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In November 2021, the National Parents’ Teachers Association awarded Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, the best Governor on education in Nigeria. The award, according to the association, was conferred on the governor because of his role in ensuring free education, stoppage of education levies in public schools and renovation of schools across the state. ABDULQUDUS OGUNDAPO visited Yewa-North Local Government Area of Ogun State to Investigate the renovation of school project awarded by the State Universal Basic Education Board to a politician close to the Governor and how private contractors who purchased contracted projects from the politician refused to complete renovation of the school after two years, despite allocating millions of naira for the project.
Travelling on the dusty and rough road to Ibeku, a rural community in Yewa-North in the state would make your stomach rumble after disembarking from a motorcycle that continuously releases toxic substance into the air. From observation, the only school in the community was constructed in 1977 by residents of the community who are peasant farmers .
The unlucky pupils began learning in the school with mud classrooms but with joint efforts from residents of the community, the school was developed to six blocks of classrooms, a computer laboratory and a small room serving as principal and staff office.
In October, 2020, a delegation of officials from the State Universal Basic Education Board visited the school to inform the villagers that the government had resolved to renovate the school.
The delegation was led by one Mr. Mabini, who is the SUBEB project officer in Yewa North.
The visitation rather than being a blessing to the pupils and the staff of the school turned a disaster as the pupils who had been managing the mud facility lost the whole .
Three blocks of classroom under renovation since 2020
Mr. Oboshu Peter, the P.T.A Chairman of Yewa North Local Government Primary School, Ibeku narrated how private contractors from the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) failed to renovate the only school in Ibeku in Yewa North local government of the state after millions of naira were said to have been approved for the project.
The P.T.A Chairman told this reporter that the project officer of SUBEB in Yewa North identified as Mr. Mabini was the first person to inform him about the state government’s plan of renovating the school building.
He said the project officer informed him that the renovation project was awarded to a private contractor whom he identified as Engineer Idowu.
Mr. Peter noted that the private contactor removed the roof of a three-block of classrooms and a computer laboratory of the school but refused to complete the renovation for the past two years.
The P.TA. Chairman stressed that the three blocks of classrooms and the school computer laboratory had been left without a roof, doors and windows for over two years.
This development, he claimed led to the clamping of over 100 pupils of the school in two classrooms.
The Chairman however, called on the state government to compel the contractors to complete the renovation, adding that pupils of the school were used to complaining of severe headache after school hours.
“Mr Mabini who is the project officer of SUBEB in Yewa North was the first person to inform us that the state government approved renovation of the school. Initially, everybody within the neighborhood was excited, we never knew it was deceptive. Some days after, Mr Mabini came to us again and told us that the renovation project has been awarded to a contractor called Engineer Idowu.
“Engineer Idowu visited the school on October 1st, 2020 and on that same day he removed the roof of three classrooms and a class we used for computer laboratory. We stopped him from removing the roof but he told us to relocate the pupils to another class that he would be fast with the project. Our computer laboratory was also part of the classrooms he removed their roofing.
“Ever since then, nothing has changed. We built that school with the little contribution we make in the village. We finance the school through joint efforts from residents of the community. We employed two teachers for the school and we are paying them salary from our contributions”.
‘Contractor blacklisted my number on his phone’
After several months of failure to complete the roofing, Mr Peter said he called the contractor several times but failed to respond.
The PTA Chairman claimed the contractor barred his number, saying his phone number was no longer connecting with his phone whenever he calls him.
“I was worried because its taking too much time. Somebody cannot just come from somewhere to subject our children to suffering. He did not use to pick calls whenever I call him. There was a time I got to know that he has blocked my number. Since then, I have not been able to reach him.
“Before that time, he had given me various excuses. There was a time he told me he was involved in an accident”.
Private contractor hands over project to another contractor, paid N800,000 for job
Mr. Peter who expressed displeasure over the situation told this reporter that the private contractor visited the school again towards the end of 2021 after he was unable to reach him.
He said, when the contractor visited the school, he confessed to him that he had awarded the contract to another person.
The PTA Chairman added that the contractor told him he paid N800,000 to the new contractor he award the project to, for the completion of the project.
“You will not believe that Engineer Idowu told me he had handed over the project to another person to complete it, that, he is busy with some other works. He said he paid N800,000 to the new contractor that he is the one delaying the completion not him”.
Equipment Not Quality Enough
When this reporter sighted the planks purchased by the contractor, it was obvious that the planks were not of quality.
Despite the PTA Chairman’s effort to ensuring completion of the renovation, he also alleged that the planks purchased by the contractor was not enough.
“Go and look at the planks he bought when he started the renovation. They just left it on the floor. It has been there since 2020, you can imagine the condition now.
