The bickering over the Contract for Service Boat Operations Monitoring Agent in the pilotage districts of Lagos, Warri, Bonny/ Port-Harcourt and Calabar came to an end on Wednesday with the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) giving the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) a No-Objection approval to engage contractors who had been pre-qualified for the job.
With the issuance of the Certificate of No-Objection dated August 30, 2023, the new firms are now due to take over the Service Boat Operations Monitoring contract previously handled for years by Intels.
The new companies approved for engagement by the BPP are ICA Logistics Limited ( for Lagos Pilotage District), Pacific Silverline Limited (for Warri Pilotage District), Nextee Oil and Gas Trading Company (for Bonny/Port Harcourt Pilotage District) and Isasha Investments Limited (for Calabar Pilotage District).
The process of appointing new contractors to man the pilotage districts was mired in controversy and legal battles leading to a stalemate that lasted over two years despite directives by the then president to resolve the impasse.
Daily Trust on Sunday’s investigation had revealed that the federal government lost over $500 million in the last three years due to the stalled procurement for the Service Boat Monitoring Agent.
Despite multiple presidential directives by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to the Ministry of Transportation to conclude the procurement process in which Intels participated but was disqualified by the NPA, the process was not concluded before the end of the administration.
In December, 2019, the NPA commenced the procurement process for the engagement of Service Boat Monitoring Agents in four pilotage districts. Intels participated in the process along with other companies but was disqualified for flouting some of the requirements. Upon their disqualification, Intels initiated a suit against NPA aimed at truncating the procurement process.
In January, 2021, the then Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, secured presidential approval via letter Ref. No.: PRES/99/MT/31, dated January 22, 2021, for the restoration of all contracts between NPA and Intels currently suspended or purportedly terminated by NPA and withdrawal of all matters in court with the aim of settling disputes administratively.
Daily Trust had previously reported how former President Buhari subsequently via correspondence Ref. No.: SH/COS/23/A/229, dated January 7, 2022, singed by his Chief of Staff, directed the Ministry of Transportation to conclude the ongoing procurement process within 60 days and directed the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to ensure a quick determination of the cases in court in view of their economic importance.
The president’s reversal of his initial approval to the Federal Ministry of Transport to proceed with the renewal of Intels’ contract was informed by the recommendations of the then Attorney General of the Federation and the DG of BPP, both of whom affirmed that the information relied upon by the president from the Ministry of Transportation was not factual, as the NPA did not cancel the contract for Service Boat Operations Monitoring Agent, but that the contract ran its full course and elapsed due to the effusion of time.
The presidential directive came three months after a Daily Trust report titled: “Despite bid disqualification: FG moves to award Intels multi billion naira service boat contract”.
The presidential directive to conclude the procurement process was further reaffirmed in another letter signed by Buhari’s Chief of Staff with Ref. No.: SH/COS/23/A/235, dated June 14, 2022, wherein the president directed the ministries to treat the issue with dispatch to avert further revenue loss to government.
But instead of the ministry to implement the presidential directive, Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that the erstwhile Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, initiated moves in December, 2022, to void the procurement process and restore the expired contract to Intels without them going through any valid procurement process. The minister, among other things, claimed that the renewal would enable NPA to repay the debt owed to Messrs DEEP Offshore Services Nigeria Limited (DOSNL), the parent company of Intels.
The President Bola Tinubu administration has now ended the logjam by giving effect to the presidential directive given by former President Buhari.
In a letter dated August 18, 2023, addressed to the DG of BPP, Tinubu’s Chief of Staff requested the bureau to issue the No-Objection Certificate to allow for closing out on the lingering procurement process.
The Ministry of Maritime and Blue Economy is now expected to present the approvals to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for ratification.