Sex for Marks: How Kano students are suffering in silence
Mukhtar Yahya Usman
Imagine this for a moment.
Your wife had a miscarriage and died in the process.
While mourning, her phone kept receiving condolence messages from her friends and associates.
As a dutiful husband you read and reply to the messages.
As you browse through her previous chats you become intrigued by a particular conversation with someone named “Sir”.
Reading backward, you gradually come to realize that your wife died of a forced abortion not miscarriage as you thought.
Her reason? She wasn’t carrying your baby. She had been having sex with one of her lecturers who promised to help her pass all her examinations!
Now stop imagining.
This is a true story. It happened at one of the universities based in Kano. The lecturer has been dismissed but the student is dead and her bereaved husband is left to wonder whether her other children are really his offspring.
This is just a single incident of sexual harassment. It may not always lead to death but involves risks of carry-over, spill-over or even expulsion to non-complying students.
“For students to be confident enough to report sexual harassment “the grievance mechanism must be confidential, swift, with minimum errors and must be clearly defined and widely understood”
An investigation by KANO TODAY finds that majority of students being sexually harassed by their lecturers in Kano do not report to authorities, which makes the practice to continue.
According to experts the main reason is that tertiary institutions in Kano do not have clearly-defined, safe, and widely understood complaint mechanisms.
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In a recent lecture, Isma’ila Zango, a Professor of Sociology and Director Aminu Kano Centre for Democratic Research and Training (Mambayya House), Bayero University Kano said about 70% of female students in Nigerian tertiary institutions experience a form of sexual harassment.
However, Professor Zango said only about 3% of the victims complain to authorities.
“For students to be confident enough to report sexual harassment “the grievance mechanism must be confidential, swift, with minimum errors and must be clearly defined and widely understood”. He said.
An in-depth analysis of the students’ handbooks issued by Bayero University Kano (BUK), Kano University of Science and Technology Wudil (KUST), Yusuf Maitama Sule University Kano (YUMSUK), as well as Kano State Polytechnic shows that students are not given clear guidance on what to do when they are sexually harassed.
Only YUMSUK has a reference to sexual harassment in its students’ handbook.
In page 115, the university categorized misconduct into three; gross misconduct, major misconduct, and minor misconduct.
Under the category called major misconduct, sexual harassment is mentioned along with “mishandling university property, mutilation and defacing of any library or university book as well as fighting”.
However the penalty for these offences is ‘rustication from the University for Two years’ showing that this statement refers to students who harass other students sexually.
If these institutions are not willing to acknowledge even the possibility of lecturers harassing students in their handbooks are they subtly condoning the practice?
Not so, says the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics), BUK, Professor Adamu Tanko.
Professor Tanko said even though there are punishments for lecturers who harass students, it is unfair to state that in a handbook written for students.
He said over the years BUK has dismissed or terminated the appointment of several lecturers and non-academic staff who had harassed their students sexually.
“BUK has a strong committee that investigates allegations of sexual harassment.” He said.
“Any student who is sexually intimidated or violated should report to her Head of Department who will channel the case to the committee”. He added.
He however cautioned that the student must have genuine evidence at hand.
Yusuf Maitama Sule University Kano (YUMSUK)
Like BUK, authorities in YUMSUK say they also have a committee handling cases of sexual harassment.
Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Mustapha Ahmad Isa told KANO TODAY that complaining students should first report to their Heads of Department.
Thereafter the matter will be handled at several levels up to the governing council, he said.
He urged female students to confidently report any case of sexual harassment without fear of any possible backlash.
Kano University of Science and Technology (KUST) Wudil
At KUST, Vice Chancellor Professor Shehu Alhaji Musa says the university has never recorded a single case of sexual harassment.
Professor Musa said the university too has a committee that is ready to deal with any case of sexual harassment should such an incident happen.
He however assured KANO TODAY that KUST is reviewing its policies and will insert a clearly-defined guideline on sexual harassment in the students’ handbook.
Deputy Registrar Kano State Polytechnic, Garba Ismaila told KANO TODAY that the institution has regulations preventing personal relations between students and lecturers in order to avoid sexual harassment.
Kano state Polytechnic consists of five schools including School of Technology Kano, School of Management Studies Kano, School of Rural Technology and Entrepreneurship Development Rano, School of Environmental Studies Gwarzo, and School of General Studies Kano.
Mr. Ismaila said the Polytechnic has dismissed three lecturers recently and is ready to punish any staff that is engaged in sexual harassment in the future.
He explained that even though sexual harassment is not mentioned in the students handbook, it is one of the topics discussed during matriculation and orientation exercises in the Polytechnic.
