Investigation: How Contract Fraud, Substandard Projects By Politicians, Contractors Negatively Impact Basic Education In Cross River State

From 2016 – 2023, the Cross River State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) completed 616 infrastructural projects. Sen. Stephen Odey, Chairman of the agency, disclosed this when giving stewardship of Sen. Ben Ayade’s administration at a media parley on Tuesday 23 May 2023. The agency, he said, also distributed 1,611,818 tables and chairs with the hope that it would improve the quality of education that pupils and students get and improve the working conditions of staff. However, this investigation by Archibong Jeremiah shows that the state is far from achieving its goals, as contracts worth billions were awarded amidst procurement violations. Some projects have been abandoned, others were poorly executed, and some pose a threat to the safety and well-being of teachers and pupils.

In May 2019, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) released the 2018 digest of basic statistics, for public and private schools in Nigeria. The data shows that there were nearly 4,151 classrooms in primary (1,697), Early Childhood Care Development and Education (ECCDE)/pre-primary (1,614), and junior secondary schools (840) in bad conditions in the state. 

The harsh learning conditions in which the authorities expected the teachers to impact knowledge in pupils and students partly caused the poor WAEC performance of public schools in the State from 2016 to 2020. Shoddy jobs of unpatriotic contractors and weak supervision from the procuring MDA are largely the causes of some of the bad classrooms in schools.

It seemed that the government at the time led by Sen. Ben Ayade understood the problem when the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) Chairman, Sen. Stephen Odey disclosed to reporters on January 19, 2017, that the Government approved N1.04 billion as a counterpart fund to enable SUBEB to access the 2016 Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) matching grant.

Thus, UBEC released 237 award letters for the 2012-2015 UBEC intervention projects which earmarked no fewer than 235 primary schools in the state for rehabilitation at N3.6 billion.

Six years later, in another media parley on Tuesday 23 May 2023 to give stewardship of the 8 years of Ben Ayade administration Sen. Odey disclosed that the state had embarked on an aggressive development of 639 infrastructure projects.

Of the 639 projects, contractors have completed 616 projects and handed them over to schools, while others are ongoing, according to records from Cross River SUBEB. In addition to the building of classrooms, offices, toilets, laboratories, and boreholes SUBEB also distributed 1,611,818 tables and chairs.

A scrutiny of the 639 projects executed by SUBEB under the Ayade administration (556 between 2015 and 2018, and 83 between 2019 and 2022) unearthed several irregularities that go against the State Procurement Law, 2020. But records from 2015 – 2018 are not publicly available, not even on the State Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) portal, only data from 2019 – 2022 are available.

In 2019, contrary to the provisions of Section 1.4, sub-section 1 of the procurement guidelines and rules of 2011 requiring that “the project must have budgetary provision,” the state government awarded all 36 contracts without any budgetary provision. None of the projects was in the state government’s budget for that year. 

The Government awarded the 36 education contracts on 26 April 2019 but backdated them to 7 January 2019.

Furthermore, TheInvestigator established that between 2019 and 2022, 20 unregistered companies got contracts worth billions of naira. 

Indeed, this contravenes Part 3, Section 6(b) of the State Procurement Law, 2020, which states that all bidders “shall possess the legal capacity to enter into the procurement contract.” See the tables below (zoom for better view).

Faulty Structures

At the Police Primary School in Ogoja LGA cracks decorated the building from the Head Teacher’s office through other offices to the classrooms. The foundation of the building is in trouble as erosion is fast washing it away, and some classrooms are profusely leaking.

Cracks on the wall
Erosion washing the foundation away
Likewise, at Government Secondary School Ijiman Ugep, Yakurr LGA, the staff rooms, laboratory, and two other classrooms are leaking badly. 

The main staff room has received considerable emergency remediation to hold the building together. 

Government Secondary School Ijiman Ugep, Yakurr LGA

The Government Primary School Ogbojia, Ogoja LGA operates from dilapidated buildings; rainfall easily soak the classrooms which the pupils also share with criminals. The management has been in a long-run battle to reclaim their classrooms from hoodlums in the community, their identities are yet to be identified. 

