Rejoinder: HYPREP RESPONSE TO Premium Times Publication on May, 5, 2019

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—Rejoinder: HYPREP RESPONSE TO Premium Times Publication on May, 5, 2019

YBTC News—Our attention has been drawn to the allegations in a report by an online publication, Premium Times, with the headline “How Buhari administration awarded Ogoni cleanup contracts to unqualified firms”, which was published on May 5, 2019. The headline and the report are misleading and inaccurate about the on-going clean-up of Ogoniland.

According to Section 49(1) of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) 2007, “The procuring entity shall establish criteria to evaluate the proposals and prescribe the relative weight to be accorded to each criterion and the manner in which they are to be applied in the evaluation of proposals”.

In view of this and taking cognizance of the Presidential Executive Order for planning and execution of projects, promotion of Nigerian content in contracts and science and technology, of February 2nd 2018, the Evaluation Committee of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) set the evaluation criteria in such a way that duly registered Nigerian companies can partner with local and international companies with requisite experience in remediation in the past 5 years.

Thus, HYPREP did not fault its pre-qualification requirements.

It is important to also note that in our publication in both local and international media (The Economist – March 31st – April 6th; The Guardian, Daily Trust, Ogoni Star and The Tide of March 30, 2018) HYPREP never requested interested companies to have 5 years remediation experience before applying. Rather, Companies were requested to provide details of experience providing environmental remediation services of hydrocarbon impacted soil/groundwater comparable in scope and complexity to the assignment of interest in the last five (5) years.

This is to ensure that the companies are still in business with current remediation technologies and not companies that have been out of remediation business for the past 10 to 20 years. Therefore, local companies were encouraged to participate through evidence of partnership/joint venture agreement with local/international companies with requisite experience in remediation. This is aimed at building the capacity of the local companies in line with the aforementioned Presidential Executive Order for the promotion of Nigerian content.

The companies that came out successful in the exercise so emerged based on merit having met the requirements in the Technical, Financial and Commercial Bids. The Bid Evaluation Committee that evaluated the volumes of documents tendered by prospective companies rigorously verified every single claim of each company from the opening of bids through the technical to the commercial stages that finally culminated in the award of contracts.

Premium Times report alleged that several contractors that were awarded contracts did not qualify as stipulated in the terms and conditions of the Expression of Interest (EoI). This is not correct as HYPREP followed laid down procedures as stipulated by law.

The key requirements amongst others stated in the published Expression of Interest (EoI) which every potential contractor/company was expected to have include:

Certificate of Accreditation of company with Nigeria’s National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA);

Nigerian companies applying as part of a joint venture or consortium with Non-Nigerian companies must, however, provide all the above listed information/documentation and a memorandum of understanding.

Thus, companies that won the remediation contract have competency in remediation and possessed the required documents and certifications to carry out remediation works in Nigeria. For example, Basic Technology Nigeria Limited which was cited, has executed remediation contracts with Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited from 2007 to 2018. The Company has Certificate of Accreditation from the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, (NOSDRA) and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), for oil spill clean-up and remediation. It also has a permit for use of bioremediation product known as Remediact. They are presently engaged in carrying out remediation work for another International Oil Company, the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC).

The Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), complied with the Federal Government Executive Order 5 which among other things provides that procuring authorities shall give
preference to Nigerian companies and firms in the award of contracts, in line with the Public Procurement Act 2007. The essence is to create an industrialized base for Nigeria’s economic development. In addition, each company that participated in the bidding process, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with its technical partners in line with sections p & q of the advertorial.

For instance, Louizoni Ferretti Enterprises Ltd, met all mandatory requirements specified in the advertisement in line with Procurement Act of 2007 and is duly accredited with NOSDRA, Federal Ministry of Environment and DPR for oil spill clean-up and remediation as stated in HYPREP published Expression of Interest (EoI). The same applies to the other contractors mentioned in the publication, which had the required criteria.

Apart from their competence in related areas and having key technical staff with relevant knowledge in soil remediation, all of the companies have technical partners with requisite remediation experience. All the companies that participated in the HYPREP bid for the provision of remediation services were all qualified companies, and HYPREP in line with international best practices had to go for the most responsive bidders in line with the Procurement Act.
At the moment, the contractors have mobilized to site and they have also commenced remediation works. In addition, the companies have strong technical partnership with foreign companies.

We have to appreciate the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for kick-starting the clean-up of Ogoniland and, indeed, the Niger Delta, after successive neglect by previous administrations for several decades. To further reaffirm the commitment of the Federal Government to the clean-up, the Honorable Minister of Environment, Surveyor Suleiman Hassan Zarma came to handover sites to contractors. Also, this is the first time that such exercise would be done in the region.

As a project, HYPREP has recorded remarkable achievements in the Clean-up exercise which include, but not limited to, the implementation of the emergency measures as recommended in the 2011 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report. (The UNEP report estimated that it would take 25 to 30 years to clean up the polluted areas in Ogoniland).

Furthermore, we have carried out several trainings to enhance the capacity of Ogoni youths. Specifically, we have carried out the training of young Ogoni scientists in the area of remediation
and also Livelihood training of some Ogoni youths in collaboration with Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Onne.

It is also important to state that, in addition to the ongoing remediation efforts, HYPREP has implemented other recommendations of the UNEP report, including carrying out two medical outreaches in all the four Local Government Areas of Ogoniland aimed at collecting preliminary data for Health Study where over 20,000 cases were treated and over 400 surgeries were carried out, which was well received by the Ogoni people.

Also, HYPREP has entered into a collaboration with the Rivers State Ministry of Water Resources and Rural Development to resuscitate existing water facilities in the four Local Government Areas of Ogoniland. The procurement processes for the construction of new water facilities have reached advanced stages.

We wish to state categorically that HYPREP and indeed the clean-up project is fully welcomed and supported by the Ogonis, and the isolated incident in K-Dere where HYPREP bus was burnt was a clear case of an attack by miscreants. The act was totally condemned by the entire Ogonis and the people of K-Dere who provided useful information to guide security agents in their investigations.

The support of the Ogoni people for the project was evidently demonstrated recently during our Town Hall Meetings with the impacted communities where they offered useful suggestions and pledged to cooperate with HYPREP and its contractors to achieve a successful clean-up of their environment. Recently, the Central Representative Advisory Committee (CRAC) was inaugurated charged with the responsibility of interfacing with the Ogoni committees to resolve conflicts that may arise and to also ensure a peaceful atmosphere is created in Ogoniland during the operation of HYPREP activities.

Our office is open to Premium Times, other media organizations and the entire public who wish to obtain further information about our operations and the ongoing remediation work.

The Federal Government made a pledge to the Nigerian people and indeed the international community that Ogoniland will be cleaned to the standards prescribed by the United Nations, one of the reasons HYPREP has re-engaged the United Nations Environment, formerly United Nations
Environment Programme, UNEP, in a one-year contract (renewable) to advise and guide its operations in line with recommendations in the UNEP Report and global best practice.

HYPREP and the Ministry of Environment will keep making concerted efforts to ensure that the Clean-up exercise continue to adhere to required standards for a cleaner environment in Ogoniland and the whole of Niger Delta.