…want full implementation of local content
…frown at use of Chinese coy over Nigerian firm
…as firm vows to petition Buhari
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
House of Representatives Tuesday queried the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC over the alleged exclusion of Bablinks Resource Ltd, a Nigerian firm in the construction contract of the 40’’× 318.6km BVS12 Kaduna-Kano section or Segment 2 of the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano.
Acting on a petition by Local Content Advocacy and Management Group, alleging that contractors in the consortium the bid for the project had been changed by the authorities, the House Committee on Local Content which met with some contractors over the matter said it was interested in the implementation of the local contents in the project.
But in a reaction, the Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power, Yusuf Usman, who represented the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Melee Kyari told the Committee that Bablinks was not part of the deal.
It stated that the corporation only delt with Brentex CPP.
The NNPC stated that local content act was factored in, stressing that there was total compliance to the extant laws in the execution of the project.
Similarly, the Executive Vice Chairman, Brentex Nigeria Ltd, Sani Abubakar in his testimony said that the company was owned by Nigerians, admitting however a partnership with Bablinks.
But the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Bablinks, Bolaji Isiaka refuted the claims, saying it was sidelined after providing the technical expertise that made the bid for the contract successful.
Ruling on the matter, the committee decided to invite the Bureau of Public Procurement to appear before it and give testimony about the true position.
It also asked NNPC, Brentex CPP and Bablinks to furnish the Committee with every contractual documents with them, directing its clerk to Corporate Affairs Commission for details of owners of the companies.
Speaking with Journalists, the lead Consultant and Solicitor for the advocacy group, John Lebor alleged that the contractors didn’t not give recourse to the local content law, the NNPC Act, Nigerian export regulation, among others.
He said: “That project is about $2.6bn. At the award of that project, NNPC and BPP insisted that there must be a local content company with the capacity and Bablinks Nigeria Limited is the company that has that local content capacity, in the sense that they have done a lot of pipeline projects in Warri with Shell and they are one of the best in the country.
“Now, Brentex Consortium, being a company without experience into oil and gas pipeline, entered into partnership with Bablinks. In legal terms, there is supposed to the Chinese company, Bablinks and Brentex.
“The due process document that was produced by the Bureau for Public Enterprise that was taken to the Federal Executive Council to approve this contract, clearly specify that Brentex should be responsible for procurement of the pipelines while Bablinks should be responsible for construction and engineering services.
“So, as technical partners, after they entered the agreement, they now removed Bablinks. If Bablinks was not part of the due process, there would have been no local content that the contract would have been awarded.
“Remember that the Brentex Consortium brought in the Chinese Company CPP because they claimed to be the company financing but when they came in, fraudulentl, they told NNPC, ‘we don’t have the money, bring in the Chinese government.’ So, CPP was used to bring in the Chinese Government.
“The Chinese Government now offered loans to us at inhumane sovereign guarantee. They are not doing us a favour, they gave us money and we are going to pay for 10 years. What they have done is that, they now imported content.
“One Chinese engineer that they are bringing would earn what up to 500 Nigerians cannot earn in that project. You have a job of $2.6bn and you cannot find Nigerian companies and Nigerians there.
“What we want the Parliament to do is to force NNPC and the Chinese company to come to the table and provide and take away the Chinese content from the contract and allow the local content to provide it.
“Let nobody deceive you, China is not doing us a favour by borrowing us money. They have collected sovereignty guarantee, meaning that we are going to pay at very high rate. They have taken more than 60 per cent. The local content law, there is nothing like Chinese content. We will not accept it and if we need to go to Court, we will do that.”