The Firm that developed the electronic platform for the ill-fated recruitment exercise into the Nigerian Immigration Service three weeks ago, Messrs Drexel Technologies Nigeria Limited, has said that the multi-million naira contract was not advertised for competitive bidding by the Ministry of Interior.
The Company Secretary/Legal Adviser of the company, Mr. Theodore Maiyaki, stated this before the Senate Committee on Interior, probing the circumstances that led to the death of 16 people during the March 15 recruitment exercise into the NIS.
He was responding to questions from members of the Senator Abubakar Bagudu-led Senate committee on the role of his firm in the unfortunate tragedy, during the two-day public hearing which rounded off on Friday.
The committee faulted the award of the contract to Drexel, which it claimed did not qualify to win such job going by its Memorandum of the Articles of Association.
According to Bagudu, the Drexel’s Memorandum of Articles of Association, showed that it was incorporated in 2011 to carry out business of general contract, Finance import and market all kinds of electrical appliances, and provide business of mechanised agriculture.
He said, “I have seen the memorandum of articles of this company, it is business of general contracts, distribution of general goods, where does that allow you to engage in this kind of technical service?
“It is just a shareholder in SW global, How does that qualify you for the contract awarded to you?”
But Maiyaki said the company was incorporated in 2011 and immediately bought majority shares into SW Global which already was over 10 years in existence and doing the same business as the contract awarded to it.
He urged the committee to look at the statement of share capital and return of the firm’s lodgement of SW Global in which Drexel has N80m shares.
He said, “The SW Global is a complete IT based company. That was the nexus that gave us the proficiency to handle the project.
“The articles of Association permits Drexel to invest in another company that is why it invested in SW Global Limited to enable it prosecute its mandate.”
The committee, however faulted the argument of Maiyaki and insisted that the contract was not in order because it was not signed between the ministry and SW Global which had the proficiency to execute it.
Asked whether the job was advertised before he got the contract, Maiyaki responded in the contrary.
He said, “It was an unsolicited proposal built around the experiences of 2011, 2012. We found out that there was a recruitment crisis in the NIS at that time. Because we have a solution which resolves that kind of problem, we quickly sent in a proposal.
“It was on the basis of our experience and presentation that the ministry considered us worthy of the contract.”
Also asked on whose terms the agreement was made, Maiyaki said “It was done on realistic terms. It protected both parties, equally.”
He also told the committee that he had provided similar services in the past to the Nigerian Air Force and to the Navy.
He said, “We have similar arrangement with the Navy and the Air Force to hoist application by electronic device. Both military establishments also have access to the analysis that were carried out through the integrated portal.”
The committee also faulted the idea whereby the consultant charged N1,000 per each of the 710,000 Nigerians who applied and thereby gained a whopping N612m gain in one single contract.
One of the members, Senator Hosea Agboola said, “Your company collected N710.1m and you spent N98m as the project cost. Are you now saying that your company gained N612m in one business?”
However, Maiyaki said, “Out of the N710m generated from the applicants, we engaged payment processors which had an agreement with us to deduct N250 per each applicant as processing charge at the bank.
“So, if you put that together, it takes away N177.5m from the money. That is added to the N98m being the cost of the project and the N45m given to the board. ”
He said the initial projection of his firm was to capture an application base of about 50,000 applicants adding that the site had crashed more than three times because of the overwhelming influx of applications and on those three occasions, they had to do rapid expansion of the infrastructure.
He said, “We immediately ensured that all the applications were captured particularly because we didn’t have the threshold to stop the application running.
“So, section 321 of the agreement provided the N1,000 as a cover in the event that the projected number was exceeded because the infrastructure we were using, could not have been limited to N98m.
“All the money realised from the applicants belong to us because it was the contractor, financed and management arrangement we had with them.”
The committee therefore asked the consultant to forward to it, the breakdown of all additional expenditure they incurred in the cost of expanding its infrastructure to accommodate extra application apart from their initial target of 50,000.”