A N41 million non-existing youth centre constituency project by Hon. Muhammad Umar Jega, a member representing Kebbi Gwandu/Aliero/Jega constituency at the House of Representatives, has been uncovered in Jega, a local government in Kebbi where the population is agrarian, with an area of 891 km² and a population of 193,352 (2006 census).
A visit by Tracka, the constituency projects tracking initiative of BudgIT, on April 23 could not trace the location of the said project. Calls and messages placed to Hon. Jega to ascertain the state of the project were abortive, as he refused to respond to them. Apparently, the initiative, which ought to empower community youth, is aghost project. The only centre found in Jega was that of people with disability.
Emmanuel Yaro, Project Tracking Officer for Tracka in Kebbi, went to the Centre for People With Disability to make enquiries about supply of equipment but discovered that there was nothing to show. This discovery was corroborated by the Chairman of the disability centre, Mallam Dalhatu, who disclosed that there was no youth capacity development centre in Jega except the Centre for People With Disability. He further said there was no supply of equipment or construction at the said centre.
“Residents are not happy with the current development and they have registered their displeasure over non-implementation of the project,” Dalhatu said.
Tracka’s first visit to the community was on October 15, 2017 — to hold a programme sensitising residents of about the N41million project meant to furnish and equip a youth capacity development centre in Jega, Kebbi State, which status was described as “ongoing”.
“Surprisingly, residents were not aware of the existence of the project neither could they ascertain the location,” Yero added.
Tracka distributed the 2017 budget publication showing that the project had been nominated. Also, enquiries at the local government constituency office of Hon. Jega did not yield fruits, as the project location could still not be ascertained.
Barrister Awalu Jega, a prominent member of the community, described the non-existence of the youth centre as “another instance of mismanagement of public funds”.
Lamenting that the project could have aided the empowerment of youth in the community with skills and reduce joblessness, he joined residents in demanding that Hon Jega should act in accordance with his promises to the community during the 2015 electioneering.
“This is the kind of problem a community suffers when their representatives refuse to carry residents along,” he said. “This problem is not only peculiar to Jega community but it’s national since our leaders sit in their Abuja offices and nominate projects without involving the masses. If you noticed, most of the projects initiated are not what the community desire. It’s always a case of misplaced priorities.”
Uadamen Ilevbaoje, Team Lead of Tracka, called Hon. Jega on phone but the lawmaker dropped the call upon realising that Ilevbaoje could not communicate in Hausa.
Further calls, text messages and emails to him were not responded to as of the time of filing this report.
Interesting, Hon. Jega’s target achievement, as written on the National Assembly website, aims to “reduce waste in government spending and leakages”.