By Udeme Akpan
THERE are indications that many Nigerians do not know much about NipeX, established to provide an electronic contracting platform for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC and its operating partners in the Joint Venture (JV) and Production Sharing Contract (PSC) arrangement.
A group known as the Media Network on Anti-Corruption Practices in the Oil and Gas Industry (MNAPOGI) had a few days ago accused NipeX of not being fair to some companies on the award of contracts in the petroleum industry.
But in a message posted at its website, NipeX indicated that it does not award contracts directly or indirectly.
It stated that its functions included the establishing of a Joint Qualification System for the pre-qualification of contractors/suppliers for ease of supplier selection, reducing contracting cycle time from about 18 – 24 months to half or shorter time frame and entrenching transparency into the contracting and procurement process, thereby ensuring the integrity of the process.
”The NipeX system consists of two complementary web-based applications which facilitate supplier pre-qualification and contract approval processes, namely the Joint Qualification System (JQS) and Electronic Marketplace (eMarketplace).
”Joint Qualification System (JQS): The NipeX JQS is an online supplier database which provides a standardized and transparent means of pre-qualifying suppliers registered in Nigeria for potential opportunities in the industry. The NipeX JQS increases efficiency and instills integrity in the pre-qualification process of the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
”Prior to the establishment of NipeX, each buyer (Operator) pre-qualified bidders on a tender by tender basis by receiving pre-qualification bids from the Suppliers.
With the NipeX approach, NJQS carries out pre-qualification of suppliers for operators and maintains the database for all industry players. Stakeholders source for pre-qualified suppliers from the pool provided by NJQS database. Adverts published have thus changed from “Invitation for Pre-qualification” to “Tender Opportunity”.
”Only suppliers who are registered with the relevant NJQS Products/Services category as at the advert close date shall be eligible to participate in the tender opportunity and invited to submit Technical and/ or Commercial bids.
”Industry insiders who are familiar with the workings of NAPIMS, and NipeX in particular, made it clear that there was the need to educate the MNAPOGI on the role of NipeX in the oil and gas contracting process, so as to give the group a clear understanding and appreciation of NipeX.
One of them who preferred not to be mentioned stated: ”It is also imperative to understand that NipeX plays no part whatsoever in the decision as to which entity gets a contract advertised on the NipeX portal. NipeX does not award contracts and has never done so.
”NipeX is an electronic platform used for online bidding andaimed at entrenching transparency, and increased efficiency in the contracting process. NipeX is an electronic market place.
”Contrary to the speculation, it should also be noted that the General Manager of NipeX, Kanayo Odoe, has an open door policy which has over the years impacted positively on NipeX operations.”