President Goodluck Jonathan
By Chuks Okocha
The row over the award of N33.949 billion contract for the building of an oil and gas museum in Oloibiri, Bayelsa State, appears to be getting worse as some companies sidelined from the bid process for the contract are calling for a review of the exercise.
They have threatened to petition President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Assembly over allegations that the companies that were awarded the contracts are fronts for the Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Alhaji Muttaqa Darma.
The contractors are also claiming that the award of the contract did not go through due process.
A source close to the proposed project told THISDAY that the contractors would this week present their petition to the president and the National Assembly in a bid to push both the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the PTDF to follow due process in the award of the contract.
The crisis started when the BPP, in a letter dated September 11, signed by its Director General, Mr. Emeka Eze, dropped the first batch of contractors shortlisted for the contract and replaced them with a new list of companies that did not pass through the due process screening by the BPP.
BPP, in two separate letters dated July 9 and July 12, had shortlisted seven companies that passed the due process scrutiny. The seven companies that bid and won the contract for the construction of the Oloibiri Oil and Gas Museum were: Beks Kimse Ltd, Megastar Construction and Technical Co. Ltd, Sajook Nigeria Ltd, Kinetic Electromechanic Nig. Ltd, Unipad Nigeria Ltd, Meson Investment Ltd and Commerce Services, for a contract fee of N33,949,076,952.95.
However, in the new letter of September 11, BPP rejected the companies and replaced them with companies that did not pass due process during the July screening.
Besides, BPP increased the contract fee from N33.949 billion to N34.062 billion.
It was also gathered that three of the new companies that were later favoured have ties to one person that participated in the July screening.
The sidelined contractors are querying the rationale for the inclusion of companies that did not undergo due process screening in the award of the contract and are demanding to know the circumstances that led to their exclusion.
The BPP and PTDF have had disagreements over the selection of companies to execute the contract for the construction of the oil and gas museum.
BPP had earlier granted clearance certificates to companies that passed its screening, but the PTDF is insisting that waivers be given to companies that did not pass it, which BPP has rejected.
BPP, in a letter dated July 9 and signed by Ezeh, had approved due process certificates for the award of contracts for the seven companies that had passed the due process for the award of contract for the following areas: research centre, international conference centre, sand filling and civil work, external maintenance, external electrical work, site clearance, geotechnical survey and fencing.
However, the PTDF, in a July 10 letter, rejected the cleared companies and recommended Messers Z Cubes, Messers Meson Investment Ltd, Messers Mercury Engineering and Messers Gabezi Nigeria Ltd to execute the contract at an increased contract fee of N36,315,019,032.
However, the BPP, suspecting underhand dealings by PTDF, in its review report dated July 9, accused it of having a special interest in the contract.
“It is apparent that the PTDF reviews were skewed in favour of particular firms, thereby deceiving other bidders and casting aspersions on the integrity of the government arising from non-transparent procurement procedures,” the BPP said in its report.
But in rejecting the PTDF letter again, Ezeh in another letter dated July 24, said: “The bureau wishes to reiterate her earlier decision that, Due Process Certificate of No Objection cannot be granted for the award of the contracts for the establishment of Oil and Gas Research Centre and Museum, Oloibiri, Bayelsa State in favour of the under listed contractors as follows: Mercury Engineering Ltd, Gabezi Nigeria Ltd, Kinetic Electromechanic Ltd and Z Cubes Nigeria Ltd.
“The Due Process Certificate of No Objection, Ref. No. BPP/S.1/Vol.X/12/063 dated July 9 2012 earlier granted to the PTDF for contracts for the establishment of Oil and Gas Research Centre and Museum, Oloibiri, Bayelsa State in the favour of the under listed contractors are still valid for processing to the Federal Executive Council.”