By Matthew Kuju
It is the popular view that the legislature occupies the epicentre of modern democratic system for two major reasons, namely: it houses the largest number of elected representatives and secondly, it is the engine room of modern governance as it performs the traditional four-fold tasks of representation, lawmaking, oversight function and constituency services.
The demands of modern governance entail that legislative assemblies must sift through several competing expectations and act in the overall public interest.
In order to actualize these expectations, legislative assemblies have evolved the committee system to fast-track their operations. Nigeria’s National Assembly and Legislatures in the various States have been performing their core mandates through the instrumentality of committees.
The Nasarawa State House of Assembly is no exception. It has several standing committees which, no doubt, have greatly aided in the overall success of the State Legislature.
One such standing committee in the current (7th) Assembly of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly that has attracted the attention and interest of members of the public in recent time is the Committee on Education, Science and Technology.
Members of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly (NSHA) Committee on Education, Science and Technology are as follows-
(1) Hon Daniel Ogah Ogazi – Chairman
(2) Hon Mohammed Muluku – Vice Chairman
(3) Hon Danladi Jatau – Member
(4) Hon Iliya Luka Zhekaba – Member
(5) Hon Dr Ibrahim Akwe – Member
(6) Hon Mohammed Adamu Omadefu- member
(7) Hon Mohammed Alkali- Member
(8) Mr Benjamin .M. Affi- Secretary
Let’s briefly recapitulate the inspection tour embarked upon by the committee, which stumbled on some ugly finding.
Recap Of The Committee Tours
The Committee on Education, Science and Technology embarked on tour to inspect facilities or Projects executed or being executed by the Nasarawa State Universal Basic Education Board (NSUBEB).
The Committee was able to reach the three Senatorial Districts of the State. At each school visited, the Committee made its position known about the state of facilities. They were as liberal in their commendation as they were unsparing in their condemnation where necessary.
Without mincing words, in virtually every station or school visited, the Nasarawa Assembly commenced inspection of by warning.
The Committee started with the Southern Senatorial District of the State, during which the Committee Chairman, Hon Daniel Ogah Ogazi, warned contractors handling the construction and renovation of primary schools project across the state against substandard work.
Oga Ogazi said that the committee would not leave any stone unturned towards improving on the standard of education in the State.
He frowned at a contractor who he said used dead stones in construction of a School project and another contractor who did not renovate the building but just went ahead to paint a school structure, stressing that he was not impressed with that.
Oga Ogazi equally lamented how a principal of one Secondary school in the state was operating a private school at the structure of Pilot Science Primary School, Agyaragu as well as another person also was operating a private school at the structure of LGEA Primary School, Doma North.
He noted that the situation in which private school activities were being carried out within public school using the school structure was totally unacceptable and would be investigated.
“We are here on an on-the-spot assessment of the new constructions and renovations of classrooms across the State awarded by the SUBEB office.”
According to him, “the visit is not to witch hunt anybody but to ensure that standard works are done in the interest of our children and for the overall development of the education sector.
“We will not fail to sanction any contractor that engages in shoddy job to serve as deterrent to others,” he said.
Oga Ogazi however lauded the contractor handling the construction of three class rooms at LGEA Primary School, Doma for a job he described as well done. However, he observed with dismay a situation where RCM Primary School, Doma has 14 blocks of classrooms but another new contract was still awarded for the school instead of moving it to another school that lacks structure.
The Committee Chairman advised the management of Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to ensure effective supervision of school projects in order to ensure that quality works are done.
Some of the schools visited include Pilot Science Primary School, Agyaragu, LGEA Primary School Ichaswa, Church Missionary Society (CMS) Primary School, Agyaragu, RCM Primary School Agyaragu, Kayada Primary School, Lafia, LGEA Primary School Doma West, Andoma Primary School, Doma, RCM Primary School, Doma, Doma North Primary School, Doma and LGEA Primary School Doma North.
Move To Project Sites Or Be Sanctioned, Nasarawa Assembly Tells Contractors
In course of the tour, the Committee on Education, Science and Technology, advised contractors awarded the contract for the construction and renovation of primary schools project across the state under SUBEB to move to their respective project sites or be sanctioned.
Mr Daniel Oga Ogazi, the Chairman of the committee gave the advice when he led other members of the committee on an assessment visit to ongoing construction and renovation of primary schools in Obi Local Government Area of the state.
Oga Ogazi, said that the committee was out to see things for themselves with the view of correcting any abnormality if discovered.
“The visit is not to witch hunt any contractor but to ensure that the right things are done by contractors handling primary schools projects across the state.
“We are commending those contractors that have completed their works and maintained standard.
“To those who have started and have not maintained standard, we are advising them to go back to their various project sites and do the needful. And to those contractors that are yet to start their work, they are to move to their project sites or be sanctioned according to contract laws,” he said.
Ogazi also advised head teachers to supervise work in their schools as well as to report any contractor who failed to do quality job to the committee for necessary action.
He said that the committee would continue to intensify efforts toward ensuring effective supervision of schools projects across the state.
The schools visited include: Agwade west Primary school, RCM Pilot Science Primary School, Daddare, LGEA Primary School, Daddare South, LGEA Primary School, Odobu, Obi Pilot Central Primary School, Demonstration Nursery and Primary School Doma Obi, LGEA Obi South Primary School, Islamiya Primary School, Obi, LGEA Primary School, Obi East, RCM Primary School, Agwatashi, SUM Primary School, Agwatashi.
… Calls For Revocation Of School Project In Keana
The Committee directed the state Universal Basic Education Board to revoke 2017 contract awarded for the abandoned construction of four classrooms at Central Pilot Science School, Keana.
