A case of another contract scandal has been uncovered within the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The bid for the contract of the construction of independent power development of Abuja (1,350MW) and Kaduna (900MW), a project under the Gas and Power Investment Company Department in the NNPC, SaharaReporters gathered, was marred by "an egregious display of corrupt practices at all stages".
The evaluation of bidders by the committee set up by the NNPC was fingered in cases of corruption from accepting late bidders to favouristism.
The Egalitarian Mission, in a petition written to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, explained what went down during the contract bid of NNPC while also highlighting corruption cases that took place during the evaluation of bidders.
The group highlighted the Evaluation Committee for the Abuja and Kaduna Power Plant Development headed by the Managing Director of Gas and Power Investment Company Limited (GPIC); NNPC Supply Chain Department; and all NNPC officials overseeing the projects as major players in the corrupt scheme.
The petition alleged, “Our observers learnt that in the not too distant past, the entire process had been tampered and tinkered with such that the perpetrators of this unwholesome act are changing the template for competitive bidding evaluation as well as substituting bids that had been adjudged to be more responsive for the ones that didn’t meet the standards and criteria.
“We, to our utmost chagrin noticed that one of the bidders (SIEMENS) submitted late technical/financial evaluation tender documents to the supply chain venue and rather than enforce the rules against late submission, NNPC accepted the tender while the bid opening was already ongoing.”
The group said it wanted the NNPC to create a level playing ground for all companies including local and foreign companies.
It noted that the government’s invitation to foreign investors to invest in any sector of the economy "should not be seen and treated as a leeway to undercut the set standards or lower the benchmark with a view to perpetuating all sorts of corrupt practices capable of denting and defeating" the ultimate purpose and good intentions of the government.
“International companies are expected to abide by the measures and timeline to ensure that they perform up to the required maximum,” the Egalitarian Mission in the petition to the AGF said.
Calling for an investigation into the matter, the Egalitarian mission stated Section 5, 15 (5), 16 (1) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (amended) as well as Section 4 (a-d), 30, 58 (4f, 5a-b) of the Public Procurement Act and Section 6, 27 (3) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act No. 5 LFN 200 all frowns against corruption while issuing contracts stating that the laws provide protocols to combat it.
It also demanded that the AGF investigate the process of the contract bid and fish out all perpetrators of the corrupt act, using his "good office to quickly intervene in these projects" by requesting all the documents concerning these projects so as to propel NNPC to leave open their evaluation criteria for the award of contracts under these projects in line with international standards.
The group also requested a full-scale investigation to be launched into the circumstances surrounding these projects and that the NNPC makes open the entire evaluation process from the submission of tendering documents to the end, inclusive of the actual award of the contracts.
The mission also asked the NNPC to reject the late submission of tender and documents made in order to instill and enforce transparency in the implementation of the project while asking that a panel of inquiry be constituted to launch a full-scale investigation.
In response to the allegations, the NNPC in a letter to the Bureau of Public Procurement claimed that the contract issuance was only for evaluation process, noting that the contract is not for contract or procurement purposes.
The NNPC also noted that due diligence was carried out throughout the stages of the contract on each of the proposed partners.
A letter to the BPP said: “The 1350MW Abuja 900MW Kaduna Independent Power Plants (IPP) projects are tended to be funded by financiers (70% debt) and the participating Shareholders (30% equity). The development model shall be a Build, Own and Operate (BOO) through Public/Private Partnership (PPP) framework.
“To achieve the foregoing, NNPC invited proposals from reputable Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)/Companies to develop the power plants with NNPC. It is worthy to mention at this point that the proposals requested were strictly for the purpose of evaluating the technical and financial capacities of the potential strategic partners and NOT for contract or procurement purposes.
“After successful evaluation of the technical and commercial proposals, due diligence was also carried out on each of the proposed partners. At the end of the process, GE/CMEC and Siemens/BUA Consortia emerged as NNPC's preferred strategic partners for the development of Abuja and Kaduna IPPs respectively.
“Sequel to the above, discussions on the structure of the JV have already commenced. NNPC; leveraging on its strength as a gas producer, will subscribe as Minority Shareholder in order to promote the development of the IPPs and provide comfort to the financiers of the projects.”
NNPC, however, said it was reviewing the allegation in line with its corporate procedures and would avail the BPP the outcome of its investigation and possible action.