From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Findings have shown that the award and building of a block of four classrooms at Government Junior Secondary School (GJSS), Television, Chikun local government area of Kaduna State was a misplaced priority need of the school-age children in the benefiting communities.
Available information on the website of the Kaduna State Public Procurement Agency (KADPPA), detailed that, the construction of a block of 4 classrooms at GJSS Television, Chikun (SUBEB 2017) was budgeted at N11.724 million to M/S Salma Global Ventures.
Details of the contractor were not provided at the KADPPA website neither was there any signpost at the project site about the contractor thereby making it practically impossible to reach the company for comment.
Also, the school does not have functional School-Based Management Committee (SBMC) while the Chairman, Parents Teachers Association (PTA), Mr Kabruk, could not be reached via his mobile phone as at the time of filing this report.
But, supporting staff in the school who spoke in confidence argued that “there was no need for this new block of four-classroom when there were existing five classrooms that could be renovated and furnished with furniture. The 1,473 students and their 40 teachers need tables and chairs more than new building”.
He continued, “there was no time anyone comes to the school on the fact-finding or need assessment. They only came and told us they would be building a block of four-classroom. They did not give us any document neither did they erect any signpost at the project site for us to know what the project was all about.
“You can see the sagging roof due to inferior wooden, terrazzo was poorly finished, doors are bad and there was generally poor supervision on the part of the implementing agency”, he added.
Further investigations revealed that all the newly built four classrooms started leaking, some windows and doors were off the frames shortly after the project was delivered and a certificate of completion was issued by the implementing ministry or agency.
It is pertinent to add that, since the declaration of a state of emergency on education by the State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai on October 1, 2015, there has been a physical transformation from hitherto status of many public schools especially the basics though more grounds need to be covered.
For example, the controversial dismissal of scores of ‘unqualified’ teachers and their subsequent replacement by perceived qualified others including a few of the dismissed ones who wrote the aptitude test and scale through the interviews, renovation and upgrade of some schools including erection of perimeter fence to protect the pupils are witnesses.
When a team of Procurement Monitors visited some of the schools within Kaduna town, there were a lot of issues begging for urgent action – from dilapidating structures, scanty furniture, poorly equipped library and laboratory, poor staff offices and furniture, poorly executed new State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) projects, to ignoramus citizens to demand accountability.
A registered Quantity Surveyor with Rutfa Quantz Consultants, Timothy Benjamin, who went round some of these schools with this correspondent, lamented the failure of the executing parties to make a copy of Bill of Quantity (BoQ) available either to the school-based management committee or the School’ Principals and headteachers.
According to him, “what I have observed and think the public need to know was that the works were all poorly executed. If we have had access to the BoQ, that would have guided us in relating the content with what we can see and touch.
“But, there is still some fast check we could see. For example, a block of four-classroom at the GJSS showed lack of effective supervision, especially with the finishing. This is in addition to general substandard material such as poor mortal and poor finishing.
“When you know you are building for children, you use something durable. Look at the quality of the door frame. That was why some doors had already given way. Some windows too are off the frame. Look at the roof, sagging and leaking due to substandard wooden.
“Even when the job is done as designed, the contractor would still smile except if the same people implementing the project have gone behind the scene to use the left hand to collect the same money they have released for the work which determined the quality of the work contractor will do at the end of the day.
“Sometimes too, the project implementers will deliberately sideline quantity surveyors for whatever reason. What happens in such a situation is that, the quacks take over instead of professionals which will reflect in the final output like what we just saw. Quacks may be a civil engineer or architects doing a quantity surveyors work”, he said.
Reacting, Permanent Member, Project Management, State Universal Basic Education Board, Kaduna, Mubarak Mohammed
“I think the school you are referring to is under the Ministry of Education. I doubt if it is under SUBEB. However, the issue of project quality, as a government, we understand that we need to achieve 100 per cent project excellence which is part of the steps we are taking now to scrutinise the qualifications of our contractors.
“We need to ensure that we get the right people that are capable both technically and financially.
“We have seen how so many of these projects were executed but within a short period, you are left with blown off the roof and damaged ceilings and all that. Then, some of these projects are being affected by human factors such as the challenge of school footballing. We also have issues of vandalism and theft.
“Having said that, we as a board, we intend to beef up our monitoring and supervision. We have engaged a full set of consultants that will help us to supervise these projects. We have also reinforced our project team here to ensure we complement the efforts of the supervisors to greatly monitor all the projects across the state.
“We believe that with the right contractors and right supervision, we will get our projects implemented at the right specification.
“Duration of the projects is also an important factor and we will see to it that most of our contractors complete within the speculated time and at the right quality”, he hinted.
Commissioner for Education in the State, Shehu Makarfi, while addressing journalist at the secretariat of the Nigerian Union of Journalists in Kaduna recently, said, the State Government had earmarked about N1.5 billion to renovate public schools ahead of full resumption, but it was not clear whether GJSS, Television, was included in that plan.
It is important to add that, Kaduna is the first State in Nigeria to subscribe to global accountability platform called Open Government Partnership (OGP) which mandated all its ministry and agencies to be open to citizens in its open contracting and procurement processes.