Hon. Daniel Ogah Ogazi, the Chairman of the Committee gave the directive when he led other members of the Committee in continuation of inspection tour of SUBEB schools project in Keana.
Ogah Ogazi, who frowned at the situation where 2017 school project is abandoned called on the management of SUBEB to as a matter of urgency revoke the contract. “They should also do the needful in seeing to the completion of the project in accordance with contract laws,” he said.
He called on relevant authorities to urgently address land encroachment in Central Pilot Science School Keana among other schools.
The chairman also expressed concern on how some contracts have been over valued while others have been undervalued while calling on SUBEB to look into the issue to avoid sub standard projects execution.
He observed that some of the contractors are yet to commence their works and advised them to resume immediately or risk revocation.
Ogazi advised head teachers and community leaders to supervise construction works in their domains to ensure that quality work is done even as he advised contractors to adhere strictly to their contract specifications by ensuring that standard works are done for durability.
The Chairman lamented a situation where an individual is using the structure of Obene Primary school, a government owned school in Keana for his own private school adding that such a situation is not acceptable.
“We will invite the Education Secretary of Keana Local Government to explain why private school is taking place at public school.
“We have seen similar cases in some of the places we visited and all accusing fingers are on education secretaries,” he said.
Ogazi also condemned the renovation work at Obene Primary School where the contractor used sub standard materials.
The schools visited in Keana LG include LGEA Primary school Agaza, Central Pilot Science School, Aloshi, Central Pilot Science Primary School Keana, LGEA Primary School Keana South, Obene LGEA Primary School, Keana, Giza Central Pilot Primary School, Gidan Sule Primary School, RCM Primary School Kadarko and LGEA Primary School, Kadarko North.
…Tasks Contractors On Contract Specifications
When the Education Committee went to Awe Local Government Area, it urged contractors handling the construction and renovation of primary schools projects across the state to adhere strictly to their contract specifications in order to ensure that quality works are done.
Ogazi said that the committee would not fold its hands to watch contractors sabotaging the government’s huge investment in the education sector.
The chairman ordered the contractor renovating four classrooms at Central Pilot Primary School, Tunga to replace the doors fixed which he said were below specifications.
He also advised communities to take ownership of school projects in their domains so as to ensure its durability.
“We are here to inspect the ongoing constructions and renovations of classrooms in Awe Local Government Area.
“This is to ensure that quality works are done in order to ensure their durability.
“We are also out to correct any abnormalities if discovered in the interest of our children and for the overall development of the education sector,” he said.
Ogazi said that the committee would invite the Education Secretary, Awe Local Government to explain why a structure of LGEA Pilot Science Primary School Kekura, Awe Local Government Area was being used as private school.
“So we will invite the Education Secretary and the teacher to explain to us on their actions,” he said.
The schools visited include: Central Primary School Adudu, LGEA Primary School, Kanje, LGEA Primary School, Mahanga, Central Pilot Primary School, Awe, LGEA Primary School, Awe South, LGEA Pilot Science Primary School, Kekura, Awe, LGEA Primary School Baure Awe, Central Pilot Primary School, Tunga and Pilot Science Primary School, Tsohon Tunga.
… Expresses Concern Over Non Commencement Of Work By Some Contractors
The Assembly committee on Education threatened to direct the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to revoke some school contracts in Azara Development Area over non commencement of work at project sites.
Hon Daniel Ogah Ogazi, the Chairman of the Committee issued the threat when he led other members of the Committee in continuation of inspection tour of SUBEB schools projects in Azara Dev Area on Wednesday.
Oga Ogazi urged the contractors handling the renovation of five classrooms at LGEA Primary School, Azara East and the renovation of two classrooms at LGEA Primary School Ibi to resume at their project sites on or before Monday March 9th or risk revocation.
He said that the committee was out to see things for themselves with the view of correcting any abnormalities if discovered.
The Chairman commended the contractor handling the renovation of four classrooms at Science Pilot Central Primary School, Azara for job well done.
“We are here as part of our constitutional duties to oversight the ongoing constructions and renovations of primary school projects.
“We want to ensure that standard works are done; anything short of quality works will not be accepted.
“It is in view of this that we are calling on contractors who are yet to resume to their projects sites to do so or risks revocation of their projects.
“We are giving the contractors in charge of the renovations of three and two classrooms respectively at LGEA Primary School Azara East to resume to their projects sites or risk revocation.
“We are also urging the contractor handling the renovation of two classrooms at LGEA Primary School, Ibi-Azara to also resume site and start working or risk revocation.
“We are giving all the contractors from now to Monday, March 9 to resume to their project sites or we have no option than to direct SUBEB to revoke the contract and award it to more competent contractors,” he said.
Oga Ogazi urged head teachers and community leaders to take ownership of projects in their domains in order to ensure that standard works are done.
He also called on the management of SUBEB to intensify efforts in supervising school projects to ensure that quality works are done in the interest of the education sector.
“The construction of a storey building made up of eight classrooms at LGEA primary School, Azara East was poorly done, especially the finishing on the floor and the ceiling is leaking.
“It is in view of this that we are calling on SUBEB to intensify efforts in ensuring effective supervision of projects” he said.
The schools visited include LGEA Primary School, Ibi, Science Pilot Central Primary School, Azara and LGEA Primary School Azara.
… Directs Private Schools, Religion Faiths To Vacate Public Schools
The Nasarawa State House of Assembly has urged the Education Secretaries (ES) of all the State Local Government Councils to direct management of private schools and religion faiths operating in public schools across the state to vacate or appropriate action would be taken against them.
