How Non-Existent Water Constituency Project Swallowed Millions of Naira In Kano

By Aisha Ahmed Isma’il

In an attempt to tackle water scarcity and provide access to safe drinking water to
communities in Kano State, the Federal Government in 2019 awarded contracts to
various companies for the construction of boreholes and supply of wash bores.
Investigations, however, revealed that funds were released to non-existent companies
leaving the projects undone.

Nine-year-old Amira Usman, a student of Kore Primary School in Makoda Local Government Area, of Kano State, was seen pushing a water cart with four Jerrycans of water when this reporter met her. Amira had fetched the water from a running stream, almost 10 kilometres away from her hometown.

Every morning, the nine-year-old is expected to join other children from the community, in the northwest part of Nigeria, to fetch water from the stream before heading to school. Oftentimes, they are late and
the school would get suspended.

Speaking on the lack of potable water in the community and its multiple impacts on their livelihoods, Amira’s mother, Khadija Haladu, said all her seven children now miss classes because they had to walk the long distance to get water for domestic chores.

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This is despite the disbursement of over N3 million (N3,078,000.00) by the Federal Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport in the 2019 constituency project to Sabon Ruwa General Investment Limited for the supply of 40 water pumps (Honda 2 inch) to Amira’s LGA.

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The project, which was said to be awarded to address the lack of potable water in many communities of the LGA, has not been executed. Residents still rely on water from nearby streams and open wells. Speaking to this reporter, a public office holder in Makoda LGA, who pleaded to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to speak, said there was only one functional borehole in Makoda ward which has been in
existence for over 10 years.

“Whenever it becomes faulty, we repair it ourselves, but aside from that one, there are no
water pump boreholes constructed from 2019 to date,” he said.

The source explained that all the remaining water pumps which were awarded before 2019 were abandoned halfway while others were dug but not erected. He confirmed that residents mostly rely on water from wells while those who are unable to dig wells in their homes buy from water vendors or cart pushers.

The public officeholder said many of the residents were at some point diagnosed with cholera and other waterborne diseases, as a result of intake of “polluted water.”

Just 20 kilometres away from Kore, in Makoda LGA, this reporter met another cart pusher in Dunawa community in Makoda local government area, fetching water from an open well. The water looked coloured and likely contaminated. But it was the best he could get in a community facing acute water scarcity. Speaking with this reporter, the Chairman of the cart pushers, Musbahu Abubakar, said he became a water vendor for two reasons; the lack of a job and poor access to potable water. But proudly, Abubakar said he
does not charge much, as he sells each jerry can for N20 only.

“My cart contains 12 Jerrycans and I earn N2,400 daily to feed my family.” He said the community had a borehole constructed four years ago, which is now inoperable.

The District Head of Dunawa community, Abdullahi Usman Galadima, who is also a health worker, said the community has not benefited from any zonal intervention project since the tenure of the former House of Representative member for Makoda Federal Constituency, Umaru Inusa Mai Tsidau elapsed in 2015.

“If we can get some water pumps, we would greatly appreciate them. Now, there are communities in Makoda LGA that have no water at all, they have to come to Makoda town to get water or pay cart pushers to supply them with water, and they buy at N50 per litre due to the distance,” he said. 

Galadima linked the scarcity of water in the area to increased health challenges and low economic output. He, however, said their wells are often treated with chlorine, alum,

corrosion inhibition, antifoaming and alkalinity control by the Kano State Ministry of Environment and Sanitation. 

Also, at Koren Tabo in the same council area, Yusuf Ali Gatseka, an elderly resident, said they have one 35-year-old borehole which sometimes requires a month’s rest. He said residents have resorted to using water from the stream which takes about 20 kilometres to the stream and back. 

“On a daily basis, I use about 20 cans (50 litres per can) of water in my household, and the scarcity makes it longer to get house chores done due to the distance from Makoda town to our community,” Gatseka highlighted.

Residents of Makoda LGA attribute their suffering of lack of potable water to a failed delivery of water pumps by Sabon Ruwa General Investments Limited, which received over N3 million for the contract. Sabon Ruwa General Limited is a private company which is inactive and its status remains unknown as identified by NigeriaCheck.

On b2bhint, another search engine that records the company’s activities, Sabon Ruwa General Investments Limited is described as an inactive company.

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According to the CAC, an inactive company is one that has not filed its annual returns up to date. This means the award of contract to Sabon Ruwa General Investments Limited, which was incorporated on 16th July 2018, with the RC 1510565 contravenes sections 417 – 424 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020, which states that “every company must make and deliver their annual returns to the CAC.”

Therefore, the award of contracts to Sabon Ruwa General Investment Limited contravenes section 4.4 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 which provides grounds for disqualifying or exclusion of bid. Section 4.4.2 (d) states that: “A bidder may have its bid or tender excluded if the bidder is in arrears regarding payment of due taxes, charges,

pensions or social insurance contributions unless such bidders have obtained a lawful permit in respect to allowance.”

