By Udora Orizu in Abuja
The federal government has decried a report, which claimed that the contracts for the clean-up of the Ogoni oil spill sites were awarded to unqualified companies.
The Minister of Environment, Suleiman Zarma, the Coordinator of Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP), the agency handling the current clean-up of Ogoni oil spill, Mr Marvin Dekil, and representatives of the 21 companies which handled the project, deplored the report, while interacting with journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.
They maintained that government went through due process before awarding the contracts to those companies which made bids.
The HYPREP Coordinator, Mr Marvin Dekil, noted that the contractors had competencies and were registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission to carry out business in Nigeria.
He also said they had technical partners overseas with requisite experience and had shown them that they had capacity to deliver on those projects.
He said, “We have 21 contractors today, we had sixteen and those sixteen were within the threshold of the ministerial board so they were dealt with at ministerial tenders board level. So those whose file are coming up now are those who are above the ministerial tenders board so they had to go to federal executive council for approval and that we secured in the 1st sitting of 20th March 2019.”
It had earlier been reported how no fewer than sixteen unqualified companies handled the remediation tasks in Ogoniland, disclosing further how the agency flouted its own rule in awarding the contracts.
According to the report, for instance, the registration details of Basic Nigeria Technology Limited, which was hired to do oil spill remediation job at the Oboolo site, revealed that it is in the business of oil palm plantation and refining.
But the Zekil argued that since when it advertised expression of interest to public in National dailies, it ensured all companies that bid met the requirements before taking Federal government job.
He explained, “I also use this opportunity to reemphasize the procurement process of HYPREP and to assure you that we adopted a very robust and transparent process in arriving at all our 21 contractors.”
“First 16 which were within the approval limit of ministry tenders board are those ones on site currently working and the last five that had to go to FEC for approval which are the ones we are having this kickoff meeting for.”
“To start with, when we advertised for submissions, submission of interest, expression of interest, we made it very clear according to the laws of Nigeria, that there are certain requirements required referred to as mandatory requirements for any company that would want to participate in the federal government projects. What are these mandatory requirements? Registration with CAC is one, PENCOM, NSITF, ITF, tax clearance, IRI; these are requirements that you must have to participate in the process.”
“Secondly, for the peculiarity, the technicalities of the project involve which is a remediation project, you are required to have another class of permits certification and that is granted by NOSREA Nigeria for you to participate in the remediation of projects in addition, to some people who also get from the department of petroleum resources. These are permit, you must obtain, to operate to participate, to undertake any remediation work in Nigeria.”
“That is the law of the land and I want to tell you, I show you and for anybody who does it to check the credentials of all contractors that says they meet all the mandatory requirements. And they meet all the regulatory requirements. That is what that’s what the law of Nigeria requires,” he added
On his part, the Minister, appealed to the media to join government in promoting the good work it was doing in getting rid of oil pollution in Niger-Delta regions.