- N570m UBEC projects untraceable
Muazu Ibrahim, 9, attends Kofar Hausa Government Primary School in Keffi, Nasarawa State, North-Central, Nigeria. Although he goes to school in a clean uniform, Muazu usually returns home appearing scruffy because he learns in a dusty classroom. The classroom does not have furniture, so the pupils make stones their seats, creating a bizarre setting.
The school, which is along the Keffi-Abuja expressway, has classroom blocks with broken windows, exposing pupils to dust triggered by moving vehicles and floors that are not cemented.
The health implication is clear as most of the pupils had runny nose after inhaling specks of dust. Asked if he was comfortable with the class, Muazu said, “I am not enjoying my classroom. I want it to be furnished. They should also cement the floor.”
Muazu’s challenge also extends beyond the classrooms; he also runs home to use the toilet whenever he is pressed.
“We always go back home whenever we are pressed, and sometimes we do not come back because our houses are not close to the school,” he said. In other cases, they bring water from home.
Also, Fatima Ibrahim, 10, said she was not enjoying learning with the poor state of their classrooms. “I want them to help us repair it and put furniture for us, as well as fix the floor to make it conducive,” she said.
Pupils of Kofar Hausa school, like many others, learn under grossly inadequate facilities despite huge capital allocations from the Federal Government, through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).
Between 2010 and 2015, the UBEC allocated N311million to such projects across 29 schools in four area councils in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, as well as Keffi and Karu local government areas in Nasarawa State. The area councils in the FCT are Abuja Municipal Area Council, Abaji, Gwagwalada, and Kuje.
Of the N311m allocation, N70m worth of projects could not be traced during Daily Trust Saturday’s investigations in Abuja and Nasarawa.
Apart from the N311m projects in 29 schools, a “Comprehensive Special School in Keffi” had N500m projects, said to have been executed, but the school could not be traced by our reporter. Several residents and teachers interviewed said they were not aware of any such school.
They said they did not know about the school or its location; rather, they identified a similar school for pupils with special needs located in Lafia, the state capital.
Keffi school has no UBEC project
The chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board, Nasarawa, Muhammed Danazumi, did not comment on the projects not found when he was contacted on telephone. The UBE in Abuja had told Daily Trust Saturday that the responsibility of direct supervision and execution of projects lied with the state.
UBEC projects are often identified by tags on the structures, furniture, laboratories and any other project. They are meant to complement states’ efforts at providing uniform and qualitative basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age as stipulated in the UBE Act of 2004.
In Nasarawa, FCT, N70m projects missing
Investigations showed that 10 UBEC projects said to have been executed in over eight schools between 2010 and 2015 are missing but captured as executed in the UBEC action plan.
According to the survey breakdown, the 10 projects worth N70m were not executed in seven schools within the FCT and three other schools in Nasarawa State.
The projects include a gatehouse in Central Pilot School, Karu in FCT in 2015; N2.3m rehabilitation of two classrooms with office and store at Rimba Gwari, Abaji, FCT in 2011; N3.9m ECCDE recreational facilities and fencing at Naharati Tsoho Primary School, Abaji in 2013, and the N30.5m construction of eight classrooms staff room, four offices and two toilets at JSS Anagada in Gwagwalada in 2012.
The N12.1m construction of science and introductory technology laboratory in JSS Anagada in 2012 was not done; a 2013 project on N1m reticulation of borehole and reconstruction of overhead tank at Orozo Primary School in Abuja was not seen. There is also the N3m rehabilitation of two classrooms at Orozo Primary School in 2013.
The three unexecuted projects in Nasarawa State are the construction of three classrooms with one office at N13.9m in Yelwa Primary School, Keffi in 2015; the rehabilitation of eight classrooms at N15.8m in Tudun Wada Primary School in 2014, and the renovation of three classrooms at N2.9m in Auta Balefi, Nasarawa State in 2014.
Complaints trail executed projects
Our investigation revealed concerns, in perfunctory delivery of work, with about 35 projects that were executed across 21 other schools. At Kofar Hausa Primary School, Keffi, the deplorable state of the school’s building and infrastructure betrays the all-is-well overview of the school from the expressway. A step further into the school shows part of a collapsed fence while the gates were off its hinges.
Although a newly constructed block of 16 classrooms in the school stands nearby, it is left wasting as it has not been put to use.
The construction of a block of three classrooms with office and toilets with contract cost of N12.6m at a school in NaharatiTsoho in Abaji Area Council of Abuja was captured in the Action Plan three times.