The Head Teacher’s office is routinely ransacked, goats are lodged at night in some classrooms, stolen properties are kept under lock and key in classes, and clandestine meetings are held in the school compound during ungodly hours.

As if it has not seen enough, used condoms, blood stains, pools of urine, and feces are regular sights for pupils as they are all over the classrooms.

Roof leakages did not also spare the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria (PCN) Primary School Mkpani, Yakurr LGA. Two classrooms have cracks, and they have poor drainage systems that don’t facilitate flowing of water.

Records from the State’s Due Process and Price Intelligence Bureau (DPPIB) show that on May 19, 2022, the Government paid Ijo Maritime Service Ltd a sum of N35 million to complete and deliver within four months, a block of five classrooms with an office and toilet at Police Primary School in Ogoja.

Ijo Maritime Service Ltd has as directors Mr. Inaku Jonathan Uko, Ayim Princewill Peter, and Ikoriatem Uko Inaku. The contractor shoddily executed the project. In less than a year after completion, the building is falling apart, and cracks filled the entire building.

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Mr. George Peter, the Head Teacher of the school told TheInvestigator that the substandard materials used for the building by the contractor hurt them. According to him, students openly defecate because the only good toilet is for the staff, and when it rains water from the leaking roofs disturbs teaching and learning.

“When I came, I noticed the cracks on the wall. I don’t know the cause but technically you can see that it was not a quality job. In the toilet, the plumbing system is not complete, no drainage is provided for the toilet, the wires used for the electrical are fake, and each time we use our generator it gets so hot”.

Government Primary School Ogbojia, Ogoja LGA also suffered a similar fate after the Government paid E. Eke Son Global N67 million to construct a 6-classroom block with a laboratory, office, and toilet.

The contractor obviously executed the project with low-quality materials. Built in 2022 but only put to use in 2023, the building was already falling apart when the reporter visited in October and December 2023. Inside and outside, it has numerous cracks, even on the floor.

Mr. Ellah Christopher the Head Teacher of the school said apart from the cracks and leaks on the roof, security is a major problem because the school has no fence. Findings revealed that when E. Eke Son Global finished the building, but gave the keys to a tailor beside the institution instead of giving it to the school authorities. The contractor only returned the keys to the Head Teacher after burglars broke into the building.

Mr. Ellah said that the new building “has cracks that run from the roadside across the classes to the other side. The backyard is deepening because of constant passing. The bad boys have started removing the fans, they did not provide any chalkboard, and the laboratory has no equipment.”

Furthermore, he recalled that “when they were building, we approached them saying that they should safeguard government documents (files, registers, scheme of work, lesson notes, results) by putting burglary proofs, they listened but did nothing.”

The Government contracted Ngboko & Sons Enterprise was to rehabilitate four classrooms at Government Secondary School Ijiman Ugep, Yakurr LGA for N14.3 million.

The contractor executed the contract but with inferior materials. The contractor only changed the zinc, used the previous wood, and painted the wall after light plastering. The walls and terrazzo floor are rough and a section of the building does not have drainage. A beam attached to a major pillar in front of the school has detached and poses a threat to students and staff. Because of the dusty terrazzo floor, the classrooms are constantly dusty, making the classes and students appear dirty.

Mr. Ebali Ubi, Principal of the school who spoke with TheInvestigator thanked the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) for their support in addressing some of their challenges.

“What the contractor did was just to roof and paint the building and collect his money. He removed the wood, used the old wood, and bought new zinc and other things. The terrazzo is fake, all the students in the classrooms when they return from school look like they went to where they cook, and white ash would be all over them”.

Emmanuel Okoi, the school’s Senior Prefect expressed dissatisfaction with the state of his school infrastructure. He corroborated the principal’s position and added “I think the responsibility of the government is to keep the school clean”.

In March 2022, the Government paid a sum of N48,584,390.38 to Dadamen Global Investment Nig Ltd to construct four classrooms that would have a library, laboratory, office, and toilet block at PCN Primary School Mkpani. It constructed the four classroom blocks but two of them and the library are seriously leaking such that pupils and books have to move when it rains. 

