By Lukman Abdulmalik
As a part of the efforts to improve the productivity of teachers in public schools in Kano State, the State government, through Kano State Ministry of Education, disbursed over N150 million for repair and renovation of over 16 government secondary schools staff quarters in different local governments areas. However, most of these renovation jobs were not implemented, while others were shabbily executed by the contractors. In this investigation, our reporter, Lukman Abdulmalik, visited five schools in several council areas and reports.
On April 31, 2023, on a visit to Government Girls Arabic Secondary School (GGASS), Sumaila, some teachers were sighted coming out from dilapidated staff housing situated in an uncultivated part of the school.
The staff houses were in a very poor state, with hole–ridden walls, leaking roofs and ceilings and often shared with rodents and other animals, while bushes and trees overgrew other abandoned houses nearby.
Some teachers who spoke to the reporter decried the shortage of accommodation, noting that the few buildings which they manage to occupy are totally dilapidated and uninhabitable. Due to the lack of appropriate staff housing, most of the teachers in the school have sought transfer to schools in other local government areas, while some have left their job to pursue other businesses.
Sunusi Aliyu, a Senior Master at the school told this reporter that for over 45 years of the school’s existence, no renovations took place until 2020. Even then, he disclosed, the 12 staff houses were shabbily painted without any repairs on the physical part of the buildings.
“Honestly, we are in a horrible condition, due to the buildings the staff are managing are inhabitable. We have recorded so many disasters due to rainfall because the buildings still use casting roofing that were built by the white men.
“Due to the cracks on the wall, you could see the outer part from most of the rooms.
“About 15 years ago a total of 22 staff quarters were destroyed due to wind and heavy rainfall. Seeing that we have no place to stay again, we packed out from the school and started staying in the town of Sumaila. Some teachers live in their family houses while others rented apartments.
“However, due to the distance of the teachers from the school premises, the state government painted 12 staff quarters without any repairs or appropriate renovation,” he said.
Aliyu said the staff quarters also have no electricity, portable water and other amenities that make a house habitable.
“Due to the limited houses we have, it has also affected the students, because some of the teachers that reside far away from the school find it hard to report to their duty post,” he added.
Aliyu added that “The lack of adequate accommodation has hampered teachers’ productivity, as most teachers are now too lazy to come to work due to the distance from their house to the school. The lack of housing has hinder our job performance, which led to high levels of stress among teachers due to heavy workload by covering other teachers syllabus who have left their duty post.
“It has also led to poor students’ academic performance and sometimes resulted in indiscipline among students, because there is poor supervision of students due to a shortage of teachers in the quarters.
“Poor housing also has led to poor management skills, poor teaching which has a profound effect on students by exposing them to poor teaching, in which they may also lose interest in learning and become disengaged.
“All these are caused due to the lack of adequate accommodation for teachers.”
Mallam Abdulkadir, Chief Security Officer of GGASS Sumaila, who also resides in the staff quarters, recounts the nightmare of living there.
“Our staff quarters have nothing to write home about because all the buildings are in disrepair. The renovation they did in 2020,was painting and changes of door, which are currently in bad state.
“They removed our heavy-duty doors and fixed bad iron doors for us, which in less than a year have started falling apart.
He also recounted a near tragic incident that could have led to the loss of his wife, arising from the poor state of the house they live in.
“In 2021, after the shabby renovation of the quarters, it rained heavily and my house was leaking due to bad roofing. Unfortunately, the wind was so strong that the roof fell on my wife while she was praying in her room.
According to information from the 2020 Open Contract Data Standard (OCDS), the Kano State Ministry of Education awarded the contract for the repair and renovation of Government Girls Arabic Secondary School Sumaila to B.M Petroleum & Transport at a sum of N22,929,752.82.
The contract was for the repair and renovation of the staff quarters, include fixing of the broken walls, tiling of floors, fixing of roofing, electrical wiring and painting.
However, this investigation shows that a substandard renovation job was executed as only 12 of the staff quarters were merely painted, without any repairs carried out.
During a visit to the site, this reporter observed the roofing was only partly done, the floors, plasters and walls are cracking badly while windows and doors installed were of poor quality.
One of the school teachers told this reporter that the poor condition of the staff quarters has a direct bearing on the high teacher turnover witnessed by the school and also affects the students’ learning, noting all the senior staff houses are completely dilapidated except the one which the school director lives in.
