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THE Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) claims it has spent N3.07 billion in four years in the North-East and North-West, yet insecurity has continued to rise.
The IPCR was established with a core mandate of preventing, mitigating and resolving conflicts in the regions across the country.
The N3 billion spending spans 2017 and 2020, and it was geared towards promoting peace in the two geopolitical zones.
The ICIR obtained data on the spending on August 12 through the Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
The document shows contracts awarded within the period, contractors’ names, the bidding documents, contracts sums, location of the projects, and the project status.
Ironically, findings by The ICIR show that killings in the North-East and North-West, where most of the funds were spent, rose from 2,773 deaths in 2017 to 6,401 in 2020.
This contradiction raises questions about the budget performance of the institute.
The spate of terrorism in the North-East and North-West has caused a total of 19 100 deaths, with the former’s share estimated at 12, 32 and the latter, 6, 777, according to the data by Nigeria Security Tracker (NST) of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) retrieved on October 2.
States in the North-East comprise Borno, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe, while North-West states are: Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara.
These states, especially those in the North-East, have experienced a broad range of humanitarian crises from the over a decade-long Boko Haram insurgency. Borno, in particular, has remained the epicentre of terrorism.
Killings, banditry, kidnapping, and other forms of violence have become prevalent in the North-West lately.
The insecurity in the two regions has spread to other parts of the country.
Ironically, the nationwide insecurity is happening under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari, who rode to power on the campaign promise to fix the insecurity challenge.
Six years after his inauguration, Buhari is still struggling to fulfil his promise to protect Nigerians and their properties.
“There has been a resurgence of insurgency – terrorism in the North-East, banditry and cattle rustling in the North-West and North-Central, kidnapping and farmer-herder clashes in the South-West and other parts of the country, attacks on government buildings, offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security formations in the South-East,” Daily Trust had reported.
During his first term in office, his poor performance was a major campaign issue during the 2019 general election, yet he managed to snatch victory from the opposition.
In June, the UN said almost 350 000 Nigerians were killed as of December 2020 in the North-East.
Then there were cases of displacements, child mortality, and missing persons.
The new reality of Nigerians is far different from their expectations of the Buhari government. Hopes indeed were high at the outset.
Many believed he could fix insecurity within a few months, and the success would have ripple effects on the nation’s economy, spur national growth, and increase school enrollment in the North.
All of this dream seems to have disappeared.
Buhari reluctantly acknowledged this failure at the 76thSession of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), where he said:
“…In Nigeria, Boko Haram terrorist group, though fragmented by internal strife and weakened by our defence forces, is still active and preying on soft targets.”
Nevertheless, part of IPCR’s mandate is to support different efforts to restore to normalcy conflict-ridden regions through research and conflict management activities.
These are often done through sensitisation programmes on conflict resolution, interfaith and religious tolerance programmes, advocacy on the role of traditional rulers, community leaders on peacebuilding, among other projects.
These activities are mainly carried out through contracts awarded to consultants or private firms.
The executed projects were meant to promote peacebuilding, national development and solidifying the nation’s democracy.
Thirteen states in both regions benefitted from the over N3 billion contract sum in four years.
The 36-page document signed by IPCR Director of Administration Abi Sam provided details of the contracts and companies awarded.
Contracts awarded on sensitisation, empowerment
A breakdown of awarded contracts in 2017 shows N247.8 million worth of projects were executed in Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, and Taraba.
In the same year, Kano was the only state in the entire northwest that benefitted from similar peace-related intervention. It was titled, “training on peaceful co-existence, conflict resolution.”
It was held in Pauwa Takai Local Government Area of the state. And the N17 million Kano project was awarded to an undisclosed firm.
In 2018, N487.06 million worth of projects were awarded to seven states in the affected regions.
The projects with the highest costs were carried out in Cham LGA, Gombe, and Kafur LGA in Katsina. They were awarded at N119 million and N112 million, respectively. They were both recognised as ‘peace violence prevention training’, ‘advocacy campaign for youth against the election.’
There was a significant increase in the number of awarded contracts in 2019. While eight different projects were awarded at N280.7 million to the northeast states, 23 contracts were given to the northwest states. It amounted to about N1.3 million.
Adamawa and Katsina states, for instance, were included in a joint project also executed in Ondo and Akwa Ibom. It is unclear the exact sum allocated to the northern project from a sum pegged at N190 million. It was titled ‘Training and Capacity Building on Conflict Resolution Nationwide.’
In 2020, the total cost of projects awarded across the 13 states was N736m. Five projects were awarded 720 million just in Borno State, while N177 million worth of projects were awarded in Jigawa, Katsina, and Kaduna states.
A further breakdown shows a contract of N80.5 million training and capacity building in Jigawa state, a similar N80.5 million project in Katsina, and N16 million conflict resolution project in Kaduna.
