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ANALYSIS: Kano has the oldest governor, ministers

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Maude Rabiu Gwadabe

Kano state has set a new record in Nigerian political history as it parades the oldest ministers and oldest governor in the country.

KANO TODAY reports that Abdullahi Umar Ganduje who was born on Christmas day 1949 is the oldest governor in Nigeria.

An analysis of the official citations of the ministers inaugurated on Wednesday shows that in a cabinet dominated by senior citizens,  Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magashi, 74, is the oldest minister in the federation.

“Born January 15, 1945, he holds a Law Degree from A.B.U in 1980. “He started his military career as a Second Lieutenant in 1968.

“He was Commander Guards Brigade and former Military Administrator, Sokoto State.

“After his retirement as a Major General in 1999, he became a politician and contested for the gubernatorial seat in Kano State in 2007.” According to his official citation at the inauguration.

The other minister from Kano, Sabo Nanono who heads the Agriculture and Rural Development ministry is the second oldest at 73.

“Born April 11, 1946, he holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Masters in Public Policy and Administration from Ahmadu Bello University and University of Winsconsin USA. “He started work at the Central Bank of Nigeria in 1969 and was at various times a lecturer at ABU, Managing Director of Kano State Investment and Properties Limited.

“He retired into full-scale farming after being General Manager at African International Bank between 1991 and 2000.” According to his citation. .

President is aware

In a remark in Zaria on Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari said he appointed the two ministers in acknowledgement of the massive votes he receives from Kano.

He also acknowledged that most young Nigerians have been deprived of opportunities for self-improvement.

“The population growth here is so big and the 20 and below are the majority.

“And they don’t seem to care how you make it, but they want the leadership to provide jobs, to provide security and all other things that are expected of government.

“A lot of them have not got the opportunity for further education, so let us study the constitution and see the responsibilities of three tiers of government.” He said.

He undertook to make sure that the new cabinet is working for the good of Nigeria and Nigerians.

Youths are ready to take over

Reacting to the ministerial appointments, a Kano based youth leader, Abubakar Muhammad (General) said the youth are short-changed.

Mr Muhammad, is the deputy president, National Youths Council of Nigeria said the older persons should give way to the youth.

“It is not a good father who will not allow his son to succeed him until after his death.” He said.

The youth leader said in the 21st century when youths are leading advanced countries Nigerian leaders should step aside and use their experience to advise the youth.

He denied that Nigerian youths are not ready to pilot the affairs of the country.

“Nigerian youths are educated and willing to work but are being sabotaged by the older generation.

“Remember when a number of youths die in stampedes while applying for employment in the federal civil service.” He added.

Mr Muhammad therefore urged President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Abdullahi Ganduje to make sure that youths get the lion share of their subsequent appointments.

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INVESTIGATION: Multimillion Naira e-learning centres abandoned, decay amidst shortage of facilities in Kano

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Gwarzo e-learning centre

Nasiru Yusuf

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

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.

Bichi e-learning centre

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.

Abubakar Ibrahim

“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.

Mubarak Bashir

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.

Gwarzo

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.

Gwarzo e-learning centre

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.

Aliyu Muhammad Usman

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.

Mustapha Muhammad

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.

Khadija Sani Usman

“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.

Rafiat Mansur Sani

Kabo

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.

Kabo e-learning 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

Tofa

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.

Dambatta e-learning centre

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.

Dr Auwalu Halilu

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.

Malam Muhammad Shu’aibu

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.

Comrade Aminu Rabi’u Na’abba

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.

 

 

 

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How Lack of Equipment Exposes Health Workers To COVID-19 In Kano

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Primary Health Centre, Panshekara

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).

Controversial deaths

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.

Abbatoir Cemetery

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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How Politicians Hijacked Distribution Of COVID-19 Palliatives In Kano

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Kumbotso Chairman and Kabuga Councillor

Nasiru Yusuf

When Kano State recorded its first Coronavirus case on April 11, 2020, there was shock, confusion, and palpable tension. It was six weeks after Nigeria recorded its index case which resulted in search for desperate measure to contain the contagious virus.

Following the frenzy across the country, on March 20, 2020, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, inaugurated the state taskforce on COVID-19 under the leadership of his deputy, Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, and co-chaired by Prof. Abdul-Razaq Garba Habib, Head of the Infectious Diseases Unit, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano.

The committee was saddled with the responsibility of assessing the situation and coordinating the state’s response to the threat posed by the pandemic, through multi-disciplinary approach and inter-sectoral collaboration; and to also advise the government on necessary steps and decisions to combat the threat.

