Chairman, Board of Directors, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Chief Tony Anenih, has expressed deep reservations over dredging and management of the Calabar Channel.
Anenih, according to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY findings, recently wrote a letter to the Transport Minister, Senator Idris Umar, to bar his mind over these matters.
Anenih, a two-time NPA Board Chairman, just as he is two-time Chairman Board of Trustees (BOT), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had articulated his misgivings about certain matters concerning the NPA in a five-page letter dated April 25, 2013, and titled APPOINTMENT OF CALABAR CHANNEL MANAGEMENT COMPANY LIMITED TO MANAGE THE CALABAR CHANNEL UNDER A PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP (PPP) AGREEMENT WITH THE NIGERIAN PORTS AUTHORITY (NPA).
Anenih informed Umar thus: “The purpose of this letter is to respectfully draw the attention of the Honourable Minister to the Joint Venture Agreement which was made on the 25th of January, 2013, between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Consortium lead (sic) by Niger Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited.
“The said Agreement created a partnership arrangement between NPA and the Consortium and gave the Consortium the right to operate a Joint Venture Company, Calabar Channel Management Company Limited, where NPA holds 60 per cent equity and the Consortium 40 per cent.”
Positing that “the circumstances that led to this Joint Venture Agreement and the terms, need reappraisal in view of the fact that as at the time the Agreement was signed, there was no reference records of the Consortium on the basis of which it was selected to manage the proposed Company,” noted: “The undisputed facts in this regard are:
• that the Consortium had 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 re-procurement process. The Consortium was not prequalified and did not pass through the selection process like the other companies. It therefore follows that the Presidential Approval for the appointment of the Consortium lead by Niger Global
• Engineering and Technical Company Limited to enter into a Joint Venture Arrangement with NPA which culminated in the Agreement to form Calabar Channel Management Company Limited, was obtained without following due process. In fact, the only company among the seven companies that form the Consortium which ought to lead the consortium is l’Jigeria Westmister Dredging that was prequalified for the first procurement exercise and not Niger Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited that has poor records with NPA.
• That the spirit and letter of the Joint Venture Agreement signed between NPA and the Consortium lead by Niger Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited are not only skewed in favour of the Consortium but also offend international standard and the extant laws in the Maritime Industry in Nigeria having regards to the refusal of officers of NPA and the Ministry of Transport to effect the necessary amendments prescribed by the Ministry of Justice in the Draft Agreement before signing.”
The NPA Board Chairman urged the Minister to also note that in 2010, the bids for the dredging of Calabar Channel were cancelled by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) on the ground that NPA which ought to be an unbiased umpire in the process failed to disclose its interest in one of the companies, Lagos Channel Management Limited, which took part in the bid process.
“The BPP recommended that the capital dredging of the Calabar Channel should be re-procured through selective tendering and listed the six companies that had earlier prequalified for the re-procurement,” Anenih said.
He listed the six companies as Messrs Jan De Nul Limited, Messrs China Habour Engineering Company Limited, Messrs Dredging International Services Limited, Messrs Lagos Channel Management Limited, Messrs Nigeria West Minister Dredging Limited, Messrs Van Oord Nigeria Limited.
The former Works Minister said that “it is, therefore, amazing that, apart from the six firms that submitted financial bids in the cancelled 2010 bids process,” Bonny Channel Management Limited and Calabar Channel Management Limited – were added to the list.
“Calabar Channel Management Limited, which was not yet registered at the time but was subsequently recommended to tender for the project undermining the fact that NPA will have interest in the company (60 per cent), the same reason for which the bids of 2010 were cancelled.
“To have put its name on the list of companies that would bid during the reprocurement process is not in line with due process. It is not clear who assessed the competence and capabilities of the two companies particularly Calabar Channel Management Company Limited which was at the time yet to be registered,” the retired Police officer said.
He went on: “Furthermore, I have carefully reviewed the Joint Venture Agreement along with other documents in respect of the proposed management of the Calabar Channel and observed with concern that the Agreement is based on speculation and miscalculation. It therefore shows that proper appraisal was not carried out. For example, there is the inclusion of the dredging of Ibaka Deep Sea Port (still a mere concept or dream), in the Agreement which was not covered by the Presidential Approval. I am aware that this anomaly has been brought to the attention of the Honourable Minister.
“Honourable Minister, in your letter to the President dated 13th September, 2012, seeking approval for the formation of a Partnership/Joint Venture between NPA and the Consortium, you had in paragraph 3(v), of your letter, stated that the Shareholding/Joint Venture and Management Agreements to be executed by NPA should be forwarded to the Federal Ministry of Justice for vetting and approval before signing. Although the draft Agreement was sent to the Ministry of Justice accordingly, the approval given by the Minister of Justice was conditional. Please see attached, a copy of letter from the Ministry of Justice to the Honourable Minister dated 18th December, 2012. The conditional approval required that about 16 identified flaws in the Draft Agreement should be amended and taken into cognizance in the final Draft Agreement before it could be executed between NPA and the Consortium.
Anenih lament that officials of the NPA and the Federal Ministry of Transport “decided to engage in selective compliance by amending some parts and ignoring some other parts of the Draft Agreement, particularly those provisions that tend to give absolute control of the finance and management of the Joint Venture Company to the Consortium rather than the Board of Directors of the Calabar Channel Management Company Limited.”
According to him, part of the numerous points raised by the Ministry of Justice is the issue of specifying the names of the officers representing the NPA and the Consortium on the Board of the proposed Calabar Channel Management Company.
The NPA Board Chairman informed the Transport Minister that this and the other points identified for amendment, such as bank references, profit/dividend sharing arrangement, as well as the organizational and management structure of the Company, were all left out in the Joint Venture Agreement signed between the NPA and the Consortium.
“It is my humble view that, apart from the listed anomalies as observed, this Joint Venture Agreement is rather open-ended and there is therefore the need for additional checks to be introduced, which will ensure that public resources are prudently managed.
“Moreover, of utmost importance is the fact that Calabar Channel requires capital dredging before any maintenance dredging and management contract. While there is no provision in the 2013 Budget for maintenance dredging, there is however a provision for the maintenance dredging based on the Joint Venture Agreement signed between NPA and the Consortium. This is certainly like putting the cart before the horse. There can be no maintenance dredging until after capital dredging,” Anenih said.
Subsequently, he appealed to the Minister to approve that the Joint Venture Agreement which was made on the 25th of January, 2013, between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Consortium, be suspended,” and to “direct that representatives of the Board of NPA, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Justice should critically reappraise the Agreement and produce an acceptable Joint Venture and Management Agreements in line with the strong observations highlighted above and those of the Ministry of Justice which were to be reflected in the Final Draft Agreement before signing but were ignored.”
The NPA Board Chairman copied the NPA Managing Director, Mallam Habib Abdullahi, stating: “Above is for your information while you wait for the decision of the Hon. Minister. The 60 per cent subscription fee payment should be suspended.