The fear is real
However, Professor Zango, who is also a former Dean of Students Affairs at BUK says students have real reasons to fear reporting cases of sexual harassment.
First, there is a danger that the student may not have enough evidence to prove her allegation. This may allow the lecturer to go free and enable him and his friends to wage a vendetta against the student.
Also, the student’s family may caution her against reporting in order not to spoil her chances of marriage if it becomes public knowledge that she has been assaulted sexually.
And in some cases it is the student who finds herself unable or unwilling to study and pass her examinations that tries to seduce the lecturer into a contract of sex for marks.
Professor Zango therefore urged universities and other tertiary institutions to make laws that will empower students to deal with predatory lecturers.
At the same time the law should have a section where lecturers can report students who attempt to seduce them.
How Buhari’s associates, relatives were defeated in APC primaries
In what appears the diminishing of President Muhammadu Buhari’s influence within his ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), many of his loyalists, aides, and relatives were beaten in primaries to elect the party’s candidates in the next year’s general elections.
KANO FOCUS reports that while some of them contested to be the party’s candidates in elective positions during the general elections, others sought to be rẹ-elected as the party’s representatives for positions they currently occupy.
Below is the list of Buhari’s associates and relatives who were defeated during the APC primary elections.
Sha’aban Sharada is the former Personal Assistant broadcast media to President Buhari. He is also the chairman House Committee on Internal Security.
He is believed to be one of Mr Buhari’s closest allies from Kano. He has been a staunch supporter of Mr Buhari since his days in the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) and one of the founding members of the Congress of Progressive Change (CPC), which merged with the Action Congress of Nigeria to form the ruling All Progressives Congress.
Mr Sharada failed in his bid to become the governorship candidate of the party in Kano. He was defeated by Governor Ganduje’s anointed candidate Nasiru Gawuna by 2,289 votes to 30 votes.
In a statement sent to journalists a day after the primary, Mr Sharada said he nearly escaped assassination and that his supporters were attacked and some killed.
He called on security agencies and party leadership to “investigate and punish the perpetrators. He also asked for the nullification of the primary election saying it was marred by irregularities, vote-buying and intimidation.”
Ismaeel Ahmed is the immediate past senior special assistant to the President on social investment.
Mr Ahmed sought to be the APC candidate for Kano Central Senatorial District but stepped down just before the commencement of the primary elections due to the intervention of the governor of the state Abdullahi Ganduje.
“In the last few weeks, we ran a good campaign for the Senate of my Senatorial District in Kano. We toured all the Local Governments and interacted with delegates and party leaders and elders.
“However, yesterday I got a call from our leader and Governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and he asked if I could step down for some reasons, I met with my team and supporters and pored over all other considerations and knowing that in a delegate election it’s all about what the Party leadership wants, we stepped down, ” he wrote on Facebook.
A former new media aide to President Buhari, Bashir Ahmad, failed to secure the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) ticket to contest the House of Representative seat for Gaya/Ajingi/Albasu Federal Constituency, Kano, despite his relationship with the president.
Mr Ahmad was defeated by the incumbent member, Abdullahi Gaya, with 109 to 16 votes.
The election was conducted by the chairman of the Kano Municipal local government council Fa’izu Alfindiki, a staunch loyalist of Mr Ganduje.
Mr Ahmad had on the day of the election written on his Facebook page that he left the venue of the primary to protect his supporters because thugs were intimidating them.
“As an aspirant, I left the venue of the primary election for Gaya, Ajingi and Albasu Federal Constituency, because of the security of our majority delegates, if want to compete with the best, thugs shouldn’t be part of any election,” Mr Ahmad wrote.
The following day, Mr Ahmad in a statement rejected the result of the election and called for a fresh, free and fair election.
Sani Shaaban, an in-law to President Muhammadu Buhari, also lost a bid to secure the APC governorship ticket in the Kaduna state governorship primary
Mr Sha’aban came third with 20 votes only from 1,245 delegates accredited for the exercise.
Uba Sani, Nasir El-Rufai’s anointed candidate, polled 1,149 votes to clinch the governorship ticket while Bashir Abubakar, scored 37 votes.
However, Mr Sha’a ban kicked against the entire exercise, alleging that the poll was fraught with irregularities.
He alleged that the election was a ‘charade’, as most of the delegates from the 23 local governments were locked out of the voting venue and denied the right to vote for candidates of their choice.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew, and member representing Daura/Sandamu/Maiadua Federal Constituency, Fatuhu Muhammad, also failed in his bid to be re-elected as the party’s candidate for the Constituency.