 An e-mail sent to Sabon Ruwa General Investments Limited using: [email protected] bounced back.

The company, which has Muktar Sale and Ibrahim Muktar Sale as its directors, has no other traceable online activity.

NG-Check, however, shows that the company’s office address is located at No. 6 Kard Shops, Gandu Albasa quarters, Kano. This reporter, however, could not trace the address after several visits to the area. Other business owners in the area said they had no knowledge of such a company in the area.

Scary water test result 

On 5th, Nov 2022, this reporter subjected the stream water consumed by some residents of the Kore community in Makoda LGA to a laboratory test conducted by MAMS Consultancy Services, Kano. After three days, the results of the test showed that the

water consumed by the community is unsafe and contaminated with harmful microorganisms. 

According to the test result, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, one of the most dangerous bacteria known to cause inward fever, vomiting and abdominal pain was present in high proportion. 

The water also contained, in high proportion, a group of microorganisms indicating amongst other things, fecal contamination and the presence of harmful, disease-causing organisms. These organisms are termed coliform. 

Stream water used occasionally by people of Koren Tabo in Makoda LGA

A 2019 report by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and United Nations Children and Education Fund, UNICEF, showed that one-third of Nigeria’s population drink contaminated water while 130,000 Nigerian children die annually as a result of water-related infections. 

Coliform bacteria include Escherichia coli and Salmonella species. When these species are present in high proportion in any drinking water, they often cause life-threatening diseases such as typhoid, dysentery, and hepatitis amongst others, as explained by the examiner. 

Sordid tales in other LGAs 

According to UNICEF, access to safe drinking water remains a huge challenge to the majority of Nigerians, especially those living in rural areas. It is estimated that about 69 million people do not have access to clean water sources and 19 million rural dwellers walk long distances to collect unsafe water from lakes, streams and rivers. 

In order to tackle this problem, in the 2019 constituency projects, the Federal Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport awarded the sum of N9, 180.000 to Azaico Construction Nig. Limited for the construction of 30 water pumps of 21 inches in Fassi ward of Kibiya local government area of Kano State. This reporter found that the project was not executed. 

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The Village Head of Fassi, Ado Sa’adu said there was no water pump and wash bore projects in the community. Sa’adu said: “We dig wells. At some places the water is drinkable, and in other places, it is not, but we have drinkable ones mostly since we have sandy soil, the water is usually good.” 

He however said they would prefer a borehole adding that “even just five boreholes would go a long way in helping the community.”

Village head of Fassi, Ado Sa’adu of Kibiya LGA 

During a visit by this reporter to Kwantagi village in Fassi ward, this reporter found a similar situation, as Isa Muhammad Dauda, a resident of the community said the last borehole dug in his community was about six years back and it no longer functions. He said they have received borehole support from Non-Governmental Organisations to ease their water needs. Dauda, who sells tea, however, said the boreholes have not solved their water challenge, as most of the constructed ones have broken down, despite efforts at fixing them.

A borehole at Kwatangi, Fassi of Kibiya LGA 

Checks on Azaico Construction Nig on NigeriaCheck, showed that the company’s status is registered with an address located at No. 10, Gaida Fanshekara, Kumbotso L.G.A of Kano State. However, this reporter, who visited the address on the 7th of November 2022, could not trace the company at the said address. Residents in the area also said they have never heard of the company. The email address provided in the contact of the company on Nigeriacheck as: [email protected] was not active as an email sent bounced back. 

Checks of the company on social media platforms including LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram came up with no results. Efforts to track the company’s directors including Ayuba Alasan Labaran, Kabiru Alh. Rimin Gado, Abdulrauf Moh’d Ibrahim were unsuccessful as they have no obvious social media presence. This reporter found Facebook accounts with the names Kabiru Rimin Gado and Labaran Ayuba Alasan but they had no details or posts.

At Bunkure LGA, the contract for the construction of water pumps and wash bore was not executed, after N8,464,500 was released to Halliru Gurjiya and Sons Ltd, to construct 110 water pumps and supply 112 No. wash bore at the sum of N1,814,400.00.

Some boys getting water from a well Bono Community in Bunkure LGA 

A resident of Bono community in Bunkure LGA, Sabo MaiKifi Auwal, told our reporter that they do not have a single borehole constructed as a zonal intervention project but added that the “boreholes we have were constructed by a philanthropist.” 

Auwal, who is a fish seller, lamented that the lack of access to potable water was a major setback to his business, as he needs water to clean his fish. “We are very unhappy, but we hope the government will come to our aid,” he said. 

A resident of Bono Community in Bunkure LGA Sabo Mai Kifi Auwal, 

Locating the contractor’s address which NigeriaCheck listed as No.1 Taura Road, opposite NNPC Hotoro, Kano, was unsuccessful as the area had only residential houses. Muhammad Haruna, a resident of the Taura Road, who said he has lived in the area for over 20 years said he never heard of the company. 

