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May 18, 2024
EducationInvestigation Desk

Students suffer, as Kano lawmaker, others abandon constituency classroom projects

By Aisha Ahmad

In 2019, to improve the condition of public schools and Islamiyya in Kano State, the Kano State Government, through the Kano State Ministry of Works, Housing, and Transportation, disbursed millions of naira for the construction of classrooms in state owned secondary schools. However, an investigation by AISHA AHMAD reveals that contractors have not executed the projects, leaving students to suffer learning under unfavorable conditions.

 On Monday, May 15, 2023, it was 9.00 and across secondary schools in Kano State, students had settled down to the business of learning. But the case was different at Government Senior Secondary School (GSSS) in Ajingi local government area of Kano State. Some students at the school were doing anything but learning. While some were spotted hawking, others were on farms helping their parents do ridges ahead of the rainy season farming.

 

This disinterest in learning can be partly traced to the conditions under which students at the school are expected to get an education. When this reporter visited, students at the GSSS Ajingi were found learning in a suffocating environment, as over 200 students were cramped into a single classroom being taught mathematics with inadequate ventilation.

Abubakar Haliru, a Mathematics teacher in the school, revealed that the lack of classrooms and a conducive learning environment in the school is seriously affecting both the students and the teachers.

“The school has over 10 blocks of two classrooms, but all are dilapidated and uninhabitable for students because a quality building can help or hinder learning and teaching. Well-designed buildings and pleasant surroundings can lead to better attendance and concentration among students, as well as motivation and self-esteem, factors that can improve performance,” he reasoned.

It appeared that the government understood exactly this as the Kano State Ministry of Works, Housing, and Transport in 2019 awarded a contract worth N7,577,267.04 million for the construction of two classroom buildings with an office and a store to improve learning conditions in the school. The contract was awarded to Danyarimawa Synergy Global.

However, investigation reveals that the project has been abandoned since 2019, which has exposed students to poor learning conditions while many others are now roaming on the streets.

GSS Ajingi

Teachers in the school say all classrooms are using, as projects were abandoned since 2019

During a visit to the school, this reporter observed an abandoned and incomplete structure. The construction of two classroom buildings with an office and a store was lacking in roofing, floors, or plaster; the building was just erected to lintel level.

Zakari Aminu a school teacher at GSSS Ajingi, drew a correlation between the poor condition of learning in the school and the high number of student drop-outs

“All the classrooms we have in this school are useless. Some are even risky to study in, as the walls have sustained severe cracks that, at any moment, can crash and claim the lives of students.

“Sometimes, during the rainy season, whenever there’s heavy wind and thunderstorms, we can feel some buildings shaking, which means the foundation structures are weak, so we started praying to God for safety, while sometimes we leave the classroom to find cover.”

Aminu added that in 2019, when the construction of the two classroom blocks, office, and store commenced, both teachers and students were happy that finally the state government had considered both their plights, but they were soon disappointed

“Despite the fact that the classrooms won’t be enough to contain the students of the school, at least we believed some students would have enjoyed safe learning,” he said.

But the reporter observed that it is not only classrooms that are inadequate in the school.

“Another challenge is that the staff rooms are not enough for the teachers; we have only one staff room with over 15 teachers in the school. The lack of completion of the staff office has made many teachers hang around the school compound after teaching their subjects, or some will close for the day without waiting for closing time.”

“In addition to these direct problems with lack of space, a more crowded classroom or school is also likely to be noisier and more difficult to ventilate, problems that can interfere with the learning of the students, and honestly, most of the students don’t even understand what the teacher is teaching.”

Usman Abdullahi, a student at the school, said learning has been difficult as all their classes are in bad shape. Also, with the large number of students in the classrooms, most students find it hard to comprehend what they are being taught.

A dilapidated classroom in GSS Ajingi

More Sordid Tales in Ajingi

 It is not only in GSSS Ajingi that Danyarimawa Synergy Global failed to deliver the constituency project. The same fate has been suffered by Falankawar Gafasa Primary School, where pupils also suffer unsafe learning environments in uninhabitable buildings.