In spite of this, the project remains uncompleted, with pupils having to use the dusty floors. The walls were not plastered and the structure has no toilet or ceiling.
The breakdown of the N500m pegged for projects in the untraceable Comprehensive Special School, Keffi, indicates that an administrative block was awarded at N28.8m, one block of 12 classrooms (Block A) took N73.9m to build and four blocks of students’ hostel (Block A) gulped N38.3m.
At Block B, four blocks of students’ hostel had N42.3m, and the construction of three bedroom bungalow gulped N10.9m, all in the second quarter. There was the construction of roads and drainages awarded at N91.5m in the third quarter, and other projects. It was the same in the fourth and first quarters.
Despite these huge spending, many residents of Keffi town could not confirm if any of their wards attended the school or whether they could locate its site. Our reporter, however, traced a post on Facebook under ‘Taal Circle,’ a platform for the former Governor Umaru Tanko Almakura, suggesting that the school is under construction as at 2018, with a few pictures tagged, “Gov Almakura inspects Special Schools in Western and Northern Zones.”
At Muazu’s school, the Kofar Hausa Primary School in Keffi, the rehabilitation of the block of eight classrooms was captured in the 2014 third quarter at N16.3m. It was also “renovated” in the fourth quarter of the same year at N15.4m. In just a year, that single block gulped N31m.
Daily Trust Saturday further found that furniture, including desks, were inadequate in the classes despite having it captured every quarter in the action plan from 2013 to 2015.
A teacher who pleaded anonymity said the school only got a supply of 40 plastic chairs and 20 wooden desks in May 2019.
The teacher said 4,125 pupils occupied the 16 dilapidated classrooms and had to cope with inadequate furniture, which were said to have been provided by the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA).
The situation was no better at Yelwa Primary School, Keffi, where the construction of a block of three classrooms with office captured in the third quarter of 2014 had been defaced and dilapidated.
The block of classrooms was pegged for construction in 2014 at N13.9m and was seen by our reporter. Despite gulping N13.9m, the building’s roof has fallen while the veranda caved in.
In Sabon Gari Primary School, Keffi, the construction of a block of three classrooms with two offices captured in the second quarter of 2012 was completed. Renovation of a block of three classrooms in the first quarter of 2014 at N4.3m was also done but now in need of another renovation.
The construction of a block of three classrooms at Gora Primary School, Karu captured in the 2013 action plan was completed and handed over to the school in 2018. The construction was captured in the second quarter of 2013 at N13.92m.
However, the doors are in bad shape, unable to be locked since it was handed over less than a year ago. Also, the windows went bad, but the principal said her office fixed them.
The teachers said they and the 260 students resorted to an old building as they could not use the new office because of miscreants who defecate there.
At the Karu Central School, the perimeter fence and a gatehouse were captured in the third quarter of 2015 at N15.8m. While the fence was built, there was no gatehouse.
Also, it is quite easy to miss the old signpost with faded letters showing the direction to Abaji Model Primary School in Abaji Area Council in the FCT.
The blocks of classrooms located in an urban slum had goat excreta while the abandoned patches of animal urine on the ground oozed an offensive stench. One of those blocks houses pupils of the Early Child Care Development Education (ECCDE) in the school. The situation inside the three classes was more worrisome as there are worn-out mats as the few desks and chairs could not meet the needs of the pupils.
“The mats are provided by the Parent-Teacher Association. We have no furniture and pupils will have to learn in this condition,” one of the teachers, Malami Makaranta, said.
At Abaji Model Primary School, a set of ECCDE furniture was provided at N353,000 under the 2012 third quarter UBEC action plan. However, teachers said lack of perimeter fence was a challenge as mourners passed through the school to carry corpses to the nearby cemetery.
At the Junior Secondary School, Agyana, an administration block worth N10.3m was executed in 2010 but without a perimeter fence. It was without furniture and cabinets as expected while the ceilings have caved in.
At the LEA Primary School, Pandagi, the rehabilitation of a block of two classrooms at the cost of N1.5m was executed, but there’s no ceiling.
Still in Abaji, Pandagi school had classroom constructed few years ago, but had gone bad without ceiling, exposing pupils to heat from the scorching sun.
At Rimba community in Abaji, the rehabilitation of a block of two classrooms in the same action plan was executed. The building, however, is dilapidated with the paint already faded and the structure is riddled with holes.
Also, the construction of three classrooms, common room office, and toilets at Naharati Tsoho Primary School, Abaji at N12.6m was not completed. It was contained in the first and second quarter of the 2013 action plan.
