By Jite Eriabie
“Is the NPA now above the presidency, its supervisory ministry -Ministry of Transport and other statutory bodies that it can wake one night to say it has terminated a contract vetted and approved by these bodies? This is a huge joke,” says Managing Director of Calabar Channel Management (CCM), Bart Van Eenoo.
Eenoo said this while reacting to the purported termination of a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between Niger-Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to form CCM – a vehicle company saddled with the responsibility of dredging and maintaining the Calabar port channel.
Reacting to newspaper reports credited to the Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman to the effect that the NPA has terminated the JVA with the Niger-Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited purportedly over violation of Procurement Act, Eenoo said though his company would not react to speculations as it has not received any such letter from NPA or any other person, it was trite to point out that the contract followed due process and never violated any procurement act.
He said the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) vide a letter referenced BPP/S.1/CID/14/VOL.1/088, dated August 15, 2014 and signed by the then Director General, Emeka Ezeh, approved the project.
Eenoo said the letter titled: RE: Contract for the Maintenance Dredging Between Niger-Global and Technical Company and the NPA, reads: “This is to refer to the Federal Ministry of Transport letter Reference No.TPROC/NPA/P/67/2011/1/314 dated August 11, 2014. The Bureau has no objection to the implementation of the project as approved by His Excellency, Mr. President.”
According to him, what the NPA MD is probably relying on is an earlier response by BPP to an initial petition by the former Board Chairman of the NPA, Tony Anenih, to the presidency against the project which then President Goodluck Jonathan referred to the BPP which reportedly gave a ‘No Objection Certificate’ and advised that the complaint by Anenih was merely a personal difference which it said should not affect the integrity of the project.
Anenih was also said to have withdrawn the petition.
The CCM boss stated that the contract went through the necessary approvals and vetting by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice before it was finally sealed.
Eeno challenged Hadiza Bala Usman to make public the purported letter from the BPP advising against the contract.
In any case, he said, there is a clause in the contract stating grounds of termination, which CCM has not violated.
The CCM boss also said that NPA, which is the majority shareholder in the joint venture with 60 per cent stake, has not paid his salary and those of other staff of CCM for over three years and it cannot terminate the contract on the pages of newspapers.
He urged the NPA MD to stop the continuous media trial of CCM and do the needful for the dredging to continue by “paying our invoices to enable us resume operations because all the equipment and personnel deployed for the project under the JV Agreement are currently on ground, accruing demurrage which contractually, the federal government is bound to pay”.