VIOLATING THE LAW
The procurement irregularities by the BCDA are a violation of federal contracting provisions, and were even acknowledged by the agency’s executive secretary who told PREMIUM TIMES he had no scruples blurring procurement regulations to “support small or upcoming firms” who may otherwise have been unable to secure contracts on the accounts of insufficient personnel, finances or other regulatory constraints.
But the Public Procurement Act (2007) does not permit federal agencies or their leaderships to manipulate laid down rules in favour of any segment of the society.
Section 23 (1) of the law says, “Where a procuring entity has made a decision with respect to the minimum qualification of suppliers, contractors or service providers by requesting interested persons to submit applications to prequalify, it shall set out precise criteria upon which it seeks to give consideration to the applications and in reaching a decision as to which supplier, contractor or service provider qualifies, shall apply only the criteria set out in the prequalification documents and no more.”
By listing companies that have no annual tax turnover of N50 million in 2015, 2016 and 2017, the BDCA is in violation of extant procurement law.
The law did not enumerate the requirements an agency must list for contractors, but it strictly emphasised that once an agency set its requirements in a public tender process, it must play by that rule till the end of the process.
No amendment or discretion could be exercised in the middle of the process.Nigeria’s public procurement processes have for years been dogged by abuses and violation of the enabling law.
But coming under an administration that promised to bring sanity into public service, including procurement process, the shortlisting of unqualified firms by the BCDA could further dampen the hope of anti-corruption campaigners that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government would be different.
“The fight against corruption is more potent when it is effective at the prevention stage,” anti-corruption activist, Lanre Suraj, “The public procurement in Nigeria is reputed to be responsible for 70 percent of corruption that has taken several trillions of naira into the hand of fraudulent individuals.”
Junaid Abdullahi, executive secretary of the BDCA, told PREMIUM TIMES the agency used its discretion in giving special concessions to some firms in violation of the law.
“We cannot be demanding a tax clearance of N50 million per year from a company that is small and bidding for contracts of N2 million, N5 million,” Mr Abdullahi said. “As long as it is done across board and no one is excluded” from benefiting from the relaxed rules.”
When reminded that the eight contracts scrutinised by PREMIUM TIMES ranged between N120 million and N250 million, Mr Abdullahi struggled to muddle up the matter, saying this newspaper was referring to a separate tender, a false claim he held on to despite repeated clarification by this reporter.
Mr Abdullahi, son-in-law to President Buhari, was not the head of BDCA during the controversial prequalifications. He assumed office towards the end of October following his appointment by the president, but has carried on with the flawed process.
Mr Suraj said those involved in prequalifying companies without due tax documents should be prosecuted for violating procurement regulations.
“If someone can breach what has been clearly and publicly listed as requirements in the invitation to tender, then the person should be arrested and prosecuted,” Mr Suraj said.
“You cannot change the rules midway into a bidding process, it is a criminal offence to violate the Public Procurement Act in such a manner.”The anti-corruption campaigner said federal lawmakers who nominated a large chunk of projects being executed by the BDCA are often responsible for nomination of contractors.
TRYING THEIR LUCK
A spokesperson for Ferab Hilltop Nigeria Limited, which has an annual average turnover of just N1.2 million, told PREMIUM TIMES the company knew it might not qualify for the project based on set out requirements, but tried its luck nonetheless.
“We bidded for so many things, even when you know that you do not have everything, but you could still try your luck, this is Nigeria,” the Ferab representative told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone. He declined to give his name.
“We have a lot to do and we do not have enough time.”
LIST OF PROJECTS
1. KEKE NAPEP FOR FARM TO MARKET TRANSPORTATION IN BURSARI/ GAIDAM/YUNISARI FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY, YOBE STATE NEW BCDA SGF 135,000,000.
2. PROVISION OF AGRICULTURAL INPUTS AND EQUIPMENTS IN CHIKUN/KAJURU FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY, KADUNA STATE NEW BCDA SGF N250,000,000
3. SUPPLY OF 500 MOTORCYCLES TO KANO SOUTH SENATORIAL DISTRICT, KANO STATE NEW BCDA SGF N140,000,000
4. SUPPLY AND DISTRIBUTION OF ICT MATERIALS FOR UNEMPLOYED WOMEN IN OYO CENTRAL SENATORIAL DISTRICT, OYO STATE BCDA SGF N150,000,000.
5. PURCHASE OF MOTORCYCLES AT GOMBE CENTRAL NEW BCDA SGF N120,000,000.
6. ENTREPRENEURSHIP & EMPOWERMENT TRAINING OF YOUTHS AND WOMEN IN OGBIA FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY, BAYELSA STATE NEW BCDA SGF N120,000,000.
7. SUPPLY, DISTRIBUTION AND TRAINING OF YOUTH IN ICT IN CHIKUN/KAJURU FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY, KADUNA STATE NEW BCDA SGF N250,000,000.
8. EMPOWERMENT AND TRAINING OF YOUTHS IN KANO MUNICIPAL, KANO STATE, IN SAFANA/DANMUSA/MATSARI LGAs, KATSINA STATE AND IN ODOTIN/IFELODUN/BONPE, OSUN STATE BCDA SGF N150,000,000.
LIST OF UNQUALIFIED COMPANIES:
1. GLOBAL GREEN I.T. AND TELECOMS NIGERIA
2. E-CONCEPT TECHNOLOGIES LTD
3. STYLBRID NIGERIA LTD
4. BOLTEM & SONS GLOBAL SERVICES LIMITED
5. AD-BOTOG INTERNATIONAL LTD
6. CRAWLEY INTEGRATED SERVICES LIMITED
7. NORTH GATE GLOBAL CONCEPT LIMITED
8. SANMAN GLOBAL VENTURES LTD
9. HAYES MULTI SYSTEMS INV. LTD
10. METRIC INFO LTD
11. BEACHSTONE LTD
12. OMADAC ENGINEERING LIMITED
13. SUCCESS & RESOURCES INT MANAGEMENT LIMITED
14. AIDSWATCH CONSULTING LIMITED
15. MEQSTAR GLOBAL LTD
16. RAGAL CONSULT LIMITED
17. ADVANCE DATA SERVICES LTD
18. FERAB HILLTOP NIGERIA LIMITED
19. SYNCWISE INTEGRATED SERVICES LIMITED
20. NANIC INVESTMENTS AND SERVICES LIMITED
21. ESTIVUS NIGERIA LIMITED