Even as Nigerians applaud the news of the award by the country’s military of contracts for supply of 50,000 pairs of combat boots to local producers, the Footwears Manufacturers Association of Nigeria has accused the military of not following due process in the deal.
Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES in Kano, a director of a major shoes manufacturing company and member of the association, Muhammad Kabir Haruna, said it was not involved in the exercise. “Anybody that has been awarded the contract is not our member,” he said.
Accusing the Army of violating due process in the contracts, Mr. Haruna, who is director of Bata Famad Plc, said “even the company awarded the contract is not known (to us) and is not a registered member of our association”.
He said the Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar, and officials of the agencies concerned with the procurement met with members of the association and assured them that, as recognized footwears manufacturers, they would be given the contracts for the production of the combat boots and other professional wears.
“However to our utmost dismay, we just learnt that contracts for 50,000 pairs of combat boots were awarded to who we don’t know in Aba. We checked, no due process was followed and even the tender has not been done,” Mr. Haruna said.
He said his company, an off-shoot of the famous Bata multinational Footwears Company, has been in business for over 60 years and has the capacity to produce over 300,000 pairs of shoes within a week, but that it was not consulted.
“In essence, what we are saying is that in this so-called award of contracts for combat professional footwears, the major players like us (Bata) and other members of our manufacturers association have been completely sidelined,” he said.
Mr. Haruna alleged that the development could be a ploy by “some top brass” to sabotage President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence on patronising local producers, by “using this products which might not last to discredit all of us”.
The Bata director said there was a time his company was called to bid for a tender.
“But after securing the contract, we were asked to go, only for us to now learn that the same contract was given to a Lebanese who after supply, the same products didn’t last two months,” he said.
He said if members of the association were given the contracts for supply of combat boots, it would have had multiplier effects on the economy.
“We would have secured Nigerian leather, which means people would be employed, butchers would have enough animals to slaughter and everybody would be happy,” he said.
Mr. Haruna cautioned the authorities on the project, saying, “Military wears are specialized combat wears recognized internationally, and standard must be followed to avoid putting our soldiers’ lives in danger”.
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