Elder Eno Ubi, the Head Teacher of the school said the leakages have negatively impacted them, especially during the rainy season. He called for immediate government action to ameliorate their suffering.

Elder Eno said, “For the leaking roof we have not amended it, we are waiting for money to see how we can call the carpenter to fix it”.

Investigation shows that out of the four contracts, three violated two sections of the Cross River State Procurement Law, 2020 (Law No. 9).

Only Dadamen Global Investment Nig Ltd merited the contract, Ngboko & Sons Enterprise, E. Eke Son Global, and Ijo Maritime Service Ltd did not. 

The CAC incorporated Ijo Maritime Service Ltd for “Shipping and Marine Engineering” but it collected a contract to complete a block of five classrooms with an office and toilet at the Police Primary School in Ogoja for N35 million by the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB).

This violates Part 3, Section 6(a) of the State Procurement Law of 2020 and it stipulates that “All bidders in addition to requirements contained in any solicitation documents shall possess the necessary professional and technical qualification to provide the goods, services, or works”.

The Government contracted Ngboko & Sons Enterprise to rehabilitate four classrooms at Government Secondary School, Ijiman Ugep and E. Eke Son Global to build a six-block classroom at Government Primary School, Ogbojia, Ogoja. Both companies have not registered with the CAC.

The two companies are not qualified to do any government contracts, awarding any contract to them violates Part 3, section 6(b) of State Procurement Law. It states that all bidders “Shall possess the legal capacity to enter into the procurement contract”.

Project Abandonment

The entire Sacred Heart Primary School Lagos Street in Calabar South LGA operates from a block of four classrooms.

The staff members share the classrooms with pupils since they have no offices. Pre-primary and ECCDE 2 share a hall. Primaries 1 and 3 share a classroom, it is the same for Primaries 2 and 4, Nursery 1 and Primary 5, while Primary 6 are alone. 

In the classrooms shared, pupils sit in opposite directions, backing each other but lessons go on at the same time.

The staff and pupils were excited in March 2022 when SUBEB contracted Jab Maze Nig. Ltd to renovate the school and provide functional toilets for N41 million. Bu the contractor abandoned the job halfway, which short-lived their joy, compounding their problem.

Jab Maze Nig. Ltd, the contractor did not just abandon the toilets and classrooms halfway, it did not install complete ceilings but it roofed and painted the front of the building to deceive the public.
The front and back of Sacred Heart Primary School at Lagos Street in Calabar South

The front and back of Sacred Heart Primary School at Lagos Street in Calabar South.

Ten days after TheInvestigator visited the school, the contractor returned only to remove their signpost. 

The inside

A resident, Elder Essien Ita, who has lived for over two decades close to the school told TheInvestigator’s reporter that he would never send his children to the school despite living on Dan Archibong Street (formerly known as White House), less than a five-minute walk.

The pensioner said the school needs more than classroom blocks, adding that it also has security and other problems.

“It is good that after many years of neglect, they were able to award a contract but the classrooms are not just what they need, did you see any gate?

“Parents whose children attended and still attend the school live around me, we see their struggles, my children or ward cannot go to that school, from noise to environmental pollution and class sharing, no, my ward can’t go there that doesn’t mean the school is completely bad, but no.”

Furthermore, he said the school is a “public toilet and meeting point for bad boys. When they rob you and run into the school you will never catch them. They need a new fence and gate, if possible, relocate the primary school entirely and leave the secondary school there.”

Since they had no other building to use and after waiting in vain for the contractor to deliver, the management had no choice but to begin using the building as it was. 

Speaking about the classroom project, the Head Teacher of the School, Mr. Terrence Effiong, disclosed that the school started using the building because it had no choice.

“The classroom block that was to be rehabilitated has not been finished for two years now. Out of six, only two seats have been fixed in the toilet, the doors have not been fixed, the project is yet to be completed, we just tried to see how we can use the building for the children to continue their learning,” Mr. Effiong said. 

Documents from the CAC website show that Jab Maze Nig. Ltd registered as a “Commission Agency” and the owner is the current member representing Bakassi/Akpabuyo/Calabar South Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Bassey Joseph. Serving alongside him as Directors are Ebong Uduak, Robson Mariah, Robson Iniobong, and Windful Samuel.