To curtail the virus, the state government ordered the closure of all routes linking the state to other parts of the country from Friday, March 27. During a meeting with religious leaders at the Government House, Mr. Ganduje also announced the complete lockdown of the state, for one week, with effect from Thursday, April 16. He said the lockdown would affect movement of people, markets, as well as social and religious activities. He urged residents to cooperate and support this decision, as a measure to prevent the spread of the dreaded COVID-19 in the state.

With the total lockdown in effect, markets, businesses, and public places shut down, many people lost their means of livelihood. The need to cushion the suffering of the vulnerable became necessary.

Government Inaugurates Palliative Committee

On March 29, the governor set up a 30-member fund raising committee. Part of the responsibilities of the committee was to seek for donations from organisations and individuals, identify the needy to whom the donations will be distributed and design the mode of distribution. The immediate past Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, Professor Muhammad Yahuza Bello, was appointed to head the palliative distribution committee.

In his inaugural speech at the flag off ceremony on April 23,  Bello said the palliatives were meant for 50,000 poor households across the 44 local government areas of the state. He explained that the items were to be distributed to four households each of the over 11, 000 polling units of the 484 political wards in the state. Each household was expected to get a bag of rice, a carton of spaghetti, macaroni, dawavita, four litres of oil, semovita, pasta, noodles, and cash gift of N2,000.

The committee distributed food items in three phases. The first phase and third phases consisted of food items supplied by Kano State government while the second phase was from 139 truckloads of grains given to the state by the Federal Government to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.

How Politicians Hijacked Palliative Distribution

Investigation by this reporter shows the distribution of lockdown palliatives in Kano was characterized by irregularities. In many places, politicians and traditional leaders assigned to distribute the food items were accused of diverting the items to their family members and political associates.

Abbas Danladi Yalwa

At Yalwa ward for example, one of the beneficiaries, Abbas Danladi, said he was given a 50kg of guinea corn, 2 litres of cooking oil and N2000. Going by the distribution template released by the committee, two litres of cooking oil was missing from Mr. Danladi’s palliative. “I heard that my name was among the beneficiaries of the palliatives,” he noted. “When I went to the resident of the ward head, I received an allocation card, which I presented before I collected the items. I received 50 kilograms of guinea corn, N2000 cash and we shared a four litre gallon of cooking oil with another person.”

However, the traditional ward head of the area, Salahuddeen Muhammad, said they received palliatives with shortage of 20 beneficiaries, hence the reduction in the ration to accommodate everyone.

Salahuddeen Muhammad

One of the executives of Zauren Panshekara, a community-based association at Panshekara town and member of the palliatives distribution committee in the area who pleaded anonymity told this reporter that although the area was expected to get 140 rations of the palliatives to be distributed to four households in each polling units as designed by Kano State taskforce on COVID-19, they ended up with just 100 as the council chairman, Kabiru Ado Panshekara, allegedly cornered the remaining 40.

Kumbotso LG chairman

Kabiru Ado Panshekara, chairman of Kumbutso LG

Mr. Panshekara is currently facing corruption charges at Upper Shariah Court, Shahuchi, Kano, for diverting palliatives. Our source said the chairman gave the area commander of Nigeria Police Force allocation meant for seven households, issued some to Hisbah (Islamic moral police) personnel and his political associates. The chairman’s action violated the provision of distribution which required the officials to distribute the palliatives to the poorest of the poor.

A councilor at Kabuga ward in Gwale Local Government Area, Shehu Aminu Kabuga was also accused of diverting 37 rations of palliative out of 252 meant for his ward. When confronted with the allegation, Mr. Kabuga argued that politicians and party loyalists deserved to be given priority attention during palliative distribution because they contributed during the Kano governorship rerun election.

Kabuga Councillor

Shehu Aminu, councillor of Kabuga ward

“I am a politician, and I am a member of the palliative distribution committee. It is mandatory for us to give politicians priority,” he said. “They supported the governor in Gama (a ward in Nassarawa Local Government where governorship rerun election was conducted) and toured 44 local government areas. I will rather resign from the palliative distribution committee if I cannot assist party loyalists.”

The story was the same at Getso town, Gwarzo Local Government Area where a commandant of the Kano State Hisbah Corps, Hassan Ibrahim Getso, changed the name of one beneficiary, a father of twelve children, Alhaji Sammani, with his son-in-law as alleged by a resident of the area, Ahmad Yahuza Getso. Mr Getso told this reporter that Mr Sammani was one of the poorest persons in the area, therefore qualified to be the beneficiary of the palliatives.

At Karaye Local Government, an activist, Kabiru Hamisu Kura, said they found a principal of a secondary school among the beneficiaries of the palliative.

The distribution of palliatives at Hotoron NNPC ward in Nassarawa Local Government was also characterized by irregularities and abuse of government directives as revealed by the chairman of Hotoron Kudu Youth Development Association, Jamilu Magaji. Mr Magaji who is also a member of Hotoro NNPC palliative distribution committee lamented how the councilor of Hotoro ward hijacked the distribution exercise and carted away a substantial portion of palliatives meant for the poor.

