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28.02.2024 Featured Kaduna Gov’t Hasn’t Paid for One Laboratory Built in Shehu Idris College of Health Sciences in 2020 — Contractor in Serious Debt

Published 28th Feb, 2024

By Timileyin Akinmoyeje

In 2020, the Kaduna State Government, under Nasir El-Rufai, allocated about N100 million to fund four laboratory projects at the Shehu Idris College of Health Sciences and Technology, Makarfi, Kaduna State. Each laboratory got about N30.2 million for construction and furnishing exercises, save the pharmaceutical laboratory.

About eight months after Nasir El-Rufai signed the 2020 budget into law, the Kaduna State Public Procurement approved the award of N15.1 million to a Kaduna-based firm to construct a biomedical laboratory in the college.

The college management notified Managa Nigerian Ltd., the firm contracted to construct the laboratory, that its tender had been accepted by the state’s procurement agency on July 15, 2020. In the letter of notification made available to FIJ, the firm was instructed to complete the necessary documentation and mobilise to the site within one week.

Most importantly, the letter stipulated a contract completion period of 20 weeks after the contract agreement had been signed and the necessary documents had been submitted.

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About six months after the notification date, Managa Nigerian Ltd. sent a notice of completion to the college’s provost, containing the total cost it had incurred during the project. Contract execution documents made available to FIJ reveal that the firm completed the project at a cost of N12 million, about N3 million lower than the amount awarded to it in the contract notification letter.

But despite the strict compliance on the part of the firm, the Kaduna State Government has violated the terms of the contract and endangered the integrity of the firm by refusing to pay the N12.05 million spent to build the laboratory.

In January 2022, after waiting for about two years without pay, Managa Nigerian Ltd. obtained another release number for the project from the procuring agency in Kaduna State.

For context, government agencies ascribe unique release numbers to contracted firms for the sake of veracity. The release number also determines when a contractor will get paid for an executed project.

In instances where the contracting firm cannot get its money from the government within a specified period, it has to get another release number from the procuring agency and the agency that awarded the contract to it.

However, despite these repeated attempts by the firm to get its money through due process, no amount has been paid to them since the project was successfully delivered in December 2020. As of the time of this report, the firm neither had its money nor fixed audience with the current administration of the Kaduna State Government.

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IT HAS AFFECTED THE BUSINESS AND OUR FAMILY

Musa Oluyori, a person of significant control in the firm and a son of the owner, spoke to FIJ about the government’s violation of its contract, its reluctance to grant the firm an audience and the corruption in the system.

“My dad has been on this matter for four years, and I won’t allow him to just give it up. This contract was carried out by him. After the completion of the contract and approval for his money to be disbursed, it was never disbursed,” said Oluyori.

“One government employee once requested a significant amount of money from us to be granted to ensure the money got to the contractor. We declined the offer because the amount he asked for was too much.

“All our efforts to contact them to get the money to be disbursed have proven futile, even though the Attorney General of Kaduna State has been contacted. Most infuriating is that the government is not stating any reason why the money is not being disbursed.

“If it’s a violation on our side, let us know. We have done everything we were mandated by the contract to do. Please, this has impeded a lot of positive development in his company and personal life, and the situation has also extended to my immediate family.”

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The source also narrated how the deficit incurred from the project had disrupted business and operations for the firm. Beyond that, he explained how the family had suffered the direct ripple effects of the government’s inaction.

“This thing is seriously affecting the family. My dad has incurred debt for this contract. Mind you, he didn’t get any mobilisation fees. He funded the project by himself,” he said.

“He took a loan from Boabab Microfinance. The result of his inability to repay was serious. We have had to let go of our house in Kaduna to the microfinance bank

“It has affected his health in one way or another, but he doesn’t like to talk about it. So, I’ll just skip the part. As for me, my dad has been my backup source of capital for my business. The unpaid money has affected me that way.

“It has also affected my mother’s fish pond business because money did not flow into it as before. Efforts to get in touch with the former governor of Kaduna State and the present one for the matter to be looked into have also yielded no results.

“And the newly built laboratory has been in use for the past four years; the contract was completed in 2020.”

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ABSENT FROM GOVERNMENT LIABILITIES

Oluyori, in his interview with FIJ, said he had considered two possibilities for why the firm had not been paid by the Kaduna State Government.

One of the possibilities was that the money had not been disbursed by the state government due to bureaucratic bottlenecks. The other possibility was corruption. Oluyori suspects that the money has been diverted by a corrupt public official.

FIJ obtained the Kaduna State contractual liability document for the 2020 fiscal year to verify if, per government records, the money had not been paid. However, the contractual liability document does not have any of the Shehu Idris laboratory projects listed in it. This would suggest that the government had disbursed the money for these projects through the appropriate departments and agencies.

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On February 27, FIJ called the Shehu Idris College of Health Sciences and Technology to get answers on the contract. However, none of the calls were answered. FIJ redialed these phone numbers on February 28 and there was still no response.

FIJ also sent an email to the college copying the Kaduna State Ministry of Finance on February 27. However, the email had not been responded to as of press time. The phone number listed on the website of the Kaduna State Ministry of Finance was not assigned to a customer when FIJ dialled it.

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Published 28th Feb, 2024

By Timileyin Akinmoyeje

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