Hon Daniel Ogah Ogazi, the Chairman of the Committee gave the directive on Thursday in Lafia after the committee held a meeting with the ES of Lafia, Doma, Keana and Awe Local Government councils.
Ogah Ogazi, said that operating a private school at public facilities is detrimental and would affect the education of the public school pupils negatively.
He emphasized that the meeting was necessitated as a result of the committee’s discoveries made during its inspection tour of the ongoing construction and renovation of primary school projects where some private schools are operating in public schools.
The chairman urged the education secretaries to be alive to their responsibilities in order to improve on the standard of education in the State.
“What we are doing is to ensure that we sanitised primary school as it is the foundation of every education.
“From our meeting with the ES, we deducted that some of the Education Secretaries are not living up to their responsibilities.
“Because of that, some of them do even know or aware of the existence of private schools in their domains.
“Some of the ES are incapacitated and do not have the love and passion of teaching profession if not they will be up and doing in supervising schools in their domains,” he said.
Ogah Ogazi commended the Education Secretary of Doma Local Government, Alhaji Aliyu Usman for taking proactive step in ensuring that private schools and religious faiths vacated public facilities in the area.
He then scheduled a meeting with the Chairman and Secretary, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) on Monday, March 9th with the committee in order to nib the matter in the bud in the interest of the education sector.
The Chairman re- assured the people of the State of the committee’s readiness to give the education sector the topmost priority it deserves considering the importance of education to societal development.
During the visit, the Committee discovered the primary schools where private schools were using their structures to include: LSB Primary School, Angwan Yakubu, Agyaragu, LGEA Pilot Science Primary School, Kekura, LGEA Primary School, Dadin Kowa-Doma, LGEA Primary School Obene- Keana and Central Pilot Science Primary School, Keana where IDPs took over some classrooms.
…To investigate 2017 abandoned school projects in Nasarawa
When the Committee went on the inspection tour of schools in Agidi Development Area on Wednesday March 11, 2020, they had more than they anticipated, so it seemed.
The Committee discovered seven classrooms school projects in Government Secondary School Mada Station, Nasarawa Eggon Local Government Area of the state, which renovation work was abandoned.
Moved by what they saw, the Chairman of Committee on Education vowed to investigate the abandoned project.
Ogazi said that a situation where classrooms had their roofs removed or blown off without replacement, thereby leaving students studying under trees, was not acceptable.
Miffed by what the Committee saw, the Chairman did give a hint as to what would happen with regard to the state of structures at GSS Mada Station.
He said: “As part of our oversight functions, we branched at GSS Mada Station and we discovered that many classroom projects awarded in 2017 by the Ministry of Education have their roofs brought down without replacement of those zinc and proper renovations, leaving students studying under trees. It is not acceptable.
“We will investigate what happened that the work is not completed,” he gave his word.
Hon Ogazi however commended the contractor handling the renovation of two classrooms in LEA Primary School, Angbashuru Oden, for a job he described as well done.
He also urged those operating a private school in LEA Primary School, Arikpa Mission, to vacate the school on or before March 13, or face the committee’s action.
For the umpteenth time, the chairman said the committee would call to order all contractors who failed to adhere strictly to project specifications.
“The renovation of three classrooms at Pilot Science Primary School, Nassarawa Eggon is a misplaced priority because the contractor is supposed to renovate a block of three classrooms in the school that needed urgent attention.
“But the contractor went to paint a structure that was strong and this is misplaced priority,” he observed.
The chairman condemned the roofing work at Primary School Mada Station and called on SUBEB to do something about it.
Ogazi also revealed that the committee would investigate situations where some blocks of classrooms were constructed in schools without contract works having been awarded to those schools.
He reiterated his call when he urged community leaders and youths to take ownership of projects in their domains to ensure that quality jobs are delivered by contractors.
The chairman restated the commitment of the committee in supervising school projects across the State in the interest of the education sector and for the overall development of the State.
Schools inspected include RCM Primary School, Mada Station; LEA Primary School Angbashuru Oden; CMS Primary School, Mada Station; LEA Primary School, Ezzen; LEA Primary School, Arikpa Randa; LEA Primary School, Arikpa Mission, and LEA Primary School, Agunji. Others are LEA Primary School, Alogani Central; Islamiya Primary School, Nasarawa Eggon; RCM Primary School, Nasarawa Eggon; Pilot Science Primary School, Nasarawa Eggon, and LEA Primary School, Alizaga.
…Lauds Gov. Sule Over Massive Constructions, Renovations Of Schools
The Committee on Education, Science and Technology, in the course of its assignment lauded Gov Abdullahi Sule’s administration for what they described as the massive constructions and renovations of primary schools across the 13 Local Governments and 16 Development Areas of the State.
Mr Daniel Ogah Ogazi, the Chairman of the Committee gave the commendation when he led other members of the Committee in continuation of inspection tour of SUBEB schools projects in Nassarawa Eggon and Akwanga Local Government Areas on Thursday.
He said that the committee was happy seeing schools wearing new look which would in turn engender an enabling environment for learning and teaching.
He added that with the ongoing construction and renovation of schools, teachers and parents have no reason of complaining on the nature of school structures in the State.
The chairman said that the committee was out to see things for themselves with the view to correcting any abnormality if discovered.
Ogazi however lamented on how the contractor handling the renovation of four classrooms at Akwanga South Primary school failed to commence work in the school.
“I am calling on the contractor in charge of the construction of classrooms at Akwanga South Primary School to resume work tomorrow or we will take action against him.
“We are here as part of our constitutional duties to oversight the ongoing constructions and renovations of primary school projects.