“On April 14, the village head of Hotoron Kudu invited us to Government Girls Secondary School, Namaituwo, to discuss modalities for the distribution of anticipated palliative in the area,” he said. “He told us that Hotoron Kudu had received 140 allocation of palliatives. Out of this number, the village head said he had allocated 20 slots to community-based organisations, security personnel 15 slots, ward heads 30 slots, imams 20 slots, councilor 30 slots and village head 25 slots.”

“On our part, the CBOs, we protested this sharing formula. We asked them to consider the people of Hotoro. We proposed that the allocation should be shared equally among ten quarters of Hotoron Kudu ward, and he agreed. Each quarter will get 14 allocation. The quarters are Hotoro GRA, Unguwar Nametuwo, Limawa, Tsamiyar Mashaya, Walawai, Hotoro Danmarke, Walawai, Maradi, Maraba and Hotoron Kudu.”

“We proposed that each ward head should liaise with CBOs in his quarters to select 14 beneficiaries. We told them we didn’t need it and directed all our members not to collect it. After the meeting, we mobilized our members to meet their ward heads and select the poorest of the poor in their area. To our greatest surprise, the following day, April 19, I received a call that APC members in Hotoro NNPC had petitioned against the distribution formula as it did not capture party loyalists. On the distribution day, the councilor took 30 slots, the village head 25, ward heads 20, security agencies 15 and CBOs 20.”

Mr. Magaji alleged that the village head deducted five hundred Naira out of the two thousand Naira meant for each beneficiary as transport fare paid for bringing the palliative to the area.

Isa Datti of Hotoro NNPC community concern development association corroborated the allegation of interference from politicians. He said the councilor of Hotoron Kudu had taken 30 slots out of 110 allocated to the area. “Our major concern is that he is distributing it to politicians, not necessarily the poor or needy,” he noted. “As members of community-based organisations, we know those who were qualified to get this palliative, but we were shortchanged. We received only 10 slots to distribute to the poor. Why should politician hijack the distribution, while the government directive was that it should be distributed to the poor irrespective of political affiliation.”

However, the village head of Hotoron Kudu, Ashiru Abubakar Yusuf, denied any irregularities in the distribution process. He argued that the beneficiaries were mainly selected by ward heads and Imams. “It is inappropriate to allocate portions of the palliative to councilor. To avoid political interference, village heads and ward heads were selected to distribute the items to the poor, being closest to people. All beneficiaries received food items with N2,000,” he said.

Civil Society Groups Dissatisfied

Many stakeholders, including civil society groups and People Living with Disabilities decried the irregularities recorded during the last two phases of COVID-19 palliative distributions in Kano. They alleged that the process was hijacked by politicians and occasioned by poor monitoring of the distribution to the last stage of delivery targeting poor residents of the state.

The Kano Civil Society Forum had earlier raised alarm over alleged deliberate exclusion of the group in the composition of the palliative committee to ensure adequate monitoring and evaluation.

Chairman of Kano Civil Society Forum, Ibrahim Waiya, lamented that the exercise had been hijacked by some politicians. He questioned the credibility of the process. “The process was not transparent because up till now, nobody could tell you actually the total amount of money that was received by the fund-raising committee in Kano and the quantity of the items they collected,” he said. Mr. Waiya expressed concern about the inefficiency of the committee due to its limited capacity in monitoring the distribution of palliatives. “The committee has only 35 members or thereabout. It is humanly impossible for them to reach every part of Kano State. That is the reason we expect them to engage the CSOs and other relevant stakeholders who have structures across the 44 local government areas of the state to ensure transparency and accountability,” he added.

Buttressing the position of civil society organisations, the Executive Director of African Center for Transparency and Anticorruption Advocacy in Kano, Ismail Auwal, told this reporter that there were no clearly defined modalities and criteria for the selection of the beneficiaries and the palliatives distributed did not include Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs). “There were no explanations from government on how much was used to procure the palliatives, who procured the palliatives, the sources of the money used to procure the palliatives, and how much the palliatives cost per beneficiary,” he noted.

People Living with Disability Protest Exclusion

The leadership of People Living with Disability in Kano State decried exclusion of their members in the composition of the palliative committee and the distribution of the food items and N2,000 cash.

Chairman of the Joint National Association for Persons with Disability, Kano branch, Musa Muhammed Sa’ada, told this reporter that his members were excluded despite several appeals and a formal letter written to the Secretary to the State Government, Usman Alhaji, in respect of their plights during the mandatory lockdown.

