In 2019, to improve the condition of public schools in Kano State, the Federal Government disbursed millions of naira to construct and upgrade public schools and Tsangaya schools. However, this investigation reveals that contractors abandoned the projects, leaving students in despair.
On a Tuesday morning in October 2022, after the Maulud national holiday, all students were expected to resume school, but it was not the case at Yanzaki Primary School in Ungogo/Minjibir Federal Constituency. Some of the pupils of the school were sighted hawking, while others were busy helping their parents on farmlands.
Many of the pupils, aged between five and 10 years were also seen walking with their parents to their various businesses. Umar Abdullahi, a 57-year-old farmer and father to Aliyu, a pupil of Yanzaki Primary School, revealed that the lack of classrooms and a conducive learning environment in the school is the reason why he pulled his son out to join him at the farm.
“Every month, I pay N100 as PTA fee but my child doesn't get the required education, as they learn under dilapidated roofing. The free and compulsory education that promises to provide conducive learning to our children has no positive impact on them. So, for my child to waste his time learning nothing in school, I would rather take him to the farm to help me," Abdullahi said.
Abdullahi’s son, Aliyu, is seven years old and told this reporter that he hopes to become a lawyer someday. "For about two years now, I have not been attending classes, because our school has no standard classrooms and structures. I now follow my father to the farm to water the crops," he said.
Aliyu, who said he wished to return to school to pursue his dreams, added that his father has, however, insisted that the government must show concern in providing a conducive learning environment, for that to happen.
In an effort to support their children’s education, residents of Yanzaki, in Minjibir LGA built one block of two classrooms after a government-approved project of two classroom blocks with an office and store was abandoned two years ago.
A 2019 constituency project for Kano State, under the Federal Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport had awarded the construction of two classroom blocks with an office and store at Yanzaki Primary School to Zaharal Hakku Enterprise, a non-existent company, based on checks from the Corporate Affairs Commission, at the sum of N11,340,568.38.
However, investigation shows that the project has been abandoned in the last two years, the effect of which has exposed students to poor learning conditions while many others have dropped out of school.
During a visit to the site, this reporter observed an incomplete structure. The roofing was only partly done, the floors and plasters had not been done while windows and doors had not been fixed. One of the school teachers told this reporter that the poor condition of learning in the school has a direct correlation with the high number of student drop-out.
About 200 students of the school were spotted without uniforms, learning in a classroom with no roofing or ceilings while a part of the building was falling apart. According to the school enrollment statistics, the primary school had a total of 1,191 pupils between 2020 and 2021 but now boasts of less than 300.
A school management staff member who spoke on condition of anonymity described the poor infrastructure in the school as a setback to students’ enrollment, which he said is why many students prefer to work on farms. “The abandonment of the 2019 classroom project is also why residents of the community have withdrawn their children from school,” he said.
He said in 2019 when the construction of the two-classroom block commenced, the community had felt encouraged and begun to enrol their children in school. He however said since the project was abandoned, many of the students have now returned to farming.
“There are no basic amenities in the school. We use PTA money to purchase chalks, brooms and other materials needed for teaching," he said.
Dr. Auwalu Halilu, the Kano State Coordinator, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All, (CSACEFA), said poor infrastructure contributes to the number of dropouts due to congestion and dilapidated classrooms. He said without these basic structures, the majority of school-age children will detest school since structures serve as a motivator for children's attendance.
"There is strong evidence that high-quality infrastructure facilitates better instruction, improves student outcomes, and reduces dropout rates, among other benefits," Halilu said.
Checks on the status of Zaharal Hakku Enterprise on CAC and NigeriaCheck.ng portal showed that the contracting firm is not registered as the status of the company showed “search not found.”
More sordid tales
The Wurobagga Nomadic Primary School in Hotoro Arewa, Nasarawa Federal Constituency, was established in 1991 to integrate nomads with relevant, qualitative, and basic functional education. As part of integrating and improving the knowledge and skills of the nomads, a 2019 zonal intervention project captured a project for the construction and furnishing of one block of four classrooms at Hotoro Arewa.
The project was nominated by the House of Representative member for Nasarawa Federal Constituency, Nasir Ali Ahmad, with the sum of N20 million awarded to Zyrax Construction Limited, an inactive company as identified by b2bhint, to construct and furnish one block of four classrooms.
However, the project was abandoned after the school management alleged the contractor did a “shabby work.” A document made available by officials of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), revealed that the contract for the block of classrooms was awarded at a cost of N14 million. After the money was released, the school management said the contractor only constructed “tiny classrooms with no floors, ceilings, doors and furnishing.”
Speaking with this reporter, an official of the School Based Management Committee who requested anonymity said there had been challenges with the contractor from the initial stage of the construction. “This was due to the shabby work the Zyrax Construction Limited was doing," he said.
"The contractor refused to do the basket, pillars, demand control ventilation and round lintel on the building. We complained and also attempted to stop him but the contractor continued working. We contacted the Universal Basic Education Board to inform them, but no action was taken," he said.
