By Emman Ovuakporie
The House of Representatives yesterday mandated its Committees on Procurement and Power to jointly investigate the allegations of gross statutory breaches including violation of the public procurement Act 2007 by the management of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading, NBET, Plc.
This was sequel to a resolution of the House after carefully debating a motion promoted by Muhammed Soba (All Progressives Congress, APC, Kaduna) the lawmakers expressed concerns over series of breaches against the provisions of Public Procurement Act, 2007, statutory guidelines and regulations by the Managing Director and management of the electricity company and resolved to investigate the firm.
In the matter brought under urgent national importance, Soba disclosed that the firm’s Managing Director and his management executed power purchase agreements without following due process leading to the loss of not less than N90 billion
Besides the financial infraction, the lawmakers wondered why NBET management would also design a performance and implementation chart for its terms in the agreement against extant provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007, Guidelines and Regulations from the Bureau of Public Procurements.
While leading the debate, Soba, accused, NBET of engaging consultants without recourse to laid down financial rules, saying “They acted in breach of the Act and extant Guidelines, Rules, Circulars and other Subsidiary Legislation.”
According to him, two law firms, Messrs AELEX, Azinge & Azinge, were engaged even where they lacked basic bidding documents.
He lamented that while the least responsive bidder was not awarded the contract, the necessary authorization from the Attorney General of the Federation was not secured before the two legal firms were signed on Soba said: “Most contractors and vendors engaged by NBET are not registered with the Bureau of Public Procurement, neither are they registered on the National Database of Federal Contractors, Consultants and Service Providers which is a gross violation of the provisions of the Acts. The Managing Director and Management of NBET are also suspected of awarding contracts arbitrarily, resulting to colossal loses, while undermining the lowest evaluated responsive bidder as provided by Section 16(17) of the Public Procurement Act 2007.”
He warned that if Parliament, did not intervene quickly by probing all alleged infractions and address the situation, a systemic institutional method of cheating in procurement process would have been put in place leading to further monumental losses.