Mr Muhammad lost the primary to Aminu Jamu who polled 117 votes to Mr Muhammad’s 30 votes.
Faruk Ádámù is another close associate of Mr Buhari who lost the APC governorship primary in Jigawa state.
He was defeated by the deputy governor of Jigawa State, Umar Namadi, aka Danmodi, with 1,220 to 15 votes.
He was the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives between 2003 – 2007.
Mr Adamu had also failed to secure the slot of the deputy national chairman (North) of APC during the last convention.
He was said to have lost reelection due to his unflinching support to Mr Buhari.
INVESTIGATION: Multimillion Naira e-learning centres abandoned, decay amidst shortage of facilities in Kano
Despite a multimillion-naira contract awarded for the construction of e-learning centres in five local government areas of Kano North Senatorial District, the facilities do not exist and students still travel far distances to prepare and take the University and Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
What are more, investigations show that the major contract was unlawfully awarded to a serving senator, Barau Jibrin, who initiated the constituency project.
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), an agency under the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, in 2015 awarded the contract for the construction of e-learning centres at Gwarzo, Tofa, Bichi, Kabo and Dambatta local governments at the cost of N193, 270,850 as part of the constituency projects in Kano State.
KANO FOCUS reports that the e-learning centres were supposed to provide basic information and communication technology (ICT) services to beneficiaries, especially indigent students who have no access to the internet for their online application, registration and computer-based examinations. Years later, students are still left stranded and have to incur additional travel costs whenever they take online examinations.
Senator sponsors unlawfully get the contract for constituency project
Investigations showed that the NITDA secured approval from the bureau of public procurement for the contract to be awarded through selective bidding and the building job was awarded to Sinti Nigeria Limited, which is owned by Senator Barau Jibrin who facilitated the project. The senator’s children – Shawal Jibrin, Khalil Jibrin and Zainab Jibrin – are listed as directors while he is listed as a shareholder.
Research conducted by the reporter using an online business registration tool, NG-check.com, showed that the company was registered on December 21, 2000, and is located at Plot No. 170, zone A7 M-TEL Street, Wuse ll, Abuja. Its current registration status is unknown, meaning that it has not been filing returns with the CAC.
By using a company in which he has interests or owns to execute a government contract, Senator Jibrin breached Section 5 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, which deals with the conflict of interest. The section says: “A public official shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.”
The senator also breached S 2(b) 5th Schedule Part 1 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended which precluded public officials from engaging in or managing private businesses.
The project description
The main contract comprises the construction of five buildings to serve as e-learning centres in five local government secretariats namely Gwarzo, Tofa, Bichi, Kabo and Dambatta. Although there were no details of the selective tendering process, the award was made to Sinti Nigeria Limited, a 2019 report by Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) seen by this reporter revealed.
The ICPC report queried a number of irregularities in the execution of the project. For instance, the report noted that buildings were not equipped with computers, internet facilities, printers, photocopiers, fans, air-conditioning sets as required. There was no proper project documentation, especially from NITDA. The Bills of Quantities (BOQ) that should specify the quantities and specifications of items supplied was unavailable.
The report also noted that from the records, 100% payment was made to the contractors at the commencement of the project and no explanation was given for this action.
The report concluded that the e-learning centres were not constructed at the appropriate locations where communities would have direct access to them.
Interestingly, two years later when this reporter visited the sites, the centres are yet to be opened for public use. Instead, the buildings have been converted into study centres of the National Open University on Nigeria (NOUN).
When contacted the spokesperson of NOUN Ibrahim Sheme explained that the study centre was handed over to the university by senator representing Kano North Mr Jibrin.
According to him “the NOUN guidelines prescribe that for any Community Study Centre to be established, the host community should provide all the necessary facilities and a substantial number of staff and hand them over to the University. That’s what happened in Kano and several other states. Before your inquiry, I did not even know that the Study Centres in question were initially e-learning centres.”
Bichi is one of the oldest local governments in Kano State and it is the most developed local government in term of infrastructure in Kano North senatorial zone.
The Bichi e-learning centre constructed under the 2015 constituency project and later converted to study centre under the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) only has one computer laboratory with old desktop computers that appear not to be in use, a server room, few offices with one generator set. It is located opposite local government secretariat in Bichi.
There are only two accredited UTME centres in the local government. One at Federal College of Education (Technical) and another private one and findings revealed that they are not enough as students travel to Kano metropolis and other neighbouring states to write JAMB computer based examination.
Some UTME candidates interviewed by this reporter said they have to travel to as far as Jigawa and Bauchi states to sit for the examinations, due to non-availability of UTME accredited centres in their respective local government areas.
