By Yawale Adamu

Although Zaki Federal Constituency houses a fertile land where agriculture thrives through both rainy and dry seasons, the local farming communities face a significant setback due to a lack of mechanized farming tools. The region, blessed with extensive agricultural land and interconnected by streams and rivers to Hadejia in Jigawa State, relies heavily on traditional farming methods.

In an effort to modernize agriculture and support local farmers, Hon. Auwal Mohammed Jatau, a former Federal Lawmaker for the area, now Deputy Governor of Bauchi State initiated various empowerment programs in 2022 as part of his Zonal Intervention/Constituency projects. These programs were aimed at equipping the youth and women of the constituency with modern agricultural tools and techniques. However, investigations by Hama Media have unveiled how the funds, intended as public resources were diverted for personal political gain, benefitting party elites and loyalists over the general populace.

The exclusive report reveals that essential agricultural aids, including sprayers, hand pumps, herbicides, and fertilizers, earmarked for widespread community distribution following training sessions, were instead allocated selectively to those within political circles.

Local farmer Alhassan Katagum expressed initial excitement about the promise of enhanced farming efficiency through the government’s support. His enthusiasm was quickly dashed when it became apparent that the distribution of these critical resources was confined to private gatherings, accessible only to a privileged few. The investigation documented how the skewed allocation of resources meant for communal advancement, raises questions about fairness and the true beneficiaries of government intervention projects.

He explained that numerous local farmers, unable to afford essential farming tools, relied on borrowing from others, who might impose tough conditions or outright refuse. This practice was deeply disheartening, especially when faced with the skewed distribution of the resources.

“I was thrilled to learn that the government was distributing agricultural tools to boost our farming efficiency. Initially, it felt like our community finally had a voice within the government. However, I was shocked to discover that only a fraction of the promised supplies arrived. It seemed those without political connections were overlooked,” he recounted.

Alhassan highlighted the divisive politics in Zaki, where resources were allocated based on factional affiliations. “I witnessed only a single individual receive a hand pump, thanks to his political ‘godfather.’ This exclusion is a blow to our community, rich in agricultural potential, yet so poorly managed.”

He stressed the community’s simple need from their leaders: equitable access to farming tools to enhance agricultural productivity across the entire society, not just among a select group of party loyalists.

Alhassan advocated for a shift in focus back to self-reliance in farming if the current neglect continues. He recalled an instance where the government’s distribution of maize led to chaos due to its mismanagement, with only a handful benefiting. “Necessities like roofing sheets and food items were hoarded and distributed among the elite under the cover of darkness. Such actions are well-known in Zaki, highlighting a clear preference for cronies over the general populace,” Alhassan revealed to Hama Media.

He pointed out the exclusion even among members of the ruling PDP, questioning the fairness of the distribution process. “How can we foster a sense of community when aid is selectively given?” he pondered.

Detailing government efforts to assist flood-affected farmers, Alhassan mentioned substantial payments made to companies for the training and empowerment of locals in advanced agricultural practices. Despite these initiatives, the reality on the ground reflected a stark contrast, with political favoritism overshadowing the intended benefits of such programs

Screenshot of payments made for the empowerment and trainings

Umaru Liman expressed his frustration to Hama Media, noting his disappointment that the distribution of aid was restricted to those within close political circles, excluding many from the ruling PDP unless they had connections to influential figures.

He criticized the manner in which the distribution was carried out, pointing out that claims of widespread empowerment in Zaki circulated on social media were misleading. Liman lamented the departure from inclusive distribution practices seen elsewhere, where aid transcended party lines and even reached non-locals, unlike in their case, where it remained confined to political elites.

“Despite differing political affiliations, it’s disheartening to see genuine party members overlooked, with aid being channeled to a select few, rendering the aid practically useless to the broader community. Items as basic as sprayers and insecticides, barely adequate for our needs, were all we saw,” Liman told Hama Media. He recounted instances of community backlash, including a ward that rejected and destroyed the meager supplies they received, contradicting the grandiose claims of distributed machinery which he personally verified as untrue.

