How Governor’s Children, Family Members, Cronies and Children of Top Govt Functionaries Are Awarded Contracts
Is Bauchi State Butchered By A Cabal
Although Bauchi State Governor, Muhammed Abubakar, has claimed to have inherited an insolvent treasury and a near collapsed state, his administration, if current happenings are anything to go by, appear set to break the record of the past as perhaps the most scandalous with no clearly defined vision in recent history.
Reports from different sources close to the corridors of power made available to DESERT HERALD’s team of investigators show that in 2016 alone, Bauchi state under the watch of Governor M.A. Abubakar has received the sum of N102 billion from the Federation Account excluding Ecological fund, Bailouts, Bank Loans and Federal Allocation to the 20 Local Government Councils. The staggering amount did not translate into any commensurate development at the local government level as all the 20 LGAs are not only yearning for urgent intervention in the critical sectors but need financial autonomy to channel their resources to the basic needs of the people. But one Ali Kumo, widely referred to as the leader of the butchers in Bauchi today and allegedly with the powerful wife of Governor Abubakar, Mrs. Hadiza Abubakar, are the de facto governor(s) of the state.
Insiders told DESERT HERALD weekly that the duo of Kumo and the First Lady Hadiza are so powerful that they usually determine which file will go to His Excellency for treatment. Any file that is favoured and endorsed by any of the two power brokers, according to our sources, will get the prompt attention of the governor and that approval is usually automatic while such payments are being processed and treated with dispatch. Many instances of such files which will reflect in the subsequent editions of DESERT HERALD abound.
While it is true that Governor Abubakar has inherited virtually an empty treasury, efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari and his commitment to empower all the states to meet their financial obligations to their citizens has resulted to increase in allocations. Analysis of previous records of allocations by DESERT HERALD, for example, reveals that Governor Abubakar has received more money and in fact in excess of over N27 billion in the last 20 months than what former Governor Isa Yuguda received during the same period when he took over from Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu.
The payment of the Paris Club money is also an added advantage for Mr. Abubakar but there is no commensurate result that will satisfy President Buhari’s love for Bauchi and his desire to ensure that states use such money for developmental purposes only. It is known that after accounting reconciliation it was discovered that the 36 states of the federation were overcharged for payments to the Paris Club late last year. As such all the states demanded for repayment of what they were overcharged as external debt service payments between 1995 and 2002. The said funds were paid as first line charge deductions from state’s share of federal allocations. The debt service deductions were in respect of loans taken from Paris and London Clubs as well as other multilateral loans obtained by Federal and the State Governments.
By the time Nigeria reached a final debt relief agreement with the Paris Club in October 2005, some states were already overcharged and that led to a request by the state governments for refund of the amounts owed by the Federal Government. Based on the strength of persistent refund requests, President Buhari directed the Debt Management Office (DMO) to scrutinize all the claims advanced by the state governments and reconcile same with available records for further action.
Bauchi state submitted a refund claim of $104,092,295.20 but after a thorough scrutiny of the claim by DMO as directed, President Buhari approved $26,023,073.80 as part of the refund to Bauchi state which was duly received by the Muhammed Abubakar administration in addition to several other financial allocations released to the state.
Despite all the receipted funds including Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), amount realized from several verification exercises of civil servants and other sundry taxes levied by the government, the state remains underdeveloped with impoverished people that are classified as living worse than Internally Displaced Persons.
Reports have it that Bauchi State under Mr. Abubakar has been stagnated and the people often say they are subjected to dictatorship in a supposed democracy by the administration they collectively labored to install which necessitated the timely intervention of some members of the National Assembly from the state through open opposition as the state governor according to them “is arrogant, inexperienced, primitive and pompous which qualifies him as a day dreamer in a sinking boat. He seems to believe to be the first ever elected state governor in Nigeria despite holding the record as the most wretched ever elected to the exalted position of a governor in the state’s history”.
