IN 2012, the FG awarded a project at the contract sum of N184 million to Justines T.W. Integrated Services Limited for the construction of an earth dam in Katanga town of Nasarawa state to benefit the entire community’s agricultural system and make their lives better. Ten years after, the project is yet to commence.
“Lack of water supply affects my business well-well. We mostly depend on rain and stream water for our daily activities.”
Those were the words of Jumai Issa, a 75-year-old woman who has had to endure the lack of proper water distribution in Katanga town, Wamba local government area.
When Jumai relocated back to Katanga after the demise of her husband, she knew the only way to survive and take care of her family was to return to her locust beans business.
Jumai became an inhabitant of the village about 45 years ago. Since then, she has suffered different consequences of not having water to cater for her daily activities.
Early this year, Issa couldn’t proceed with her locust beans business for about two months when the only motorised borehole developed a fault, leading to a loss of revenue which she estimated to be N200,000. She explained that she made N25,000 per weekly production.
“Anytime I go to Market, I make about N100,000 profit in a month. But there are times when I hardly make N10,000 in a month because we can’t even wash the locust beans after the first process,” she stated.
Issa is not alone; residents of Katanga community also go through this predicament. They have not been able to benefit from the Katanga dam project, which is meant to provide water for the community and improve the irrigation system.
The dam project first appeared on the Ministry of Water and Mineral resources budget in 2012.
The project, according to the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), a government agency saddled with the promotion of transparent and accountable government financial management noted that it was awarded to Justine T.W. integrated services limited in 2012 at a contract sum of N184,776,865.00 by the Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority.
According to the Commission, over N90 million was released for the project between 2012 to 2014.
The FRC report stressed that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari revisited the contract and released an augmentation fund to complete the dam project to ease the community challenges.
Independent findings by The ICIR, also confirmed that the FG started budgeting money for the Katanga dam after a sum of N10 million was approved for the design in 2012.
In 2013 and 2014, the FG budgeted another N50 and N30 million for the construction of the dam, respectively.
In the 2017 budget of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources budget, N21 million was budgeted for what was described as the ‘Katanga Dam’, with no further information. It is not certain if this was meant for the Katanga dam of Wamba LGA in Nasarawa state, as there is another community called ‘Katanga’ in Niger state.
However, after the project’s take-off, the contractor, Justine T.W. applied for a power of attorney to transfer the contract to Kadalux Global Resources Limited.
On October 14, 2014, the transfer of the Katanga dam project was approved, but Kadalux Global Ltd declined the power of attorney and reverted to the initial contractor on January 2016, according to the FRC.
It was gathered that the project was started as there were heaps of sand excavation for embarkment, but the site has been visibly abandoned as there was no project office and plant of equipment on the site.
The client, Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority, put the fault on the contractor, noting that the project was abandoned as he failed to heed the reverted power of attorney.
Findings by The ICIR also revealed that the project was indeed started as there was once an erected signpost of the project execution around the area, but as on October 16, 2022, when this reporter visited the river, there was no signpost or office.
We are not aware of dam project – Community leaders
Despite the findings by The ICIR and FRC, the Katanga community leader, Yunusa Usman, disclosed during this reporter’s visit that he has never heard of any dam project being executed in his village.
Although Usman became the head of the community in 2017, he had served as the community youths’ leader for more than 10 years before he took the mantle of the community leader. According to him, only two water projects were brought to the Katanga community in the past.
“A state lawmaker constructed the automatic borehole, which stopped working a few months after the construction and there is another motorised borehole constructed by the FG which is still serving its purpose.”
“I am not sure if something is going on in the community that I don’t know about. We all go to Katanga dam every day because that is where we farm, and we have never seen a sign of any ongoing project,” Usman.
On further enquiry, one of the community elders, Yaqub Abdullahi, told this reporter that he heard that the FG was going to execute a project around the river.
He said, “You know all these politicians; they live on fake projects and lies. There was a time I heard they were going to execute an earth dam project around the river, but it was a rumour as nothing has been done since about 10 years ago.”
For people staying far away from the river, access to water becomes more strenuous when the borehole dries up in the dry season, as they would have to trek down to the river-about five km to source water.