Who is the contractor?
Data from the Open Contract Data Standard of the Kano State Public Procurement Bureau website on the project for the renovation and repairs of GGASS, Sumaila gives that the contractor’s details as B.M Petroleum and Transport Co Ltd, “located at no. 10, Hotoro opposite NNPC, behind IPMAN office, Kano”.
Registration information obtained on B.M Petroleum and Transport Ltd obtained from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and NG-Check.com showed that the major activity of the company, which was incorporated in 2013, is petroleum exploration and mining, but the status of the company reads “Inactive,” meaning that it had not been filing returns, among other infractions. The CAC describes an inactive firm as one that has not been filling its annual returns up-to-date.
Is B.M Petroleum and Transport Co Ltd. linked to Kano ex-commissioner, LG Chairman?
The registered address of B.M Petroleum and Transport Co Ltd in Kano could not be traced. A visit by this reporter, who spoke with residents around the location in Hotoro, confirmed that the address was invalid.
However, the CAC, the state agency that provides information on registered companies in Nigeria, indicates that one of the directors of B.M Petroleum and Transport Co Ltd is Muhammad Baffa, who is Kano State’s former commissioner of Science, Technology and Innovations between 2019 and 2020.
However, he was elected the chairman of Takai local government Aaea of Kano State in January 2021 and is still in office till date.
It was discovered that company in which Baffa is a director was awarded the contract when he was the Commissioner of Kano State Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations, raising concerns of an obvious conflict of interest, among others.
Other names listed as directors include Abubakar Shehu, Akilu Baffa, who is said to be the biological son of the council chairman, and Yazid Muhammad.
When contacted over his alleged link to the company, Muhammad Baffa did not respond. From May 2 until the time of going to press, he was contacted five times via phone call, text messages and WhatsApp messages. He failed to pick his calls or respond to messages. For example, on 17th of May, a message was sent to him via WhatsApp requesting if B.M Petroleum and Transport Co Ltd., is linked to him, but Baffa read the message but failed to respond.
Speaking to this reporter about the renovation, Abubakar Shehu, a director at the contracting firm, said that the staff quarters were renovated according to the standard of the Kano State Ministry of Education.
He attested that “we renovated GGASS Sumaila in 2020, and we didn’t only paint it, we also changed the doors and roofing of the houses.
“Before we were certified for the completion of the renovation, the Kano State Ministry of Education supervised the project from beginning to the end, the contracting company was the one in charge of fueling and feeding the supervisors from the State Ministry of Education.”
Sordid Tales of GGSS Yar Gaya
As in GGASS Sumaila, at the Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS) Yar Gaya, in Dawakin Kudu Local Government Area, teachers also suffer lack of maintenance in their quarters. As part of integrating teachers with their students to improve the quality of education the OCDS 2020 contract captured the repair and renovation of the Yar Gaya school staff quarters.
The project was initiated by the Kano State Ministry of Education at a sum of N35,003,944.87 million and awarded to AD2 Intg. Tech Nig. Ltd an unregistered company as verified by CAC.
However, the project was not executed release as all the houses are in bad state while others have been completely damaged.
A visit by this reporter showed that the houses, which are less than 20, including the dilapidated ones, with Boys Quarters (BQ) that have become a haven for reptiles. Teachers of GGSS YarGaya are managing to stay in the premises to look into affairs of the students.
It was gathered that since the school was established more than 30 years ago, no single renovation has been carried out on it.
But GGSS YarGaya is not the only school shortchanged by the non existent AD2 Intg Tech Nig Ltd. The company also got repair and innovation jobs at GGSS Albasu, in Albasu LGA, and GGSS Kwa, the only Government Girls Secondary School in Bichi LGA.
This reporter discovered that there was no renovation at the staff houses in both schools, despite release of funds to AD2 Intg Tech Nig Ltd, according to the Kano OCDS contract award information document.
Speaking to this reporter, Hafsat Aliyu Usman, SS2 student of GGSS YarGaya expressed her worries on how the non-execution of the teachers staff quarters affects student.
“I have been a student since JSS 3, throughout this years I have been suffering as a student most especially when the school was boarding before the Kano State Government made it a day school.
“The teachers are not enough to teach the students, as most of the time some have to take more than 4 subjects, while sometimes we spend the whole day without learning anything”.
