A trail of broken promises: How a Company left FCT communities in despair

By Adeyemi Adekunle

Several decades ago when the announcement came that Abuja would be the new Federal Capital Territory, FCT, it sent ripples of jubilation through the hearts of people in Pai and neighbouring communities. Their dreams were laced with hope that, finally, they would be linked to the seat of power.

For first-time visitors to Pai and its neighbouring communities like Kundu, Gomni, Tukuruwa, Leleye, Leleye Gwari, Tunga Sarki, and Damakusa, the assumption was simple: as part of the FCT, they would be entitled to the basic amenities that the capital promised.

Foremost among these expectations was a robust road network that would connect these communities to the heart of the nation’s power, not just because they were part of the FCT, but because they had long been the agricultural backbone of the region.

Even though these communities fell under the jurisdiction of the Kwali Local Government, LGA, they had remained far removed from the dividends of democracy for years.

Abubakar Usman, a native of Leleye Gwari and a farmer for over a decade, expressed the sentiments of his community, saying, “We waited for decades, hoping that Pai Road and the adjoining communities would finally receive the attention they deserved.” However, it wasn’t until 2023, amid Nigeria’s general election preparations, that their hopes seemed to materialise. The contract for road construction was awarded to KISMATE RESOURCES LTD, a Jos-based furniture company.

 

Saidu Yusuf, on the road abandoned by the contractor
Saidu Yusuf, on the road abandoned by the contractor

August 16, 2022, will forever haunt Saidu Yusuf. In the dead of night, around 3 a.m., he was awakened  his wife. She was close to her Expected Delivery Date (EDD), and neither of them anticipated that this momentous occasion would occur in the dead of night. Just a fortnight earlier, his only means of transportation, a motorcycle, had been rendered useless while transporting produce from one of his farms located approximately 20 kilometres away in Dagiri-Bassa.

He found his wife gasping for breath, writhing in pain. Summoning every ounce of strength, he managed to lift her and set off in search of a friend with a working motorcycle to transport his wife to the hospital. Twenty anxious minutes later, he was ready with a friend who could help him undertake this critical journey.

The obstacles they faced were daunting. The nearest primary healthcare centre, Pai, was a mere 10 kilometres away, but it was often deserted on Sundays and weekends, with no one available to attend to patients. The only viable option was a treacherous 35-kilometre journey along muddy roads leading to the Abuja-Lokoja highway route that would take them to the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada.

In the silence of that night, as they raced against time on those perilous roads, Saidu Yusuf couldn’t help but wonder about the road construction project that had promised to connect his community to the vital healthcare services they so desperately needed. What had become of that promise?

The tale of Pai Road and its neighbouring communities was one of hope, dashed expectations, and the enduring struggle for basic amenities. As dawn broke on that fateful August morning, Yusuf and his wife were just one among many who would bear the consequences of a broken promise, left to navigate a treacherous journey when they needed help the most.

‘’On a motorcycle with my wife and a friend whom I had to wake up from his sleep, we set out to navigate the treacherous terrain and flooded paths,” Yusuf recounts. “We slipped more than three times, our bodies wracked with pain, while my wife cries for help.”What should have been a 20-25 minute ride to the hospital turned into a gruelling ordeal that lasted an agonising hour.

And that was just the beginning. Upon our arrival at the hospital, we faced another formidable challenge – the agonizing process of registration consumed by the bureaucratic rigors of obtaining a card consumed another hour of our precious time.

Abandoned road surrounded by farmlands
Abandoned road surrounded by farmlands

The stakes were high, and the urgency palpable. Yusuf’s wife was in dire need of medical attention, and time was slipping away. The doctor attending to her recommended a cesarean operation as the only hope, but the hours wasted in bureaucratic red tape and the treacherous journey had already conspired against them.

Tragically, it was too late. Despite the doctor’s best efforts, neither Yusuf’s wife nor their unborn child could be saved. The hospital, the symbol of hope and healing, had become a place of despair. In Yusuf’s eyes, it wasn’t just the government that had failed them, but the entire system of governance itself.

But this is not just the story of one man’s loss; it’s a story that resonates far beyond the boundaries of Dagiri Bassa. It’s a narrative of countless communities across Nigeria, where promises made during election campaigns often evaporate into thin air once the votes are cast. Here, the promise of a better life, improved infrastructure, adequate healthcare, and a safe education system feels like a cruel mirage.