“We want to ensure that standard work is done. That is why we are moving across schools in the State,” he said.
The Chairman, who also interacted with teachers during the inspection, urged teachers to be committed and dedicated to their duties in order to complement the State Government’s huge investment in the education sector.
He urged community leaders to take ownership of projects in their domains to ensure that quality work was done.
The schools visited include LGEA Primary School, Gidan Waya, LGEA Primary School, Angwan Chiyawa, LGEA Primary School, Gako, LGEA Primary School, Wowyen, Pilot Science Primary School, Endehu, LGEA Primary School, Wulko, and LGEA Primary School, Ubbe.
Others were: SUM Primary School, Alushi and LGEA Primary School, Angwan Rimi, all in Nassarawa Eggon Local Government Area.
Others are Akwanga South Primary School, LGEA Primary School, Aricha, RCM Primary School Gudi, CMS Primary School, Gudi, and RCM Primary School, Angwan Zaria.
Also inspected were: LGEA Primary School, Awon, LGEA Primary School, Akwanga North and Central Primary School, Akwanga, all in Akwanga Local Government Area of the state.
… Summons SSG, Education Commissioner
The Committee Chairman made good his promise to take further steps concerning the situation in GSS Mada Station by presenting the matter on the floor of the Assembly.
Hon Daniel Ogazi, the Chairman, House Committee on Education raised the issue under the matter of public interest during the House proceedings in Lafia Monday (March 16, 2020).
Consequently, the Assembly summoned a former Commissioner of Education and now, the Secretary to the Government of Nasarawa State (SSG), Alhaji Aliyu Ahmed Tijani to appear before the House on March 17 by 10am to explain why renovation work at Government Secondary School, Mada Station was abandoned.
The House also summoned the present Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Hajiya Fati Sabo to appear before the House.
Reacting, Rt. Hon Ibrahim Balarabe-Abdullahi, the Speaker of the House summoned the two government officials, saying it was sad and unfortunate that the school project started in 2018 as presented before the House was not completed.
“I want to commend the mover of this motion and other members for your positive contributions on this very important matter.
“It is very sad and unfortunate that those who are saddled with the responsibilities of ensuring that right things are done are abusing their responsibilities.
“I want to commend the education committee for being up and doing as I have been following your activities towards ensuring that the right things are done in the education sector.
“It is a rise up call to other committees to intensify their efforts in oversight to know what is happening in the health sector, Agriculture, Works, Water Resources among others,” he said
Earlier, Ogazi, while presenting the matter, said that the State Government had approved N1billion in 2018 for the renovation of schools across the State.
“It is sympathetic and unfortunate that classrooms in Government Secondary School, Mada Station have their roofs brought down without replacement living students studying under trees.
“We discovered this during our oversight functions to Agidi Development Area in Nassarawa Eggon Local Government Area of the State.
“In the school, many classroom projects awarded in 2018 by the Ministry of Education have their roofs brought down without replacement of those zinc and proper renovations, thereby leaving students studying under trees while some of buildings have been pulled down by the rain.
“I am calling on you Honourable members to support my motion so that the former Commissioner of Education, who is now the SSG, Alhaji Aliyu Ahmed Tijani and the present Education Commissioner to appear before this House to explain why renovation work at the school has stopped,” he argued.
Hon Danladi Jatau (PDP- Kokona West), Minority Leader of the House seconded the motion, adding that something needed to be done to nib the matter in the bud. He described the situation as unfortunate while appealing to his colleagues to allow the present SSG and Commissioner for education to appear before the House on the matter.
The House unanimously agreed to summon the two.
…Sets Up Ad hoc Committee To Investigate N1b School Projects
As requested, the two Nasarawa State Government officials, namely: Secretary to the state Government. (SSG), Alhaji Aliyu Ahmed Tijani and the Commissioner for Education, Hajiya Fati Sabo appeared before the Nasarawa State House of Assembly on Tuesday March 17, 2020.
Explaining their appearance, the Speaker of the Assembly said that their appearances were to explain their roles on the utilization of the fund on renovation of secondary schools across the state which most of the projects were abandoned.
According to him, the invitation of the SSG and the Commissioner was not to witch hunt them but to ensure that the right thing is done for the purpose of accountability and good governance.
While responding to questions put across to him, the SSG admitted that N1 billion was released in November 2018 by the State Government to the Ministry of Education for school renovation purposes.
“Yes, the renovation work is ongoing as the contract was given in 2018 when I was Commissioner for Education,” he said.
On her part, the Commissioner for Education, Hajiya Fati Sabo also revealed that N84million was given to the Ministry when she assumed office in 2019 to pay contractors for the same projects.
It was after their appearance that the House of Assembly resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the N1billion secondary schools renovation contract awarded in 2018 by the state Ministry of Education.
The Speaker said: “After listening to the SSG, who was a former Commissioner for Education when the contract was awarded in 2018 without completion up till this moment.
“It is in view of this that we are setting up an ad hoc committee to investigate the projects in the interest of our children and overall development of the state.
“The committee include the Chairman and members of the House Committee on Education, Chairmen of House Committees on Finance, Public Account and Works respectively.
“I urge the committee to do a thorough job as it is sad and unfortunate that our children in some secondary schools are learning under the trees,” he said.
It would be recalled that on March 16th the House has summoned a former Commissioner of Education and now, the Secretary to the Government of Nasarawa State (SSG), Alhaji Aliyu Ahmed Tijani and Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Hajiya Fati Sabo over school abandoned projects awarded in 2018.
