency Project
Drilling Company Awarded a School Project That Was Never Executed
B-K Drillers Water & Eng Service Limited, a company registered as a borehole drilling company in Kaduna, on the 19th January 2021 received N10,121,594.17 million payment for the construction of a Block of two classrooms and supply of furniture to Tsaurara Primary School in Mani LGA.
Just like Mazoji, Tsaurara Primary School is one of those schools without a perimeter fencing or gate to protect students and properties.
While this reporter walked around the premises of the exposed school which has only two structures, one of the buildings carries a prominent inscription of the agency that executed the project–a block of two classrooms identified as a 2021 UBEC project (FGN/UBEC/ZIP/2021) furnished with desks.
The old two-classroom block looks like the only structure in the school before the 2021 UBEC project since the establishment of the school. The building wears the same painting pattern as the Katsina State Universal Basic Education– a clear indication that the classroom was constructed by SUBEB.
Mazoji Primary School ECT 2020 Constituency Project
Ahmadu Ibrahim Mani, the headmaster of Tsaurara Primary School, while explaining the year each of the projects was executed, confirmed that a block of two classrooms was constructed in 2021 by Senator Ahmad Babba Kaita, but it’s a UBEC-funded project. He said there was no project by the Federal Ministry of Education.
Ahmed Ibrahim, Headmaster Tsaurara Pri Sch, Mani LGA
“The UBEC Classroom was just constructed last year, 2022, but you will notice they wrote (FGN/UBEC/ZIP/2021), this is because it is a 2021 project executed in 2022. We only have two structures in this school, one was constructed by Babba Kaita which is the UBEC project while the other was constructed by SUBEB,” Mani added.
Mazoji Primary School Daura 2020 FME Constituency Project.
When Ben Goong, the spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of Education was contacted to comment and provide some insight into the projects, he gave the reporter time to call him on phone. But he never responded to the call when the reporter reached out as requested.
“Please call me at 8:00 pm” his message read. But the reporter called him several times for two days and he never responded.
Senator Ahmed Babba Kaita could not be reached via all his personal contact phone numbers. He also did not reply to text messages sent to him.
Aminu Badaru, Spokesperson of the Katsina State Universal Basic Education when asked to respond to questions as regards the project, declined and said, “I am not permitted to speak to the press on any issue regarding the board, that’s the rule, only the chairman of the board can instruct me to give any information as regard any project. Meanwhile, this is a federal government project, I doubt if we have much information to give about that, I can direct you to meet the chairman of the board, he will give you useful information”, Badaru said in a telephone conversation.
Contractors Records Incomplete At CAC.
To validate the whole claim, the reporter sought to speak with the directors of the companies, data obtained from company records with the CAC for B-K Drillers Water & Eng Service Limited and Assurur Integrated Services Ltd could not provide the names of the directors, contact information either email or phone number, the result it provides shows ‘No Director Exists for this company’ while the record of Ruk Mina Associate LTD only provides the names of the directors, with no contact information either phone number or email address.
This report was published with support from Civic Media Lab.