Hon. Joseph, who is the immediate past Deputy Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly and represented Calabar South two in two terms, was still a principal officer when his company got the contract in March 2022.

Because the company registered with CAC as a commission agency and not a construction or engineering firm, the contract award contravenes Part 3, Section 6a(1) of the Cross River State Procurement Law, 2020 (Law No. 9), which stipulates that “all bidders in addition to requirements contained in any solicitation documents shall possess the necessary professional and technical qualification to provide the goods, services, or works”. 

Open Defecation

As if sharing classrooms and not having a toilet is not enough, the environment at Sacred Heart Primary School on Lagos Street is not conducive to learning and teaching because the neighbors and traders at the famous evening fish market used the school premises used as a public toilet.

Evidence of open defecation at Sacred Heart Primary School on Lagos Street

The stench of feces and urine is constant in and around the school. Just by the side and around the classroom block, there was piles of feces accompanied by a heavy stench of urine.

The Government Primary Model School Idundu in Akpabuyo LGA is also prone to open defecation because a contractor abandoned the construction of toilets there.

At Government Primary School Ikang Central in Bakassi LGA staff use neighbors’ residences while pupils openly defecate. 

Had Jab Maze Nig. Ltd, a company owned by a serving parliamentarian, been patriotic and completed the job to specification, pupils, and staff of Sacred Heart Primary School Lagos Street would have had four toilets to share.

Mr. Terrence Effiong, the Head Teacher of the School explained that “because there is no fence and it is situated in Calabar South. Since some compounds don’t have toilets after school hours they defecate in the school compound, even inside the classroom”.

He added that the lack of convenience at times makes teachers close early. His words “Sometimes when a teacher is pressed, he or she takes permission to go home, but because of the situation of the country, the teacher might decide not to come back”.

Ijo Maritime Service Ltd built the Government Primary Model School Idundu in 2019 at the cost of N145,015,38.88. The Government commissioned the school in 2020 without any functional toilet because the contractor abandoned the construction of all the 16 proposed toilets.

On one occasion, a snake attacked the Head Teacher of the model school while defecating.

Mr. James Asuquo recounts the ugly experience “To be candid we are going through untold difficulty. There was a day I was seriously pressed, I went into the bush to ease myself. I was attacked by a very big snake. If I, as an adult, could face such a thing, what about the younger ones?”

Not having toilets and good chalkboards is not the only negative impact the project has on the students and teachers as they have no water and go a long distance to fetch from the stream.

In the same school, Bejul Nig Ent. constructed a motorized borehole at the cost of N7,203,706.65 which did not last two months before packing up. It has not been repaired and the overhead tank has been stolen by unknown people, while the tap heads are all broken and the pump needs repairs. 

Mr. Asuquo added “No toilet, no water, and as you have seen this structure is new but if rain falls now leakages will be everywhere. There is a room I designated as a temporary library because of the leakages there. Some of the books have been spoiled”.

Miss Magdalene Bassey Asuquo, a Primary 6 pupil, said the nearest place they fetch water is a nearby stream but “One day a madman attacked us”. She observed that pupils are not happy with the learning environment and want a change.

In 2019 the Government paid Mayebe Golden Investment Ltd over N11 million for the rehabilitation of a three-classroom block at Government Primary School Ikang Central in Bakassi LGA. 

A close look at the school shows that the contract was awarded in error because a proper needs assessment was not carried out. A staff member who pleads anonymity due to the volatile nature of Bakassi said “What our school needs most is toilet facilities as staff and students practice open defecation like many schools here”. 

When TheInvestigator visited there was four classroom blocks and not 3 as contained in the contract documented. The extra classroom should have been a toilet.

The staff member further stated, “We don’t have a toilet as you have seen. Teachers use neighbors’ places but pupils as you can see go around the bush behind”. 

