The upper legislative chamber has ordered its committee on Public Procurement to immediately investigate the alleged irregularities in award of multi-billion road contracts by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the Ministry of Works.
This followed the consideration and adoption of a motion on “Irregularities in the award of contracts by the BPP” sponsored by Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West.
Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, gave the committee one week to turn in its report for the consideration of the Senate.
Melaye in his lead debate noted with concern alleged irregularities in the award of contracts by the BPP.
He said that desirous to award contracts for 10 and 13 projects for the construction and rehabilitation of roads and bridge projects in the first and second batch of road and bridge contained in the ministry’s 2016 budget implementation, the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing requested vide letters dated 7th and 15th November, 2016 respectively, from the BPP for due process certificate to award contracts for 10 and 13 projects for the construction and rehabilitation under the 2016 budget implementation.
He observed that the BPP in the exercise of its mandate in accordance with Section 5 and 6 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, informed the Ministry that there was no objection to their request but later wrote back to the Ministry that due process certificate of ‘no objection’ cannot be granted to the Ministry in the award of the contracts.
Melaye noted that the BPP in contravention of the BPP Act, went beyond its mandate to award the contracts to companies not recommended by the procuring entity, adding “the procuring entity recommended Deux Project Limited for the rehabilitation of Numan-Jalingo road for N11.7 billion, the BPP awarded the contract to Rock Bridge Construction Ltd at N12.8 billion.”
He added that whereas the ministry recommended the rehabilitation of Nenwe-Nomeh-Nburubu-Nara road project to Don- Machris Global Resources Ltd at N5.1 billion, the BPP awarded it to Arab Contractors Nig. Ltd at N6.4 billion.
He noted that although the recommended contract sums by the Ministry were already high, and ought to have been reviewed downward, the BPP went ahead and reviewed the contracts upwards and subsequently awarded the contracts to companies not recommended by the procuring entity in violation of Section 19 of the Public Procurement Act.
Melaye said that he chose only two instances to buttress alleged abuse of the PP Act.
He prayed the Senate to investigate the anomaly in the interest of due process.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who seconded the motion called for caution because of technicalities involved in the construction of roads and bridges.
Ekweremadu said, “I believe that if our committee goes into this, they will find out the details of what happened but the point I need to make here is that our procurement process needs to be sensitive to our season.
“Presently, we are in dry season, so if contracts were awarded for road construction I believe that whatever investigation we are doing should not prejudice the continued performance of that contract because if we do, it means that by the time we enter the rainy season this people will not be able to work again.
“In the past some of our investigation will stalled the work of government because if you recall the issue of the second runway was stalled because of the investigation we had here.
“The same thing happened to power sector reform. We are rolled back a couple of years because of the investigation in the House of Representatives carried out in the power sector.
“My caution here is that while we are investigating, it should be without prejudice to the continued performance of these contracts so that we can take advantage of the dry season to ensure that our roads are repaired.”
Senator Barnabas Gemade also supported the motion but gave some caution on how the investigation should be done.
Gemade said, “I rise to also lend my voice in support of this motion and also just reiterate a little caution on the issues involved. The committee to investigate is specific that is by the recommendation of the motion committee on Public Procurement.
“There are issues that need to be taken into consideration when the committee goes into its own investigation.
“Road construction today is becoming very important to maintain certain standards because construction in Nigeria is being done in a manner that the roads get destroyed so quickly and there must be strict adherence to certain levels of quality performance.
“The first three companies appear to have a history of road building. The two that were initially recommended don’t seem to have obvious records but this is a matter which the committee on procurement should look into very carefully.
“I caution that technical issues should be considered very critically in looking at this matter.”