… Summons Adefo ventures, SUBEB, Threatens Disciplinary Action Against 20 Teachers For Absenteeism
The Committee on Education also summoned Adefo Ventures, the contractor handling most of the school projects across the State to appear before the committee on Monday, March 23rd, 2020 by 10am over what it considered as sub standard jobs.
The House also invited the management of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to appear alongside the contractor to give some clarifications on why Adefo Ventures’ work in remote areas were sub standard compared to those in urban centres.
Hon Daniel Ogah Ogazi, the Chairman of the Committee gave the directive on Thursday (March 19, 2020) when he led other members of the committee in continuation of the committee’s inspection tour of School projects in Akwanga and Wamba Local Government Areas of the State respectively.
The committee said it equally identified some contractors that their jobs are sub standard and will submit their list to SUBEB to bring them for clarifications before the committee.
Ogazi has also summoned 20 teachers of Government Junior Secondary School, Kurmin Tagwaye, Akwanga Local Government Area of Nasarawa State to appear before the committee on Monday, March 23rd, 2020 by 10am over their absence at their duties posts.
Ogazi said that the committee would take appropriate action against the 20 teachers who were not at their duty post on Thursday, March 19 to serve as deterrent to others.
According to him, “this school has 43 teachers based on what the principal told us, only 20 teachers are present, three took excuse and we did not see the remaining 20 teachers as they are absent.
“The teachers will appear on Monday to explain to us why they are not at their duty posts today when we visited the school,” he said.
Ogazi urged teachers to be committed to their duties in order to complement the State Government’s huge investment in the education sector.
He commended the head teacher and teachers of Islamic Primary School, Akwanga for being committed to their duties and called for its sustenance.
The Chairman directed the Best Folks Institute of Science and Technology, Wamba, a private school operating on the structure of Islamiya Primary School, Wamba to vacate the school on or before March 20, 2020 or face sanction.
Ogazi further said, “We have observed that some contractors has adhered strictly to their projects specifications while others did not.
“It is in view of this that we are directing all contractors handling school projects across the state to complete their works in the next two weeks or face revocation.
“We are also inviting the management of SUBEB to appear on Monday, March 23rd alongside with some contractors who failed to adhere to their project specifications,” he said.
Ogazi, commended Gov. Abdullahi Sule for the massive constructions and renovations of schools across the state.
He has assured of the committee’s continued readiness to move round the ongoing projects in order to ensure that quality works are delivered by contractors.
He urged community leaders to take ownership of projects works in their domains to ensure that right things are done by contractors.
“We are also calling on community leaders to take ownership of projects in their domains to ensure that contractors adhere to their projects specifications, ‘ he said
Projects inspected include LGEA Primary School, Ningo, LGEA Primary School, Nunku, LGEA Primary School, Mada Hills, Islamic primary School, Akwanga, LGEA Primary School, Kurmin Tagwaye,, LGEA Primary School, Buku, all in Akwanga Local Government Area of the state.
Others are LGEA Primary School, Gbata, LGEA Primary School , Wamba Kurmin, Islamiya Primary School, Wamba, CMS Primary School, Wamba, LGEA Primary School, Wamba, RCM Primary School, Wamba, Nuru Islam Primary School, Wamba, LGEA Primary School, Gwagi Wamba, Kango Sudan Primary School, Wamba, LGEA Primary School, Mararaba Gongon, LGEA Primary School, Sisin Baki, SUM Science Pilot School Chessu, LGEA Primary School, Arum Kado, LGEA Primary School, Arum Tumara, LGEA Primary School, Turkwan, LGEA Primary School, Turkwan Mission and LGEA Primary School, Yashi Sarki, all from Wamba Local Government Area of the State.
… Speaker Tasks Committee Against Compromise
The Ad hoc committee set up to investigate the then Commissioner for Education and now Secretary to the Government of the State (SSG), Alhaji Aliyu Ahmed Tijani was inaugurated and immediately commenced sitting on Monday (March 23, 2020) in Lafia over allegation of abandoned N1billion Secondary schools projects across the state awarded in 2018.
During the inaugural sitting, the Speaker, Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Rt .Hon Ibrahim Balarabe Abdullahi, urged the Committee members to do a thorough job.
The Speaker reiterated that the setting up of the committee was not to witch hunt anybody but to ensure that the House get to the root of the matter in question and to salvage the education sector.
According to the Speaker, the House will not be deterred by all intimidations, mischief, insults, noise making in newspapers and social media sponsored by some people.
“If you have been alleged, you have the opportunity to come and clear yourself as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria mandated us to do investigation.
“This sitting is as a result of oversight function carried out by the House Committee on Education, Science and Technology as the matter was brought under the matter of public importance by Hon Daniel Ogazi, the Chairman of the committee.
“And all members have discussed and unanimously agreed for the constitution of this committee over the SSG inability to give satisfactory explanation on the utilisation of the fund.
“As the committee on Education discovered that the N1 billion released for the renovations of school projects, some of the jobs were not done and our children are learning under the trees and this is a very sad and unfortunate.
“We have obligation to the State Government; we have obligation to the people of the State for good governance and to our children and generation yet unborn” the Speaking while inaugurating the committee, Speaker Ibrahim Balarabe Abdullahi said the Assembly is determined to dig deep into the diversion of N1billion meant for the renovation of secondary schools across the state.
He said: “On March 17, we invited the SSG and he gave an unsatisfactory explanation. When he appeared here, he accepted that N1billion was released to him in November 2018 when he was Commissioner for Education.
“But the Committee on Education had during their oversight functions discovered that most of the jobs were not done, making our children to sit under the trees and inside the scorching sun to receive lessons.
“This calls for public concern. We are resolute that we must get to the root of the matter. Since this investigation started, we have been receiving threat text messages of mischief, harassment and insults, but it can’t stop the investigation.