In addition to Government Primary School Ikang Central in Bakassi, the Cross River state Government have awarded many contracts is not the without proper needs assessment. It was the same situation at Government Secondary School Ijiman Ugep in Yakurr LGA. The school has no toilet, and staff and students use the bush around the premises if they must ease themselves. However, the community has a four-room toilet for those who can afford N50.
The community toilet and papers used by some students and staff at Government Secondary School Ijiman Ugep, Yakurr LGA

Mr. Ebali Ubi, Principal of Government Secondary School Ijiman Ugep said “We need more than just a classroom block, we don’t have toilets, the common toilet that students use I pay about N3,000 monthly for my students”. 

Investigation shows the contract awarded to Ijo Maritime Service Ltd to construct a model school at Government Primary Model School Idundu in Akpabuyo for N145 million, to Bejul Nig. Enterprise to drill a motorized borehole in the same school awarded for N7,203,706.65 and Mayebe Golden Investment Ltd to rehabilitate a 3-classroom block at Government Primary School Ikang Central in Bakassi was not in tandem with the State Procurement Law of 2011, it was reviewed in 2020.

They delivered the projects but they were substandard.

CAC incorporated Ijo Maritime Service Ltd for “Shipping and Marine Engineering” services. This violates Part 3, Section 6 (a) of the law which stipulates that “all bidders in addition to requirements contained in any solicitation documents shall possess the necessary professional and technical qualification to provide the goods, services, or works.”

Bejul Nig. Enterprise and Mayebe Golden Investment Ltd have not registered with the CAC. Therefore, according to Part 3, Section 6(b) of State Procurement Law they are not eligible for a contract. Part 3, section 6(b) states that all bidders “shall possess the legal capacity to enter into the procurement contract.”

Completed, But Not Handed Over 

While many schools suffer from incomplete or shoddily executed projects, others contend with new projects completed project but not handed over to them.

The St. Augustine Primary School, 8 Miles, Calabar Municipality, holds assemblies in the open and when it rains they will forgo it. 

The Government contracted Mangle Enterprise Ltd in March 2022 to construct a hall for N37.5 million. The contractor has completed the job but is yet to hand it over to the authorities. So, the school cannot use them.

The State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) assembly used the hall at St. Augustine Primary School 8 Miles as a store while assemblies continue in the open.

SUBEB used the assembly hall at the St. Augustine Primary School 8 Miles as a store.

But Mangle Enterprise Ltd is not registered with CAC and ought not to be awarded any government contract, the award violates Part 3, section 6(b) of State Procurement Law, and it states that all bidders “shall possess the legal capacity to enter into the procurement contract”.

In the same vein, when Government Primary School Behuatsuan, Ipong in Obudu, needed more classrooms, the Government contracted Ryte Reason Limited in March 2022 and paid N44 million to rehabilitate a block of four classrooms with two offices in the school. 

As in the case of St. Augustine Primary School, the contractor completed the work at Government Primary School, Behuatsuan but the school has not taken possession of it.

The contractor, Ryte Reasons Ltd was incorporated in Calabar and the directors are Ugah Moses Uteka, Momba Lawrence, Ugah Florence, and Ellah Cornelius.

The reporter contacted Ryte Reasons Ltd on why they are yet to handover the project, Mr. Atarry Moses, CEO of the company responded and referred the reporter to SUBEB. 

He added “We have been working with SUBEB for upwards of 10 years. We just leave the site after job completion. We don’t participate in the rituals of handing out. Please revert to SUBEB.”

Politicians Hijacking Projects

Nigeria ranks 154th out of 180 countries on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) according to a 2022 report by Transparency International (TI). 

The CPI aggregates data from eight different sources that provide perceptions by experts and business people on the level of corruption in the public sector. In CPI 2015, Nigeria ranked 136th, 136th in 2016, 148th in 2017, 144th in 2018, 146th in 2019, 149th in 2020, and 154th in 2021.

In its 2019 report, TI emphasized that corrupt officials stole 66% of the money Nigerian governments allocate to education. 

This suggests that corruption is a severe problem in Nigeria’s education sector and it confirms the findings that politicians influence many contracts they have no intention to deliver and in most cases when they do, it is a low-grade job.

Procurement records from the State’s Due Process and Price Intelligence Bureau show that in 2019 the government initiated 36 educational projects; 12 were for the construction of model schools, 12 others for constructing motorized boreholes, and another 12 were for rehabilitating classrooms and hostels. 

