Peterside: It is a debt recovery contract, different from the one awarded to Tompolo’s company
The debt recovery and surveil- lance contracts awarded to the Global West Vessel Specialists Nigeria Limited (GWVSNL) owned by former Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpo- mupolo, popularly known as Tompolo by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) under the Goodluck Jonathan administration and cancelled by Buhari have now been awarded to Snecou Nigeria Limited, a company owned by the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, Dr Davies Akanya. THISDAY investigation revealed that after the award of the contract, Akanya and the new DG of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside, now resume work and close at the same time, with Akanya also assigned an official car.
Reliable sources in the agency told THISDAY that the contract awarded on No-Cure-No-Pay basis was awarded without formal bidding process even though they were advertised in newspapers. Industry source told THISDAY that the debt owed NIMASA by shipping companies is in the region of $15 billion while NIMASA estimates it to be in the region of $5 billion and that the certificate for the contract award had been given to Akanya despite reports that his company does not have the competence to do the job.
The source told THISDAY that as spelt out in the contract, Akanya’s company would get between 10 and 15 per cent of money recovered for NIMASA. Under the new contract, Akanya’s company is to among other things, provide platforms for waterways monitoring and enforcement; engage in revenue services enhancement and debt reconciliation and recovery services for NIMASA. Checks revealed that the new company is to be paid a total of N4.8 million monthly by NIMASA as engagement fees and other allowances for the period of the two years contract, commencing from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2018. The former Director General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, had in 2011, awarded a 10-year maritime security contract to GWVSNL. As part of the contract, GWVESNL was expected to provide platforms to be used by the Nigerian navy and other security operatives to patrol the waterways.
The Federal Ministry of Transportation under Chibuike Amaechi, a chieftain of the APC and major financier of the Buhari campaign in 2015, had last July directed NIMASA under Peterside to terminate GWVSNL’s contract and discontinue payment to it. The directive was sequel to the freezing of GWVSNL’s account by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). THISDAY gathered that when the contract was awarded to Tompolo in 2011 by the Jona- than’s administration, elements who later formed the core of the APC had seriously condemned the action on the grounds that such a sensitive contract like patrolling the country’s waterways was awarded to a militant. With the termination of Tompolo’s contract, over 20 vessels in the inventory of Global West were taken over by NIMASA, yet they lack crafts to carry out their duties with observers wondering where the vessels disappeared to.
The source also told THISDAY that Tompolo and his militant group had however, vowed not to allow Akanya do the job even if they sublet the contract to a more competent company. According to the source, “I can tell you that top officials of NIMASA are not happy with the way the contracts were awarded. How can you give such contract to a person of interest without giving opportunity to other companies to bid for the contract?” Akanya and Peterside are both from Rivers State where the former contested the 2015 governorship election and lost to the incumbent governor, Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). THISDAY checks gathered that the decision to award the contract to the APC chairman might not be unconnected with plans to prepare Peterside ahead of the 2019 governorship election in the state. When contacted, the NIMASA boss, Peterside, while admitting that the contract was actually awarded, said it was a debt recovery contract, different from the one awarded to Tompolo’s company.
“We are about to issue a statement on that. We awarded a debt recovery assignment which is totally different from Global Fleet and Tompolo was doing for NIMASA which took over revenue collection,” Peterside said. He added, “There is nothing wrong with what we have done. That is how it is done globally. People just want to make some- thing out of nothing. The contract was not awarded to Akanya, it was awarded to Snecou Nigeria Limited and we advertised the contract in several newspapers. So I don’t see what is wrong with awarding a contract to get our money from debtors.” On the value of the contract, he said: “I cannot tell you the actual value; nobody knows the actual value as it fluctuates. But I can tell you that it is in the region of $4 billion or $5 billion. But I am not sure how much it is.” However, a top Director in NIMASA who pleaded for anonymity for fear of being victimised told THISDAY that NIMASA has the capacity to recover its debt without the use of a consultant. He said: “Dakuku and his people just want to make money.
Why must we hire a consultant to recover our debt? Our staff can effectively do that. NIMASA will be paying billions of Naira to Akanya for doing nothing. Contracts cancelled by the government on the al- legation of corruption are now being awarded to cronies and members of the APC. It is a shame that this kind of a thing is happening under a Buhari administration that claims to be fighting corruption.” Meanwhile, every effort made to reach Akanya as at the time of filling this report proved abortive as his phone was switched off. Even the text messages sent to the phone were not replied.