Nigerian Bureau of Public Procurement document reveals TCN CEO, Abdulaziz violated procurement law in N5.7b worth of 33 contract awards

 

A document from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) has revealed that the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Engr. Sule Ahmed Abdulaziz, violated the Public Procurement Act, 2007 in N5,677,692,943.26 worth of contract award.

In November 2023 ,Abdulaziz had allegedly been involved in violation of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 in the award of contracts running into billions of Naira, including contract splitting.

Sources had said that most of the contracts the MD awarded under emergency procurement were not emergency in nature and that he awarded most of the contracts to his friends who in turn pulled out the funds and remitted such to him.

Though when contacted, the company denied any wrongdoing, a document in which the BPP reviewed and responded to TCN’s request letter for “No Objection” for 285 contracts it awarded under emergency process showed that the Bureau refused to grant the request and clearly stated that the company violated the Procurement Act in 33 of the contracts.

The Bureau pointed out that the 33 contracts the TCN awarded under the emergency process were not qualified to be emergency, according to the provisions of Section 43 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.

According to the document signed by Babatunde Kuye on behalf of the Director of the Bureau, “The Bureau observed that out of the 285 projects executed through the Emergency Procurement Method, 252 projects met the requirements for the adoption of the special method, while 33 projects should have been procured through other methods of procurements as indicated in the Table above.”

It further stated, “The Bureau’s consideration for the TCN’s request for approval for the Emergency procurement is mostly based on the reason that it was resolved at the strategic meeting held between the management of the Bureau and the TCN on 24th of May, 2022 that the TCN should avail the Bureau with the details of the projects that require accelerated procurement process (Emergency) in order to meet the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) requirements especially where there is the need to adopt the special methods in some of its procurement that require interactions with the infrastructure of other stakeholders in the sector.

“Furthermore, the TCN at the meeting emphasized significant of the signing of the Service Level Agreement (SLA) between it and the Distribution Companies (Discos) across the country on zero tolerance for outages amongst other things, which will negatively affect the reputation and revenue of TCN if these projects are not procured within reasonable time.

“The Bureau sees the absence of some of these critical works and supplies in TCN substations, Transmission Lines and other assets as a sign of inadequate provision of key components in the acquisition of its major infrastructure which could expose Government’s assets to danger/destruction.

“In this light, BPP is obliged to consider the request and also ratify the 33 projects which ought not to have been procured through emergency procurement method as stated in Table 5.0 above.”

The Bureau had in the response document asked TCN to “officially make a request for these projects through Direct Procurement method and provide full status of the projects including payments made so far.

“The Bureau reasons that proper needs assessment and planning would have provided the TCN the opportunity to identify the projects that require urgent attention, perhaps such situations would have been arrested through other special methods of procurement.”

The Bureau further stated, “The reality of the state of infrastructure in the power sector is the reason why this volume of request for approval in retrospect for the adoption of the Emergency procurement method could be considered, otherwise it would have amounted to a dilatory conduct on the part of the TCN based on the aforementioned reasons.

“Even though the dates when these projects were executed or conceptualized were not availed BPP in this request, it is not good conduct to lump up such a volume of request.

“This does not demonstrate professionalism in line with the provision of Section 43(4) of PPA, 2007 and the Bureau takes strong exception to this.

“The Bureau observed that the TCN did not provide the profiles of the recommended firms for the projects in order for the Bureau to review and ascertain if the firms met the requirements of Section 16(6) of PPA, 2007 when the contracts were awarded to them.

“The TCN is therefore directed to ensure that the recommended firms meet all the requirements before final payments are made. For the avoidance of doubt, the firms should possess the under-listed mandatory/eligibility requirements: Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) Registration Certificate; Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC); Industrial Training Fund (ITF) Clearance Certificate; Pension Commission (PENCOM) Clearance Certificate; NSITF Certificate of compliance; Valid Interim Registration Report (IRR); Evidence of registration of the company with relevant Professional Regulatory body where applicable; Amongst other requirements that may be included by the TCN, in line with Section 16(6) of the PPA, 2007.”

According to the Bureau, the TCN forwarded in its submission, the In-house estimates, the contractor’s proposed cost and the negotiated costs for all the emergency procurements.

The minutes of negotiation meetings, contractor’s quotations, approval for the award of contracts, contract agreements, completion certificates and in most cases the pictures of supplies and the situation that warrant emergency procurement were forwarded to the Bureau for review.

It said, “The Bureau observed that the negotiation meetings held by the TCN with the contractors for the Emergency procurements yielded some savings in form of percentage discounts on the contractors’ prices which were mutually agreed by both parties in all of the cases.

“However, the Bureau noted with concern that the application of the discounts was on the total contract sum instead of the unit rates of tendered items.

“The Bureau observed in the course of the review that all the contract sums for the various projects fall within the approval limits of the TCN Parastatal Tenders Board.

“The BPP hopes that the TCN did not deliberately skewed the scope of works and contract sums in such a way that not even one of the projects required MTB nor FEC approval.

“If this is found to be the case during the Bureau’s oversight, we will not hesitate to invoke severe sanctions on TCN management.”

The BPP warned that the “TCN’s attention is drawn to note that subsequent volume or stockpile of emergency procurements carried out by it without immediate submission of such for approval after the cessation of the emergency situation will not be considered by the Bureau.

“The TCN should not in future assume that the Bureau might just be rail rolled into approving Emergency Procurement requests once it is termed “Emergency” without strictly adhering to the provisions of Section 43 of PPA, 2007. This is not acceptable and the Bureau takes strong exception to this.

“In view of the foregoing, Due Process “No Objection” cannot be granted to the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) for the 285 Emergency Works and Supply contracts carried out by the TCN as indicated in the Table 4.0 above.

“However, on the strength of TCN submission and in line with the provisions of Section 43 of PPA, 2007, Due Process “No Objection” can be granted to the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) for 252 Emergency Works and Supply contracts carried out by the TCN as indicated in the Table 5.0 above.

“Furthermore, the TCN should officially make a request to the Bureau in line with the provisions of Section 42 of PPA, 2007 for Direct Procurement of the 33 projects with serial numbers 4, 5, 27, 74, 118, 120, 133, 137, 139, 149, 154, 162, 163, 164, 165, 175, 182, 184, 189, 190, 193, 194, 197, 204, 217, 218, 238, 247, 251, 255, 257, 269, & 274, which ought not to have been procured through the Emergency procurement method by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) for the Emergency Works contracts.

“The Bureau finally draw the attention of the Accounting Officer (Managing Director) on the wrong use of procurement methods and to reiterate the fact that, despite the Bureau’s current position on the 33 projects in this request, subsequent slips of this nature will not be admitted as requisite sanctions will be thumped on any of the professionals involved.”

When contacted for comments, the TCN public relations officer, Ndidi Mbah, asked for the BPP document. Screenshots of the document containing the BPP’s response to the transmission company where the Bureau pointed out contracts that violated PPA 2007 were sent to her on Wednesday via WhatsApp.

However, there was no response from her even though a reminder was sent to her on Wednesday evening. The TCN spokesperson called our reporter on Thursday morning and promised to make her response to our inquiries available the same day but up till the time of filing this report, she had not responded.

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