“People are calling us names such as taxi drivers, keke drivers, but we are not bothered, we have an obligation to serve this state and ensure good governance.
“If you have been accused of committing any wrong, it is for you to come and clear your name, rather than resorting to insult on the social media, asking your thugs to attack members. We must get to the root of the matter.”
The Speaker urged the committee not to be afraid of any intimidation, but should be focused by doing a good job, digging deep into how the money was diverted without work being done.
Balarabe Abdullahi expressed confidence on the members of the committee to carry out the investigation thoroughly and with the fear of God.
Earlier, Hon. Daniel Ogazi, the Chairman of the committee urged the Commissioner and her team to give the committee the necessary support and information in order to ensure the success of the investigation.
“We need your support and cooperation to enable the committee come out with positive result.
“We are doing this to save the education sector and to protect the future of our students as well as to ensure justice in the utilisation of the state government resources,” he said
The Chairman assured of the committee’s readiness to do a thorough investigation on the matter to serve as deterrent to others.
On her part, the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology Hajiya Fati Sabo while answering questions said that she did not get the brief of the projects when she assumed office in Nov.1, 2019.
She said that N84million was released in tranches to the Ministry to pay for completed works.
The Commissioner told the investigative committee that the said N1billion was released to the Ministry and expended before she came and her handover note did not capture the release and expenditure of the money.
She said that she became aware of the projects when N50million was released to the ministry to pay contractors, who had completed their work.
“I tried to find out from the Director, Research and Statistics in the Ministry of Works to constitute a verifiable team to ascertain whether the projects were executed before I authorised payment.
“That was when I knew about the N1billion, the total sum of the whole contract was N1.4billion for 209 projects in 69 schools” Sabo said
I Paid Him Cash, Former DFA Discloses
Also, while appearing before the Ad Hoc Committee, the former Director of Finance and Administration (DFA) in Nasarawa State Ministry of Finance, Mr. Abdul N Abdul, averred that the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Ahmed Aliyu Tijjani, compelled him to deliver N1billion cash to him and not through e-payment.
Abdul said that his attempt to advise the SSG, who was then the Commissioner for Education, against moving government money to that tune in cash, was rebutted by him, and that he delivered the money to him under duress.
I Will Accept The Outcome Of Assembly’s Report, Says SSG
The former Commissioner for Education and now the Secretary to the Government of Nassrawa State (SSG), Alhaji Aliyu Tijani Ahmed, has accepted to take full responsibility of the outcome of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly report investigating N1billion abandoned Secondary schools projects awarded in 2018 in the state.
The SSG stated this on Tuesday (March 24, 2020) in Lafia when he appeared before the House Ad hoc committee to defend the usage of the fund when he was a Commissioner for Education.
He said that the money spent for the renovation of the projects was commensurate with the work done.
Aliyu Ahmed Tijani explained that the N1billion given to him in 2018 to renovate 209 secondary schools was judiciously used, avowing that N1billion was given to him to renovate secondary schools across the state and to the best of his understanding, the money was judiciously used.
He said work is still ongoing for the contracts he awarded in November 2018 for the renovation of schools, adding that some are 20 per cent completed, while others are 70 per cent completed. Tijani assured the committee that he would take responsibility for his actions if the committee discovered otherwise.
“I will take full responsibility of the outcome of the investigation.
“As the money expended in the execution of the projects was in commensuration of the work done,” the SSG said.
Earlier, Hon Daniel Ogazi, the Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee said that the committee was mandated by the House to get to the root of the matter on the utilisation of the N1billion school projects across the state to serve as deterrent to others.
According to him, the SSG agreed and accepted before this committee that he was ready to take full responsibility of the outcome of the committee report.
Ogazi further revealed that the committee during its first sitting on March 23rd gathered all the necessary information and documents from the Ministry and will study them to come out with effective, truth and comprehensive report on the matter.
“We as committee will submit our report to the House on Tuesday, March 31st for further necessary action by the Assembly on this matter,” he said.
“We are doing this in the interest of the education sector as we discovered these abnormalities on these abandoned projects when we went on our oversight functions”
“We don’t care who did the job but our concern is to ensure that the over N1billlion Secondary school projects are done perfectly in order to salvage the education sector, ” he said.
The chairman said that the House would continue to use its constitutional power to ensure that right things are done for the overall development of the State.
… Tasks SUBEB On Effective Projects Monitoring
Still on Tuesday March 24, 2020, in Lafia, the Nasarawa State House of Assembly Committee on Education met with and urged the management of the state Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to intensify efforts in ensuring effective supervision of ongoing renovation of Primary Schools Projects across the state.
This, the committee said was to ensure that contractors adhered strictly to their projects specifications.
Hon Daniel Ogazi, the Chairman of the Committee gave the tasks when the management of SUBEB and some contractors appeared before the committee in Lafia.
Ogazi said that effective supervision of projects by SUBEB would not only ensure that quality works are done but would also ensure that justice is done in the utilisation of the state government’s resources.
He said that the committee decided to invite the SUBEB and some of the contractors handling the ongoing schools project due to some defects the committee discovered on some projects when it went on oversight functions.
“We have decided to summon you due to some defects in some of the ongoing renovations of primary projects discovered when we went on our oversight functions.
“Our aim is to ensure that the right things are done in order to create an enabling environment for learning and teaching.
“Some of the contractors have failed to adhere strictly to their projects specifications as some of the work was poorly work.
“It is in view of this that we are calling on the management of SUBEB to ensure effective supervision of the ongoing projects to ensure that quality jobs are done in the interest of the education sector and for the overall development of the country,” he said.
