By Our Correspondent
Until recently majority of Nigerians including President Muhammadu Buhari have never heard of a word “Padding” until when a case of budget padding was first reported at the National Assembly in the course of working on the 2016 budget.
The APC governors in virtually all the states were elected not primarily because of their popularity and goodwill but due largely to the love and confidence the electorates have on President Buhari. The thinking in the minds of the electorates then was that all the APC governors will work closely with the president, adopt his mission and vision in governance and above all practice and promote prudence and accountability in the management of public resources. But the reverse is the case in many APC controlled states as nepotism, outright looting, none performance and dictatorship has become the hallmark in many states. Bauchi state under Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar as an agent of the APC change mantra is not an exemption.
Clear cases of contract padding in Bauchi under the APC government of Mr. Abubakar, instances of contract inflation, questionable review of contracts and contracts by proxy with official documents that will support such claims has been sufficiently gathered by DESERT HERALD weekly. This paper can authoritatively reveal that amongst the indirect beneficiaries of highly inflated contracts in Bauchi includes Mr. Abubakar’s own biological children, the deputy governor, Nuhu Gidado (Sardaunan Jama’are), the Speaker, Kawuwa Shehu Damana, members of the House of Assembly, the commissioner of works, Abubakar Tatari Ali and many others.
Instances abound many of such questionable contracts. For instance, the initial engineering estimate of the road construction project from Awala to Miri is N2.1billion but was reviewed upward to a whooping N4billion and even at that the standard has been compromised. Experts lamented how an already dualized road of not more than four kilometers will cost that much. Another three kilometres road project from the Head of Service round-about to Federal Low cost and Railway is still yet to be completed despite more than 70 percent payment of the reviewed total cost. The project is as old as the APC administration of Mr. Abubakar and is link to his children.
The ongoing construction of the Magistrate Court Complex is also being used by the critics of Mr. Abubakar’s government and the people of the state to doubt his sincerity and commitment to good and corrupt free government. The project was said to have been awarded to friend(s) of Mr. Abubakar’s son(s) while the standard remained compromised.
The state commissioner of works, Abubakar Tatari Ali is being accused of undermining the government of Mr. Abubakar through series of alleged corrupt practices and corrupt enrichment. Apart from the allegation of using the bank account of his Personal Assistant one Umar Ali in depositing proceeds of highly inflated contracts, the Ministry at the instance of Tatari Ali recently bought used project monitoring vehicles from the MTN instead of procuring new ones because provision was actually made for the procurement of brand new vehicles in view of the nature of tedious work the vehicles will be doing. The MTN used vehicles was reportedly refurbished by Mr. Tatari’s PA, Umar Ali whom insider said is being used as a conduit pipe by the works commissioner.
The Head of the Due Process office, Sirajo Dauda, DESERT HERALD weekly can reveal is also enmeshed in abuse of office and corrupt enrichment. This paper is in possession of supporting documents that suggest that Mr. Sirajo is often giving to himself consultancy and in most cases executing such projects through proxy company.
Even though details in this report was giving only in summary before the full report is ready for publication, some of the details as alarming as they are requires the immediate investigation and attention of Governor Abubakar if he is to be taken serious or to be exonerated by his people. The Bauchi State Development Board as part of our area of focus is another agency under Mr. Abubakar that has become notorious in violating the law and selecting particular citizens to favour. Under the Board, government plots at the Governor’s Office for instance are being carved out and allocating same to governor’s cronies and proxies. DESERT HERALD has obtained full list of such beneficiaries of alleged illegal and fraudulent land allocations and will be publish in our subsequent full report. In what many considered as gross violation of the law the lists of the beneficiaries of the carved out lands includes public servants. So far strategic government lands and in areas exclusively reserved for official use like government offices were allocated to individuals and are being converted to private homes.
The education sector is also affected. The appointment of the the Acting Vice Chancellor of the Bauchi State University for instance was also marred by politics, disregard of due process and favouratism while issues of admission under the current Vice Chancellor has been characterise by massive corruption. The university is gradually being destroyed under Mr. Abubakar’s watch. Our findings also revealed that the state government invested less than N500 million in the university. Most of the structures including buildings were provided by TETFund under the former Executive Secretary of the fund. Insiders confided in this paper that the VC of the University, Dr. Maazu Bagara is not actually a PhD holder but was favoured by Governor Abubakar over more qualified PhD holders and professors. Victims of the alleged admission racketeering in the university under Maazu Bagara told DESERT HERALD in confidence that they give between N15,000 to N20,000 as gratification before securing admission in the university while those that cannot afford giving the bribe even if they are qualified are being denied admission. But our source said Governor Abubakar is truly not aware about the ugly and embarrassing development in the university and that he is being misinformed about the true happenings in the institution. This details will also be publish in the subsequent full report.
