Transport Minister Rotimi Ameachi accused President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff Ibrahim Gambari of meddling in his ministry’s procurement process, the latest such skirmish between senior administration officials Buhari.
The charge was the minister’s response to Mr. Gambari’s apparent insistence on adopting an international tender to engage contractors for the implementation of the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) program, domiciled in Nigerian Shippers’ Council under the supervision of Mr. Amaechi.
PREMIUM TIME investigation, based on leaked confidential notes and interviews with sources, showed how the president and minister awarded the security-sensitive contract to two companies – MedTech Scientific Limited and Rozi International Limited – in a way that has violated the law on public procurement and caused the Public Procurement Office to complain about the lack of due process.
Mr. Amaechi managed to bypass due process and got Mr. Buhari to approve the contract, dismissing BPP’s opinion that only a tender was appropriate. BPP said the entrepreneurs had been “handpicked” instead of a process that would have allowed interested companies, locally and internationally, to compete.
PREMIUM TIMES understands that Mr. Gambari, on the strength of a BPP memo denouncing the “embarrassing” process followed by Mr. Buhari and Mr. Amaechi, had always wanted to cause a turnaround.
In a note dated Oct. 14 to the president, Ameachi said the chief of staff has always sought to impose his interests on issues relating to procurement processes in his ministry.
Making official that he had proof that the Chief of Staff was not acting in the public interest but to benefit from the contract through agents, Mr. Amaechi told Mr. Buhari that Mr. Gambari, Bilkisu Gambari, had approached him for the contract.
“I am particularly concerned that his opposition to the initiatives of my ministry regarding the ICTN program has accelerated after the visit of a certain Miss Bilkisu Gambari, at her request, in my office with her partners to seek the award. of this same ICTN contract – for which the request was not granted, ”Mr. Amaechi said in his letter to the President.
“It seems to me that it is the desire to satisfy several partners such as those referenced above that led the chief of staff to continue to advocate and advise that this sensitive contract be divided into several installments with several service providers – even against standard practice. in several jurisdictions.
He asked Mr. Gambari to refrain from interfering with the procurement process of his ministry and agencies in the interest of the harmony of services.
“In view of the above, | respectfully request the intervention and directives of Your Excellency on the following subjects:
i) That the Chief of Staff refrain from these multiple acts of interference in the procurement processes of my Ministry and agencies in the interest of the harmony of services and To ensure that Your Excellency benefits from advice honest and objective, devoid of personal interest at all times, in particular with regard to matters concerning the Federal Ministry of Transport; and
ii) That the procurement process as previously approved by Mr. Excellence should continue and be concluded by the Federal Ministry of Transport /Nigerian Shippers Council.“
Mr. Gambari did not honor a request for comment. An SMS on his phone was not answered.
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Mr. Amaechi’s letter was received at the President’s office on October 15 and subsequently the President noted and once again approved the continuation of the procurement process, which the BPP said was flawed.
In a way that suggests humiliation, the President asked Mr. Gambari to respond to Mr. Amaechi and assure him that Mr. Buhari had taken note of his complaint and approved the continuation of the deal.
The note in response reads as follows: “I am writing to pass reference A to you to draw your kind attention to Mr. Chairman’s notation of your prayers in paragraph 5 (i) (-banning Mr. Gambari) and l ‘approval of (ii) (- continuation of the project) on page 2.
“Submitted for your kind deed please”.
The two contractors who were awarded the shipment tracking system contract have no records of work in the region. MedTech is a healthcare company and Rozi is a real estate development company.
BPP said Mr. Amaechi had not submitted their profiles to allow the procurement agency to determine their competence.
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