Ogazi then directed contractors who appeared before the committee to go and correct defects discovered in their works or risk sanctioning.
He also directed contractors who were yet to start their work to resume to their project sites latest Thursday, March 26 or risk revocation.
Earlier, Alhaji Mohammed Dan’Azumi, the Executive Chairman of SUBEB assured the committee of the board’s readiness to ensure effective supervision of the ongoing projects for the overall development of the state.
He has commended the House committee for being up and doing in inspecting schools projects across the state.
Reactions By The Public
There have however been conflicting concerns expressed by some members of the public over the Committee’s assignment.
While some commend the effort of the committee and the State Assembly for embarking on the oversight tour of school projects, some people however have a contrary view.
For instance a former member of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Kasim Mohammed Kasim, and a group, United Youths for Progress of Nasarawa State on Monday (March 23, 2020) descended on the state House of Assembly for probing a scam of N1 billion allegedly committed by the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Ahmed Aliyu Tijani.
The former lawmaker stated that the action of the lawmakers was driven by greed for self-enrichment through coercion and blackmail.
Kasim, who had represented Akwanga South state constituency, said this at a press briefing in Lafia, adding that the action of the House was targeted at causing a stir between Governor Abdullahi Sule and his predecessor, Senator Tanko Al-Maura, so that they can benefit from the spoils.
He said, “The assembly is consumed by greed and we will not allow them trade our state off for their pockets.
“It is rather unfortunate that those causing the crisis are all beneficiaries of Al-Makura’s legacies in the state, but are now attempting to ridicule his enduring name and legacies.”
Kasim therefore concluded by challenging the state lawmakers to publish the true position of school renovation and fencing scam for public perusal.
In a related development, a group, United Youths for Progress of Nasarawa State said those calling for Tijani’s head leave one with the conclusion that there are ulterior motives, which have so much to do with political undertones.
The group said that while it strongly advocates for probity, accountability and transparency in government and private dealings, it does not accept any action capable of undermining ethical proceedings all in a bid to drag the personality of the SSG to the mud.
The youths made their position known through their spokesman, Yahaya Abdulrahman, at a press briefing in Lafia.
Abdulrahman said: “The United Youths for Progress of Nasarawa State hereby calls on esteemed citizens of our dear state to remain focused in their poise to enthrone sanity and progress in the polity, while not dancing to the whims and caprices of individuals and groups seeking to cause unnecessary heat and disrupt the smooth success of legislative oversight by our state lawmakers.”
In the past one or two weeks, there have been statements issued by groups said to be working for the Secretary to the State Government on the matter, which drew reactions from supporters of the position of the State Assembly.
In a statement said to have been issued by one Jaafar Loko who is said to be the S A Media to the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Tijjani Ahmed Aliyu, each State Legislator is said to have been given N11Million to take care of or provide palliatives to their constituents because of the Coronavirus.
In swift reactions, some certain persons rose in defence of the State Assembly by explaining what the State Government did, saying that the Government only released funds for the purchase of official vehicles to ease the oversight functions of the State Assembly
Rising from an emergency session of the House of Assembly on Tuesday 14th April, 2020, Members of the House of Assembly ordered for the arrest of the Media Aides to the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Aliyu Tijani Ahmed for allegedly inciting the public against Members that the State Government had given money to them as palliative for their constituents over COVID-19 pandemic.
Rt. Hon Ibrahim Balarabe Abdullahi, the Speaker of the House read the House’s resolution after the Chairman, House Committee on Information, Hon Mohammed Omadefu raised the issue under the matter of public interest.
The speaker said that the arrest of the posters of what they described as fake news and hate speech in social media by security agencies for prosecution would serve as deterrent to others
He equally called on the State Government to issue a statement to clear the air on the purported fund.
Barely 24 hours after, precisely on Wednesday April 15, 2020, the Nasarawa State Government acted on the request of the State Assembly stating the Government’s position.
In a statement signed and issued by Tijani Aliyu Ahmed, Secretary to the Government of Nasarawa State, the Government statd thus:
“The attention of Nasarawa State Government has been drawn to an online publication that has gone viral in the social media such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter alleging that the State Government has given each of the 24 members of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly the sum of N11, 000, 000.00 (Eleven Million Naira) as COVID-19 palliative for either distribution or procurement of food items for their respective constituents.
“Government wishes to state that, this story is untrue, false and malicious aimed at, not only tarnishing the image of our Honourable members, but also that of His Excellency, the Governor of Nasarawa State.
“I therefore, like to urge the general public, especially the good people of Nasarawa State to, not only disregard the report, but also consider it as hand work of mischief-makers bent on bringing disaffection on the already existing cordial relationship between the Executive and the Legislative arms of Government in the State.
“However, Government wishes to acknowledge that, committee vehicles (Hilux Pick- up Vans) were procured by the State Government for the oversight functions of the members of Nasarawa State House of Assembly recently, which is in line with existing practice as provided by law and other extant regulations.
“In conclusion, Government will like to appeal to the good people of Nasarawa State to always seek and verify information on the activities and programmes of Government from the appropriate quarters as Government will not hesitate to take decisive measures against individual or groups spreading false information to the public.”
It should be reported that there are some people who have called for the suspension of the SSG from office pending the outcome of the investigation,
One of such persons is Mr Ayuba Umar, one-time Gubernatorial Aspirant on the platform of the APC who has persistently called for an elaborate probe and that Alhaji Tijjani Aliyu Ahmed be suspended from office.
