In spite of spirited defence by the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) secretariat that the two accounting firms selected recently to audit the country’s extractive industry emerged in accordance with stipulated guidelines, a coalition of civil society groups are still pressing for more evidence that the process was transparent.
Sada Idris & Co. was selected to audit the oil and gas industry between 2009 and 2011 for a fee of N226.6million, while Haruna Yahaya & Co. was to handle the first solid minerals audit for 2009 and 2010 at a total cost of N137million.
Since their announcement, civil society groups have continued to criticize NEITI’s manner of handling of the selection process, claiming the process lacked transparency, particularly on issues bordering on the evaluation of the technical competence, experience and capacity of the two firms to handle an assignment as complex as the audit of the country’s extractive industry.
The National coordinator, Publish What You Pay Nigeria (PWYP), Nwadishi Faith, whose organization was listed by NEITI as one of the civil society groups invited to witness the selection process, denied that it was open and credible, describing it as “a show case of grand fraud going on in the ‘transparency house’”.
But, NEITI’s Executive Secretary, Zainab Ahmed, at a media briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, restated the position of the transparency agency that the selection process followed all laid down laws, rules and regulations guiding public procurement as spelt out in the provisions of the Public Procurement Act (PPA).
“NEITI is proud that two firms owned and managed by Nigerians competed favourably with foreign firms and won the bid strictly on merit,” Mrs. Ahmed said.
“NEITI expects the firms to prove that Nigerians can excel in any assignment, given a level playing field and conducive environment, by bringing their competence, integrity, professionalism and courage into producing an incisive, independent, fair and dependable findings and recommendations.”
However, a coalition of civil society groups, consisting PWYP Nigeria, Zero Corruption Coalition (ZCC) and Centre for Public Opinion and Media Research (CePOMeR), said today it has dispatched a formal demand to the NEITI secretariat for the full recording of the procurement proceedings that led to the appointment of the two auditors.
“We have made a Public Procurement Act (PPA) and Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) for the procurement proceedings culminating in the selection of the auditors for the auditing of oil and gas sector and the solid minerals sectors,” the coalition’s National Secretary, Babatunde Oluajo, said in a statement made available to Premium Times in Abuja.
According to Mr. Oluajo, their demand is pursuant to the provisions of section 38 (1,2 and 2a) of the PPA (2007) that the comprehensive recorded procurement proceedings be made available on request to any person after a tender, proposal, offer or quotation has been accepted or terminated.
The provisions of section 2(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 also confer “legally enforceable right on members of the public to be given access to any record under the control of a government or public institution”.
The group’s list of demands include the NEITI procurement plan, the various adverts calling for expression of interest (EOIs)indicating conditions for short-listing of consultants, list of prospective consultants that submitted application prior to pre-qualification as well as those shortlisted and issued with the request for proposal (RFP) document and a copy of the RFP issued to consultants.
Other demands include copies of bids submitted by the various consultants with the highest technical ranking, the bid submission register, minutes of the bid opening, copies of receipt issued to bidders on submission of their proposals, minutes of meeting of the technical sub-committee of the Tenders Board, and recommendations of the technical sub-committee of the Tenders Board.
The coalition also demanded detailed evaluation report of the bid process, minutes of the tender’s board that considered the contract, profiles of the winning consulting firms as well as contract documents amongst other relevant documents relating to the procurement of the audit services for the audit of the oil and gas and solid minerals sector.