She further recounted her misery during her boarding days in school.
“There was a time when I was sick, suffering from malaria and typhoid. The students in our hostel raised an alarm, but there was no teacher to come to my rescue, until the following day, because most of the teachers are no longer residing in the school premises due to poor houses.
“Not only bad houses, our hostels are also in poor conditions, as most of the buildings are dilapidated with rotten ceilings, bad floors and sometimes we share rooms with reptiles.”
Salisu Abdullahi, a teacher in the school, told this reporter that he hardly comes to school to teach due to the distance from his house to the school.
He lamented that “I barely come to school thrice in a week, I have been teaching for over 14 years, I have never witnessed any renovation in the school staff quarters.
“All the buildings have collapsed including the school director’s house, if not some staff uses their salary to repair the little they can.
“Personally, I can’t stay in quarters because my house is completely dilapidated, so it’s inhabitable. I rented an apartment outside the school which I paid N20,000 per annum.
“My distance from the school premises has reduced my productivity immensely, because I don’t teach my subject regularly and this has also affected the students”, he elaborated.
GGSS Kwa: Teachers lament using salaries to renovate houses
At GGSS Kwa, teachers lamented over the poor state of the staff housing. This reporter learnt that only four teachers are left in school, as over 15 have sought transfer to other schools due poor staff welfare, including accommodation.
Zubair Aliyu, who has taught in GGSS Kwa for over 15 years, said the school was established in 1978 and till date no innovation or upgrade has been carried out on the staff quarters.
He added that “On various occasions I have led the school team to source for projects and intervention for the renovation of our houses from the state government, but after it’s been approved they will divert the project.
“However, the remaining four houses were renovated with our own salaries, due to the government saying we don’t pay rent, so we should take care of the houses by ourselves.
“All the roofings are casted one, which they have been in bad condition, for that we usually use cartons to replace some parts of the broken ceilings.
Aliyu lamented that lack of teachers in the school has also contributed to the low student turnout due to the teachers being insufficient.
Zaituna Abubakar, SS1 student of GGSS Kwa lamented that the lack of sufficient teachers due to poor accommodation has affected their learning negatively as the teachers are not giving them more attention like before.
She revealed that “most times we just come to school without learning anything, almost all the teachers are no longer staying in the school as their houses are dilapidated.
“We hardly covered our syllabus for the term, so most students performed poorly in the exams. Sometimes a single teacher will handle more than five subjects, which is improper.
“Sometimes I would rather hawk Awara (Soya cake) than go to school.”
Contractor who handled projects could not be found
In an effort to locate AD2 Intg. Tech Nig Ltd., the company that won the renovation contract for the schools in Yar Gaya, Albasu and Kwa, at a sum of N35,003,944.87 million, this reporter reached out to a colleague who resides in Dutse to help locate the company in the given address, but it could not be found.
Furthermore, this reporter sent a mail message to the company’s email address as provided in the Kano OCDS contract award information, but the email bounced back showing “Address not found, your message wasn’t delivered to email@example.com, because the address couldn’t be found, or is unable to receive mail.”
However, the award of contract to AD2 Intg. Tech Nig. Ltd., an unregistered company, contravenes section 16 (6) (d) (e) of the PPA titled ‘fundamental principles for procurements.’ This also contravenes sections 417 – 424 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020, titled ‘Annual Returns.’
However, the Kano State Public Procurement Bureau reacted that “we don’t ask for contractors’ annual returns, our agency only requires contractor’s CAC number and Tax identification number for clearance, in order to secure contracts.”
A civil and criminal litigation lawyer, Isah Abdulazeez Umar, observed that awarding contracts to unregistered companies is illegal and a contravention of Section 57 (2) of the 2017 Public Procurement Act and could even attract money laundering cases against the perpetrators of the said practices.
The lawyer added that though the law does not specifically point out the offence of an agency like the SRRBDA for awarding contracts to a company that doesn’t exist, he explained that if a company doesn’t exit, it means that documents submitted by the bidders are fake, and therefore, against the public procurement law.
He said the agency’s offence could be traced to Section 58 (4c), which states, “The following shall also constitute offences under this act directly, indirectly, or attempting to influence in any manner, The procurement process to obtain an unfair advantage in the award of procurement contracts is against using fake documents.”
