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PPPRA, CONTRACTORS AT WAR OVER BIDDING PROCESS

By NBF News
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All is not well at the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) as contractors, who bidded for the recently advertised invitation to tender for the internal partitioning, furnishing and provision of kitchen equipment of the Agency have threatened to drag the management of the Agency to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over what they call 'under-the-table' bidding process.

Contractors, Daily Sun learnt, alleged that there were double dealings from and discriminatory approaches to the bidding, which was first opened on April 7, after an initial two weeks submission window.

Specifically, they lamented the sudden twist of event in which the agency brought out another advertisement, which was not very different from the March 22 version, saying it was designed primarily to accommodate certain favoured companies who had not met the April 7 deadline.

Daily Sun learnt that the second publication did not however receive the blessing of the Executive Secretary who insisted on due process. About 23 firms were present on the bids opening day for the technical bid which was a precondition for the financial bid. There are strong indications that certain individuals are bent on sabotaging the effort at operating a transparent exercise.

On May 10, the agency published yet another version of the same advert it titled 'An Addendum'. The contractors have also written a petition to the Executive Secretary, Mr. Abodun Ibikunle, demanding the suspension of the exercise. A source said the entire exercise is shrouded in mystery, and that excused the Executive Secretary as not being aware of all the irregularities which is the reason the financial bid is kept on hold.

Some contractors also allege that certain firms had privileged information about the contract such as a the financial implications supplied to them by some managers. It will be recalled that the PPPRA had under the tenure of Dr. Oluwole Oluleye completed its head office in the central area of Abuja and moved in December 2009.

The seven floor building was completed at the cost of N3.97billion, but had a request for contract variation sent to the Federal Executive Council turned down and asked to present a request for the partitioning and furnishing separately through the Bureau of Public Procurement in line with due process policy of the Federal Government.

While all these was going on the then minister of Petroleum, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, obtained a letter from the Presidency naming a new Executive Secretary, while the former was placed on suspension. It was the culmination of all these factors that made a committee manned by a manager overseeing the processes of the exercise to be announced.

Not willing to derail the smooth running of the contract process, the current Executive Secretary it was learnt had retained the manager even against popular advice considering his antecedents in the tenure of the former chief executive.

Many observers decried the Agency for running three different adverts on the same contract noting it did not speak well of the firm set up as regulatory agency to monitor and fix prices of petroleum products and harped the blame on the persons handling the department in charge of the contract bids.