After visiting various communities in Bunkure (Bono, Agalawa, and Sabon Gari communities) to interview residents, the APC local government chairman, Rabi’u Halliru

confirmed that no water pumps and wash bore were supplied. He clarified that the water pumps in Bunkure are state projects done by the Kano State House of Assembly. 

Checks on shows Halliru Gurjiya and Sons Ltd, was registered on 26th August 2004 with Registration No RC 605628. Its official address at Taura Road (1) opposite Hotoro, Kano, has also turned out blank after a visit by this reporter. However, a search on CAC says there is no matching record found for the search (using both company name and RC number). 

They’re Cash Cow projects- Expert

Speaking on why intervention projects are not executed, the Advocacy and Communication Officer, Centre for Awareness on Justice and Accountability, Akibu Hamisu described such projects as ‘cash cow projects.’ 

Hamisu explained that as accountability promoters and part of Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, Civil society members for tracking constituency projects, they had observed a lot of deviations, poor implementation and sometimes non-implementation of projects mostly carried out by legislators themselves or their closed allies. 

“These constituency projects are cash cow projects, although anti-graft agencies, CSOs and media are doing a lot in reducing the excesses,” he said. He, however, said some successes have been recorded as some contractors have been called back to the site or asked to replace sub standard materials supplied. 

He stressed the need for a fair and competitive procurement and bidding process at all levels. 

How contractor Allegedly constructed ‘shabby’ borehole in Falgore 

In the 2019 zonal intervention project, a project for the construction of boreholes was nominated by Alhassan Ado Doguwa, House of Representative member for Doguwa/Tudun Wada federal constituency, to construct over 10 solar-powered boreholes at the sum of N100 million. The money was released to SAT Engine Services, through the Hadejia Jamaare River Basin Authority. 

On a visit to Doguwa/Tudun Wada federal constituency, our correspondent observed that most of the boreholes in Brunburun, Bul, Falgore, Rugurugu, and Janduste are not functioning after residents claimed an alleged shoddy work was done.

A community leader at Rugurugu, Sani Umar said the borehole broke down less than four months after construction. “Up till now, it has not been fixed because we don’t have enough money to fix it,” he said. 

A solar-powered borehole project at Falgore, in Doguwa LGA also packed up barely six months after the project was handed over to the benefiting community. Residents of Falgore reported that the project was handed over to them in February 2021 and by August 2021, the taps had stopped running. Abdullahi Aliyu, the community leader said because of this, some elders had to remove the components of the project to store them as a preventive measure against vandals. 

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“The borehole sank due to the soil there being too soft. Even at the initial stage of the work, we advised the contractor not to construct the borehole on that spot, but he ignored us. Barely six months after, the borehole collapsed and became non – functional,” he said. 

“We tried to locate the contractor, our local government party chairman, and our representative, but all our efforts proved abortive,” he further stated. 

Speaking as an expert, Kabiru Ado, a water surveyor at Munib Drilling Company in Fagge, said the major cause of such collapse in boreholes was shoddy works or inappropriate survey of the land. “Sometimes, the borehole drillers don’t drill to the expected metres, so it causes inflow to the water distribution,” he said. 

However, a Director at SAT Engines Service, Alhaji Saminu Adamu, denied that the company executed a shoddy job. Instead, he said, the solar-powered boreholes were perfectly executed. “If after the work, there is a problem, even if it is after the three-month grace period, we send an engineer to help them fix it,” he said. Adamu said when they handed over the projects to the people, all the boreholes were functioning. 

He added that: “The local government cannot maintain these projects, and neither can the residents. I would suggest that the government hands over these projects to private individuals, who would in turn charge for the water.

This reporter also reached out to the project client, Hadejia-Jama’are River Basin Authority, which stated that the community has the full responsibility of fixing the boreholes. Mustapha Umar, the Director, Head of Water Supply, of the Authority said the boreholes have been neglected by the residents who “refused to make minor repairs.” 

“Sometimes the fault is very minor, but because they don’t treat it as their property, they don’t repair them. Now we are changing our awareness approach by training some community members on how to fix the problems concerning the boreholes,” he said. 

Umar promised that repairs will be made in all the affected areas where the Doguwa/Tudunwada constituency water projects have faults. 

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When asked to speak with the Managing Director of the agency for more information, the spokesman of the authority, Salisu B Hamza, said “he is new and answering these questions will take a very long time and procedure.” 

“I am hoping the answer we provided earlier would be sufficient for now, but it would take a series of meetings with people who handled the projects about five to six years back to brief the director,” he added. 

Ministry Yet To Reply FOI 

A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was sent on 14 November 2022 to the Federal Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport, to respond to issues around the contracts, but it did not respond to the FOI at the time of filing this report.

“This investigation is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting.”


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