The major concern in Bauchi today apart from issues of none performance is the stability of the governor. Most of those interviewed by DESERT HERALD weekly expressed concerned that Mr. Abubakar did not have time for the state and that he hardly spend one week in the State unlike President Buhari and many governors that travel only when it is absolutely necessary. Apart from the pain of not staying in the state, pundits lamented that the cost of Governor Abubakar’s frequent trips can make the state bankrupt and that execution of the needed projects will be impossible because there won’t be enough resources to embark on meaningful projects. In the last seven months for example, the governor has travel more than twenty times to several foreign countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and of recent Senegal and Holland. Domestic trips being embark upon by Mr. Abubakar through chartered plane the cost of which was borne by the state government are too numerous to mention. He was in Kaduna last week on a chartered plan before he proceeded to Holland.
The governor’s recent visit to Senegal for example was the most ridiculous if inside account of the journey is true and is anything to go by. The purpose of the visit was just to watch a football match of the state owned Wilki Tourist in Senegal but millions that would have provided several boreholes or as an intervention to health centres and dilapidated schools was wasted in the process. Mr. Abubakar was said to have used a whooping sum of N200 million for that journey along. The amount DESERT HERALD can report was drawn from the account of Bauchi State Orphans and Vulnerable Agency popularly called BASOVCA. BASOVCA was established by former Governor Isa Yuguda to carter for the needs of orphans and other disabled and vulnerable persons in the state. Civil Servants are the main contributors. Their hard earned money is being used to fund the agency. One percent of civil servants salary is being deducted every month for BASOVCA’s humanitarian activities. It was from that account according to a credible insider the governor sadly ordered for the withdrawal of N200 million for a single journey. Our independent findings at BASOVCA revealed that there is indeed a huge withdrawal from the account of BASOVCA recently.
Apart from extravagance and wastages associated with jamboree trips, issues of fraud in contract awards which we called contract padding and renaming of projects done by previous regimes and claiming same, Mr. Abubakar’s perceived lacklustre attitude in allowing close aides and associates to shortchanged the state as a result of which several of them are stupendously rich with properties within and outside Bauchi is also an issues of concern to many citizens and has so much resulted in affecting the popularity of the governor. Insiders cited a particular example of Mr. Abubakar’s Chief Security Officer, CSO, one Usman Isa. Usman Isa according to our findings is an SSS officer and a blood relative of the governor. CSO Isa is from Jos. DESERT HERALD is in a possession of pictures of mansions in Jos and Abuja allegedly belonging to the CSO. Pundits wondered how can SSS officer even above his Cadre can afford to owned such a luxury homes in less than two years. They said Mr. Abubakar should rather fight the endemic corruption in his own home rather than accusing predecessors of acts that are by far lesser to what is happening today.
Despite the above shortcomings which are enough to cripple any government and destroy her good intentions, and the seeming disappointment of President Buhari in the current government in Bauchi, Governor Abubakar is determined against all odds to prepare his ground as 2019 approaches. Although most of the federal lawmakers in Bauchi including Speaker Yakubu Dogara are against his style of leadership and lately criticizing him, the governor is determined to have few others on his side. House of Representative members like Hon. Yahaya Gumau, that of Jama’are and Zaki federal constituencies are said to be loyal to the governor. Credible but unconfirmed source told this reporter that Mr. Abubakar had recently bought jeeps to the three loyal house of Representatives members.
A close aide of President Buhari who preferred not to be mentioned told this reporter that the president having reviewed the performance of many APC Governors has decided that come 2019 he will not campaign for any governor and that he will allow the people to decide for themselves base on the performance or otherwise of their governors. The aide said the period when Buhari will campaign for people that did not perform or have betrayed the trust of their people is over. “But as long as you perform the people will definitely know and Buhari too will know. Telling them to vote for you will not be a problem and the president will proudly do it. But when you expect a credible person like Buhari to stand before the people and tell them to vote for who they believe has not perform because he wants his party to win is not possible any more. I am not referring to Governor Mohammed Abubakar but to all the APC governors and their elected representatives. That will be the policy of Buhari in 2019. He said that is the only way he can pay back to the loyal electorates that supported him with their money and blood over the years”.