“What I am telling you is only applicable during this rainy season because it became a serious challenge during the dry season. The water stopped moving in the stream, and even the borehole does have a limit it can go every day, leaving us no option than to walk down to the Katanga River to fetch water.” Yaqub added.
Cost of abandoning the dam project
Villagers who spoke with The ICIR believe the dam project would have solved their water needs.
Farmers also spoke about how they battle to irrigate their farms during the dry season. This would have been solved by the dam.
A farmer, Muhammad Asiyat took this reporter around her husband’s farm when she was asked about the situation of the farm during the dry season.
The farm, which spans about four hectares, is a few minutes’ walk from the Katanga river, this, however, did not stop them from suffering from lack of water during dry season.
They have no means of irrigation, which is one of the issues the dam was supposed to provide for. The Katanga earth project involves a dam construction involving the provision of an irrigation scheme for the socio-economic of the region.
The irrigation scheme was initiated to provide irrigation fields, and drainages and facilitate better production of farm products during the dry season.
Muhammad is not alone, as several farmers spoken with have similar predicaments.
“I really hope this changes for the better. We have never heard of any Dam project before, but I hope they will see to it in future,” Hamzat Abu a 60-year-old farmer told The ICIR.
Katanga at risk of flooding
Nigeria is currently bedevilled by flooding. The ICIR ran a series on flooding which you can read here.
According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), 35 states, including the FCT have been affected by floods which resulted in partial damage to about 176,852 hectares of farmlands while about 392,399 hectares of farmlands were damaged.
This year, Katanga an agrarian community did not experience flooding, however, experienced partial flooding some of the community members stated.
Kabir Muhammad, a rice farmer in Katanga, was close to losing his rice farms to flooding in early October when part of his farm was underwater, when the community witnessed torrential rainfall.
Kabir told The ICIR that although the village and the farm have not been affected by floods like other parts of the state, they still panic whenever there’s heavy rain.
“There was heavy rainfall on that day and part of my rice farm was submerged by water, but I was able to channel the water back to the river.
“I think if there’s continuous heavy rain, our farm will eventually go underwater like the other ones we do hear on the radio,” he stated.
He believes a dam will help regulate the water.
Contractor’s non-existent address
A check on Justines T.W. Integrated Service Limited on the Corporate Affairs Commission revealed that the company is inactive; this may, however, mean the CAC are yet to make the update.
Further check using Open-Source Intelligence, OSINT, showed that the company, in its registration details, has its official address as 15, Road 6, Federal Housing Authority Phase II, Lugbe, Abuja. But findings by The ICIR showed that the address does not exist.
The ICIR traced the address, but no such place exists in Lugbe.
Kadalux Global Resources Limited, registration number 746766, was incorporated as a private company on May 12, 2008.
The company’s website states it does electrification, building engineering, road construction, Agricultural and Technical Equipment and General Goods and Services.
The ICIR reached out to the number provided on the website and one Musa Babale Rilwanu, Group chief accountant cum secretary of the company, of which Kadalux Global Resources is one of our subsidiaries, picked up the call and confirmed that the company rejected the Attorney order as a result of the unwillingness of Justines T.W. Integrated Services Limited to refund the payment.
“Somewhere along the line Kadalux got to know that there was payment made to Justines T.W and requested that payment should be given back to her as a compliance to the Attorney, but they refused.
“In that case Kadalux withdrew from the deal, and you can go to the Legal department at Venue River Basin Authority for further details,” he said.
On if the rejection is within a legal framework, Rilwanu said: “That is why I said the actual fact-finding shall come from Niger Benue River Basin Development Authority. Whoever is being paid as regards to that project, they are in the better position to answer that.”
The ICIR, however, reached out to the Client, Lower Benue River Basin via phone call on several occasions, before it finally picked the call on November 24. The Agency directed this reporter to send an email in that regard, which was done immediately, but no response has been filed.
Earlier, on October 11, 2022, The ICIR sent a Freedom of Information (FOI) to the Auditor General’s office requesting the procurement details and current status of the project, but till the time of filing this report, no response has also been received.
“This investigation is produced with support from Safer-Media Initiative under The Collaborative Media Engagement for Development, inclusivity and Accountability Project (C-Media Project) of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) funded by the MacArthur Foundation.”