Mr. Abubakar’s critics said he has already lost the bearing of good leadership but only clocking hours for his inevitable ceremonious exit in 2019 through the very same system that brought him to power. Apart from the monthly payment of staff salaries of less than N2billion, no one can say what happens to the balance of the funds but majority believe the balance is laundered through constant overseas travels, siphoned under the claim of the few projects awarded at inflated costs to fronts and allegedly to family members or reportedly hidden in choice banks bearing fictitious identities.
“It is only in Bauchi state that renovation of a 4-kilometer road was awarded to a ‘quack’ construction company lacking the necessary equipments with glaring incapacitation at N2.6billion and 80% of the total contract sum paid without the work reaching 20% and the administration still claims to be transparent and prudent.
DESERT HERALD also gathered that the sum of N297million was claimed to have been expended on the renovation of the Governor’s official residence inside the Government House and a gym provided with specifications. The contract was awarded to ‘Turaki Heritage’, a company allegedly owned by the governor’s children. Not only that, the sum of N96million was reportedly expended on the renovation of Government VIP 8 Guest House by same phantom company ‘Turaki Heritage,’ that has since put to question the honesty of the APC administration in Bauchi state.
DESERT HERALD weekly further gathered that the state’s Judicial Service Commission has forwarded a request to the government seeking approval to renovate its secretariat through direct labor to save cost but that was over ruled by the governor and the renovation work was hurriedly contracted to an alleged front suspected to be a son to a top government official at over N30million and subsequently sold out to a contractor.
Another alleged scandal is the contract for the supply of office furniture and equipments to the office of the state’s Chief Judge which insiders and those that are privy to the deal said is shrouded in secrecy”. The identity of the actual contractor, according to them, remains hidden while a front claims ownership of the contract and the total contract sum was neither made public nor known and items to be supplied.
The same method of contract award was applied to the two road projects at Fadaman Mada in Bauchi metropolis allegedly awarded to a family member of the governor which was poorly executed but penciled for commissioning by President Buhari. It would have been an embarrassment for the government if not for sudden cancellation of the President’s visit. A source told this reporter that President Buhari has gotten credible information and intelligence about the nature of the projects he was to commission hence the cancellation of the visit. He said commissioning projects that are largely seen to have been executed by the former administration or projects that are widely acknowledged to be substandard will not only ridicule the president and his party but will affect his popularity in the state he (Buhari) so much loved.
Our sources whom preferred anonymity added that for corruption to flourish unabated in the current administration in Bauchi, some contracts are awarded as bribes to children of highly placed government officials as a strategy to silence them and to get maximum cooperation for business as usual to strive.
One Amos Artimas of the Dogara Solidarity Front described the Bauchi state administration “as clueless, inexperienced, parochial and directionless. It was a huge mistake electing the governor. It was the wind of change that brought him to power through our loyalty to President Buhari and Yakubu Dogara. But, we have all it takes to reclaim our state back from tourists in 2019. We shall never allow intruders to govern us again under any claim”.
While Governor Abubakar is busy deceiving himself that there is no money in the state to support his programmes, some of his close aides, this paper can reveal, are busy acquiring choice properties and building expensive houses in their localities and Abuja. The money, insiders said, was sourced from the same treasury he declared as insolvent. “We know of a particular aide who purchased a bungalow in Abuja at over N70million and we are told that there is no money to develop the state. If there is no money to develop the state, where does the governor source fund for his constant travels abroad that? What did the state benefit so far from such globetrotting? Have his constant travels brought about any development in any part of the state so far? We know how miscreants are funded by compromised security officials secretly while the governor keeps on claiming sincerity and honesty. We all know how public funds are wasted on baseless billboards and branded kiosks stationed at strategic locations for deceit that may change nothing in 2019”, Amos Artimas queried.
Adamu Zakari, a Bauchi based chieftain of a political group, Zauren Baba Yerima, said “Bauchi state real indigenes should start fasting to seek the intervention of almighty Allah to get rid of Muhammed Abubakar on or before 2019. The man has overstayed his welcome in the state. He is a pretender and a political novice that is under developing the state and still bold enough to claim credit for glaring failure”.