On a visit to the site, this reporter observed that some students at this school learn in zinc classrooms with no chairs and appropriate wall boards.

Ammar Ismail, village head of Falankawar Gafasa, explained that for over eight years there has been no construction of new classrooms in the school by the state government.

“Our pupils are learning in an untidy environment; we have raised motions with our representatives, and they always promise to intervene, but there is still nothing to prevail about as the education system of our local community is in danger.”

“This primary school is the only school in Falankawar Gafasa; it serves both primary and secondary schools. The primary session has over 600 students, as does the secondary school, with over 400 students. The school has only two blocks of classrooms, totaling four classrooms.

Falankawar Gafasa Primary and Secondary in Ajingi Lga

 “These classrooms are not enough to contain the students due to each class containing over 50 to 60 students. So we decided to structure the learning hours into batches. The first batch will be available from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., the second batch from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., and the third batch from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“These learning hours are not enough for our pupils to learn tangibly in the school. Due to the insufficient classrooms, the community members decided to construct a classroom with wood and zinc for our pupils.”

Again, Danyarimawa Synergy Global got a contract worth N7,577,267.04 to construct a classroom with an office and store at Falankawar Gafasa Primary School. The same contractor has failed to deliver on the completion of a classroom with an office and store at Dundun Primary School in Ajingi Local Government, at a cost of N7,592,005.66 million.  Like all the others, the contract was awarded by the Kano State Ministry of Works, Housing, and Transportation in 2019.

Usmar Rabilu, a teacher at Dundun Primary School, said there has never been such a project as a classroom with an office and store started or completed in the school.

Premises of Dundun Primary School

“For over 12 years I have been teaching in this school, there has been no new project of classroom construction by the state government, not to mention the completion of classroom blocks with an office and store. That is a ghost project.

“We, the teachers, have been exercising patience just because we regard the pupils as our children, but with the bad impression given to education, we would not have been here teaching under these frail conditions.

Lawmaker Gets Contract

A search for the contractor, which unearthed the beneficial owner of Danyarimawa Synergy Global, soon explained the reason behind the award and release of funds for the construction of educational facilities without delivery by the contractor. It appears that there was never any plan to do any job, as the contract was awarded to a politician.

After a full check on the company’s status on NG-Check, an online search engine that records the activities of companies in Nigeria, it was discovered that Danyarimawa Synergy Global belongs to a Kano lawmaker identified as Abdulaziz Garba Gafasa, who is listed as a director of the company.

Not only did the politician influence the award of the contract, but he also probably set up the company for the specific purpose of getting the contract, as it was registered shortly before the contract was awarded. The Public Procurement Act stipulates that for any company to get a contract, it has to have been in existence for three years, during which it would have been paying taxes and filing returns, among other obligations.

Abdul’aziz Garba Gafasa, the politician who influenced the contract, was born in Gafasa Ajingi Local Government Area in 1962. He was elected twice as a councillor in Gafasa Ajingi Local Government. As a grassroots politician, Gafasa was elected to the Kano State House of Assembly in 2023 to represent his constituency under the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and served for two terms from 2003 to 2011.

He was the Speaker of the Kano State House of Assembly from 2007 to 2011. And during Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje’s administration in 2019, he served his fifth term as a member of the House and was elected as the 9th Assembly Speaker.

Discreet investigations revealed that he was awarded the contract when he was Speaker of the Kano State Assembly.

In an effort to get clarification from Hon. Gafasa, after placing several calls on May 21st, his network line has been busy.

In a text message that was sent to him on the allegation, Hon. Gafasa called back this reporter and claimed that he executed the project of constructing the classrooms.

He added that “I can assure you that whoever told you that is lying; the project was done. If I want to lie or cheat the government, I do things that are perishable, but for a capital project like this, if anyone told you it was not done, I swear he is lying.

The lawmaker, who did not believe this reporter visited the site, said both Dundun and Falankawa projects were carried out without fail.

However, during a visit to the school by this reporter, the school discovered there was no construction of a classroom block with office and store in either school.

Kano Ministry of Works violates the PPA Act.

 Both the contracting entity and the contractor breached the Kano state Public Procurment Act is many ways.