One of the UTME candidates from Bichi, Abubakar Ibrahim, said he travelled to Bauchi State to write the exams due to lack of space in the centre in Bichi.
“I left Bichi at 12.00 pm a day to the examination date to Misau in Bauchi state. I arrived Misau at 6:30 in the evening. After finding the centre, I then started looking for accommodation. Because I don’t know anyone, I approached a mosque, presented myself to the Imam and ask his permission to pass the night in the mosque, and he obliged.
“Ths examination marked my first contact with computer. Prior to this, I have never operated a computer in my life. My appeal to authorities is they should make more UTME centres available in each local government area to address the plight of travelling to far places,” Ibrahim said
Another candidate who wrote his UTME at Hussaini Adamu Federal polytechnic, Kazaure, Jigawa State in 2020, Mubarak Bashir, told this reporter that he had to pass a night at Kazaure to avoid missing the examination.
He recalled that he was able to get accommodation at the residence of a lecturer of the institution courtesy of a relative who is a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member in the school.
“The journey was quiet challenging. My boarding school experience made me cope with the challenges encountered. If we have enough centres it would address the challenge of travelling to far distance places,” Bashir said.
Unlike Bichi, Gwarzo Local Government Area does not have any UTME centre and applicants have to travel to Kano metropolis or neighbouring states to write JAMB examination.
A visit to the supposed e-learning centre constructed to serve the community, showed that the building has been taken over by livestock. A sheep was seen having a nap in front of the main entrance. However, there was a signboard indicating it was converted to study centre of National Open University (NOUN). No equipment was found in the building.
A resident of the area, Aliyu Muhammad Usman, who sat for 2020 UTME at Hussaini Adamu Federal Polytechnic Kazaure, Jigawa State, said he travelled to Kazaure at 4.00 am on the day of the examination, because he did not have anywhere to sleep.
Usman wondered why government could not construct a designated test centre in Gwarzo to reduce the burden of travelling to other places.
For Mustapha Muhammad, a resident of Gwarzo local government who sat FOR his 2020 UTME examination at Kano University of Science and Technology (KUST) Wudil, the journey was a nasty experience.
Muhammad recalled that on the day of the examination he slept at Mariri quarters in Kano metropolis, before proceeding to Wudil early in the morning.
A young lady, Khadija Sani Usman, told this reporter that she nearly missed her UTME at Gandun Albasa quarters, Kano because she arrived the centre late.
“I pray we get a centre in our local government, so that students do not have to travel for writing UTME or even miss the exam for arriving late,” she prayed.
Another lady, Rafiat Mansur Sani, said she wrote her UTME at Kabuga quarters in Kano metropolis due to lack of designated centres in Gwarzo LGA. She lamented how some candidates from distant places arrived examination centres late and this affected their performance.
Findings showed that the e-learning project was facilitated by senator representing Kano North, Barau Jibrin, as a constituency project. In spite of this, his local government area, Kabo, does not have a functional accredited UTME centre. The e-learning centre constructed there was converted to NOUN study centre.
A resident of Kabo, Abubakar Hashim, who wrote his Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination at Jigawa State College of Legal and Islamic Studies, Ringim, narrated how armed robbers attacked him on his way back to Kano.
He recalled that he initially was scheduled to take his examination at Federal University Dutse, Jigawa state capital on Friday.
“I left Kabo on Thursday to Dutse. Upon my arrival, I went straight to the centre where I met some candidates protesting. After asking, I was told that, while students were writing their exams the previous day, the generator broke down and the management of the centre failed to fix it until the system shut down many candidates.
“While I was wandering, anti-riot mobile policemen arrived and dispersed the protestors. After escaping the scene, I met a student who offered to provide me with accommodation.
“When I arrived at the centre the next day to take my exams, I found out that JAMB had postponed my exams to Saturday and also changed the venue to Jigawa state College of Legal and Islamic Studies, Ringim.
“From there, I packed my luggage and moved to Ringim. After the exams, I have to sell my phone to pay transport fare back home. Sadly, on our way back to Kano, armed robbers stopped our vehicle and robbed us our belongings on broad daylight,” Hashim recounted
The story is also the same at Tofa Local Government Area. The e-learning facility has been converted to NOUN study centre. Upon inquiry, one of the workers said the centre has fifty desktop computers in its e-learning facility where students write their semester examinations.
He, however, told this reporter that the e-learning facility is no longer functioning, because the generator, which supplied the centre with power, has been stolen.
Due to this, students now take their examinations elsewhere pending the supply of another generator.