“We have Chairmen in all the 44 LGAs in Kano and I have their contacts. They have not received palliatives from the government. Also, at the State level, we contacted the chairman of the fund raising and palliative distribution committee, notifying them that there were no PWDs in the programme,” Muhammed Sa’ada lamented. “We wrote a letter to SSG Kano, and the SSG referred the letter to the committee. I have seen the letter and the date it was delivered to the committee. Up until now, the committee has not taken any action.

Kano Anti-corruption Agency Points Accusing Finger

The chairman of Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission (PCACC), Muhuyi Magaji Rimingado, said he had received complaints from different people accusing traditional rulers, including the Eze of Igbo community and Oba of Yoruba community in Kano of diverting palliatives.

Mr. Rimingado made this disclosure during a programme on Abubakar Rimi Television (ARTV), Kano. He revealed that the Commission found some local government chairmen, councilors, district heads and village heads who diverted the allocation forms meant to be distributed to the poor and needy to their families and friends.

According to Mr. Rimingado, “Someone brought a complaint against Oba of Yoruba community and Eze of Igbo community in Sabongari in Kano.” “We have found some local government chairmen, councilors, Hakimai (District Heads) and Dagatai (Village Heads) diverting palliative forms to their families and relatives,” he added. “There is an official who distributed the forms to all his siblings. There is also a local government chairman who allocated 90 forms to himself. There is a councilor who featured in a radio programme saying he only diverted 37 allocations.”

“We have recovered some allocations forms and money from some of these officials. Their argument was that since no food items were found from them, there was no basis for prosecuting them.”

Efforts by this reporter to get Mr. Rimingado’s response on why the PCACC had not prosecuted the local government chairmen and traditional rulers accused of diverting palliatives was not successful, as he did not pick several calls put to hm, neither did he respond to several messages sent to him.

Responding to the alleged diversion of palliatives, the chairman of Kano state palliatives distribution subcommittee Mr Bello said the committee has received one petition and investigated it appropriately.

He told this reporter that he has not heard of all the allegations mentioned, noting that, if they heard it, they would have investigated it appropriately.

Prof Yahuza Bello

“The case of Kumbutso (local government chairman accused with diverting palliatives) is before the court. You should not report it. Muhuyi has taken the chairman to court.

“We investigated the case brought to our attention. But what you are asking, I just heard it for the first time.

“We have received a petition from Dala local government, we set up a committee that investigated it. The findings shows that the ward head erred, though not intentional. What happened was a ward head (Mai unguwa) died, one person was appointed as Acting Ward head. He received the allocation of palliatives meant for twenty persons, but he thought the number is too small. He directed two persons to share one slot. The committee interacted with all stakeholders.

“After thorough investigation, the committee established it was an honest mistake. He has not take a single slot. Hence, we warned him.

“But what you are telling me now, nobody has reported it to us. We have not heard of them. If they reported it, we would have investigated it and take appropriate action. We were not aware wallahi,” Mr Bello said.

Officials Accused of Diverting Palliative Face Prosecution

The Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission (PCACC) arrested Kabiru Ado Panshekara for diverting palliatives meant to be distributed to the needy. The Commission first arraigned Mr. Panshekara on May 13 at Rijiyar Zaki magistrate court before it withdrew the charges and re-arraigned him at Upper Shari’ah Court, Shahuci, on May 27, on same charges.

The offence according to the anti-graft agency contradicted section 315 of Shari’ah penal code (criminal breach of trust) and section 26 of Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Law 2008 as amended (making false statement).

The Commission accused the council chairman of distributing palliatives meant for poor people to Police, DSS, Immigration and Hisbah personnel. It alleged that the act contravened the provision of Sections 22, 23 and 26 of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission Law 2008 (as amended).

According to the Commission, the approved list of beneficiaries excluded all political office holders, civil servants, political party officials, traditional rulers, Juma’at mosques Imams or Pastors as well as casual workers.

On June 11, the Commission also arraigned the councilor of Kabuga ward, Gwale Local Government, Shehu Aminu Kabuga, before Shahuchi Upper Shari’ah Court, for allegedly diverting lockdown palliatives meant for his constituents. The offence according to the Commission involved criminal breach of trust and making false statement.

The suspects were granted bail by the presiding judge, Khadi Kamilu Garba, while the trial was still ongoing as at the time of filing this report.

Kano Spends N425m on COVID-19 Palliatives

Amidst the irregularities and alleged hijacking of palliative distribution by politicians, Kano State government said it had spent N425 million to ease the hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state deputy governor, Nasiru Gawuna, said this while launching the third phase of the palliative distribution program at Farm Centre, Tarauni Local Government.

Mr. Gawuna who is the Chairman, Kano State Taskforce Committee on COVID-19 said 100,000 households benefitted from the first and second rounds of the exercise.

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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