Giving an expert opinion on the structure, Abubakar Alhassan Diso, a site engineer with Asad construction company, in Kano State said: "Basket, round lintel, and damp-proof course keep building strong and longer, but building without those structures are weak and can collapse at any time, which is bad for human habitation."
During a visit to the construction site, this reporter found that a pint-sized classroom was constructed which can barely contain 15 students for a class where more than 30 students on average are expected. This contravenes the federal government minimum dimensions of each classroom at 2.4m (height) x 8.4m (length) x 6.8m (width). While a standard classroom is expected to provide an average floor space of 1.2m or 2-meter square per student, a pro-rata floor space may be applied where classes contain fewer or more students.
Diso, who measured the length and width of the classrooms constructed by Zyrax Construction Limited in Wurobagga Nomadic Primary School, said it had a width of 4.7m instead of 6.8m, and a length of 6.5 against 8.4m.
The SBMC official also alleged that the contractor had abandoned the site after placing broken windows, roofing and dusty floors. “Such a block of classrooms cannot be used by the school management due to its poor quality. We are still fighting for justice because we heard that the contractor has received all payments and the project has been documented as completed,” the SBMC official said.
This reporter made efforts to reach the House of Representatives’ member for Nasarawa federal constituency, Hon. Naseer Ali Ahmad, but he did not respond to an enquiry on the project. His aid, Murtala Shuaibu Shakka, however, promised to get back to our correspondent but he never did despite several calls to him.
After placing calls to the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the institute, which awarded the contract requested for FOI, which was sent to them on November 8, 2022, but it was greeted with silence.
This reporter made attempts to locate Zyrax Construction Limited through the address provided on NigeriaCheck as plot 765 Samuel Ademulegan, Central Business District, Abuja. However, an Abuja based logistics company, Mustapha Suraj Logistics, (MSL) which was dispatched to deliver an FOI to the company was unable to trace the address.
Zyrax Construction Limited was registered on 14th Sep 2018 with RC-1525251 and is currently listed as inactive. Checks on the status of Zyrax Construction Limited on CAC, showed 'search not found.' Checks on NigeriaCheck on the status of the company showed 'unknown' while b2bhint revealed that the company is inactive.
The CAC describes an inactive company as "a registered entity that has not filed its annual returns up to date.” The award of contract to Zyrax Construction Limited and Zaharal Hakku Enterprise, contravenes sections 417 - 424 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020, which states that "every company must make and deliver their annual returns to the CAC every year".
According to the rules and regulations of the Corporate Affairs Commission, inactive companies are legal entities that have failed to comply with sections 417 – 424 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020, in filing their annual returns with the Commission. Section 417 of the Act requires "every company shall, once at least in every year, make and deliver to the Commission an annual return in the form, and containing the matters specified in sections 418, 419 or 420 as may be applicable.”
Therefore the award of contract to Zyrax Construction Limited, contravenes section 16 of the Public Procurement Acts under the title: ‘Fundamental principles for procurements’ which spells out these requirements: “All bidders in addition to requirements contained in any solicitation documents shall: have fulfilled all its obligations to pay taxes, pensions, and social security contributions; not have any director who has been convicted in any country for any criminal offense relating to fraud or financial impropriety or criminal misrepresentation or falsification of facts relating to any matter,” section 16 (6) (d) (e) of the act read.
However, the BPP warned that “any false declaration and submission could lead to prosecution, debarment, and disqualification for 10 years from public procurement in line with the provision of section 58 of PPA, 2007.”
How Rep Member, Contractor Abandoned Computer Lab At Minjibir
In the 2019 Zonal Intervention Projects, a project for the construction of a modern computer center with equipment and standby generators at Minjibir Model Primary School in Minjibir LGA, was captured at the cost of N52,000,000.00. However, during a visit to the project location, this reporter confirmed that despite the release of over N40 million to Tahalil Global Link, the contractor only built the structure, plastered it and fixed three doors, roofing and wiring pipe. There was no electric wiring and ceilings for the building.
The construction company confirmed that the project was nominated by a former member of the House of Representatives for Ungogo/Minjibir Federal Constituency, Bashir Baballe, and that over N40 million had been released for the project.
Jibril Abdullahi, the Managing Director at Tahalil Global Link said: “The present rep member, Sani Ma'aruf, has refused to make efforts for the progress of the project due to his personal interest, which is unknown to us."
After a series of checks on the company's status, it was found that Tahalil Global Link is not recognized by CAC, and NigeriaCheck. Further verification on manpower.com.ng; a site that also records activities of companies, indicated that Tahalil Global Link Ltd is not registered with the CAC and its activities remain unknown. When asked via WhatsApp messenger why his company was not registered, the contractor failed to respond.
Like Zyrax Construction Limited, the award of contract to Tahalil Global Link LTD, an inactive company, contravenes section 16 (6) (d) (e) of the PPA titled ‘fundamental principles for procurements.’ This also contravenes sections 417 – 424 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020, titled ‘Annual Returns.’