A resident of the area, Nazir Isa Sani, informed this newspaper that he wrote his 2020 UTME in Bauchi State. He said he was among many candidates who were supported by the Kano state government during the exams.
“I had a better experience because the state government provided a luxurious bus that conveyed us to Bauchi. Upon our arrival, we were lodged in a hotel where we slept. In the morning, they took us to our respective centres where we wrote our exams,” Sani recalled.
Civil Society Organization reacts
The chairman of the Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA), Dr Auwalu Halilu, noted that access to education is key to the development of any society, community or nation.
He, therefore, expressed concern about the shortage of UTME examination centres, especially in rural local governments.
“The concern is most of these students from rural LGAs need to come to Kano metropolis where there are CBT centres or moved to other states to access these services.
“There are computer centres in these LGAs but they are not functioning. That is why we are advocating for simpler ways for the community members to access these types of services,” Halilu said.
On the conversion of e-learning centres, Halilu said, “it is the responsibility of community members and civil society members like us to make sure these centres are properly utilised for the purpose they are being built for. For example, if there is a constituency project executed by the federal government to construct an e-learning centre in particular LGA, and the e-learning is being converted to something else, then it is not the fault of the government per se. What are members of the community and CSOs doing to draw the government’s attention that the e-learning centres have been converted?
“However, the government should see it as part of its responsibility to do the right thing. Part of doing the right thing is that, when you construct an e-learning centre, there should be a monitoring system that will ensure that citizens are really utilizing these centres. For example, when you go to some of the centres, you see air conditions and computers being kept in a store, and not utilised. These are types of materials when stayed for a longer period without use; it will become useless and obsolete.”
Community Leaders speak
A retired headmaster at Bichi, Muhammad Shu’aibu, said the local government needs an e-learning centre to meet ICT to the demands of its residents.
He recalled that his son had to travel to Daura, Katsina State to write his UTME amidst security challenges bedevilling the area due to the shortage of computer-based test centres in Bichi Local Government Area.
Also commenting, Chairman, Gwarzo Local Government Awareness and Development Network, Aminu Rabi’u Na’abba, said prior to the introduction of the Computer Based Test, there were five centres for writing JAMB examination.
On the conversion of the e-learning centre to NOUN study centre, Na’abba said although having Open University in Gwarzo is a welcome development, it would have been better to host it in a separate structure. This according to him will grant the community access to e-learning facilities and distance learning.
Na’abba said the conversion is unnecessary, as there is enough landmass in the area to construct NOUN study centre.
An Activist from Tofa local government and Kano state chairman of Kungiyar Muryar Talaka (Voice of the Voiceless Network) Balarabe Yusuf Babale Gajida expressed disappointment on the lack of IT infrastructure in Tofa and neighboring Dawakin Tofa and Rimingado LGAs, adding that the situation is subjecting students wishing to write computer based examinations to unnecessary hardship.
He hoped that the e-learning facility converted to NOUN study centre in Tofa will be open to communities who need IT services, as access to distant learning is equally an important intervention.
The chairman of Kabo Development Forum, Isma’il Hussain Kanye, expressed optimism that if judiciously utilised, the e-learning centre in his LGA can provide IT services to communities as well as serve distance-learning purposes.
How shortage of IT infrastructure affects rural communities
A lecturer with Department of Information Technology, Bayero University, Kano, Dr. Ibrahim Sa’id Ahmad Babura argued that the introduction of computer-based examination was done in haste without provision of required IT infrastructure.
According to him many rural local governments in Nigeria lack IT penetration, thereby denying students the opportunity to explore their full potentials.
“Most people in rural areas are poor and, it is very difficult for people from rural communities to proceed with higher education if they don’t have computer centres to take the exams. The major implication is the restriction of rural communities to quality higher education.
“Many students in rural communities are quite intelligent, quite capable, but they are not familiar with how to use computers. They don’t have them in their schools. So many of them will end up failing the exams, not because they don’t have the capacity to pass the exams, but they don’t have the knowledge of how to use computers,” he said
On the conversion of e-learning centres to NOUN study centres, Babura noted that it is not a bad idea as long as it is open to rural communities to learn basic computer skills.
He also opined: “It may not be totally wrong for the centres to be used by NOUN, especially if they are under utilised. However, it may be an opportunity for NOUN to continue giving training on computer education to rural communities.
The academic advised that government should provide state of the art computer laboratory in secondary schools that will be used as JAMB CBT examinations.
“The e-learning centres constructed as constituency projects should continue to be used as CBT centres and there should be more. Actually, we should have at least two secondary schools attached to one CBT centre. Students don’t have to travel long distance, or come to the city or local government headquarters to write JAMB. It should be as close to them as it is in urban communities. Just because you are in rural area, it should not be difficult for you to sit for this examination.
