The Chairman, Senate Committee on Local Content, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, on Tuesday revealed that he was offered a vessel as bribe to kill investigations on allegations of irregularities against TOTAL Nigeria and the National Petroleum Investment Services Limited.
The senator made this known during the investigative hearing on the allegations of irregularities against Total Nigeria and NAPIMS.
According to Adeola: “I was offered a vessel as bribe to kill the matter.”
Adeola therefore ordered Total Nigeria and National Petroleum Investment Management Services to resume bidding to include local vessel contractors left out in initial tendering opportunity that was canceled.
It was gathered that the Senate was petitioned by the Indigenous Vessel Contractors, accusing Total Nigeria and NAPIMS of excluding their members from the process after four years to pave the way for other bigger local vessel operators, where TOTAL Nigeria and NAPIMS allegedly have vested interest.
It was alleged in the petition that a director in TOTAL Nigeria, who wants to corner the contract, had gone ahead to register a vessel.
Earlier before Adeola gave an order to resume bidding, Total had informed the committee that it canceled the original contract because local contractors it (TOTAL Nigeria) was interested in could not make the list.
The committee members, who were infuriated by the response of Total Nigeria, frowned at the alleged irregularities, which they believe violate extant laws in the oil and gas sector as well as the procurement laws.
However, the Executive Director, Corporate Services of TOTAL Nigeria, Abiodun Afolabi, denied any wrongdoing, claiming that his company has not in any way violated the law in the handling of the tender initiated since 2012.
Afolabi said there was a need to change strategy because of the long gestation period it takes for contracts in the oil sector to be completed.
Rather than pacify the lawmakers, the explanation angered them the more, especially when TOTAL Nigeria had earlier certified the Indigenous Vessel Contractors as technically and commercially qualified for the contracts.
The Director General of NAPIMS, Roland Evbere, who is relatively new on the job, appealed for six months to nine months to sanitize the process, including eliminating “portfolio local contractors in the business value chain”.
The Senate resolved in the spirit of fairness that Total Nigeria should strongly consider the local vessel contractors it believed were unjustly left out to be accommodated in the next round of bidding.