By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
Shocking: Jonathan Officially Concedes Security of Nigerian Maritime Domain to Niger Delta Militants
Someone should tell President Goodluck E. Jonathan to please go slow with his Ijaw Nation project. If it is destined to succeed, it will ultimately do without rushing too many things at the same time and causing grievous damage to the mechanics of the nation. Speed kills.
The latest move, among many, is that he has approved a memo that officially auctions our national maritime domain to a company that is alleged to belong to one of the leading Niger Delta Militants. Come with me.
On 5th January 2012, the Ministry of Transport submitted a memorandum to the Federal Executive Council titled, AWARD OF CONTRACT FOR THE STRATEGIC CONCESSIONING PARTNERSHIP WITH NIMASA TO PROVIDE PLATFORM FOR TRACKING SHIPS AND CARGOES, ENFORCE REGULATORY COMPLIANCE AND SURVEILLANCE OF THE ENTIRE NIGERIAN MARITIME DOMAIN.
To cut a long story short, I have quoted, ad verbatim, paragraph 14 of the memo that summarizes it. (Errors herein are not mine, please)
14. Council is, accordingly, invited to;
note that the principal objective of NIMASA’S activities is to ensure that safety and security of Shipping/Maritime Trade in a protected marine environment but Resource constraint has made it difficult for NIMASA to acquire the requisite Operational Platforms which are needed to effectively patrol and carry out surveillance of Nigeria’s entire coastline.
note that the Surveillance Operations will be carried out in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy in line with the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy under the Maritime Command and Structure;
note that the project is aimed at addressing the challenges in the Maritime Industry
(v) note that the scope of works covers Monitoring, Patrol, Enforcement of Conventions and Improvement of Revenue;
(vi) note that the Platform upon completion will enhance effective patrol and surveillance of Nigeria’s entire coastline to achieve total Maritime Domain Awareness
(vii) note that due National Security nature of the project, Direct Procurement was adopted to this procurement under the Public Procurement Act. Section 42 (1) f;
(viii) note that Due Process Guidelines, were followed and the ICRC has approved the PPP arrangement on a ‘no cure no pay’ basis in favour of Messrs Global West Vessel Specialist Nigeria Limited (GWVSL) with an initial investment in the sum of USD103,400,000.00 Dollar only. Inclusive of all taxes on a contractor financed Supply Operate and Transfer (SOT) Concession for a period of 10 years based on performance;
(ix) note that the BPP reviewed the procurement process and issued a Certificate of ‘No Objection’ for the Provision of Platforms for Tracking Ships and Cargoes, Enforcement of Regulatory Compliance and Surveillance of the Entire Nigerian maritime Domain for Ministry of Transport/Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, in favour of Messrs Global West Vessel Specialist Nigeria Limited (GWVSL), with an initial investment in the sum of USD103,400,000.00 Dollars only, on a contractor financed supply and Transfer (SOT) concession for a period of 10 years and renewable for further 2 terms of 5 years each based on performance as recommended by ICRC and no more to avoid undue monopoly of the service by Concessionaire;
(x) note that the projected amount accruable to government over the concession period will not be less than N124billion.
(xi) note that the President vide letter Ref. No. PRES/99/MT/61, 9th November, 2011 had granted anticipatory approval for the project;
(xii) note that the Attorney General of the Federation/Minister of Justice has reviewed and approved the Draft Agreement.
(xiii) note that this project is contractor financed and does not require any Government Appropriation.
(xiv) note that this project will create 1375 job opportunities to Nigerian professional and non-professionals directly and 1620 jobs indirectly; and
(xv) Ratify the Presidents anticipatory approval for the concessioning of the Provision of Security, Monitoring and Enforcement Operational Platforms on Nigerian Waters to Ministry of Transport/Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). In favour of Messrs Global West Vessel Specialist Nigeria Limited (GWVSL), with an initial Investment of the sum of USD103,400,000.00 Dollars (One Hundred and Three Million, Four Hundred Thousand Dollars) only. Inclusive of all taxes on a Contractor-financed Supply Operate and Transfer (SOT) Concession over 10 years concession period and renewable for further 2 terms of 5 years based on performance. (End of memo.)
The Presidency sent the memo to the National Assembly last week requesting it to consider it in place of the earlier memo on coastal guards submitted by late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua. The essential difference between the two memos is that while Yar’adua envisaged an outfit that is composed by various agencies of government related to maritime functions, Jonathan's memo is contracting the job to a private company in spite the national security implications.
Given the tribal bias that President Jonathan has so far exhibited in his appointments, one could easily see that the expected jobs will largely, if not completely, be composed of Niger Deltan militants. This neatly fits into the Ijaw nation agenda. With the militants manning the maritime domain from Lagos to Calabar, anything can happen.
The promise of joint patrol and enforcement with the Nigerian Navy is mere sweet talk. We know how government agencies and officials subserviently relate to contractors, especially those appointed by the Presidency. The mention of NSA is even more laughable because, he, like the present MD of NIMASA – Mr. Ziakede P. Akpobolokemi – is also from the Niger Delta.
There is the fear among many Nigerians that Jonathan is working hard to secure the entire resources of the region in the hands of his Ijaw tribesmen. So-called ex-Militants are presently manning pipelines in the region.
Now, there are pertinent questions to ask about the contract:
When has Nigeria become so bankrupt that an organization like NIMASA that generates hundreds of millions of dollars annually would not be able to invest $103.4m on something as crucial as its infrastructure that is so essential to our national security?
The contract does not have a total cost. All we are told is that the initial investment would be $103.4million. How would a contractor commit himself to a contract that does not have a total cost?
Equally ambiguous is the benefit that will accrue to the federal government: “not less than N124billion above the existing earnings”, or less than $1billion over a period of ten years! This means in the absence of any sharing formula even if the contractor would pay the federal government only a billion dollars in ten years where he makes, say, $10 billion, he is deemed to have performed satisfactorily. This is dubious.
Who are the 1375 Nigerian professionals and 1620 non-professionals that are going to be employed by the company? No commitment to their composition is given in the memorandum whatsoever. One can clearly see a situation where the entire workforce would be made up of Niger Delta militants. There is nothing in the memorandum to ensure a national spread of the opportunities.
What happens if the contractor does not perform? Nothing except the phrase ‘no cure no pay.’
One really wonders how “the BPP reviewed the procurement process and issued Certificate of ‘No Objection’, and how the Attorney General of the Federation/Minister of Justice reviewed and approved the agreement.
Why would the President approve such a sensitive memo in anticipation without waiting for his Council?
Why the attempt to gain the approval of the National Assembly within a day without allowing members to study it?
Who are on the board of Messrs Global West Vessel Specialist Nigeria Limited? Many are saying that it belongs to Tampolo, the famous leader of one of Niger Delta militant factions.
Finally, we would ask: why is Jonathan walking so fast… why? Does not he have faith in the future of the nation, as did the Presidents before him?
What future role remains for the Nigerian military in the Niger Delta?
Will the National Assembly approve it this week after the failed attempt to smuggle it into its proceedings of last week?
You may ask your own questions, perhaps more crucial than mine. The answers, I assure you, would not be far-fetched.
22 January 2012