“Considering the present insecurity, it will not be ideal for students to be travelling all over just because they want to write JAMB examination. E-learning centres should be built closer to these communities,” Dr. Babura advised.
Legislators own constituency projects and not the agency – NITDA
Curiously, when confronted with our findings, the Director General, National Information Technology Development (NITDA), Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, said that constituency projects domiciled in the agency are within the purview of the sponsoring legislator and not the executing agency.
“MDAs have no control over it (constituency project) apart from execution, according to the way it was put in the budget. It is not an NITDA project, it is a constituency project executed by NITDA and handed over to the sponsor,” he said.
On the reason behind obtaining selective tender, Abdullahi referred this reporter to the agency’s head of corporate communication and external relations, Hadiza Umar.
When contacted, Mrs. Umar said the reason for the tender is due to the fact that there was a lack of professional contractors who were competent in ICT projects at the time.
“In this case, considering the complexity of the projects and lack of many professional contractors who are competent in ICT projects at the time, NITDA requested the Bureau’s ‘no objection’ to adopt restricted tendering in inviting selected competent contractors to execute the e-learning centres,”Mrs Umar argued.
Asked for procurement details, including the contact of the contractor, Umar said the search for the document containing the details of selected contractors invited for restricted tendering might take longer time.
“We will have to go search where we keep old documents, because the project was executed in 2015,” she said.
Other contractors also failed to deliver
While the senator cornered the main contract for himself, the supply and installation of computer systems, Internet facilities, photocopier, printers, scanners, solar system, generating set, air-conditioning set and other accessories was awarded to Telfonica Blizzard Company and Advanced Data Services Limited.
While Telfonica Blizzard Company supplied the items at Gwarzo, Kabo and Bichi for the contract sum of N55.15 million, Advanced Data Services Limited supplied those at Dambatta and Tofa at a contract sum of N38.65 million.
Telfonica Blizzard Company limited is located at No. 2 Ikeja close, off Oyo Street, Garki Area 2, Abuja and was registered on December 5, 2014. The company’s status is not known and its directors are listed as Yakubu Orisankoko, Aretta Anah and Debare Egbede.
Advance Data service, which was incorporated in Abuja on October 28, 2014, is located at No. 6 Ijebu Ode Close, Area 2, Garki Abuja. Its current status is unknown. Its listed directors are Adebayo Anjorin and Bola Rilau Bello.
* This investigation is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting.
How Lack of Equipment Exposes Health Workers To COVID-19 In Kano
When the federal government declared Kano as epicenter of COVID-19 there was no exact figure of health workers affected by the global pandemic in the state.
As in many places ravaged by the pandemic, health workers are in the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 in Kano State.
The high rate of COVID-19 cases in very densely populated metropolitan local government areas of Kano has exposed many health service providers to coronavirus infection.
During this reporter’s visit to Panshekara Primary Health Centre in Kumbotso Local Government area amidst COVID-19 pandemic, there was violation of NCDC protocol by health workers and patients.
At the immunisation unit of the health centre, health practitioners were sighted working without hand gloves, while visitors did not use face masks.
The situation was also the same at one of general hospitals in Kano metropolis where a medical doctor on duty was sighted diagnosing patients without hand gloves.
One dead, 64 doctors, 30 nurses test positive for COVID-19 in Kano
The Kano State chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Sanusi Bala told this reporter that 64 doctors had tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the state.
Mr Bala explained that many of the victims were the doctors working at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) and other private clinics in the state. He said many of them were infected through normal clinical routines while attending to unsuspected COVID-19 cases.
Mr Bala attributed the high number of COVID-19 infection among medical doctors in Kano to lack of adequate personal protective equipment at the initial stage of the pandemic.
“We have 64 doctors infected. And I think about 30 nurses and a number of medical laboratory scientists were also infected. We lost one senior colleague to the fight. We thank Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Apart from the one we lost, the remaining 63 doctors recovered without any hitches.
“Initially, we didn’t have adequate PPE. That was because the number of cases in Kano within a short time kept skyrocketing. They came in large number. And the number of PPE supplied was less than what was required. And there was shortage of training for individuals.
“But Alhamdulillah later, together with the NCDC and the task force, we sat and re-strategised. As I am talking to you, everywhere you go, there is PPE, from the gown, the N-95, boot and all other kits required for people to work. We have less cases now,” he said.
The chairman of Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital’s branch of the Association of Resident Doctors, Abubakar Nagoma, confirmed the revelation of NMA chairman. He said 54 doctors got infected while treating patients who came to the hospital with symptoms that later turned to be COVID-19.