“That Engineer Idowu was even begging us on that day that he will have to use some of the planks they removed and we all agreed since it is for our own benefit”.
School pictured completed in SUBEB magazine
Mr Peter said, he sighted a magazine published by SUBEB that showed the completion and renovation of the school.
“Could you believe that there is a magazine belonging to Ogun SUBEB that already showed the completion of this school? I was confused when I saw the magazine in the principal’s office and I wondered what type of country we are living in. The magazine is published by SUBEB”.
‘A politician gave me N800,000 for the project’
When contacted to confirm the story, the private contractor who identified himself as Engineer Idowu told this reporter that he bought the project from a famous politician in Ogun State.
Idowu claimed that the politician who sold the project to him paid him N800,000 to renovate and rehabilitate the school.
He however explained that he had spent millions of naira on purchasing planks, poles and erected two coaches of blocks on the building.
The contractor who failed to disclose the name of the politician who sold the project to him, stressed that he had exhausted all the money paid to him by the politician on the uncompleted classrooms.
“The project was not actually awarded to me, it was awarded to one of the politicians , I bought it from that person and the politician is presently not in the country. I have spent more than what was paid to me for the project on buying materials. At a point, the sales of materials in the market got inflated, the engineer from SUBEB was aware of everything.
“We are using our money to run the project. I bought the project for N800,000 from the politician and presently, I have spent over a million naira executing the project.
“I do not know you and I cannot disclose the politician name to you. You can make your findings to get his name. I bought planks, poles and we erect blocks so that the building can be higher”.
‘I was defrauded by SUBEB contractor’
Engineer Idowu said after retrieving money for the project from the politician, he immediately awarded the project to another contractor who he identified as Engineer Azeez.
Idowu claimed Engineer Azeez defrauded him by refusing to buy all the materials needed for the project and ensuring completion of the project.
“After I bought the project from the politician, I awarded it to another contractor to help me execute the project, it was that contractor that defrauded me. After several months, I went to the school to inspect the project, it was then I realized that the contractor I awarded the project defrauded me, he did not buy everything I told him to get.
“I was involved in an accident in that period around July last year and it affected a lot of things even my partner was also involved in a fire accident , he lost all his properties to the inferno around November last year.
“He is a fraudster, he has defrauded me many times and he is currently on the run. He is a well known contractor in SUBEB. His name is Azeez , He is s contractor”.
‘Idowu is a liar, he gave me N400,000’
Engineer Azeez who was accused of defrauding the contractor who received money from the politician insisted that he did not defraud him.
He claimed he could not remember the amount the contractor gave him but speculated that the contractor gave him over four hundred thousand naira to purchase planks.
Azeez who identified himself as a contractor with SUBEB also confessed that he used to get projects from the politician who sold the renovation project to Engineer Idowu.
“He has never awarded any contract to me, he is a liar. He told me to assist him in the completion of the project. He actually gave me over N400,000 to get the planks we will need for the project and bought it from Lafenwa Market. After two months, he called me again telling me that I have not finished my work, I told him that I have exhausted all the money he gave me on the planks. He even told me that the planks I bought was not enough for the renovation despite the fact that we are still owing the plank seller almost N90,000 at Lafenwa Abeokuta
“I am a contractor with SUBEB. I cannot remember the exact amount he gave me but It was N400,000 plus. I have supplied the planks he gave me the money for.”
‘Politician from Governor Dapo Abiodun’
When asked of the identity of the politician, Azeez refused to disclose the identity of the politician.
Azeez who spoke angrily with this reporter, described the politician who sold the projects to them as someone who is very close to governor Dapo Abiodun.
“Yes, he bought the project from somebody. I also bought another project from the same person. Ask him to tell you the person, I will not tell you, he knows the person very well. I bought my own from that man around that Ijebu axis at the rate of N650,000. He was the one that introduced the man to me.
“What I know is that the politician is from Governor Dapo Abiodun’s side. He is a politician and he used to get a lot of contracts. He sold for me as well. The man is from Ogun state. He knows a lot of people in power.”
SUBEB reveals name of company which got the contract
When this reporter contacted the project officer of SUBEB in Yewa North who identified himself as Mr. Mabini, he said the two contractors told him they had exhausted all the money given to them by the politician.
Mabini who also refused to mention the name of the politician, disclosed that the contract was awarded in the name of a private company called Trader Center Nigeria Limited.
“I have called him over the project, he said he did not have money to complete it because he bought it from someone. He told me that the price of the equipment he will need to complete the renovation has been inflated. I will summon the both of them for a meeting at SUBEB office in Abeokuta on 22 of this month.
“I did not know the politician they are talking about but the company that received the money for the project is Trader Center Nigeria Limited. I did not remember the exact date we awarded the project to the company.”
This story was produced with support from PlatformTimes Investigative Foundation