The Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) has rejected the move by the federal ministry of transportation to award the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) contract to MedTech Scientific Limited, in partnership with Rozi International Nigeria Limited.
BPP said that the contract was awarded in clear breach of the Public Procurement Act 2007 after the ministry obtained anticipatory approval from President Muhammadu Buhari to award the said contract on the grounds of national security and economic benefits.
Magdalene Ajani, the permanent secretary in the ministry of transportation in a memo dated August 26, 2021, and addressed to the Bureau of Public Procurement said Nigeria would continue to lose revenue, experience the worst maritime security situation, and allow for alteration of cargoes and under-declaration if the contract was not awarded.
According to a memo sighted by BusinessDay, the ministry on September 11, 2020, sought the approval of the BPP to conduct a restricted/selected tendering exercise to engage agents or partners that will implement the scheme.
The memo stated that BPP rejected the selective tender request due to the need to regain international confidence, and, instead, asked the transport ministry to conduct international competitive bidding (ICB).
The BPP in a separate memo dated October 22, 2020, stated that international competitive bidding would ensure that experienced international firms with high reputation, integrity, and capacity to deliver, participate in the procurement process.
However, the BPP in another memo disclosed that the transport ministry on August 26, 2021, reverted to it with approval dated August 19, 2021, from Mr President to adopt a direct procurement in favour of MedTech Scientific Limited, in partnership with Rozi International Nigeria Limited.
The BPP in a memo dated September 17, 2021, which was signed by Mamman Ahmadu, its director-general, and directed to the permanent secretary in the federal ministry of transport, said that after reviewing the ministry’s submission, the Bureau observed with concern that the ministry did not adopt ICB process recommended.
Ahmadu faulted the ministry’s explanation that it adopted a restricted tendering method due to time lapses without reverting to BPP to extend the time frame.
“The BPP finds it even more worrisome that in the middle of the restricted tendering method, the ministry decided to jettison the process, hand-picked one out of the five competing firms, and forwarded their names to Mr President for approval without providing the basis for selecting MedTech and Rozi International,” the memo reads.
The memo further stated that the ministry said the companies selected to participate in the selective tendering process were chosen on the basis of ‘proven records of experience, competency, and reliability to execute the services’.
The memo further revealed that the ministry boycotted the BPP by obtaining President Buhari’s anticipatory approval to engage MedTech without any competition, development stakeholders described as inconsistent with the public procurement law.
“Considering that the profiles of these firms were not forwarded along with this request to the Bureau for review, the BPP is unable to comment on their suitability to execute the project of this magnitude and complexity,” Ahmadu stated in the memo.
Continuing, the BPP said in another memo dated October 13, 2021, and addressed to the chief of staff to the president, Ibrahim Gambari: “This procedure is clearly against the spirit and intent of the Public Procurement Act 2007 and if challenged, has the potential to embarrass the government.”
As a result, the BPP solicited the chief of staff to advise Mr President to rescind his anticipatory approval granted to the transportation ministry in order to ensure an international competitive bidding exercise that is not compromised and to protect Mr President from possible litigations and embarrassment.
International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) scheme is an electronic cargo verification system that monitors the shipment of seaborne cargo and enables a real-time generation of vital data on ship and cargo traffic in and out of the country.
The scheme was first muted during the administration of President Umaru Yar-Adua, but, the contract between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and an operator, TPMS-Antaser-Afrique was abruptly terminated by the former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in October 2011.