The lawmaker who influenced the contract apparently cornered the job by virtue of his position, not because his company had any professional or technical qualification.

Section 31 of the Kano State Procurement Law provides that a supplier, contractor, or service provider may be a Natural/Legal person, suppliers, contractors, or service providers acting jointly and severally are liable for all obligations and responsibilities arising from this law and the non-performance or improper performance of any contract awarded pursuant to this law

(1) All bidders, in addition to the requirement contained in any solicitation document shall possess the following;

(a) Professional and technical qualification to carry out particular procurement

(b) Financial capacity

(c) Equipment and other relevant infrastructure

(d) Personnel to perform the obligations of the procurement contract; and

(e) The legal capacity to enter into the procurement contract.

Also, Section 87(2) Kano State Procurement Law provides that it shall be an offence to:

  1. engage in procurement fraud by means of fraudulent and corrupt acts, promises, threats, unlawful influence, undue interest, agreement, corruption, bribery or any other;
  2. directly or indirectly attempting to influence in any manner the procurement process to obtain an advantage in the award of a procurement contract;
  3. engage in bid-rigging

Clearly, both the contractor and the procuring entity’s actions contravene this section of the aw and committed offences contained in Section 87(2), ranging from procurement fraud to direct or indirect influence in the procurement process.

Furthermore, Section 87(1) of the Law provides that any natural person who contravenes any provision of this Law commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment of one to five years or an option of fine from a minimum of N100,000 to N500,000 or both

Section 87 (4) provides that any corporate body or firm that contravenes any provision of this Law and its regulation commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a cumulative penalty of:

  1. being barred from all public procurement for a period of not less than five (5) years; and
  2. A fine equivalent to the value of the procurement in issue.

 How Non-existent contractor abandoned, executed shabby works in Kunchi

In Nawala, Kunchi Local Government Area of Kano State, students trek for over 15 kilometers to access education as there is no school in their community. Because they find it difficult to trek such a distance, the majority of students in Nawala village quit school.

Many residents of Nawala were happy when in 2019, a contract worth N5,975,752.56 was awarded to N-Dazz Resources Ltd. to construct one block of  Islamiyya type “E”, as a means for the students of Nawala village to stop trekking far to get an education.

But their joy was short-lived. No wonder! When our reporter went to the school, he found that the building had collapsed because of shoddy construction.

 

Collapsed Islamiyya block  in Nawala Kunchi, constructed by N-Dazz Resources Ltd

According to Mallam Musa Ishaq, an Islamic teacher at the school, the wind blew away the roofing shortly after it was constructed. A week later, the whole building collapsed.

Usman Adamu, the village head of Nawala in Kunchi, had this to say about the classroom project:

“We started enjoying the building, but not until about 3 months after construction, when the whole building came down. We thank God it wasn’t during classes; we would have lost most of our children due to the shoddy job done by the contractor.

“This clearly showed that the building materials used were of poor quality because after the wind took away the roof, we then had a temporary place for them to learn, which was also destroyed by wind.

He said they wrote many complaints to authorities, but no action was taken.

Giving an expert opinion Engineer Abubakar Abdullahi, a civil engineer, says the reasons a building collapses can be due to poor structural design, poor compliance with specifications, poor quality control, faulty construction methodology, foundation failure, and corruption by the contractor or government.

It was discovered that it was not only at Nawala village that the same company, N-Dazz Resources Ltd., had failed to deliver on other contracts.

For example, the company either abandoned or failed to execute the contracts for which it received payments of over N10 million at two other schools.

First, it abandoned a contract for the construction of one block of Islamiyya Type “E” at a cost of N5,975,752.56 at Garin Labo in Kunchi LGA. No such project was found in the school   

The village Head of Garin Labbo in Garin Sheme Ward of Kunchi LGA said, “Whoever told you they built a classroom in this community is lying.”

Barely containing his disappointment, he said, “Our pupils usually study under the trees no matter how soft or harsh the weather is.”

The Village Head said that the projects done in the school—a block of classrooms and a borehole—were constructed by a non-governmental organization (NGO).