Furthermore, the act provides punishment for the agency in Section 58 (5) thus: “A person who by carrying out his duty as an officer of the bureau or any procuring entity contravenes any provision of this act, commits an offence liable on conviction to the cumulative punishment of a term of imprisonment of not less than five years without the option of fine.”
Kano State Ministry of Education Spent N29 Million on Non-existent Staff Quarters
But AD2 Intg. Tech Nig. Ltd.is not the only phantom company that got contracts from the Kano Ministry OF Educations. In 2020’s OCDS contract award information, a contract in the sum of N29,883,481.30 was awarded to CNL COULDRON NIG. LTD purportedly located at shop 6, Dan Marayah Maiduguri Road, Hotoro, Kano for renovation and repair works at GGSS Zakirai staff quarters in Gabasawa LGA.
A series of checks at the CAC on the company showed that it does not exist. What is more bizarre about the contract awarded to CNL Couldron Ltd is that it was for a non-existent job as there are no staff quarters in GGSS Zakirai.
A visit to the school by this reporter showed that it is a day and not boarding school, thus has no staff quarters to be repaired or innovated.
In an interview with the Senior Admin Officer who also doubles as Biology teacher at the school, Mahmud Sani Abba, he confirmed: “we have no staff quarters in GGSS Zakirai due to it being a day school.
“The lack of staff quarters has not reduced teacher’s performance, because all the teachers live within the town and Gabasawa LGA.”
A visit to the location address provided by the contractor on the OCDS award information document, showed that the company does not operate from the plaza. Residents of the area and shop owners in the plaza claimed not to know such a contractor.
This reporter also sent a mail provided by the contractor in the contract award information document, but the response was that “Address not found” “Your message wasn’t delivered to firstname.lastname@example.org because the address couldn’t be found, or is unable to receive mail.”
Ministry keeps mum despite FOI
On May 3rd, 2023, in an effort to seek information and clarification from the Kano State Ministry of Education, this reporter sent a Freedom of information Act, FOIA, request on why the sum of N22,929,752.82 was awarded to B.M petroleum & transport, the company of a commissioner and current Takai LGA Chairman to repair and renovate staff quarters at GGSS Sumaila.
Another FOIA request was sent to the ministry on the release of N29,883,481.30 million to CNL COULDRON NIG. LTD to renovate and repair GGSS Zakirai staff quarters in Gabasawa LGA, which the school has no staff quarters.
The FOIA request sought to know why the repairs and renovation of GGSSS Yargaya, GGSS Albasu and GGSS Kwa was not executed after awarding N35,003,944.87 million to AD2 INTG. TECH NIG. LTD
The FOIA request was acknowledged by the ministry at the time it was delivered by this reporter. After a week a follow-up was made but the ministry is yet to provide feedback regarding the questions three weeks after as at the time of filing this report. The access to information law allows for seven days for requests to be attended to.
Implication for Kano State
Awarding contracts to unverified, inactive and unregistered companies negate Section 16 of the Public Procurement Act 2007.
Apart from violating procurement laws, the shoddy handling of projects by inactive or unregistered companies may undermine and wipe out gains recorded towards achieving Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations.
The Goal 4, is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. According to UNICEF, no fewer than 70 per cent of Nigerian children are suffering from learning poverty, due to lack of quality or sustainable development for the teachers.
The ambition to achieve SDG 4 by 2030 for Nigeria is a high one, and the World Bank has estimated that the country needs a 14 per cent allocation from its Gross Domestic Product to meet the target.
Therefore, awarding contracts to unknown companies may forfeit the little funding currently committed to achieving these goals.
Lack of staff houses Impede teachers’ productivity – Expert
Dr. Auwalu Halilu, the Kano State Coordinator, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All, (CSACEFA), said lack of staff housing can impede teachers’ productivity.
‘Some of the benefits of this type of teachers accommodation include increase in social motivation, increased motivation to achieve learning outcomes through collaboration, helps gain knowledge from each other through practice and reinforcement, strategy where students change roles, improvement in academic achievement, improvement in cognitive gains, provides a more one-on-one relationship for learning, is an economically and educationally effective intervention for both students, and gives the teachers a way to accommodate a diverse classroom of learners with different reading levels in content areas.
“If implemented correctly, peer tutoring can be a successful inclusive accommodation (strategy) that engages students simultaneously with their teachers in school because students can access their teachers at any moment,” Halilu said.
This report first published on Daily Focus, is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR.