N16b Contract Scandal Rocks NIMASA By Andrew Airahuobhor

Akpobolokemi

This certainly not the best of times for Managing Director of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, with his management team under pressure to quickly account for a maritime security contract worth N16 billion.

The contract, according to those close to the deal, was supposed to help improve the agency’s revenue by 19 per cent, before any money is paid to the contractor – Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, believed to be owned by Government Ekpemukpolo, popularly known as Tompolo.

This also is in addition to claims that NIMASA was funding the company from the beginning, despite the fact that the contract was signed on a no-cure no-pay basis.

Already, Ships and Ports Communications Company has threatened to drag NIMASA to court for failing to account for the amount paid to Global West Vessel Specialists Nigeria Limited from the $140 million collected from the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) under the maritime security contract signed with the company from 2011 to date.

Pioneer chairman of NIMASA, Dr Ahmed Tijani Ramalan, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to cancel the contract, for which he alleged that NIMASA pays the sum of N1.5 billion monthly. He alleged that despite such gesture, the country still loses over 400,000 barrels of crude oil daily from the nation’s shores.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan also faced pressures to review the contract following the sharp increase in oil theft and other criminal activities on the nation’s territorial waters that threatened the realisation of the 2013 budget.

The Federal Ministry of Transport had, following the request by NIMASA, forwarded a memo dated January 5, 2012 to the Federal Executive Council (FEC), on the award of contract for strategic concession partnership with NIMASA to provide platforms for tracking ships and cargoes, enforce regulatory compliance and surveillance of the entire Nigerian maritime domain.

The memo also indicated that GWVSL is expected to make an initial investment of N16.8 billion ($103.4 million), inclusive of all taxes on a contractor-financed Supply Operate and Transfer (SOT) basis.

It was actually granted anticipatory approval by the former President through a memo Ref. No. PRES/99/ MT/61, dated November 9, 2011. This was done before the formal notice was made to FEC and subsequently approved in February 2012.

Observers insist that the contract, which has been causing ripples across the industry and the nation’s political landscape, is allegedly a drain pipe, as it also says NIMASA and the Navy are to work with GWVSL to ensure safety on the nation’s waterways.

Besides issues around the above contract, there has since after the elections been palpable fear in NIMASA, which had in the days leading to the March 28 Presidential election demanded an apology from the All Progressives Congress (APC) or face legal action. The party had accused NIMASA’s management of sponsoring hate campaign against its candidate, now President Muhammadu Buhari, in the days leading to the election.

DAILY INDEPENDENT