Embattled Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah and President Goodluck Jonathan
By Ben Ezemalu
In a quick response to the query issued to her by President Goodluck Jonathan, Stella Oduah said that there was provision in the 2013 budget for the procurement of specialised equipment (including operational vehicles) to complement and, in some cases, replace obsolete ones.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the two armoured BMW exotic cars were bought outside budget provisions, and in violation of procurement processes.
But Mrs. Oduah maintained that there is always an annual budgetary provision for the replacement of obsolete, inadequate and unreliable monitoring equipment.
“The NCAA (Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority) is charged with oversight responsibilities over all civil aviation operations in the country, including safety, security and strict compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices, SARPs, and Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations, NCARs,” Mrs. Oduah stated in her response.
“Towards the effective implementation of its statutory regulatory responsibilities, therefore, it is imperative that the NCAA is fully equipped with highly specialised tools and facilities, including adequate operational vehicles to cover all 22 national airports and over 400 airstrips.”
The minister, however, failed to provide details of the cost of the two armoured BMW vehicles whose N255 million price has shocked Nigerians, with some civil society groups calling for her resignation.
Mrs. Oduah said that with the NCAA being the regulator of the aviation industry, it often plays host to dignitaries from ICAO, IATA, US FAA, AFRAA, AFCAC BAGASO, CANSO, ACI and others making it necessary to have specialised operational vehicles.
On Wednesday, President Jonathan set up a three-man administrative panel to investigate the armoured car scandal.
The panel, which has two weeks to submit its findings, is to investigate whether the procurement of the vehicles for about N255 million followed due process or not. The panel is also to look into the main reasons for procuring the vehicles.
In letter dated April 15, 2013, the NCAA officially requested authorisation from the Federal Ministry of Aviation to procure 56 operational vehicles through lease financing, according to Mrs. Oduah.
This option was proposed to the ministry to enable the NCAA make 36 monthly payments based on receipts from Internally Generated Revenue, she added.
“Based on the ministry’s approval, the NCAA invited Expressions of Interest (EOI) from all Banks in Nigeria for the financing of the said vehicles. EOI was adopted because the procurement is two sided. First, the financier would have to be selected before the supplier is determined. This is in line with procurement best practices,” Mrs. Oduah said.
“On May 24, 2013, the response received from the various banks to the Expression of Interest, EOI, request was opened publicly and minutes of the opening exercise was duly documented. During the EOI opening exercise, NCAA got commendation from one of the Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, approved by BPP who were invited for the opening exercise.
“The evaluation of the expression of interests was held on May 31, 2013 during which First Bank Plc, Union Bank Plc and Stanbic IBTC emerged most responsive. On the June 10, 2013 the above three banks were invited to submit Financial Proposals. Thereafter, First Bank emerged the highest rated responsive bidder.
“Between June 20 and 25, 2013, invoices were received from various accredited motor vehicle dealers during which only Coscharis Motors Limited quoted for BMW Security Vehicles.
“On June 28, 2013, NCAA Parastatal Tenders Board approved the selection of First Bank Ltd for the Lease Financing as well as Metropolitan Motor Vehicles and Coscharis for the supply of the vehicles. All necessary approvals were duly sought and obtained accordingly.
“Between July 8, 2013 to August, 12, 2013 various meetings were held with First Bank Ltd, contract agreement was signed and necessary documentation executed,” Mrs. Oduah added.
The minister further urged President Jonathan to note the need for the NCAA to be fully equipped with highly specialised tools and facilities (including operational vehicles) to enable the effective implementation of its statutory functions.
She also maintained that the procurement of specialised operational vehicles was duly provided for in the NCAA budget and the need for adopting instalmental lease payments over 36 months.