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INEC’S N87.7BN: CONTRACTORS, SENATORS BESIEGE INEC FOR CONTRACTS

By NBF News
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Less than 24 hours after government released the N87.7 billion supplementary appropriation to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) meant for the conduct of the voters' registration, contractors, among them senators and House of Representatives members have besieged the Commission for jobs.

Daily Sun gathered authoritatively that the lawmakers and other firms, both local and foreign had waited patiently for the release of the money and then began to mount pressure on their contacts in INEC for possible help to get jobs.

Most of the contractors that have indicated interest in INEC contract, inside sources revealed have their eyes on the equipment supply for the voters registration.

However, findings showed that ther moves have been less than fruitful as the INEC boss, Professor Attahiru Jega insisted on exploring direct dealings with manufacturers of the equipment to save costs. Professor Jega had while defending the appropriation before the federal lawmakers prior to the approval of the fund explained that the Commission with time on its side would order the equipments directly from the manufacturers but that in the event that was not visible, it would buy from vendors in order to save time.

For this reason, some of the federal lawmakers had presented themselves as manufacturers' representatives, but all the same the INEC Chairman was not impressed and had insisted direct dealings with the manufacturing firms.

Competent sources told Daily Sun that the same situation was obtained under the Professor Maurice Iwu led INEC which patronized generously the lawmakers' companies for supply jobs.

One of Senators was said to have left the INEC office disappointed at the weekend having being given the assurance that he would meet with Professor Jega but which was not possible as he waited in vain and could not see the INEC Chairman. Efforts by the Daily Sun to get the list of the firms that have applied to the Commission for jobs proved futile as the source refused bluntly to volunteer the names, citing reasons of betrayals of trust if he releases the list of contractors.

It was learnt that most of the contractors are not really qualified as they couldn't meet up with the INEC specifications of equipments required for the voters' registration exercise. Said he' INEC has specifications which is being considered for its various suppies and which the Chairman has insisted has to be adhered to strictly. The Chairman has said that the specification cannot be compromised because, we are looking at equipments that will be useful not only for this voters' registration exercise but also for other future uses.'

Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu confirmed to Daily Sun that contractors had laid a siege to the Commission premises and said it was not unexpected because of the money INEC was pressing for and the fact that jobs needed to be given out. He would however not confirm that lawmakers were part of the contractors saying he was not aware of any Senator or Representatives bidding for contracts with the INEC.

'All I know is that there has been a siege on the Commission, but the INEC Chairman is insisting on due process. The contractors have to make proper presentation; it is not a business as usual. We don't want any equipment that will be used one day and become useless thereafter; the voters' registration exercise is a continuous exercise. 'The INEC budget was drawn on the basis of specification and that is why Professor Jega said the Commission would be dealing with the software manufacturers and not brief case contractors.

'There is a big hope that INEC is going to get it right this time around and that is why because of time, provision was made for vendors in the event inability to get the manufacturers to supply directly to the Commission so as to mitigate any eventuality that may arise. 'The idea of dealing with the software manufacturers directly is to save cost. You will recall that the Chairman in the course of the defence of the budget had told legislators of a profit margin if the supplies were made directly by the manufacturers and the savings returned to the treasury, because such profit cannot be spent for other purposes except through virement.