Liman called for accountability, reminiscing about a time when public officials served all constituents equally, regardless of political allegiance. He urged for a reevaluation of the distribution process, which has strayed far from its intended purpose of community empowerment.

Echoing Liman’s observations, Malam Hussani, a local Okada rider, noted the opaque nature of the distribution process, which seemed to favor only those with political connections, leaving the broader community in the dark about the recipients. “If the process had been transparent, we would understand the scope and fairness of the distribution. Rumors of Hon. Auwal Jatau’s generosity with pumping machines reached me, yet the reality of who actually received these aids remains unclear,” Hussani remarked, highlighting a systemic issue of transparency and equity in the allocation of resources

Hussani Zaki

“It’s common talk around town that the distribution favors only the political class and their close associates. There was a time when such distributions were public events, and everyone knew who the beneficiaries were. Unfortunately, that transparency has faded,” he mentioned.

Hussain reflected on the community’s dashed hopes, pointing out that without political connections, many were left out of the loop, a situation he believes does not bode well for local development.

“We’re in the dark about who received aid. Without ties to the influential figures in the party, we’re powerless and have resigned ourselves to fate,” he continued.

Abdullahi Sani Katagum shared his disappointment over the politicization of what was supposed to be community support. “Empowerment has been diverted to serve party interests, sidelining the majority who are equally deserving,” he observed.

The road union member highlighted the potential for empowerment to foster self-sufficiency and communal growth. However, he criticized the biased selection process. “It seems you must align with the party to benefit, leaving many of us, including the youth and the elderly, neglected. It’s disheartening to see resources meant for the collective good appropriated based on political loyalty,” Abdullahi expressed.

“Being excluded simply because of different political beliefs is unjust. The aid was intended for the entire community, not just a select few within the political circle. This approach undermines the essence of representation and hinders progress,” he concluded, calling for a more equitable and transparent distribution mechanism.

Abdullahi Katagum

Muhammed Salisu, from the Sakwa community, shared with Hama Media that even supporters of the party in Sakwa have missed out on the empowerment initiatives, despite their region’s engagement in dry season farming. Salisu noted the local farmers’ need for support, like pumping machines and tools, and expressed disappointment that political biases had excluded many deserving individuals.

Shehu Tashena voiced concerns over the need for assistance due to flooding, pointing out that only a select few party officials received help, leaving many farmers struggling with additional costs and without the necessary support. He also mentioned the critical need for better access roads to transport produce to markets, highlighting a lack of significant benefits for the community.

Badamasi, from Mainako, criticized the distribution process, observing that only a handful of wards benefited and that even within the party, only those with significant influence received aid. He reported seeing essential farming supplies meant for broader distribution being limited to a few, calling on the government to address these injustices and ensure fair treatment for all constituents.

Despite repeated attempts to engage with Alhaji Isa Dogo, the PDP Chairman for Zaki local government, for comments on these findings, efforts were met with evasion and lack of response, raising further questions about transparency and accountability within the party’s local leadership.

Similarly, when Hama Media reached out to Borwa Engineering Services, a company implicated in the funding discrepancies, requests for comments were deferred with the excuse of office closure until the following year, leaving critical questions about the allocation of empowerment funds unanswered

Screenshot of Kassim’s reply after served with FOI request

Hon. Jatau, who spearheaded the intervention during his tenure as the representative for the Zafi Federal constituency in the House of Representatives from 2019 to 2023, currently serves as the Deputy Governor of Bauchi State.

Despite numerous attempts, the reporter was unable to contact him for an explanation regarding the selective distribution of resources to party members and political allies, as well as to understand the criteria used for the allocation process.

This publication is produced with support from the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) under the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development Inclusivity and Accountability Project (CMEDIA) funded by the MacArthur Foundation.


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