“With my effort, I wrote to an NGO, Crystal Muslim Organization (CMO), seeking help. With the help of God, they built a block of classrooms and a borehole.”

“This structure has been standing for about two years, and we have about 400 pupils; the classrooms are too small to contain the students, so they are crammed together here,” he lamented.

While speaking to this reporter, the headmaster of G/Labbo Islamiyya, Abdullahi Dan Agwai, said they are yet to see government projects in the school. He appealed to the incoming administration to provide them with benches or even mats for their students to learn comfortably.

Residents built Zinc Classrooms after failed constituency project

N-Dazz Resources Ltd. also received the sum of N5,975,752.56  for the construction of a block of classroom type ‘E’ for islammiya students of Mahauta Unguwar Gyartai community in Kunchi LGA. However, no such project was ever done at the school, in spite of a promise to the people.

Alhaji Garba Lawan, the Village Head of Mahuta Unguwar Gyartai, said for over 20 years there have not been any constituency projects in the community, adding that the promised classroom has also not been delivered.

Village Head, Mahuta Unguwar Gyartai, Alhaji Garba Lawan

He lamented that “due to the non-availability of classrooms, we decided to build some classrooms with zinc and wood.”

An Islamiyya student of the school, Umar Naabba, cried out that during the summer we can barely stay in the zinc classrooms for two hours due to the zinc used to be hot. We used to study in discomfort, which makes us hard for us to comprehend what they are teaching us, we are in serious need for help from the government to construct classrooms for us,” she stated

A search at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC, showed that N-Dazz Resources Ltd. is not a registered entity and is ineligible for contract awards under the law. The award of a contract to N-Dazz Resources Ltd., a non-existent contracting company, contravenes Sections 417–424 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020, which state that “every company must make and deliver their annual returns to the CAC every year”.

Therefore, the award of a contract to N-Dazz Resources Limited contravenes the Public Procurement Acts, under Section 16 of the Public Procurement Act 2007. Section 16 Subsection 6(d) states: “All bidders, in addition to requirements contained in any solicitation documents, shall have fulfilled all their obligations to pay taxes, pensions, and social security contributions.

Also, the agency contravenes Section 31 (4d), of the Kano Public Procurement Law, KPPL, which stipulates that “the bidder is in arrears regarding payment of due taxes, charges, pensions, or social insurance contributions, unless such bidder has obtained a lawful permit with respect to the allowance or difference of such outstanding payments in instalments.”

Expert sheds light

A lecturer, Malam  Dan Lami Aminu of the Aminu Kano College of Islamic Legal Studies, said environments matter a lot in education, and they are almost as important as the subjects being taught.

“Among the integral parts that make learning conducive is the environment, and in this case, to be specific, we can narrow down the environment to that of the classroom.

“Consequently, a classroom is a very important component of the physical material resources that make learning conducive,” he said.

He said children often lose concentration in dilapidated buildings, adding that it is a threat to their lives.

“Imagine pupils in a dilapidated classroom during the rainy season. Uncomfortable settings during unfriendly weather like extreme heat or cold weather would make them lose their minds.”

Dan Lami added that there would be a serial  suspension of class and learning activities due to the fact that whenever there is a challenge, that will not allow the class to hold.

“Series of learning loss that, if care is not taken, can accumulate into days, weeks, or even months, as the case may be. Learning loss, especially a prolonged one, can hamper the progress of pupils, which in the long run will lead to their inability to catch up with their colleagues who have a better classroom environment,” he added.

Kano Ministry of Works kept FOI Mum

When approached to provide further information and clarifications on the findings of this investigation, the Kano Ministry of Works, Housing, and Transport requested a formal letter stating what the reporter needed.   A Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, request was written and sent to the ministry on May 19, 2023, seeking explanation on the non-execution of the constituency projects and also why the contract was awarded to a lawmaker as well as a non-existent company.

The FOI was acknowledged, but the ministry and institute had yet to provide feedback regarding the questions as of the time of filing this report.

This report is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

 

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Mustapha Salisu

Mustapha Salisu is a graduate of BSc. Information and Media Studies from Bayero University Kano, with experience in Communication Skills as well as Public Relations.

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