In recent times, the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) has been enmeshed in alleged violation of procurement act leading to the award of contract in the sum of over N118m. MUHAMMAD TANKO SHITTU and AHMAD TUKUR, capture it all.
The chief medical director (CMD) of Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), Dr Edward Banwat, has allegedly shunned the hospital management board and awarded contracts worth N118m for the completion of construction of an amenity ward in the hospital, contrary to the board act. The contract was found to have been awarded to a higher bidder contrary to the provision of the Public Procurement Acts. It was further found out that contrary to laid down rule, the contract was awarded to a printing press whose registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) captured printing press and allied matters.
Investigations further revealed that one of the bidding contractors, Dantonic Investment Limited, had petitioned the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) calling for a review of the process.
Board not involved- chairmanWhen contacted, the chairman of the hospital board, Mr Barth Nwibe, washed his hands off the matter, but directed the inquiry to the CMD.He said, “I am aware of the complaint from a contractor which I forwarded to the CMD, but the board was not involved in the award of the contract,” he said.The hospital which had witnessed two major strikes by resident doctors and health workers for alleged poor management by the CMD, is likely facing another round of crisis.
Curiously, the CMD confirmed the chairman’s assertion with a claim that the procurement act does not necessarily involve the board in award of contracts.
According to him, “In the act, the board members are not part of the procurement process,” he said.
What BPP act saysBut investigation by Blueprint revealed that contrary to the CMD’s claim, Article 7 of the act establishing the board of teaching hospitals Section (1) (a),(b)&(c), stipulates that the board is empowered to, among other things, “Equip, maintain and operate the hospital so as to provide facilities for diagnosis, curative, promotion and rehabilitative service in medical treatment and to construct, equip, maintain and operate such clinic, outpatient departments, laboratories, research or experimental stations and other like institutions.”
On the other hand, Section 5 of the hospital act, sub-section (1) (b) stipulates that the CMD shall be charged with the responsibility for the execution of policies and matters affecting the day-to-day management of the affairs of the hospital.Further checks from the BPP Act, Section 20 (1) of the act stipulates that, “The accounting officer of a procuring entity shall be the person charged with line supervision of the conduct of all procurement processes.”
Findings revealed further that BPP wrote to one of the contractors assuring that the contract would be suspended pending the review of the processes.
A letter dated February 03 2020 with reference no: BPP/S.1/CCM/20/VoL.1/013, addressed to Dantonic Investment limited and signed by one OlanrewajuYusuf Olaleye, deputy director, Complains, Certification and Monitoring Unit said a letter has been forwarded to JUTH management to suspend further action pending review of the processes.
The letter reads, “The bureau has forwarded your complaint to the hospital directing it to suspend any further action on the procurement and forward all the relevant procurement document for independent review by it in line with the provisions of Section 54 (4) (a) of the Public Procurement Act, 2007,” it said.
According to the section, “Upon receipt of a complaint, the bureau shall promptly give notice of the complaint to the respective procuring or disposing entity and suspend any further action by the procuring or disposing entity until it has settled the matter.”
When contacted, the managing director of Dantonic Investment Limited, Mr Onah Christian Onaura, confirmed the receipt of the letter from BPP and alleged violation of the procurement act by JUTH management.
He said, “I have written JUTH management drawing their attention to the violation of the BPP act because I posted the lowest amount of N114,095,168.25, but the contract was awarded to Andex Press which posted the highest amount of N118,789,516.2.
“That was why I wrote a complaint to the BPP drawing their attention for further action, yet the JUTH management went ahead with the execution of the project,” he alleged.
Further findings revealed that Andex Press & Allied Service Limited who was awarded the contract is registered by Corporate Affairs Commission with registration 745364 as a printing press that specialises in printing services but not a construction firm.
CMD defends actionIn his response, the CMD who claimed that the process was transparentand in line with laid down rules, said any contractor that is not satisfied has the right to make complains, confirming that indeed they had received a complaint from Dantonic Investment. “You might bid the lowest price but after technical evaluation, you may not be the most responsive bid; that was exactly what happened.
“The law says anybody not satisfied would be shown the template of the analysis and a staff from there came and was satisfied with the analysis.“Any complain we receive, we give it attention because we run a transparent process and you might post the lowest price but after the technical aspect, you may not be awarded,” he said.
Dr Banwat said he has not received any communication from the bureau asking him to stop the work, pending review of the processes.
On the alleged awards of contract to a printing press, he said; “Contractors would always make insinuations; we are not party to it, we followed the act to the letter.”
Lawyers fault CMD’s standLawyers and legal luminaries have discredited the CMD’s claim saying that the non- inclusion of the board in the dpaward of contract is a fraud and can attract prosecution.
According to Barr Salisu Garba, “There is no law in Nigeria that excludes boards from the process of contract awards and any registered firm by the Coperate Affairs Commission must enclose in his memorandum the exact services or contract he is embarking,” he said.
He said the act that establishes teaching hospital, has clearly defined the functions of its board just as it prescribed that of the chief medical director.”Therefore, for any chief medical director to have said his board has no business in procurement, he is just not telling the truth,” he added.