From Usman Bello Balarabe
Further developments, claims and counterclaims have continued to trail last week’s report by Economic Confidentialwhich exposed how Kano state governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, approved the humongous sum of money to a company that is unknown to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to fix the popular Ado Bayero Road Network in Kano.
The initial investigation showed that about N110 million was approved for the contract over a period of three years (2019, 2020 and 2021) and N38 million was allegedly released in 2019. Still, the latest documents available to Economic Confidential can now confirm that the total contract sum was over N381 million at the time it was first awarded in 2018.
While officials of the Ganduje administration have consistently declined to offer any explanation to the public on the missing gaps in the contract awards which were highlighted in the initial story, the construction company that was mentioned in the scandal whose record of registration we couldn’t find in the CAC has now come forward to make a few clarifications about the contract.
The Contract Manager of the Company, Engr. Yusuf Muhammad, told Economic Confidential that the company is registered with the CAC and has all its documents intact, adding that it merely changed its name from Stonegate Quaries Ltd to Stonegate Engineering and Quarries Ltd which was why our search for the original name proved abortive. Meanwhile, the old name and old address are the available information on the contract papers and even on the signboard placed at the project site.
According to the CAC Status Report made available to Economic Confidential, the company has registration number 1088975 and named Walid Khabbazi and Ibrahim Hazim as Directors and John Erameh as Secretary.
Asked why the company has not lifted a finger to commence work on the road, the contractor said they were yet to receive any money from the state government despite having followed up and made an official request for advance payment.
“I saw in your report that the Kano State Government had (allegedly) released about N38 million for the project, but we have not received payment of a single kobo from the Government. You can make further inquiries to confirm.
“We don’t want the good name of our company to be rubbished with any political issues. That is why we have to clarify. We kept our containers at the site for over one year, we kept following up but there was no response, as such, we had to demobilise eventually,” Engr. Yusuf added.
Meanwhile, in a document (a letter dated 4th of December, 2018) sighted by Economic Confidential, a Provisional Award of Contract for the Construction of Ado Bayero Road Network, Dorayi Babba in Gwale local government area which was produced by the Kano State Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport, revealed the approval of the State Executive Council, chaired by Governor Ganduje, for the award of the above-mentioned contract to StoneGate Quaries LTD (Now, StoneGate Engineering Quaries Ltd) at the Cost of N381, 904, 640.43 (Three hundred and Eighty one million, Nine Hundred and Four Thousand, Six Hundred and Forty Naira, Forty-Three Kobo) only and completion period of 3 three months.
Similarly, another document sighted by Economic Confidential revealed a signed and stamped payment voucher of N49 million by the Civil Engineering Department of Kano State Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport to the Contractor- StoneGate Quaries Limited.
According to the findings, the N57, 285,696 (Fifty-Seven Million, Two Hundred and Eighty-Five Thousand and Six Hundred Ninety-Six Naira) was supposed to be an advance payment of 15 percent of the total contract sum payable to the contractor but according to the contract papers, the contractor had to pay N7,638,092 (Seven Million, Six Hundred Thirty-Eight Thousand and Ninety-Two Naira) as a tender fee to the coffers of the government before proceeding with the contract execution. Apparently, the contractor did not pay the sum and it was deducted from his 15 percent, so the amount of money raised in the payment voucher was N49, 647, 000 (Forty-Nine Million and Six Hundred and Forty-Seven Naira).
Again, the Kano State Commissioner for Works, Engr. Idris Wada Saleh declined to respond to any of our calls and messages on the missing links in the contract.
In his reaction to the previous report of Economic Confidential, Engr Saleh simply replied: “who told you the contractor is not qualified and what is your problem with that? Is the work not done properly or he doesn’t pay his taxes?”
Questions begging for answers that the Kano state government must provide are: Since the contractor claimed he didn’t receive any money and had to leave the site without commencing work, where is the N38 million allegedly released for the purpose in 2019? What about the payment voucher of N49 million naira that was raised to be paid to the contractor as 15 percent take-off fee? At what point did the state government decide not to release the money to the contractor after a payment voucher was raised? Was the contract award a mere conduit pipe meant to raise money for some other purposes?
What about the long-suffering people of Dorayi Babba and the entire Gwale local government area who have had to bear the brunt of the terrible state of the very crucial Ado Bayero Road Network? What influenced the change of Name of the Company after obtaining the contract? When will work commence on the one-kilometre road which was projected to be completed in three months but which is still in a state of disrepair after three years?