© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Contractors complete abandoned projects after investigation commissioned by The ICIR
By Chinwe AGBEZE
ONE of the series of investigations commissioned by The ICIR with MacArthur funds has yielded an immediate impact as the contractors featured in the report have returned to complete the abandoned projects.
Earlier in November 2018, the Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, had disclosed that the federal government set aside N7billion between 2017 and 2018, to secure 104 unity schools in the country.
According to the Minister, the funds were being used “to provide perimeter fence for the schools that have none, CCTV cameras, solar-powered streetlights, and modern security gates.”
However, in June 2019, a two-part investigation commissioned by The ICIR with MacArthur funds , revealed that the Unity Schools in Anambra, Ebonyi, Imo and Enugu State, are not equipped with the security facilities listed above.
Out of the nine unity schools in the four States visited, only four schools—Federal Science and Technical College, Awka; Federal Government Girls’ College, Ezzamgbo; Federal Government Girls’ College, Lejja and Federal Government Girls’ College, Owerri, have partially benefited from the security project.
On May 10, when this reporter visited Federal Science and Technical College, Awka in Anambra State, the fence was abandoned midway.
The contract sum of N59 million was awarded to AE & E Nigeria Limited, to provide 25 solar streetlights, 10 CCTV cameras and perimeter fencing in this school.
The streetlights and CCTV cameras were installed, but the fence was abandoned halfway creating an avenue for people to move in and out of the school unchecked.
“The principal kept calling them to come and finish the fence they abandoned since January. The workers resumed work on April 14, the day we went on holiday. When we resumed on May 6, we met the fence in a similar state,” Sharon, a staff of the school told this reporter on May 10.
Mrs. Nyah Margaret, the school principal, said: “The school had fence before, but it was weak and falling off. The workers are fixing the parts that fell off. Nevertheless, they are not fast. Since we resumed school, they have not come to work.”
When this reporter revisited the school on September 23, the fence had been completed and barbed wires mounted.
“The workers came back in June and started working on the fence. They continued until they finished the fence in July,” Nyah said.
At Federal Government Girls’ College, Ezzamgbo, the barbwire was poorly mounted on a first visit in May.
Blue Anchor Agency Limited was awarded N41,805,818.78 million to provide 10 solar streetlights, complete the fence and install barbwire in this school.
The solar streetlights were mounted and fence completed but, the barbwire was shabbily done.
“The workers used ordinary sand from the farmland without cement to hang the barbwires. When the wind blew, the wires fell off,” Ede Dennis, the school bursar complained on May 9.
Benjamin Dawhare, the project officer at the school said: “The contractor hurriedly did the whole project in December, 2018. He did the coping, but it fell off. I complained to him two months ago (March), and he said he will come.”
Few weeks later, Michael Aikpitanyi, the contractor of the project was contacted to know when he plans to fix the coping.
“I did my job according to the scope I was given. I finished the job over four months ago and I have been paid,” Aikpitanyi told this reporter on May 27.
However, when this reporter returned to the school on Tuesday September 24, 2019, the barbwire had been properly installed.
“Everything is Okay now,” Dawhare said.
At Federal Government Girls’ College, Lejja in Nsukka area of Enugu State, the school complained that some of the streetlights stopped working shortly after installation.
The security project in this school was contracted to IQ International services Ltd.
“I went around in the night and spotted nine that were not lighting. The streetlights at the gate is not working, but it worked when it was installed. At some point, the lights became faint and was not giving out the proper illumination. Then, it stopped lighting,” Umahi, the project officer at the school said on May 6.
Corroborating, Abui Audu, the vice principal administration at the school said that the light close to the gate was no longer working.
“That’s the one I’m sure of,” Audu told this reporter on May 6.
Jude Ezeogwu, vice principal, special duties at the school said he “called the contractor on Friday (May 3), and he promised to be here this week (May 6). We have not seen him.”
When reached, Daniel Asekhamen, the contractor in-charge of the project, insisted that he had completed the work.
“We finished the work about a month ago. We did all we were supposed to do, and the school can attest to that,” Asekhamen said on May 17.
On another visit on September 25, this reporter learnt that the contractor had repaired the streetlights.
On May 13, when this reporter visited Federal Government Girls’ College, Owerri, the school was not satisfied with the security work done.
We told them (workers) to change the position of this camera,” Stella Azike, the school principal said on May 13, pointing at one of the cameras on the monitor in her office. “And we showed them where to install it, but they ran away.”
The contract sum of N39,662,437.50 million was awarded to Dips XL Plus Limited, to provide 25 solar streetlights, 24 CCTV cameras, 3.5KVA inverter, complete with six batteries, and 1.5KVA inverter, with four batteries, in this school.
“The illumination does not go beyond the place it (streetlight) is installed,” the vice principal, special duties, who identified herself simply as Mrs. Ogueri complained in May.
On a second visit on Thursday September 26, 2019, the camera and lights had been redone. But, the school still had challenges.
“They did them (camera and streetlights) again, but the challenge we have now is the CCTV camera,” Ogueri said. “The camera cannot playback.”