While Gov. Lamido Pockets N1.3 billion Kickback, Jigawa’s Anti-Poverty Projects Are Poorly Funded

Former Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State

Sule Lamido’s first known scorecard as Governor of Jigawa State came in 2009, two years after taking office. That year, only 2.5 percent of Jigawa indigenes scored at least five credits — including English and Mathematics — in the West African Senior School Examinations.

For a governor who won the seat promising reforms in education, the result was a stark setback. So when the performance improved significantly to 10.5 percent in 2010, a jubilant Jigawa cabinet reached to the media to trumpet that achievement.

In Dutse in 2011, Babandi Gumel, the state Commissioner for Information, Youth, Sports and Culture, announced that successful candidates were free to pursue further studies anywhere in the world as the government was prepared to bankroll their education.

But as the high school pass rate rose to 33 percent in 2012, the World Bank a year later reminded the governor of another nauseating but stark reality facing the state. The bank released a damning report indicating that 70 million Nigerian adults lived in poverty in 2013; majority of them residing in Jigawa state.

Mr. Lamido’s  tenure has been defined by such a mix of achievements and let-downs. Analysts believe that what the governor is giving with the right hand, he is taking back with his left. So even with the noticeable infrastructural improvement in Dutse, the state capital, majority of Jigawa people remained trapped in poverty and disease. To lift his people’s standard of living, the governor needed to be less profligate so as to have enough funds to to improve critical sectors of the state’s economy. Those familiar with the state say that hasn’t happened at a rate it should. The revelation this week that the governor helped himself to state funds- in form of kickbacks- has shed light into why that has not happened.

In an exclusive report Tuesday, PREMIUM TIMES published details of how Mr. Lamido and his sons, Aminu and Mustapha Lamido, used their positions to siphon Jigawa State funds.

The details showed how N1.3 billion was paid by the construction firm, Dantata and Sawoe, as a 10 percent kickback for contracts the firm won. The money was paid into the accounts of companies owned by Governor Lamido and his sons.

Details obtained by PREMIUM TIMES showed how between 2007, when Mr. Lamido assumed office, and 2014, Dantata and Sawoe Construction Company was awarded contracts amounting to N13.5 billion. Payments for the contracts were made by the state government to the construction firm through five banks – Zenith, Access, Diamond, Sterling and UBA.

Within the same period, according to a probe of the transactions by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Dantata and Sawoe paid out over N1.3 billion into the accounts of companies in which the governor and his sons — Mustapha and Aminu –have interests, specifically the accounts of Bamaina Holdings Limited where Sule Lamido is sole signatory and Speeds International Limited.

Both accounts are domiciled in Unity Bank Plc.

Neither the company nor the governor’s office has commented on the investigations.

But a review of Jigawa State’s spending plan for 2014 shows that the amount the Lamidos allegedly received as bribe alone outstripped what the governor proposed to spend on creating new jobs for a population the World Bank designated as Nigeria’s poorest.

Out of the total budget of N114 billion, Mr. Lamido proposed to spend N1.04 billion on employment initiative. The plan was to focus on skill acquisition, “creation of job opportunities and providing means of livelihoods,” the governor told state lawmakers while presenting the budget in late 2013.

He said the provision was to cover regular skill acquisition programmes in six existing Skill Acquisition Centres in the state, as well as other specialized economic empowerment programmes.

In addition, the governor offered to speed up job and wealth creation by supporting some 24 Local Governments to establish “mini skill acquisition centres”.

It is not clear how much those projects have been implemented so far. But extra funding for the project, say of the range paid Mr. Lamido by Dantata and Sawoe, could have helped cover the project in the three remaining Local Government Areas of the state. Jigawa State has 27 LGAs.

Another sector that could also force down poverty- Small and Medium Enterprises- received N940 million from the state governor, again less than what the Lamido’s pocketed as bribe.

Electrification of rural communities for 2014 in Jigawa State, capable of also stimulating economic activities, received N500 million- a paltry figure compared to what the governor was paid in bribes.

Mr. Lamido provided reasonably well for education, although adult and non-formal education and library Services again received little – – N210 million

Mr. Lamido became governor when the poverty assessment by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2007 concluded that 90.9 percent of Jigawa people lived within the margins of poverty. The figure was the worst in the country at the time.

The 2013 World Bank report pegged the poverty coverage at 77.5 percent, again, the worst in the country, compared to 22.9 percent in Lagos state.

There is no known poverty data for the state in 2014.


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