The New Direction agenda of President Julius Maada Bio, it seems, faces a multitude of old tricks and players robed in patched paints of new bloods in governance. Key government policies and strategic deliverables that have been mapped out by the New Direction may face significant slumps from old ‘yuki yuki’ players if there is a lack of stringent monitoring.
Coming from a past where economic redistribution presented an unbalanced strategy towards growth, President Julius Maada Bio in his formative policy outline calls for an inclusive growth strategy that accommodates the disparate entity in a bid to foster national cohesion. In pursuit of this, government laid key premium on reducing resource wastages, mainstreaming the fight against corruption and ensuring that procurement policies and deliverables are within prudent and judicious remits.
Much has been achieved as the government has launched its flagship project, the Free Quality Education programme that seeks to increase access to basic education for all pupils in public schools on the territory, as well as ensuring that improved teaching and administration of the school system is prioritized. Feedbacks indicate a national acclamation for the programme which has so harmonized our political divergence.
Given the above therefore, and with the multitude of attention and focus on cleansing leakages and corrupt corridors in governance deliverables, it is of importance that the track remains untainted and vigilance paid to prospective miscreants with old tricks.
Our recent discovery within the Ministry of Basic and Secondary School Education presents an even sinister plan to undermine efforts against misdemeanor in the public-private partnership bond. Our intention is not to meddle into the critical merits of the current engagement but as public advocates and whistleblowers, there is need to serve a caution against a number of procurement misdemeanors in the supply of selected textbooks for the 2018/19 school year.
We can categorically state that some ‘yuki yuki’ elements within the procurement administration of the Ministry are bent on damaging trust in the new direction’s public –private partnership drive by unscrupulously pursuing personal interest. As such their nefarious practices undermine not only delivery of quality service as support to the FQE, but are also bent on creating unbalanced growth strategy that would continue to sway our economic stamina as a nation.
When the Ministry set out in September to advertise for the procurement of text books for all beneficiaries of the FQE across the country, it was conceived of from a national perspective. This had even been predicted in the supply of exercise books which bore the national logo, Coat of arms, as opposed to the ill created viral picture of exercise books bearing a portrait of the president.
Sources revealed that the Ministry had on 9th August 2018 viciously requested approval from the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) for them to use the sole source method for the procurement of the core text books. Our information is that the NPPA acted professionally and rejected the Ministry’s request on the following day, 10th August, 2018. The first question here is; why opt for sole sourcing? ‘Yuki yuki’ and the kickback old trick.
The Ministry apparently capitulated to the NPPA and reluctantly published a tender for the supply of the core text books for a period of 1 week from 21st to 28th September 2018. Given the nature of the requisite items and quality consideration, the equation of time exigency was important. It turned out that the country had a milieu of quality suppliers who had the capacity to deliver on this contract. Submitting bidders therefore included Eddie K. Enterprises, ACTB & Publishing, Liverpool Investment, and Wilmat Publishers.
It was clearly deduced that the Ministry intends pursuing its initial sole sourcing plans with preference for the Ghanaian company Wilmat. As with all procurement rules, and in pursuit of the local content policy, consideration is prominently on the lowest evaluated and technically responsive bidders. The ‘yuki yuki’ preference for the aborted sole sourcing of Wilmat had seen the contractor (Wilmat) bidding for an exorbitant US$ 11,436,628 (Le. 97,211,343,610) for supply of assorted copies of Primary English Books 1,2,3,4, 5&6 as contained in Lots 3 and 4 of the Tender Notice. Comparing this to other bidders for the same quantity of items with the requisite competence including ACTB which submitted a total bid price of US$ 2,105,423.61 (Le. 17,896,100,685) or Liverpool Investment which submitted a bid price of $2,208,122.00, it became clear that the Ministry had an agenda. Our sources revealed that the Ministry dragged its feet for more than a month looking for the flimsiest of excuses to disqualify the local companies, in favour of its preferred Ghanaian suppliers; potentially costing the Government to lose over Le.79.3bn.
Our sources revealed that after eyebrows were raised at several quarters in Government, the Ministry of Basic and Secondary School Education is planning to hatch a diabolical plan to violate NPPA and standard procurement policies and unilaterally amend the bid of the Ghanaian company Wilmat to make it lower than its local competitors, so that it can award the contract to Wilmat Publishers.
By the doing this, the Ministry of Basic and Secondary School Education will not only violate the NPPA procurement policy but will also deprive competent local businesses who are creating jobs for Sierra Leoneans and Paying Taxes to the grow the Country’s economy from getting legitimate opportunities to further grow their businesses.
If allowed to get on with this, it seems the Ministry will still get its sole-source agenda through the back door.
*This being the case; we now ask why have procurement rules only to bypass them when it suits the Ministry? Why is the ministry allowed to flout NPPA rules with impunity? What meaning do we give to the local content policy in this context? Why is the Ministry bent on depriving competent local businesses who are creating jobs for Sierra Leoneans and Paying Taxes to the grow the Country’s economy from getting legitimate opportunities to further grow their businesses, to benefit foreign companies? Is the Ministry of Basic and Secondary School Education deliberately undermining the New Direction agenda?