While another trench from the London-Paris Club loan refund is on the way for the states but with fresh hurdles for governors that misapplied or diverted the first allocations, it remains to be seen if Bauchi under Mr. Abubakar can fulfill FG’s conditions for accessing the second payment and if it eventually does, what the money will be used for this time around.
Part of the new conditions before accessing the second tranche is for the governors to account for the first tranche of the loan refunded in line with the agreement reached with the Nigeria Governors Forum.
States implicated in the mismanagement of the first tranche may not access the second tranche as some of the state governors of which Bauchi may be among are under investigation by the EFCC for allegedly diverting the first tranche of the refund.
EFCC source told DESERT HERALD weekly that seven governors are involved in the scandal that engaged some fraudulent consultants to share and misapply the refund.
Another source revealed that the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, is another conduit pipe where public funds are cleverly shared as the Board is yet to be sanitized from corruption of the past.
The source lamented that in “Bauchi SUBEB, there is no e-payment like in other agencies and parastatals. Contracts are awarded without due process while the financial records of the Board are in shambles. The contract awarded with 2014/2015 counterpart funding was mostly awarded to the governor’s family, friends, aides and some few to political thugs to buy their support to the government. The governor dictates what to be done in SUBEB. The chairman is a figure head that behaves like a typical village headmaster”.
The governor’s most powerful and trusted appointees, SSG Shehu Bello Illelah and the Chief of Staff, Arch Audu Sule Katagum, DESERT HERALD can reveal, have turned out to be a huge political liability to the governor instead of an asset. They care more in building themselves and secretly pursuing their ambitions instead of committing themselves to reducing the pressure and demands for patronage on Governor Abubakar. The Chief of Staff, Katagum for instance, has been busy using his office to build a political empire and to plan ahead of 2019. Katagum is reportedly nursing a senatorial ambition and as such embarked on unprecedented nepotism in the sensitive office he is holding. Any issue or file related to an indigene of Katagum or the senatorial zone is being given special preference while such requests by others even if it covers the political interest of the governor are either being frustrated or denied out rightly. The CoS, Sule Katagum, for example, has ignored all those that stood by his boss during the 2015 election and appointed his blood brother, one Yaya, as his Personal Assistant (PA) while the SSG, Illelah who was accused of using his office and reportedly benefitted from many controversial contracts considers all Bauchi citizens including politicians that laboured for his boss incapable and instead and shamelessly too appointed his own biological son as his PA. Pundits said if Governor Abubakar is really serious he must address such glaring insensitivity and greed by his close aides.
Investigation conducted by DESERT HERALD reveals that there is no state in Nigeria where political appointees appoint their own blood as aides or a state where the wife of the governor or his friend constitute into nuisance and decides or influence what the governor will do except Bauchi state under Mr. Abubakar.
While the people of Bauchi State are abandoned to their fate and licking their ‘wounds’ under the firm grip of a democratically elected governor but whom many referred to as a political dictator because of the governor’s intolerance to dissenting views and opinions and the use of what an insider said “compromised security agents that behave like zombies and can murder even a prophet on expectation of settlement, the governor loves more of globetrotting than attending to urgent needs, a situation that forced one Ahmed Yerima, an honorable member representing Misau/Dambam federal constituency in the National Assembly, to describe him as a political liability on Bauchi state lacking leadership values”.
Mr. Abubakar is now back to Bauchi after almost three weeks in absentee. It is not a coincidence that he came back when the monthly federal statutory allocation has been received. Keen observers awaits how many days will the governor spend in his state before he may decide another journey while others insinuate that as soon as instructions is given on how to spend FG’s allocation to the state and it’s 20 impoverished LGAs and the number of ‘payments’ to be considered, the governor will certainly have a date outside the state as usual.
The second part of this report promises to be an interesting reading.