National Assembly probes controversial PTI vessel contract

06 February 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA - Nigeria’s National Assembly has raised a panel to investigate the controversy surrounding the award of contract for, but, non-delivery of a multi-million naira training ship for the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) in Effurun, Delta State.

Contract for the diving support vessel, meant for the training of students at the institute, was awarded to Netsach Limited and partly paid for in 2009 during the late President Umaru Yar’Adua administration.

Specifically,

N985 million was paid out to the contractors in 2009, and since then, the National Assembly has been appropriating funds for the vessel every year.

Senator Emmanuel Paulker, Chairman Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), who revealed this in Abuja, said the discovery was made by the Joint Committees of the National Assembly on Gas and Petroleum Resources (Upstream and Downstream) at the budget defence of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources last week.

The joint committee led by him, Senator Paulker said, immediately set up a committee, comprising all the six committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives, to probe the matter.

He disclosed that despite the yearly appropriation of funds for the vessel, it is yet to arrive the shores of the country, but, stated that it was the intention of the Joint Committee of the National Assembly to find the vessel whereever it might be.

“I was chairman of the downstream petroleum committee for four years in the last National Assembly and the issue of that vessel was reflected in every year’s budget. This committee will like a comprehensive report on that vessel vis-a- vis the amount so far expended on it,” he said.

Addressing the acting principal and chief executive officer of PTI, Mrs. C. N. Dennar, who signed the institution’s 2012 budget, the Senate Committee chairman, said: “You should also indicate as to whether the vessel we are about receiving is that very vessel we have been paying money for and then, it is very necessary we set up a joint committee among ourselves to go and see that vessel because the investment is much.

“There was no year, as chairman of the Downstream Committee that I didn’t see that the purchase of that vessel was not reflecting. We will set up a committee to go and see that vessel whether it is in England, or anywhere in this world. This is a very serious matter and we need to know.”

According to documents available to the joint committee, PTI had released over N985 million to Netsach Limited for the purchase of the vessel but it was yet to arrive Nigerian shores.

A visit to Singapore by the Senate Petroleum Committee in May, 2010 failed to secure the vessel’s delivery as it was reportedly found in a bad shape.

It was recommended by the Senate delegation that the vessel be repaired in Singapore and brought to Nigeria. Three years later, the vessel was not yet to be seen.

In 2010, N173 million was budgeted for the vessel, but N143.459 million was released. In 2011, another N203.693 million was budgetted and for 2012, about N915,759,651 has been proposed for the project.

The contract for purchase of the “Excellent Diver” was awarded by late President Umar Yar’Adua’s administration to Netsach Limited in the sum of N1,117,330,873.31 on July 21, 2009.

Contract document from the ministry shows that 15% would be paid for mobilisation, 55% after purchase and 25% on delivery to PTI’s designated post in Nigeria.

The terms of payment were, however, allegedly disregarded by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, which released N957,131,611.29 to Netsach Limited, which on receiving the sum invited PTI for a sea trial that eventually failed, as the vessel could not sail.

The document of the vessel, MV BLUESTONE TOPAZ, showed that it was built over 30 years ago, contrary to a provision in the award letter signed by L.A. Ibrahim, which specified that the vessel should not be more than 10 years old.

PTI reportedly paid N200 million to the contractor, following an addendum to the contract and a directive from the ministry by the then Director of Planning and Statistics, Emmanuel Izuegbu, to the Acting Principal to “take early action” on the addendum by releasing the money to Netsach.

The payment was part of the third instalment, which should have been made on delivery.