Mr Nagoma said the affected health professionals included resident doctors who were undergoing training and consultant doctors. He attributed the vulnerability of the doctors to non-use of face masks by patients and lack of adequate personal protective equipment for doctors.
He highlighted the deliberate hoarding of information by some patients as one of challenges.
“On our part, we lack protective equipment. And you will see many doctors at accident and emergency unit of the hospital wearing only face masks. This is the only protection we have in addition to hand gloves and hand sanitizer,” he noted. “This is not the standard protection protocol guidelines according to NCDC. If you have any suspected (COVID-19) patient, you are supposed to have boots, suit, face mask, goggles, cap and face shield. These are what is obtainable in the developed world and this is the recommendation of the National Centre for Disease Control. To be sincere we don’t have them on ground. We don’t have complete protective suit.
“Another thing, a lot of patients coming from various places within Kano, don’t come with face mask. And some of them will present their pre-existing medical condition, and subsequently the symptoms of COVID-19 start manifesting. To some extent, sometimes patients conceal information until after series of diagnosis, then you find symptoms of COVID-19. You are already exposed by then. It is unfortunate we are working in a very constrained environment.
“Then there is the issue of the number of patients. There are lots of patients coming to the hospital. And they don’t use any barrier that will serve as protection between you and them.
“We have made so many requisitions to the hospital to ensure constant provision of all the necessary protective equipment. In fact, we even went to the extent of threatening the hospital that we will stop diagnosing patients if this equipment is not available. But you know as healthcare providers we cannot fold our arms watching our patients dying. We are always seeing patients whether with or without the supply of what we requested. We are still pushing for this to be available. Even the hospital management are complaining they have yet to be supplied by the federal government. What we have has already been exhausted.”
Fifteen additional health workers tested positive for coronavirus while treating patients at the National Orthopeadic Hospital, Dala. Aliyu Kabara, the chairman of the hospital’s branch of Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) confirmed this to this reporter.
Mr Kabara said the 15 infected health personnel included three consultant doctors, nine resident doctors and three nurses that treated asymptomatic COVID-19 patients who came to the hospital for orthopaedic treatment.
“We were the first hospital in Kano to record infected COVID-19 doctors,” he noted. “During the first screening, 15 persons out of 25 samples were positive for COVID-19.”
According to him, the hospital has scaled down operation, and restricted services to emergency cases and inpatients.
On how the doctors got infected, Mr Kabara said they contracted the disease from a female patient who had undergone a surgery.
“When she came back for follow-up, she exhibited some COVID-19 symptoms. Most of the infected doctors are from that unit where this woman was treated,” he said. “We don’t always use personal protective equipment because we don’t have enough. No one will refuse to attend to a patient with life threatening illness and send him back because of lack of personal protective equipment. Some of these patients have COVID-19 beside their known clinical challenges.”
Apart from the doctors, about six members of the Kano State task force on COVID-19 were also infected with the virus. Prominent among them were co-chairman AbdurRazaq Garba Habib, the secretary of the committee Imam Wada Bello, and state commissioner of health, Aminu Tsanyawa.
Cleaner, billing official, 32 other health workers test positive for COVID-19 at AKTH
A total of 34 additional health workers at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) had contracted the COVID-19 virus at the time of filing this report.
This was revealed by the chairman of the hospital’s branch of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), Murtala Umar.
Mr Umar listed the infected health workers to include 12 nurses, five medical laboratory scientists, three technicians, two medical record officers, one billing officer, one hospital attendant and one cleaner.
He added that eight members of the union had earlier contracted the coronavirus.
Kano government reacts
Despite health workers outcry of inadequate PPE in public hospitals, Kano State commissioner of health, Aminu Tsanyawa, said the government had taken adequate measures in protecting front line healthcare workers working in response team and those at facilities.
“His Excellency is keen about protecting front line healthcare workers and other healthcare workers that are working in our facilities,” he noted. “His Excellency has come up with the strategies and intervention to ensure that our healthcare workers are protected as they are doing their work of protecting the people of Kano.
“First and foremost is orientation and training at various level of healthcare workers to ensure that those working directly at response team are protected, and to also ensure that those working at facilities providing services are protected.
“They were trained on infection prevention and control (IPC). Many of our healthcare workers were trained to ensure they keep safe. This is one singular intervention that is important in safeguarding our healthcare workers.”
13% of Kano residents tested for COVID-19 were positive
About 13 per cent of Kano residents tested for COVID-19 tested positive for the virus, according to an official report.
