By Bashir Bello, KANO
Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education, CHRICED has raised the alarm over what it described as dozens of poorly executed constituency projects scattered across Kano State.
The Centre’s Executive Director, Comrade Dr Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi raised the alarm while briefing newsmen after tracking in collaboration with Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC about 126 Constituency projects implemented under 2019 and 2020 federal budget cycles in the state.
Zikirullahi represented by the Centre’s Program and Communications Officer, Armsfree Ajanaku said the majority of the 126 projects were poorly and shoddily executed describing it as heart-rending and unacceptable.
He further said that contractors (no specific number) involved in the shoddy project execution have been ordered to return back to the site by the ICPC.
According to him, “CHRICED has been working closely with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). In September, CHRICED joined the ICPC in the Phase III Constituency project tracking exercise which led to a number of contractors being ordered to return to the site due to shoddy project execution.
“As a result of this synergy with the ICPC, for two weeks, CHRICED was in communities across the 44 local government areas of the state to physically track and ascertain the state of constituency projects implemented under 2019 and 2020 federal budget cycles. In the process, CHRICED tracked a total of 126 constituency projects located in Kano South and parts of Kano Central, Senatorial districts.
“Our findings and experiences gathered during the two-week tracking exercise are heart-rending and totally unacceptable. We noticed several disturbing trends, which make it appear that many of those implementing the projects, do not have the interest of the people at heart.
We observed with dismay that projects implemented during the period under review (2019 -2020 budget cycle) had a very limited impact on the target communities, either due to their insufficient quantity, poor quality or the failure to carry along target beneficiaries in the planning and execution of the projects.
For instance, in the course of an interaction with one contractor that handled solar-powered street light projects revealed that his company was awarded the contract to procure and install 32 units of solar-powered streetlights and each of those 32 units of streetlights was installed in different villages. The question then is; what impact can a single streetlight have on an entire village?
“In terms of project cost-effectiveness and value for money, CHRICED observed that a good number of the projects tracked were not cost-effective and offered very low value for the huge sums of money expended on them. A critical analysis of the bills of quantity for some of the projects tracked revealed that contracts sums were often over-bloated.
“After collecting these largely over-bloated sums for the awarded contracts, the contractors still deliver less than what was specified in the contract agreements. For instance, a check with a site engineer who handled one of the contracts for the solar-powered streetlight projects revealed that it cost an average of about N 150,000.00 (One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) to procure and install a unit of the solar-powered streetlight. However, an analysis of some of the contract award documents made available by officials of the ICPC and CSOs revealed that a unit of the solar panel was awarded to contractors at a unit cost ranging from N618, 000.00 (Six Hundred and Eighteen Thousand Naira) to N700, 000.00 (Seven Hundred Thousand Naira), meaning that the solar-powered streetlights were awarded to contractors at a unit price that is about four times the actual market value of the product.
“A further analysis of documents made available by officials of the ICPC also showed that the contracts for the blocks of classrooms (which constitute the majority of the projects tracked) were awarded at an average cost of about N14,000,000.00 (Fourteen Million Naira). However, CHRICED independent analysis, which was also corroborated by the Quantity Surveyor in the team revealed that the value (in terms of quality and quantity of materials used) offered by the contactors in most cases was far below the amount said to have been expended, and in some cases, the projects were not fully implemented as some of the contractors only constructed the classroom buildings but the furniture was not supplied as stipulated in the contract terms.
“Findings in the course of the tracking exercise also indicated that the quality of many of the projects implemented was poor and substandard when compared with the quantum of funds expended by the government to execute the projects. CHRICED analysis of the bill of quantities for some of the projects tracked revealed that the contactors used inferior materials for construction and project execution, while some of those handling supplies and procurement contracts supplied inferior, cheap and substandard brands and models of the items said to have been supplied, despite quoting high and sometimes outrageous prices in their bidding documents. For instance, many of the blocks of classrooms said to be constructed in the year 2020 are already looking dilapidated as of September 2021 when the tracking exercise took place. The plastering, roofing and painting of many of the classroom blocks were done shoddily, and in some cases, electrical wiring and fittings were not even done at all, while they were all quoted in the bills of quantity accompanying the contract award.
“Some of such poorly executed projects include a block of classrooms at YarYasa Town Primary School in Tudun Wada Local Government Area of Kano state, constructed by Global Merchant Limited, under the supervision of the Universal Basic Education Commission in 2020. There is also the block of three classrooms at Government Girls Arabic Secondary School Toranke, handled by Jessifas Synergy Limed and supervised by Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI); a block of two classrooms at Tassa Primary School in Dawakin Kudu Local Government, constructed by Puranova Nigeria Limited under the supervision of the Universal Basic Education Commission, among others documents.
“It was also observed that some projects were abandoned at various stages of execution either due to failure on the part of the contractor to complete the job after full payment of agreed contract sum or due to lack of release of funds by the government.
“These disturbing realities from the projects tracked, make it imperative for citizens to consistently beam the searchlight on constituency projects, from the planning to the phase of execution. Citizens, the media, CSOs, community-based organizations and importantly, the teeth actors need to stay the course and ensure that some measure of sanity is restored to the constituency project implementation process, not only in Kano State but all over Nigeria.
“It is however important to point out that it was not all a case of shoddy project implementation. There were some projects, which were satisfactorily executed. In the coming weeks, CHRICED will also bring to the fore these projects to serve as examples of best practices in constituency projects implementation.
“Our hope is that citizens will be a lot more interested in what happens to projects in their communities. CHRICED project titled; Promotion of Community-Driven Anti-Corruption Initiatives in Kano State has its goal as to reduce corruption in the delivery of social goods and services by promoting transparency, accountability, and inclusiveness,” the Executive Director, Zikirullahi however stated.