TheInvestigator further uncovered that Inaku Jonathan Uko, Chairman of the Cross River State Civil Service Commission, constructed 8 out of the 12 model schools via his four companies. 

Again, in 2022, the Government initiated another 47 educational projects which Uko’s same four companies got five of them, totaling 13 contracts he got out of 83 between 2019 and 2022. 

Inaku Jonathan Uko, Chairman Cross River State Civil Service Commission

The companies are Implementing Technology LtdIjo Maritime Services LtdRennies Works Ltdand Royal Touch Technology Limited

In Yala LGA, the Government paid Royal Touch Ltd over N28 million for the construction of the Inom assembly hall at Community Secondary School and N45 million for the construction of a four-block classroom with a library, offices, and toilet in Community Primary School, Adiero Okpoma.

For the construction of a block of four classrooms, a library, laboratory, office, and toilet at the primary school Nsofang, Etung LGA, the Government also paid Ijo Maritime over N47 million. It also got the contract for the construction of a block of four classrooms at Ntol Comprehensive Secondary School for N254 million, and over N34 million for the rehabilitation/completion of a block of five classroom blocks with offices/toilets at Police Primary School in Ogoja LGA.

For the construction of a block of two classrooms at Community Primary School, Antebellum in Bekwarra LGA, Rennies Work Ltd got over N36 million and over N8 million to construct a block of two classrooms for ECCDE At PCN primary school, Ofumbongha, Obubra LGA.

Implementing Technology Ltd got over N43 million for the rehabilitation of 1no 6 classroom comprehensive Secondary school Ndok in Ogoja LGA.

In a similar fashion, Quintito Integrated Services Ltd, a company owned by Anthony Andor Ulayi, a relative of Governor Ben Ayade, was got a contract to rehabilitate a six-classroom block at Community Primary School Ofu-Kpuru Affa, Bekwara LGA for N19.6 million in 2019. Other directors are Enamhe Ushie, Blessing Anthony Ulayi, and Prince Victor Necus-Agba.

Christians Global Synergy Ltd, a company owned by Mathias Unimke Angioha, Ayade’s younger brother, got two contracts in 2022 – the construction of 1 number motorized borehole, three elevated water tanks at St. Georges Primary School old Netim 1 Akamkpa LGA for over N9.5 million, and the construction of drains/converts at British/Canadian School, Kakum Obudu LGA for over N86 million.

Peter Ayim Princewill, another appointee of Governor Ayade, who was the Director General of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and also who the Governor also appointed within the same period as Inaku, is a director in Rennies Works Ltd and Ijo Maritime Services Ltd. 

Mr. Peter Princewill Ayim Director General of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA)
This investigation shows that Mr. Princewill and Sen. Stephen Odey, SUBEB Chairman were legislative aids to Governor Ayade when he was a senator representing Cross River North.

Anthony Andor Ulayi, owner of Quintito Integrated Services Ltd, is linked to the Governor of Ayade through his half-brother, Placidus Ogar. Months after the awarding the contract in 2019, the Governor appointed him Special Assistant on the Local Government Service Commission.

Mr. Anthony Ulayi Special Assistant to the Governor on the Local Government Service Commission

The findings further unearthed Governor Ayade’s younger brother, Mathias Unimke Angioha as a director in Christians Global Synergy Ltd, Christians Ishamali Odey is also a director while Jaiye Samuel Ajayi is the secretary.

Mathias Unimke Angioha was Governor Ayade’s Personal Assistant (Domestic) throughout his tenure and is now Commissioner for Industries in the current administration of Sen. Bassey Edet Otu.

Disability Rights Law Violation

The objective of the Cross River State Disability Rights Law (No. 11) of 2021 “is to ensure the full integration of persons with disability into the society”. TheInvestigator established from 13 schools visited, only 1 is partially compliant to the law.

The Government built twelve schools without respect for the State Disability Rights Law which has been fully operational a year earlier. 

Part 2 (4 and 5) of the Law mandates that “A person with a disability has the right to access the physical environment and buildings on an equal basis with others.

