The Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Tony Anenih is furious with the Minister of Transport, Idris Umar over the awarding of a multi-billion naira dredging contract for the Calabar and Ibaka Deep Seaports to a company owned by a serving senator.
However, investigations showed that the company, Calabar Channel Management is a recently incorporated company jointly owned by the senator’s firm, Niger Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited, and the Nigerian Ports Authority in the ratio of 53.3% to 46.7%. About N3 billion was voted in this year’s budget for the beginning of the capital dredging of Calabar Port alone.
Anenih, who is also the chairman of the NPA board, had detailed in a strongly-worded five-page petition to the minister what he called irregularities that characterised the creation of the Calabar Channel Management as well as the flaws in the partnership agreement, and questioned the rationale behind awarding the management of the two international channels to the company.
However, his petition put equity participation at 60 per cent for NPA and 40 per cent for the senator’s company, rather than the accurate records which show that NPA owns 53.3 per cent while Niger Global owns 46.7 per cent. Of the 300 million shares belonging to Calabar Channel Management, 160 million belongs to NPA and 140 million to the firm.
He also erroneously referred to the partnership between the NPA and Niger Global Engineering and Technical Company as a consortium.
According to Anenih, nothing recommends the senator’s company for such huge project, given what he called its “poor record with the Nigerian Ports Authority”.
The PDP board chairman reminded the minister that the company neither participated in the bid process for Calabar channel nor was its competence and capabilities assessed, as was the case with the other firms jostling for the same contract.
Anenih said: “The consortium has no reference whatsoever of previous jobs done. They were completely alien to the Calabar channel project and did not even take part in the bids of 2010 and the later procurement process.
“The consortium was not prequalified and did not pass through the selection process like other companies. It, therefore, follows that the Presidential approval for the appointment of the consortium, led by Niger Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited to enter into a joint venture with NPA, which culminated in the agreement to form Calabar Channel, was obtained without following due process.”
This is the fourth controversial attempt at making Calabar River navigable. Only two years ago, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) cancelled the entire process following protests over NPA’s attempt to award the contract to itself.
The current conflict is prompted by the decision of the Ministry of Transport to circumvent procurement procedures as well as its refusal to adhere to BPP’s directive designed to achieve transparency. All these, as maritime watchers say, are prompted by their desire to impose their preferred firm on the nation.