NPA faces fresh controversy, accused of procurement breach, denies
The management of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) has been given till June 30, 2017 to comply with the provision of the Public Procurement Act in the cargo bidding process or face litigation.
A law firm, V.E, BHARALU&CO, which has successfully prosecuted similar matters in the past and are prosecuting some now, issued the ultimatum in a petition written to the Managing Director of the NPA dated May 22, 2017 .
Entitled, ‘Notice of Breach of the Public Procurement Act CAP.p44 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 (as amended),’ the petition accused the agency of failure to follow the guideline set by Section 25(2)(ii) which stipulates that submission of bids by bidders should cover a period of six weeks.
It stressed that the NPA management failed to follow due process when it reduced the submission of bids to 16 days as against the time frame allowed by the law.
“We write in respect of the above subject matter and as representatives of the conscience of the society and the larger interest of the maritime practitioners of Nigeria. We wish to formally draw your attention to the obvious breach of the Public Procurement Act Cap. P44, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 220(as amended) vide your publication in the Daily Trust newspaper of December 27, 2016 under the National Competitive Bidding Public Notice no 3972,” the petition stated.
It added “Contrary to the provisions of Section 25(2)(ii) of the said Act which specifically states ‘in case of goods and works valued under the National Competitive Binding, the invitation for the bid shall be advertised on the notice board of the procuring entity, at least two national newspapers and in the procurement journal not less than six weeks before the deadline for submission of the bids for the goods and works,’ the management ‘caused to be published the said public notice on the December 27, 2016 with a terminal date of January 12, 2017.
“This obviously falls short of the time stated by the Act and thus goes to the root of the whole essence of the said notice, more so, when the procurement in question is not one contemplated under Section 43 of the Act.
“It is our considered opinion that your non-compliance with such an important item in the provision of the law, will to a large extent tend to defeat the mischief the insertion was meant to cure by the drafters of the Act, which is to allow ample time for prospective bidders to submit their bids. To do otherwise as in this present case, is to render the entire bidding process voidable.
“In the light of the foregoing, we hereby call upon you to perform a public duty by urgently taking steps to comply with the actual wordings of the Section 25(2)(ii) of the Public Procurement Act CAP. P44 LFN 2004 forthwith as we consider your said public of December 27, 2016 as one made in error.
Take notice that if by the close of business on Friday, the 30th day of June 2017, you still refused or neglect to comply with the said provision of the Act, we shall have no option than to perform a public duty by taking out a Summon before the appropriate court for the sole purpose of seeking the proper interpretation of Section 25(2)(ii) of said Act vis a vis your said publication.”
The dust was raised following an allegation by some aggrieved bidders that the NPA authority has manipulated the bidding process to favour ‘some incompetent companies.’
However, the NPA through its General Manager, Procurement, Dandare Ahmed, had denied that it failed to follow due process.
“We are transparent and the bidding process is ongoing. So it is wrong for some of the contractors to say we are favouring some companies. Moreover, names of successful bidders have not been announced. We are following due process and we will do a thorough job,” he said.
However, some of the bidders, who reacted to the development reiterated their support for due process and expressed their confidence that this matter having been brought to the notice of the managing director would be handled duly.
“We are sure the MD and her team would do the right thing. It could have been an oversight. We also thank the law firm for taking interest in the matter and bringing it to the public domain. We call on other government agencies to ensure that due process is followed in all their biddings.”