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Why are the best excluded in aviation?

The World Bank recently announced a tender for navigational aids for the Abuja and Zaria airports and some credible people with solid track records of…

The World Bank recently announced a tender for navigational aids for the Abuja and Zaria airports and some credible people with solid track records of performance emerged as best bidder.  But the Minister of Aviation, in his press briefing of 26th January, 2010, announced however that they have “been excluded, because they have a Court case ongoing.” They snag though is they were excluded in favour of a company that quoted twice the price the excluded company quoted for the same job.

The first Low Level Windshear Alert System on the entire African Continent has been successfully installed at Abuja airport nearly two years ago – a first class equipment from the world´s leading manufacturer – working reliably  and serving a highly sensitive function to aid the safety of pilots and their travelling passengers and cargoes. But the only qualified, experienced company that can assure reliable and effective after sales service of the equipment in Nigeria, even though quoting a very comptetitive price, was not even invited for negotiations by NIMET, still under the argument that “the company has a court case ongoing.” The award was given to a tiny construction company with no experience, no know-how in the meteorological sector at all, with a technical partner who itself has never delivered or installed a Low Level Windshear Alert System of the advanced type that was requested for in the tender. What will be the outcome? Will 500 million Naira be allowed to go like that?

In 2007 a tender was launched for Automation of Aeronautical Information Services (AIS). The tender saw a clear best bidder who offered nearly half the price of the next rival. In 2009, the contract was finally awarded by NAMA and was given to the bidder with the highest price – who does not even have any engineering or technical facilities on the ground in Nigeria at all. The best bidder, duly representing the world´s market leader, experienced and well equipped himself, was not even invited for negotiations, under the argument that “the company has a court case ongoing.”

Is the federal government not accommodating its official guests in some well known five star hotels any more because they have a court case ongoing? Is the federal government not doing business with the indicted banks any more because they have court cases ongoing? Is the federal government not buying from so many large indicted trading companies any more because they have court cases ongoing?

Are Sen. Ugbane and Hon. Elumelu not Members of the National Assembly any more because they have court cases ongoing?

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is very clear. “Any person is deemed innocent until proven guilty!”

Is the Ministry of Aviation reversing this fundamental, Constitutional right, in order to safeguard doubtful interests and award contracts to political or tribal cronies, instead of being governed by a sense of duty, performance and safety in the air?

Are court cases misused, maybe even triggered to ward off serious business rivals?  Rival competitors for whom performance count more than political connection?

When will we ever learn that Nigeria deserves sustainable development and not short-sighted individual interest?

 Yusuf, an aviation expert, wrote from Kano

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