Former Acting Director-General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Mr Joyce Nkemakolam has revealed that the N240 million approved budget for operational vehicles was deliberately inflated to N643 million by the Ministry of Aviation.
This revelation came on the heels of series of investigation and hearing on Thursday, October 24, 2013 by the House Committee on Aviation on the controversial purchase of N255.15 million worth BMW bullet proof cars for embattled Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah.
Blank NEWS Online findings proved that despite the National Assembly’s rejection of an initial request by the NCAA to procure bullet-proof cars during the 2013 ministerial budget defense, the agency went ahead to spend a whooping N643 million against an approved budget of N240 million meant for security and vehicles.
The vehicles purchased, according to Blank NEWS Online sources, were jerked up from 25 to 54 vehicles without following due process and authorization of the National Assembly which earlier approved the limit budget.
The former acting DG of NCAA had on Thursday revealed to the House Committee on Aviation that, “The utility vehicles are purchased annually to service the 22 airports in the country and due to old age there is need to acquire new ones while the bullet-proof cars were bought so that we can use them when the country hosts dignitaries from IATA, ICAO and other international bodies and it was through lease financing.
“We sent a letter to the Ministry on April 5 and got approval on April 15 to go ahead with the lease financing in line with best procurement practices. First Bank, Stanbic and Union banks emerged as potential lessors for the 54 cars at N643,88,250.00million.
“First Bank eventually won and we were expected to complete the payment in 36 months before we finally own the vehicles. In conclusion, I wish to point out here that we are expected to pay N23,249,181.00 million monthly, so ownership of the vehicles is still with First Bank.”
2013 budget approval — Five Toyota Hilux Pickup vans, 10 Toyota Corolla cars, five Toyota Land Cruiser SUVs, three Toyota Hiace buses, at a cost of N240 million.
NCAA therefore, in its own volition, bought 54 vehicles through a bank lease for the sum of N643 million, also financed by the bank.
NCAA to repay the purchasing sum with an interest of less N500 million to be paid on the N643 million within 36 months, while two months instalments on the repayment have already been made to the financing bank.
Oduah’s Self Defence:
The embattled Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, has however written to President Goodluck Jonathan to explain her role in the deal, following the President’s query issued to her on Tuesday, October 22, 2013. It reads thus:
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ON THE PROCUREMENT OF NCAA OPERATIONAL VEHICLES
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, is the statutory regulator of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Industry.
Consequently, the NCAA 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.
2. 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. In keeping with standard practice, provision is therefore made annually for the replacement of obsolete, inadequate and unreliable monitoring equipment.
3.In the 2013 budgetary appropriation, provision was made for the procurement of specialised equipment (including operational vehicles) to complement and in some cases replace obsolete ones.
Furthermore, the fact that NCAA, as the regulator of the industry, often plays host to dignitaries from ICAO, IATA, US FAA, AFRAA, AFCAC BAGASO, CANSO, ACI and a host of others makes it necessary to have specialised operational vehicles.
4.With regard to the procurement of additional operational vehicles (including BMW Security Vehicles), the following due process was observed:
(I) By letter dated April 15, 2013, NCAA officially requested authorisation from the Federal Ministry of Aviation to procure 56 operational vehicles through lease financing. This option was proposed to the ministry to enable the NCAA make 36 monthly payments based on receipts from Internally Generated Revenue, IGR.
The Ministry therefore granted due approval.
(ii)Based on the ministry approval, the NCAA invited Expressions of Interest 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.
(iii) 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.
(iv) 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.
(v)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.
(vi) 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.
(vii) Between July 8, 2013 to August, 12, 2013 various meetings were held with First Bank Ltd, contract agreement was signed and necessary documentation executed.
Your Excellency is respectfully invited to note:
(i) The crucial statutory role of the NCAA in regulating 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).
(ii) The need for NCAA to be fully equipped with highly specialized tools and facilities (including operational vehicles) to enable the effective implementation of its statutory functions.
(iii) The procurement of specialized operational vehicles is duly provided for in the NCAA 2p 13 (IGR) Budget and the need for adopting instalmental lease payments over36rionths.
(iii) That Due Process was followed in the procurement of the said operational vehicles.
Please your Excellency my continued loyally and esteemed regards.
Signed: Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah, OON, Honourable Minister.
Igbo Youth Movement (IYM) through its National Chairman, Elliot Uko called for due process in handling the issue but alleged that Oduah’s present travails is occasioned by “attempts by political enemies of the Aviation Minister led by disgruntled businessmen, who felt dislodged by her far-reaching reforms in the aviation industry, to bring her down at all costs.
“The minister has carried out upgrading that no minister had the courage to do in our nation’s history. Attacking her over vehicle purchase is petty, and opportunistic; they should point to what she ought to do and failed to do.”
Prof. Itse Sagay said, “I don’t see any reason why some people should read tribal or ethnic meanings into this issue. It is a straightforward case of a public officer recklessly and irresponsibly dipping her hands into public funds and spending it without care. The issue of taking sides is becoming a recurring problem in our society”.
Meanwhile, the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) in a statement by Segun Sango, its Protem National Chairperson, said what the scandal had shown “is that the problem in the aviation sector is not primarily that of lack of funds but gross mismanagement of resources. This is why we of the SPN have consistently matched the demand for adequate funding of any public sector with a call for open democratic control by elected representatives of workers, consumers and relevant professionals.”
Also, the All Progressives Congress (APC), in statement issued in Lagos by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, ‘’We in the APC have not joined the fray over the Oduahgate scandal since it broke out because we thought this was a straightforward case of corruption and abuse of office that should be summarily dealt with. But President Jonathan has again failed to live up to expectation, thus allowing all manners of clowns to seek to pull the wool over the eyes of Nigerians in the name of defending the indefensible.”