The rehabilitation of two blocks of two classrooms at Abaji East Primary School was executed in 2013 as captured in the 2011 action plan. However, checks by our reporter showed that the roof of the rehabilitated building leaks, while termites had patterned the walls. The fence had collapsed due to gully erosion, and another block is being threatened by the erosion.
In Gwagwalada Area Council, the construction of two blocks of water cistern toilet at JSS Paikon Kore at N4.8m was completed. However, the facilities were overstretched by the 850 students in the school; hence some resort to open defecation.
A teacher, Malam Yusuf Aliyu, said due to the absence of perimeter fence, residents have unrestricted access to the school.
At JSS Gwako, still in the area council, the construction of the two blocks of water cistern toilets captured in the 2011 action plan and awarded at N4.8m, was executed but in a poor state. Also, the administration building leaks, endangering pupils and documents, while a block of classrooms built just in 2013 has collapsed.
The drilling of a motorised borehole and construction of 10,000-litre metal tank at N4.5m was done and seen at Junior Secondary School (JSS), Anagada in Gwagwalada.
At the Nomadic Primary School, Paso, still in the area council, the construction of a block of six classrooms was executed. The project was meant for the commencement of the school, but most of the fittings had fallen apart and the school was inaccessible. Lying unused, it is now overgrown with weeds.
In Kuje Area Council of the FCT, at LEA Kuchiyako, the supply of a set of ECCDE furniture to the school at the rate of N353,000 was done, but they had since crumbled when our reporter visited the school.
Also, the provision of ECCDE recreational facilities at N3.9m and fencing was executed, but only the barbed wire fencing and pieces of the facilities remain.
At JSS, Kiyi, four clustered classrooms with external and internal landscaping and drainage were executed at N59.7m. The building and the laboratory were in the 2011 action plan. The laboratory costing N12.1m has been converted to staff room since it was not equipped. The school also lacks perimeter fencing. “Burglars do steal some of the school’s facilities on many occasions,” Husseni Ali, a teacher said.
At the LEA Primary School, Bamishi, ECCDE furniture was supplied in 2013 at N353,000 but residents drive through the school, thereby endangering the pupils because the school lacks a perimeter fence.
At the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), our reporter visited LEA primary schools at Gidan Mangoro, Jikwoyi, and Kurudu; and JSS in Karshi and Kurudu. All the projects in the action plans were identified in the school but are now at various stages of dilapidation.
More findings in surveyed schools
In spite of the huge amount spent on building classrooms across schools in the communities visited, little efforts are made in furnishing them. Most schools do not have furniture for students and members of staff.
About 80 per cent of the schools visited do not have functioning toilets, and as such students engage in open defecation.
About 70 per cent of the schools captured above lack perimeter fencing and have no security. They are losing parts of their lands to their host communities.
Most projects are left to ruin after construction, without being put to use. Most of the schools do not have enough teachers, especially in core subjects like English Language.
Most of the projects are not carried out in line with the needs of the benefiting schools.
Educationists worry about projects
Speaking on the state of UBEC projects, an official of the Human Development Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, Johnson Ibidapo, said the state of facilities were very worrisome, particularly given the fact that some of the projects were very recently executed.
“There’s misplacement of priority and misuse of meagre funds available for administering basic education in Nigeria. This is largely responsible for the bad quality of projects delivered by project contractors,’’ he said.
Noting that the UBE intervention funds are grossly inadequate to fix all school needs, he said, “State Governments need to provide alternative funding to basic education, as well as provide alternative means to secure schools.”
UBEC confirms issues with project execution, supervision
Reacting to our findings, the UBEC Director of Physical Planning, which is the commission’s project supervisory unit, Sadiq A. Saad, an engineer, said the challenges were linked to issues of quality project execution and supervision, which is the responsibility of the states.
The policy requires that when classrooms or laboratories are built, the plan covers furnishing and other necessary equipment and that the quality of the structure’s lifespan should be 10 years before any major repairs.
He, however, said the commission was now adopting digital monitoring to ensure projects are delivered and according to specifications. He did not expatiate on the arrangement.
On the poor execution of the contracts, he said, “If contractors have this kind of shoddy works, in the first place, the policy is that you don’t pay them. If the people supervising them are doing their job, they are not supposed to pay them.”
On the missing projects, he said the issue of such scenario happened in some states, adding that after approving projects for them “they still write to us on what we call “no objection” for relocation.”
He said some of the issues concerning contract awards and project execution could be addressed once the nation’s procurement law is strengthened.
“If it (procurement law) is amended, we will be able to control them,” Mr Saad said.
This investigation is supported by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) and MacArthur Foundation.