While asking Jibril Abdullahi, MD, Tahalil Global Link LTD on his company's status, the contractor called the reporter via WhatsApp messenger and demanded why he was investigating the status of his company, to which he said: "Please let me be, I have no business with you. And If you think there's anything you can do, I'm also ready to tackle you."
This reporter gathered that the said project, which is under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Education has the National Teachers Institute, NTI, Kaduna, as its client. When contacted, the Procurement officer of the NTI, Malam Sanusi Usman reiterated that the present House member, Sani Ma'aruf, has “refused to commit his effort towards completing the building."
"We urge the community members and their leaders to task their representatives on the completion of the computer lab," he said. Our correspondent placed several calls and text messages to Hon. Sani Ma'aruf but he failed to respond to this reporter’s message.
This reporter observed that the computer lab is within a non-functional school setup in 2016. The structures of the school have been left to decay and are now surrounded by weed. Speaking with this reporter, the Director of Personnel for Local Government Education Authority, Sule Abdullahi Zakirai, explained that the school was developed following the concern of the community who sought the intervention of their former rep member to provide them with a Model Primary School. Zakirai said: "Minjibir Model Primary School is not a registered school in Minjibir but we submitted a proposal to SUBEB, and they came for supervision and made some adjustments for the school to have enough space for a playground and also a security fence.”
Sordid Tales Of Tsangaya Students
Kano city has nearly 1,400 Qur’anic schools called “Tsangaya,” catering for over 150,000 pupils aged between 5-14 years, known as “Almajirai.” These are often children from rural areas who have left home to receive Islamic education. Most of these children learn in non-formal schools without sanitation and hygiene facilities.
At Tsakiya Mai Masallaci community of Ungogo/Minjibir Federal Constituency, the construction of tsangaya sheds at an Islamic school was awarded to Dansudu General Enterprise at the sum of N2,119,292.78 in 2019. This was, however, not executed.
A visit to the school revealed that students still study under the scorching sun due to lack of reading shades. A teacher of the school, Malam Jafaru Isyaku lamented that since 2003, the school has not benefited from any intervention project. He said: "There was no project of Tsangaya shade in Tsakiya Mai Masallaci. I have over 500 students both male and female but the reading shade we have cannot accommodate the students."
"Majority of the Almajirai study in an open environment due to insufficient reading shades. I am calling on the government to please provide reading shades to us," Isyaku said.
Checks by this reporter on NigeriaCheck revealed that the activities of Dansudu General Enterprises remain unknown. Attempt to locate the address of the company as provided by NigeriaCheck at No.2 Barmawa Line in Minjibir LGA was equally futile as it was found that Barmawa Line does not exist in Minjibir.
Similarly, at Karofi community at Garko/Wudil Federal Constituency, the construction of another Tsangaya shade awarded to Attaqwa Global Concept at the sum of N2,119,292.78 in 2019 was not executed.
While at the school, with over 300 students studying under the sun, Abubakar Musa Garko, an Almajiri lamented that no project has been executed in the school in the last 10 years. The leader of the Tsangaya teachers in Karofi community, Malam Ibrahim Hassan who tutors at Karofi Lugun Marayu Islamiyya told this reporter that the school had existed for over 20 years but students’ study without reading shades. "Most times, our political representatives consult us on our needs, but none of the projects have been executed,” Hassan said.
During a visit to the Attaqwa Global Concept with a location address at No. 5 and 6 second gate, Jambulo Kabuga housing estate, this reporter observed that the premises of the company had been abandoned. The building looked unkempt with fallen plaster, and there were no security guards.
The owner of a neighbouring business in the area, Blessing Ameh of Eminence Beauty, said: "I have been working here for about 11 years but I have never seen the building active, it has been closed for over 10 years.” Similarly, the status of Attaqwa Global Concept remains unknown on NigeriaCheck and CAC portal.
How Agencies Violated Law
Under the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), an inactive company is a legal entity that has not complied with sections 417 – 424 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020 in filing its annual returns with the commission. Section 417 of the Act dictates that every company must make and deliver their annual returns to the CAC every year.
However, lawyers have made the point that the CAC does fail to update the status of come companies that are up to date with their filings and that such entities cannot be held liable for the commission’s inadequacy.
The Public Procurement Act, 2007 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 to allowance, the difference of such outstanding payments or payment thereof in installments.”
Therefore, awarding contracts to Tahalil Global Link LTD, Attaqwa Global Concept, Dansudu General Enterprise, Zyrax Construction Limited and Zaharal Hakku Enterprise, is a contravention of the Public Procurement Act 2007. Section 58 of the PPA makes it an offense with offenders liable to five or 10 years imprisonment for awarding contracts without due process and in line with the law.
Ministry Keeps Mum Despite FOI
In an effort to interview the Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport, and Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the two government institutions requested for an FOI, which was sent on November 7, 2022, via Mustapha Suraj Logistics services.
The FOIs were acknowledged but the ministry and institute were yet to provide feedback regarding the questions at 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.