In his latest call on 15th April, 2020, he said:
“The SSG is being investigated by the HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY of potentially serious CRIMINAL SIPHONING of a BILLION NAIRA EDUCATION FUND meant for the RENOVATION of SECONDARY SCHOOLS in NASARAWA STATE.
“In the midst of this MIND BOGGLING investigation, the SSG is now spearheading the DISTRIBUTION of VEHICLES and ALLEGEDLY unspecified distribution of money to the HOUSE MEMBERS…A CLEAR AGENDA TO COMPROMISE THE PROBE SET UP BY THE HOUSE.
“The DISCLAIMER, again coming from SSG, remains suspect at best and a clear abuse of good governance and transparency. He, the SSG or His Office, is I’ll qualified to issue such statement in response to the trending alleged largesse to the HOUSE MEMBERS, HAVING ITSELF CURRENTLY UNDER PROBE.
“I am therefore appealing to GOV. A.A. SULE to immediately wield the BIG STICK and SUSPEND the SSG from Office pending the conclusion of the PROBE PANEL set up by the HOUSE to look into the alleged criminal sleaze.
“I am afraid, by the current action of the SSG, he has now further tainted whatever the PROBE COMMITTEE FINDINGS will be in this regard.
“Secondly, buy his latest action of further obfuscating activities of GOVERNMENT, it is very necessary and proper for Gov. A. A. SULE to constitute an INDEPENDENT COMMISSION OF INQUIRY to unravel the true position of the one BILLION NAIRA EDUCATION FUND.
“I feel personally insulted that this kind of debased behaviour is happening without the intervention of the GOVERNMENT of GOV. A.A. SULE. We supported him, and NOW his GOVERNMENT, to serve the STATE honestly and selflessly without ever CONDONING SLEAZE in its MINUTEST SHAPE or FORM of the type under INVESTIGATION. And he must therefore never give the impression that he is friend to CORRUPTION or serving some UBIQUITOUS INTERESTS UNKNOWN TO US.
“This EDUCATION RENOVATION SAGA should have been used by GOV. A.A. SULE as SIGNATURE BENCHMARK that his GOVERNMENT means business and will never tolerate or condone CORRUPTION in any manner of form or shape by SANCTIONING the SSG via SUSPENSION until at least the CASE is completely done with and his FATE decided one way or the other.
“I therefore wish to state that the statement coming from the SSG’S OFFICE (copy shown here) is completely lacking in transparency and even against CIVIL SERVICE RULES that his position is supposed to uphold at all times.
“I therefore conclude that:
“1. The SSG is due for immediate SUSPENSION to give way for UNFETTERED INVESTIGATION for GOVERNMENT to FUNCTION effectively.
“2. That an INDEPENDENT PROBE PANEL be immediately CONSTITUTED by the GOVERNMENT to investigate the alleged FRAUD of ONE BILLION NAIRA FUNDS meant for RENOVATION of SECONDARY SCHOOLS.
“3. That a SECOND PANEL be CONSTITUTED to look into the SSG’S activities when he held sway in the MINISTRY for LOCAL GOVT. & CHIEFTAINCY AFFAIRS. Again GOV. A.A. SULE himself raised dust earlier to that effect. So this is the time to holistically look into the operations of that Ministry in the last 8 years.”
Conclusion: As Reports Are Being Awaited
With bated breath and anxiety, all eyes are now trained on the House Standing Committee on Education, Science and Technology as well as the Ad Hoc Committee set up to investigate the then Commissioner for Education and now Secretary to the Government of the State (SSG), Alhaji Aliyu Ahmed Tijani over allegations of the reportedly abandoned N1billion Secondary schools projects across the State awarded in 2018 to submit their reports to the House on their findings and recommendations.
When this Committee started its assignment, not many people thought that the assignment would yield any serious result.
To many people, the Committee was just on a tour spree to fulfil the righteousness of carrying out their oversight functions and would end just at that.
However, as the assignment progressed, there were all indications that the committee would not only bark but possibly bite.
Right from the first day of the committee’s inspection of the school projects, the committee has been spitting fire on virtually everyone involved as far as the projects are concerned.
Are they not merely playing to the gallery whose report would be swept under the carpet?
That appears to be one of the questions being asked by a cross section of members of the public.
Perhaps, one of the biggest revelations thus far by the Committee was the over One Billion Naira released in 2018 principally for the renovation of schools in the State but which work done is reportedly not commensurate with the funds released.
One other question on the lips of many people in Nasarawa State is: will the Nasarawa State House of Assembly actually go the whole hug in unravelling what actually happened with the sum of One Billion Naira reportedly released toward the end of 2018 to the Ministry of Education for the renovation of schools in Nasarawa State.
Indeed, the activities of the committee have set tongues in the State wagging, wondering what would become of the assignment at the end of the day.
People are concerned that similar assignments carried out by the Federal Legislators which came out with even more mind-blowing and startling revelations of huge resources having been pilfered by some people but which ended up in the dustbin – nothing much was done to the perpetrators. If anything, they merely received a mere slap on the wrist.
A cross section of members of the public watching the activities of the Education Committee in Nasarawa State therefore are prayerfully asking if there will be anything that will be done to those who might have soiled their fingers in the present case in Nasarawa State.
Indeed, perhaps, if it were not for the general lockdown measures being adopted by the various States of the country in response to the ravaging pandemic otherwise called Coronavirus that also forced the Nasarawa State House of Assembly to proceed on a 14-day recess at the first instance, the Committee should have submitted its report to the House.
Whatever would be the eventual recommendations of the Committee are buried in the sand of time, which in due time, should or would be made public.
Some people have, with a whimsical sense of humour, expressed concern and hope that Covid-19 will not infect the report of the Committee.