BY ABDULAZIZ BUBA AUDU & YUNUSA BUNU, OCTOBER 31, 2022 | 01:53 PM
In 2020, Yobe State Government said it had completed installation of 520 solar powered streetlights in Buni Yadi, Gujba Local Government Area, according to the state’s procurement records.
The project was also recorded as having been executed in 2019. In 2019, it was executed by the state’s ministry of works while in 2020 it was said to have been executed by the ministry of transport and energy.
On-ground findings by our reporter however showed that the claim is inaccurate, as no such provision were made in the said location.
Another similar claim about the construction of a community sport center in the town, which the government also said it had completed in September 2020, was equally found to be inaccurate as it was nowhere to be found in the described location.
Though the project would have helped the Boko Haram – ravaged community in the area of security and boost nightlife business activities, as well as general revival of its economy, it was only apparently executed in paper.
Buni Yadi is a major town in Gujba, one of the 17 local governments in the state. Besides many other things, the town’s name is popular in the headlines for the series of Boko Haram attacks it had come under, including an infamous one on a government secondary school in 2014 where schoolchildren were butchered. The town had to be eventually deserted, as the attacks only became more frequent thereafter.
The town is still recovering from the ravages it has suffered, as are many other parts of the state. Beyond infrastructure and livelihoods, a lot needs to be still done to revive its economy.
How it happened
The government claimed to have executed the project under the ministry of transport and energy at the cost of N366, 145, 000.00 for the installation.
A check on the state’s bureau of public procurement site on August 06, 2022 showed that the project was recorded as having been completed 100% since September 25, 2020. It was said to have been implemented by Greyland Multiple Investment Ltd, whose chief executive officer, Mr. Mustapha Abubakar has already denied when spoken to on phone our reporter in August, 2022.
Curiously, the same project was listed in 2019 at the portal, even though without any indication of its level of completion. In its case, it was said to have been carried out by the ministry of works, at the cost of N410 million.
But much more than these contradictions is the fact that the project that was certified 100 percent complete has not been executed in the said location.
Only 51 streetlights in Buni Gari and Buni Yadi
Contrary to the 520 listed in the project description, our reporter only sighted 51 streetlights in both Buni Yadi and Buni Gari, the ward immediately next to it.
Of the 51, 32 were in Buni Gari, out of which 22 were at the main road, four at the road that links to the ward head’s residence while six were located at the road to Buni Gari Primary School.
In Buni Yadi, three were at the motor park, three at the entrance of the town’s general hospital and 13 at the main road, making a total of 19.
Residents of the town also confirmed that beyond the 51, they are not aware of any other streetlight in the two towns.
However, they said even the 51, a paltry 10 percent of the total number, have helped to improve night-time business activities, as well as security of lives and properties in the towns.
Dawud Umaru, a trader at the motor park added that the ones installed there were six months old, contrary to a claim of its completion September 2020 by the state.
'It has really helped and supported businesses at the park, especially those selling food at night. There are also travelers who spend the night at the park, it really helps them,' Umaru said.
'We are not aware that the number is supposed to be 500, but we would have loved it if it was the case,' Haruna Wanzam, another resident said.
'The 500 would have been enough for the whole of Buni Yadi,' Mallam Muhammadu, also a resident, added.
51 streetlights not part of the state government’s project
But further interrogation of available information indicated that the 51 installations could not be the same with the one described by the government, as they bear inscription: Upper Benue River Basin Development Authority, UBRBDA 2021 project and Ewakitty NIG LTD 2021-10.
UBRBDA is an agency of the federal ministry of water resources, involved in development of the country’s water resource potential, and thus could have been involved in carrying out contracts for state governments. As such, the installations could only have been a part of the agency’s intervention, even though its comment on it is still being awaited.
Similarly, Ewakitty NIG LTD, a limited liability company registered by the corporate affairs commission, is not the same with the contractor mentioned in the procurement paperwork of state.
Greyland Multiple Investment Ltd, was the executing company mentioned by the state’s bureau of public procurement. The company’s number given by the bureau, when dialed, linked our reporter to Mr. Abubakar, its CEO.
'No, we did not do the work. I heard of it but I did not know how it ended up. I did not receive an award letter. You should go to the ministry to ask who they gave the contract to,’ the CEO told the reporter who contacted him August 16.
There is little doubt that the 51 installations were not the same with the project described by the Yobe State Government.
Procurement agency violates own laws
The description and other details given by the procurement agency do not seem sufficient to establish a fact of the said spending especially since the project could not be found anywhere in the said location. Curiously also, the project did not appear, or as explicitly as possible, in the state's 2019 and 2020 budgets, as well as the auditor-general’s reports of both years.
Having listed it on its portal, and more so certifying it as having been fully completed, the state’s bureau for public procurement has also committed an offence contrary to the laws establishing it, which mandates it to verify contracts and ensure proper documentation for all public procurements, among others.
Section 6 (5) (a) (b) (c) of the state procurement act said the bureau’s mandates, among others, are: ‘the harmonization of existing government policies on public procurement and ensuring probity, accountability and transparency in the procurement process.
‘The establishment of pricing standards and benchmarks; ensuring the application of fair, competitive, transparent, value for money standards and practices for the procurement and disposal of public assets and services.
‘The attainment of transparency, competitiveness, cost effectiveness and professionalism in the public sector procurement system.’
The bureau is also mandated to ‘prevent fraudulent and unfair procurement and where necessary apply administrative sanctions.’
It also goes further to say that any public officer who in any way influenced violations of the terms of a contract should be punished.
The Yobe State Council on Public Procurement, which is supposed to ensure proper vetting of contracts and all other necessary paperwork, is composed of the commissioner of finance (as chairman), attorney general, secretary to the state government, head of service and the governor’s special adviser on economy. It also has ‘two people of proven integrity’ drafted from every of the state’s three senatorial districts, with the director general of the bureau as its secretary.
What the governor said
When contacted, Mohammed Mamman, Governor Mai Mala Buni’s director of press said he knows nothing about the project.
Mr. Mamman, who releases information regarding activities of the government, asked our reporter to ask the people directly involved in the project, even though it was part of his principal’s first budget in office.
‘You should contact the office responsible for all these projects. I cannot have every single information,’ he said.
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