A 41 million naira non-existing youth centre constituency project facilitated by Hon. Muhammad Umar Jega, a member representing Gwandu/Aliero/Jega in Kebbi state in the National House of Assembly has become a subject of controversy. Jega, an LGA in Kebbi State is an agrarian community with an area of 891 km² and a population of 193,352 ( 2006 census).
A recent visit by Tracka to the community on the 23rd of April 2018, revealed that the location of the said project could not be confirmed. Calls and messages placed to Hon. Jega to verify the status of the project were abortive as he refused to respond to them. The project which ought to empower youths of the community could not be located or reviewed. The only centre found in Jega was the centre for people living with disabilities.
The project tracking officer for Tracka in Kebbi state, Emmanuel Yaro who went to the centre for people living with disabilities to make enquiries about the supply of equipment, discovered that there was no project tied to constituency allocation. This discovery was corroborated by the chairman of the disability centre, Mallam Dalhatu who disclosed that there is no youth capacity development centre at Jega except the centre for people living with disabilities. He further said there was no supply of equipment nor ongoing construction at the said centre.
“Residents are not happy with the current development, and they have registered their displeasure over lack of implementation of the project,” Dalhatu said.
Tracka’s first visit to the community was on the 15th of October 2017. A sensitisation programme was organised for the residents to inform them of the N41 million furnishing and equipping of a youth capacity development centre at Jega, Kebbi state which was described as an ongoing project. Surprisingly, residents were not aware of the existence of the project nor the location where it is to be executed. Tracka distributed the 2017 budget publication which showed that the project had been nominated. In another twist, findings at the local government constituency office of Hon. Jega did not yield fruit as Tracka project tracking officer could not get the location of the project.
Barrister Awalu Jega, a prominent member of the community described the non-existence of the youth centre as another instance of mismanagement of public funds. Lamenting that the project could have aided the empowerment of youths in the community with skills and reduce joblessness, he joined residents of the community to demand that Hon. Jega acts in accordance with the promises he made to the community during the elections campaign.
“This is the kind of problem a community suffers when their representatives refuse to carry residents along. This problem is not only peculiar to Jega community, but it’s a national problem since our leaders sit in their Abuja offices and nominate projects without involving the masses. If you noticed, most of the projects initiated are not what the community desire. It’s always a case of misplaced priority,” he offered.
Uadamen Ilevbaoje, the Team Lead of Tracka also placed a call through to Hon. Jega but the lawmaker dropped the call upon realising Ilevbaoje could not communicate on the phone in Hausa. Further calls, as well as text messages and emails sent to him, were not responded to as at the time of filing this report.
It’s interesting to note that Hon. Jega’s target achievement written on the national assembly website aims to reduce waste in government spending and leakages.