The battle by INTELS Nigeria Limited to retain its service boat contract in the pilotage district of Lagos, Warri, Bonny, Port-Harcourt and Calabar, which expired on August 8, 2020, has met a dead end with President Muhammadu Buhari’s cancellation of the January 2021 directive to restore the contract.
A report by THISDAY a National daily said that the president took the decision following advice from the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Director General Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), and Acting Director-General, Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC), that unanimously advised the president against the restoration of the contract.
The development was seen as major victory for the suspended Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman whose alleged sin was failing to honour a presidential directive on the said contract.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi had listed failure to honour a presidential directive on the restoration of INTELS pilotage contract as terms of reference for the panel of enquiry set up to probe the NPA.
This was despite Bala-Usman’s explanation that the president had withdrawn the directive pending further advice from the Attorney- General of the Federation and the Bureau of Public Procurement(BPP).
The terms of reference read: “Examine and investigate issues leading to the termination of pilotage other contracts of NPA and confirm compliance with the terms of the respective contracts, court ruling and presidential directive.”
However, in a letter addressed to the AGF and the Minister of Transportation, with reference number: SH/COS/23/A/229, dated January 7, 2022, and singed by the Chief of Staff (COS) to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, the president directed that the procurement process initiated by the procuring entity, NPA, that was submitted to the Federal Ministry of Transportation be forwarded immediately to the BPP for action.
The COS in the letter stated: “The president has also directed that upon receipt of the No-objection approval from the BPP, a memorandum be presented by the Ministry of Transportation to the Federal Executive Council for consideration, that the Ministry of Transportation should ensure that the process is concluded within 60 days of the president’s directive to avoid further loss of revenue by the federal government.
“That NPA should ensure that the sanctity of the agreements with respect to Onne 4 (Berths 9, 10 & 11) be maintained, as there is no subsisting contract with INTELS for their utilisation.”
Buhari also directed the AGF to ensure quick determination of the cases in court in view of their economic importance, stressing that the above set of directives prior approval dated January 22, 2021 granted on the matter.