Background findings on awarded firms
Data obtained from the IPCR in its response to an FOI request by The ICIR showed that 19 firms were awarded contracts to execute 19 projects across the country in 2020.
Findings showed that four firms involved in executing IPRC 2020 projects were not registered to operate in the country, while an unnamed contract was awarded to a car company linked to a former Minister and an equipment supplies company received N37 million contract where a Federal civil servant acted as a director.
Four companies involved in executing IPRC 2020 contracts, namely Emdiac Solution Ltd, Haneeaa Training and Logistics Ltd, Jasper Book Ltd, and Rockledge Consulting Ltd, had no websites or digital presence.
But the names of the companies could not be found on the database of the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, as legitimately registered companies.
This action breaches the Public Procurement Act (PPA) of 2007, which says for a company to be eligible to handle contracts for the Nigerian government, prospective bidders are expected to provide evidence of registration on the CAC database considered eligible to participate in the bidding process.
Section 6 (b) of the PPA states, “All bidders in addition to requirements contained in any solicitation documents shall possess the legal capacity to enter into the procurement contract…”
The firms were also missing from the database of recognised federal contractors hosted on the BPP portal.
IPRC failed to disclose to The ICIR the nature of a contract worth N108 790 000 awarded to Lagos-based car company Zahav Automobile Company Nigeria, Ltd in 2020, a partner company with Stallion Group. Based on information on its website, it is the official representative of the Chinese Changan automobile brand in Nigeria and Ghana.
Zahav Automobile Company was the only company that bided for the unspecified contract, which was subsequently awarded to the car retail firm on March 25. The contract identification was C41, but while other awarded contracts had start and completion dates, the car project had none yet said to have been completed.
The company’s directors include a former Minister for Works and Housing and a one-time Senator, Sanusi Mohammed Daggash, alongside his Lebanese business associates, Ghassan Rizk, Nasser Jammal, Ani Ani Secretaries Limited, and Bou Chahine Elias.
A Beirut-based company, Sara Trading Company Sal, was also listed as a director of the firm.
Checks on the database of the CAC reveals that the company was opened on February 6, 2008, with registration number RC: 729656.
Sanusi Dagash was elected as a member of the Federal House of Representatives in 1999, after serving a four-year term, became elected Senator representing Borno North Senatorial District in 2003.
Former President Umaru Yar’Adua appointed him Minister for National Planning in July 2007 but relieved him in October 2008. He was later reappointed as Minister for Works and Housing in April 2010 by then Acting President Goodluck Jonathan until he left office in 2015.
Daggash had secretly set up and operated Zahav Automobile Company Nigeria, Ltd while he was still in office as Minister of National Planning, six months before he was relieved of the position.
Section 6 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act prohibits a public officer, either appointed or elected is obligated to withdraw from engaging in or directing a private business, except for farming.
Another firm, Maiwada Global Concepts Ltd in Abuja, was awarded a N37 million contract after beating three other firms to secure the deal. The firm is legally registered with the CAC, and physically located at 6, Nun Street, off Danube Street, Maitama, Abuja.
The directors and trustees of the firm are Haruna Umar and Amina Musa Kaita. According to her profile on her Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, one of the directors, Amina Musa Kaita, is a staff of the National Assembly.
The ICIR reached out to Isyaku Abdulkadir, who was listed as the contact person for Kaita Integrated Services when they bided for a 2018 Industrial Training Fund, ITF project, but he denied knowing Amina Musa Kaita.
Efforts made by The ICIR to contact the publicity officer of the IPCR via a phone number found on the institute’s website failed. The officer did not answer repeated phone calls.
The ICIR sought to know from the agency why it failed to carry out due diligence by assigning Federal Government contracts to four contractors that were not legally registered by the CAC, which breached Nigeria’s 2007 procurement Act.
Calls and text messages by The ICIR were not responded to when filing this report for publication.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) have been at the forefront of fighting procurement fraud. It partners with the BPP to investigate and prosecute related offences.
In July, it prosecuted a former Surveyor-General Ebisintei Awudu over a N2 billion contract fraud. The accused allegedly awarded multiple contracts to a firm where he was a Director and shareholder.
The ICPC Spokesperson Mrs Azuka Ogugua was unreachable as of the time of this report.
In his remarks, Executive Director of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) Debo Adeniran asked for sanctioning of public officials found guilty of procurement fraud.
He said even if the government meant well, and the public officials are not efficient, it still robs on the federal government, hence, the need for due diligence and proper punishment for erring officials.
While he called for a more proactive approach from the ICPC, he advocated high-level responsiveness from the anti-graft agency’s Anti-Corruption Transparency Unit (ACTU).
“Until very recently, ICPC has been very docile. We have not heard much from them. ACTU ought to be on every desk at the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs). So, if it has been functional, there won’t have been any room for procurement fraud.”