The dire circumstances extend far beyond the realm of business

Mohammed Isa, Yusuf’s childhood friend, paints a bleak picture as we sit in one of the dilapidated classrooms of the only public school in their village where their weekly meetings take place. He speaks with a weariness that can only come from years of unfulfilled promises.

“What we face here feels like a deliberate punishment from those in power,” Mohammed asserts.

“During election campaigns, every political party comes to our community, making grand promises of building heaven and earth. But the last major project we received was a borehole in 2004 during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration.”

2004 constructed borehole in Leleye-Gwari, last gift from democracy.
2004 constructed borehole in Leleye-Gwari, last gift from democracy.

The heart of the matter, however, transcends mere infrastructure. Mohammed’s voice grows stronger as he articulates the deeper issues plaguing their community. “The problem here is not just about our livelihoods,” he insists. “In this community, we have secondary school students who must travel up to 10 kilometres to get to school. On rainy days, we instruct them to stay with friends in neighbouring communities because our paths become flooded death traps.”

He continues, “No amount of money can convince an Okada rider to bring you here. We have witnessed accidents in which Okada riders and students were swept away by the raging waters.”

Dagiri Bassa is a microcosm of a larger, disheartening truth that echoes throughout Nigeria.

For many communities, the promises made during election seasons often dissipate once the ballots are cast. Infrastructure crumbles, healthcare remains inadequate, and education becomes a perilous pursuit.

‘’No vehicle comes here, because of the bad state of our road, the only sane time for us to sell our crops is during dry season but how many food crops can we preserve till that time, our farming activities is basically on loans which the condition of road did not let us meet up with before another farming season year after year the economic lost that we face is unaccountable’’ Mohammed explained.

Mohammed’s words reverberate like a haunting echo of systemic neglect in the heart of this reporter.

Mohammed’s poignant account reveals a cruel cycle of indebtedness that binds this agrarian community in relentless captivity. Year after year, their farming activities are fuelled by loans, yet the unforgiving condition of the road prevents them from reaping the rewards of their toil. It’s a heartbreaking symphony of struggle, as they strive to meet their loan obligations before the onset of each new farming season.

Royalty with the same appeal

Sarkin Pai, pleading for help for his people
Sarkin Pai, pleading for help for his people

Looking at the luxuriant fields that stretched as far as the eye could see, the Sarkin Pai, Abubakar Sanni Pai, spoke with unwavering conviction. “This land, as you can see, is embedded in a lot of riches and wealth,” he asserted, his voice resonating with the gravitas of generations past. “Let me categorically emphasise that there is no crop you can bring here that will not germinate and no animals that cannot survive here. But the lack of access road is killing our farmers here,” he declared with a palpable urgency.

The gravity of the situation became increasingly apparent as Sarkin Pai continued to shed light on the dire consequences of the bad road. He underscored the untapped opportunities that lay dormant not only in Pai but in the surrounding communities as well.

Large rice farmland in Leleye-Gwari faces waste annually.
Large rice farmland in Leleye-Gwari faces waste annually.

“We are aware that the government cannot employ all our sons and daughters,” he conceded, his eyes reflecting a deep concern for his people. “But the basic amenities our children need to stay and be productive should be provided. The motorcycles they use in lifting their goods to the markets can do just little. If the government can attend to the issue of road, they would have automatically opened this area as an agro-business hub for people even beyond the Federal Capital Territory,” he passionately proclaimed.

Challenges faced by motorcyclists on the Gomni-Pai route

The graded part of the road done before the 2023 general election. According to the analysis done by Abimbola Awoyinka, A quantity Surveyor taken to the site, The work done is 895meters.
The graded part of the road done before the 2023 general election. According to the analysis done by Abimbola Awoyinka, A quantity Surveyor taken to the site, The work done is 895meters.

Dalhatu Saidu, a seasoned motorcyclist who traverses the Gomni to Pai route, unveils a harrowing tale of the trials and tribulations riders face along this perilous journey. His analysis delves deep into the challenges posed by both the rainy and dry seasons, shedding light on the adversity that plagues these brave individuals.

During the rainy season, Saidu paints a vivid picture of the relentless struggles that riders like him endure. “No matter how perfect you are,” he reflects somberly, “you will fall at least once.” This succinctly captures the unforgiving nature of the route during monsoons. The combination of slippery, mud-laden paths, obscured potholes, and limited visibility due to rain creates an atmosphere of constant peril.