“A public building shall be constructed with the necessary accessibility aids such as lifts (where necessary), ramps, and any other facility that shall make them accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.” See table below (zoom for better view).

Only Police Primary School Ogoja has a partial rail for wheelchairs to access a section of the building. The contractor is Ijo Maritime Service Ltd, and the project gulped N35 million. See the table showing the schools built in violation of the State Disability Rights Law. 
Take Up Ownership Role – Stakeholders Urge Communities

Mr. Kebe Ikpi, Cross River State Coordinator of Child Protection Network (CPN) described the findings of this investigation as “shocking,”.

He said, “It’s sad to admit that in 2023 children are still learning in an unconducive environment and lack the basics to study,” adding that the importance of a standard classroom and a conducive learning environment is what a child needs to succeed.

He appealed to the Commissioner for Education to “ensure our schools are up to standard. I am appealing to private citizens to adopt a school, it is true the government might not be able to do everything.” Ikpi further appealed to “citizens who are well-to-do can adopt a school and provide the necessary materials the school needs for children in that school to attend school comfortably.”

Mr. Gabriel Adim of the Aged Care Well Foundation while reeling out the dangers of open defecation emphasized the importance of ending it in schools.

He said, “Open defecation is a dangerous practice. One of the issues causing open defecation is no access to water, good sanitation, and hygiene practices. These contribute to negative health outcomes.”

Furthermore, he said “It has its own environmental and socio-economic danger, and now we are talking about climate change, the underlying word is it is dangerous and life-threatening. It should not be encouraged because of the health, economic, and social well-being of the people.”

Advising, he said, “We need to create a strong system of reorientation for our people, we need to provide adequate and accessible water, toilet facilities that are well-maintained.”

Kebe and Adim urged communities to take up an ownership role in any public projects within their locations to ensure the contractors and the government do the right things.

SUBEB Boss Angry, UBEC Ignores FOI

TheInvestigator visited SUBEB headquarters three times to get answers on why the the SUBEB did not adhere to the procurement law and disability rights laws in the award of the contracts between 2019 and 2022. The visit was also to know why records of 556 contracts from the 639 awarded between 2015 and 2022 were not in the public domain, coupled with the shocking revelation of this investigation.

Mr. Etta Inyang Eyo, the Director of Administration, who is the acting Chairman of SUBEB in Cross River, took offence in the findings.

Eyo was angry that the reporter did not visit his office first to arrange for a guided tour sponsored by SUBEB. Okpokam Odum, the Information Officer of SUBEB said over the phone on the day October 13, 2023, explained Eyo’s anger thus: “I told him you had already gone round and have information with you. He was not too happy,” he said, adding that “you would have come to us first to arrange the visit, what you want we take you there.”

No further response has been received from SUBEB.

At the UBEC office in Calabar, the fourth visit paid off as Mrs. Dodeye Jude, Head of Administration spoke briefly, saying that all their projects are well under supervision. She then referred this reporter to their head office in Abuja.

Two days later, an FOI dated October 19, 2023, addressed to the Chairman of UBEC with REF: TI/ED/FOI/001/UBEC01, was sent to the official UBEC email ([email protected]) requesting a detailed response on the contract awarded in Cross River State between 2015 and 2023 with their descriptions, date the projects were advertised and the media, location of each project and the approved threshold. 

Other information requested includes the procurement method, the dates of bid opening, the name of contractors, the date of contracts awarded, the contracts execution period, contract value for each, the approved budgetary provisions, the amount paid, the level of project completion, and remarks on the projects.

The reporter successfully sent mail to UBEC but did not get any response.

Education Commissioner Plays Hard To Get

The State Commissioner for Education, Sen. Stephen Odey is the immediate past Chairman of SUBEB. On October 12, 13, and 16 2023 the reporter visited Odey’s office but he was not there.

The same day a call to his mobile number went through and he gave an appointment for next Tuesday, October 21, 2023, at 11 am.

On the set day, this reporter sat from 10:30 am to 4 pm and could not see the Commissioner. 

The appointment slip

The Commissioner rescheduled the appointment to the next day, but the he would still not speak to the reporter.

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

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