Lagos — The Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), has denounced the move by the Ministry of Transportation, to award the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN), contract to a healthcare company, MedTech Scientific Limited, in partnership with Rozi International Nigeria Limited, a property development company.
The procurement agency described the process as embarrassing and illegal adding that the contract was awarded in clear breach of the Public Procurement Act 2007.
It was learnt that Ministry relied on anticipatory approval from President Muhammadu Buhari to award the said contract, emphasizing national security and economic benefits.
The 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 Nigeria.
The scheme was first muted during the administration of President Umaru Yar-Adua, however, the contract between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and an operator, TPMS-Antaser-Afrique was abruptly terminated by former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in October 2011.
The Ministry of Transportation in a memo dated August 26, 2021, to the Bureau of Public Procurement said Nigeria will continue to loss revenue, worsen the country’s maritime security situation, and allow alteration of cargoes and under-declaration if the contract is not awarded.
But, according to a document sighted by our Correspondent, the ministry, on September 11, 2020, sought the approval of the BPP to conduct a restricted/selected tendering exercise to engage agents or partners for the implementation of the cargo tracking note scheme.
The BPP, it was learnt, rejected the selective tender request because of the need to regain international confidence, and, instead, asked the Transport Ministry to conduct international competitive bidding (ICB).
The BPP in a memo dated October 22, 2020 stated, “This (ICB) was to ensure that experienced international firms with high reputation, integrity, and capacity to deliver participate in the procurement process.”
The BPP noted in a separate memo that the transport ministry on August 26, 2021, reverted to it with an approval dated August 19, 2021 from the president to adopt a direct procurement in favour of MedTech Scientific Limited, in partnership with Rozi International Nigeria Limited, a property development company.
Direct procurement is single sourcing of a contractor with no room for competition either in a selective exercise, which invites interests from a restricted number of companies based on experience and capacity, or an open exercise, which is publicly advertised for companies to express interest and compete.
The BPP said the transport ministry did not provide the basis for picking MedTech and Rozi International to partner for the project.
But the Ministry of Transportation 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.”
It was gathered that the minister allegedly hand-picked MedTech Scientific Limited, in partnership with Rozi International Nigeria Limited, out of the firms selected to compete for the contract.
He then sought and obtained President Buhari’s anticipatory approval to engage MedTech without any competition, a development stakeholders said was inconsistent with the public procurement law.
“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,” the BPP said in another memo to the Chief of Staff to the President, Ambassador Gambari.
The BPP raised a question about the required security clearance from the Office of the National Security Adviser.
The BPP also told the Chief of Staff to advise the 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 the president from embarrassment.