However, it is the dry season that brings forth an entirely different set of difficulties. Saidu laments, “The dust on this road makes it very difficult to breathe in the night.” This stark observation underscores the health hazards faced by motorcyclists who brave the elements and the choking dust that engulfs them. The road, once a battlefield of mud and rain, transforms into a suffocating dust bowl in the dry months.

What makes matters worse is Saidu’s revelation that “half of the money we make during this time is practically spent on drugs.” Here, he alludes not to illicit substances but to essential medical remedies. The chronic exposure to dust and pollution necessitates frequent medical intervention, further exacerbating the financial strain on these already marginalised individuals.

Ex- FCT Senator, the facilitator of Project

The road project was facilitated by former Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Senator, Philip Aduda. The project, budgeted for in 2020, has raised eyebrows due to its handling by the Upper Niger River Basin Development Authority and its award to Kis-Mate Integrated Resources Limited.

The purpose of this project was the construction of roads and drainage, with a budget allocation of ₦400 million. However, an audit of the project’s financial records reveals a disbursement of only ₦72,089,802.33 in December 2022.

During the heated electioneering campaign leading up to the 2023 general elections, it came to light that less than one kilometre of road was graded. This meagre effort was allegedly orchestrated to appease local communities to secure crucial votes.

Shockingly, the absence of signposts indicating an ongoing project left the affected communities in the dark, unable to identify the contractor and agency responsible for the work. Efforts to reach out to the former Minority leader of the 9th National Assembly, Aduda to get his moves on the road project proved abortive as any time this reporter visit his house in Bwari FCT, he was told he was not in the country, while his political listed number is no longer reachable.

The graded part of the road done before the 2023 general election. According to the analysis done by Abimbola Awoyinka, A quantity Surveyor taken to the site, The work done is 895meters.
The graded part of the road done before the 2023 general election. According to the analysis done by Abimbola Awoyinka, A quantity Surveyor taken to the site, The work done is 895meters.

The contractor, Kis-Mate Integrated Resources LTD

The contractor in question, Kis-Mate Integrated Resources Limited, appears to exist in a shroud of mystery. A search on the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) website, which is responsible for company registration, yielded no results. However, a further search through Nigeria24 and NGcheck uncovered that the company was registered on November 30, 2015, but the nature of its business remains unspecified.

Further digging into the company’s background revealed that Kis-Mate Integrated Resources Limited is listed as a furniture supplier, office supplies, information and communication technology.

This speaks to the company’s competence to undertake a road contract. This is in breach of the Public Procurement Act,2007 Section 16(6), which states that a bidder must possess the necessary professional and technical qualifications to carry out particular procurements. This means that the company must have the experience and expertise to successfully execute the road contract.

The directors of the company, identified as Danladi Emmanuel Tunje and Ajang Isha Nyam, are associates with a web platform dedicated to promoting USAID projects. A further search online shows that Danladi Emmanuel Tunje is linked to another company, where he is also a director and shareholder – Kushim Ritex Concepts Limited.

This reporter visited the address listed on the internet on October 10, 2023 No 6, Ibrahim Abacha Estate Zone 4 Suite Crescent, Abuja, which is listed as the office Kushim Ritex Concepts Limited.

Engaging in conversations with a few people, including a vulcanizer, a beans cake (akara) seller, a laundryman, and a teamaker known as “mai sai” in northern Nigeria, none could definitively attest to knowing Danladi Emmanuel Tunje, neither as a resident nor as a proprietor of an office within the estate.

A look through social media did not also reveal the presence of the organisation or the founders.






     

     

    Contracting agency keeps mum on project

    The reporter visited the FCT Area office of the Upper Niger River Basin Development Authority on September 12, 2023, to obtain information from the agency but encountered a roadblock in the form of a security man who informed them that no one was available, urging a return at another time.

    A second attempt was made on September 19, 2023, but the security man suggested two alternatives – either visit the organisation’s office in Minna or reach out to someone familiar with the agency’s activities.

    On September 30, 2023, a reminder email was sent to the headquarters of the contracting agency in Minna via [email protected]. This followed a prior email sent and calls through the organisation’s alleged official line, +23466223148. All these efforts proved abortive.

    This Investigation republished from NigeriaONnews is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting.

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