The report released by the Kano State Ministry of Health was titled “COVID-19 response update: Kano laboratory overview.”
It indicated that as of June 20, the state had collected 9,103 samples, 8,948 results were retrieved, 155 samples pending and 1,191 confirmed positive cases.
The Kano positive rate is less than the overall for Nigeria where about 19 per cent of tests have come out positive.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), which coordinates the COVID-19 testing and treatment across the country, does not, however, provide a regular state by state breakdown of the tests done.
However, over 40 per cent of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Nigeria are in Lagos, indicating the state also has the highest number of people tested.
The Kano data
The breakdown of the data by the Kano health ministry showed that from March 20 to April 20, the state collected 1,765 samples and recorded 219 positive cases.
Between April 20 and May 20, the state collected 2,930 samples with 735 testing positive.
Also, between May 20 and June 20, the samples collected doubled to 4,408 while the number of positive cases dropped to 237.
According to the data, the samples were treated at five NCDC designated laboratories with a combined total of 530 testing capacity daily.
The laboratories are Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital with 90 testing capacity daily, Bayero University, Kano (180), 54Gene (90), IFRAN (80) and EHA (90).
The update provided on Kano State ministry of health’s twitter handle showed that the total samples collected as of Saturday, December 26, 2020, was 57,484; the confirmed cases were 2,169 with 284 active cases and 1,825 persons have been recovered and discharged.
The twitter handle revealed that so far 60 persons who tested positive of COVID-19 in Kano had lost their lives.
The 60 recorded deaths were separate from the mysterious deaths recorded in the state, about 500 of which were suspected to be from COVID-19.
The northwestern state had in April experienced a spate of about 979 unexplained deaths, including first-class traditional rulers, health workers and academics.
The health minister, Osagie Ehanire, had said about 60 per cent of the “mysterious deaths” recorded in Kano State may have been triggered by COVID-19.
“With regard to unexplained deaths in Kano which occurred in April over a five-week period, the team confirmed that a total of 979 deaths were recorded in eight municipal LGA in the state at a rate of 43 deaths per day,” Mr Ehanire said.
“The peak was in the second week of April. By the beginning of May, the death rate had reduced to 11 deaths per day it used to be.
“The verbal autopsy revealed that about 56 per cent of deaths had occurred at home while 38 per cent were in a hospital.
“Investigation suggests that between 50-60 per cent of the deaths may have been triggered by or due to COVID-19, in the face of pre-existing ailments.”
A verbal autopsy is carried out to find the cause of death when the corpse is not physically available or has been buried.
The Kano government, however, disputed the federal government’s report, saying its findings showed that only about 16 per cent of those strange deaths could have been from COVID-19.
Kano State government findings
Kano State government report was presented to the public at Kano Government House by Mukhtar Gadanya, a Consultant Public Health Physician at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital AKTH.
Mr Gadanya who read out all parts of the report said: “A retrospective study of mortalities was conducted over two weeks (27th April – 15th May, 2020), across eight metropolitan local government areas (Gwale, Fagge, Tarauni, Kumbotso, Ungogo, Nassarawa, Kano Municipal and Dala).”
According to him, the mortalities in the identified LGAs “were line-listed, which made a provision for the questionnaire to be administered house to house.”
He revealed that, as part the committee’s scientific approach, “mortalities reviewed were for a period of 1 month (1st April to 2nd May 2020).”
“Relatives of those who passed away were interviewed by respective Ward Focal Persons (WFP), using a structured questionnaire into an electronic platform (ODK), he said.
“Data from the questionnaire were reviewed for categorisation into most probable causes of mortality by medical specialists using “two-symptoms’ criteria (at least presence of two of any of fever, cough and shortness of breath).”
According to Mr Gadanya, “an inter-play of various factors contributed to the mysterious deaths, causes this study shed light on. Mortality in community is cyclical and vary by seasons and months.”
Mr Gadanya disagreed with the earlier report by the minister of health saying that, “COVID-19 might have contributed 15.9% of the cases of mortality, but within the limitations of the verbal autopsy method, that cannot provide confirmation.”
He added that, “Some deaths may be related to disruption of medical care and socio-economic activities due to fear of contracting COVID-19, which usually happens during epidemics.
“If the mysterious deaths were COVID-19 related, the deaths could have come more from local governments that have more COVID-19 cases.
“Tarauni Local Government for example, with 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases is the first in pandemic ranking, but in the mysterious deaths it is rated 7th.”
This investigation was commissioned by the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) as part of its whistleblowing initiative under its Corruption Anonymous project supported by the MacArthur Foundation. Published materials do not reflect the views of the MacArthur Foundation.
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