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Lack of due process in the award of contracts for the procurement of textbooks at
the Basic Universal Education Commission (UBEC)

July 18, 2009

Dear Sir: The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) is an aggregate of human rights, community based, and civil society organisations with anti-corruption agenda across Nigeria. CACOL sets for itself the task of using any available means to cause relevant authorities to probe and bring to book all corrupt leaders both in public and private institutions. The decision to embark on the journey was taken in view of the need to confront, once and for all, the monster that is ravaging all facets of our national life in Nigeria - Corruption. We decided to do this on behalf of millions of hapless Nigerians who have by a choice that is not theirs, fallen or are potential victims of corrupt leaders. This monster torments ordinary people of Nigeria in all areas of their endeavour.

We have to confront it with a view to defeating it because it has to be done, not by ghosts or citizens of other nations but by Nigerians who have pride in themselves to be full-blooded Nigerians.

Emergent Scam in UBEC
CACOL, in collaboration with Campaign Against Impunity, a non-profit NGO concerned about upliftment of democratic values and rule of law at all times, hereby requests you to please cause an investigation to be carried out by your commission over the above subject matter.

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 1.   The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) has been very much in the news of recent, not because it has made appreciable progress on reducing the number of children that are out of school, neither is it because of the significant increase in the quantum of infrastructure. Rather it has been in the news for a self-generated alarm over its own scam, pinning the main allegation of conspiracy and forgery on some poorly selected officers.

 2.The Commission is at the threshold of yet another scam. However, while the former scam was more of myth than reality, the latest is not likely to be as comical.

3.On August 25, 2008 the commission placed three adverts in some daily newspapers including This Day. One of the adverts was for the pre-qualification of contractors for the supply of instructional materials such as textbooks, office furniture and equipments, teaching aids such as audio-visual and construction of classrooms for physically challenged children nationwide, using support for the Education Trust Fund (ETF).

The support was just slightly above N200.0 million. See Appendix i
Arbitrary Shortlisting
A shortlist of contractors was published on November 5th, 2008 in several dailies including the Daily Trust. For this special exercise, several staff of the National Teachers Institute (NTI) where Dr Ahmed Modibo Mohammed has been Director for seven years were redeployed to UBEC as procurement officers by Dr Modibo and are still at UBEC since then. No wonder therefore that previously over-used NTI contractors automatically emerged as the shortlisted contractors for the supply of textbooks. Moreover, two telecommunication firms were pre-qualified for the supply of the books! See Appendix ii

 Arbitrary Awards
1.The shortlisted bidders were never invited to submit any bids. There are no bidding documents for completion by bidders! Neither was there was there any bid opening ceremony etc as enunciated in the Procurement Act of 2007. Rather, a No Objection was said to have been received to allow the adoption of contracts award by direct and arbitrary allocation of Lots to the eminently qualified firms, some of which are to supply Macmillan, Longman, Evans, Africana First and UP Plc textbooks.

2. Obviously, every aspect of this method offends the provision of the Procurement Act of 2007. There ought to have been competitive bidding between suppliers inasmuch as specific publishers had been pre-selected by end-users. The suppliers would then have to make purchase from the selected publishers. If on the other hand it was the desire if UBEC to purchase directly from selected publishers, the correct procurement method would have been through mono-sourcing while other contractors are brought in to handle only distribution. Even then, the involvement of telecommunication firms is indefensible.

 Award of Book supplies Based on Stale and Wrong Adverts
1.The use of adverts made since August 25th, 2008 for contract awards in June 2009 is far-fetched. Many variables about the status of the firms shortlisted since then would have changed.

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2. The adverts in question specifically referred to the funding available as support from ETF to provide instructional materials for the physically challenged children in basic education nationwide.

3.Meanwhile the accumulated funds for the jettisoned Home Grown School  Feeding and Health Programme (HGSFP) amounting to about N5.75 billion  is being surreptitiously applied to the procurement of textbooks based on the previous adverts and shortlist of suppliers and publishers! There ought to have been specific and separate adverts for the utilization of the unutilized HGSFH Fund since the Federal Executive Council amended  the UBE funding formula and transfer the funds to the instructional  materials sub-head.

4. Also, the approval by the Federal Executive Council that the accumulated funds be utilized for instructional materials did not in any way translate into an approval for the central procurement by UBEC instead of SUBEBS. That was the basis for the petition by 34-SUBEB Chairmen. That petition fell on deaf ears. We hereby adopt the petition and ask you to please investigate the issues raised therein with a view to prosecuting anyone found culpable (Appendix iv).

5. Although there is no evidence that the original publishers of the titles of the books being procured lacked prerequisite capacity to produce the quantity required within the prescribed timeframe, the UBEC authorities decided to award the printing of works already published to other firms that are not privy to the copyright ownership of the said works.

6. We wonder if plagiarism of ideas and piracy of intellectual products is being given official stamp by the UBEC, and by extension, the Federal Executive Council, in this way. It seems the original publishers have been coerced into conceding such atrocity. It however contradicts the impression given by UBEC that local suppliers would only be attached to the publishers (See Appendix iii).

7. There is no evidence that NGOs and Civil Society Organisations members participated in the evaluation of the tenders as prescribed by the Public  Procurement Act 2007.

It is against this background that we urge your Commission to please investigate the issues raised above to determine the following:

1.Whether or not the award of the contracts for the supply of the textbooks as described above was necessary, accurate, and followed the specified Due Process of the Public Procurement Act 2007.

2.Whether there is conflict of interest in the award of the contracts or there is a conspiracy between any official and or staff of UBEC, Federal Ministry of Education Tenders Board, and or the suppliers/contractors, including the original publishers of the books involved, who got allocated with the Lots listed in Appendix iii. The penchant of the Commission to perpetrate such atrocity was accentuated in a recent expose by Daily Trust, a national newspaper that has been following the scandalous events in UBEC that the Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr Ahmed Modibo, was accused of awarding an N850million contract and paid up to 85% contract sum as mobilization fund against the prescription of relevant laws (See Appendix vi). 

3. Whether or not the breaking of the supply of the textbooks into 34 Lots was to circumvent any provisions of relevant laws governing such transactions, especially the Public Procurement Act 2007.

 If therefore any of the aforementioned or others is found to be true, we would like you to, without delay, commence the prosecution of all persons involved in the scandal, including officials, staff and associate of any Ministry, Department and Agencies, as well as any firm, contractors or suppliers and original publishers of the work that might be involved, for adequate sanctions as prescribed by relevant laws, including copyright and Public Procurement Acts.

 Our concern stems from the fact that issues like this have been going on for so long in Nigeria and nobody seems to take more than a passing interest in them while our children, nay Nigeria’s future is being put in jeopardy. If the past generations and the present have been wasted owing to inappropriate growing and mentoring of Nigerian children, can we afford to waste our future too? All men and women of conscience should rise up to the occasion and fight and destroy the corruption monster in our country once and for all.

 We hope you and your Commission agree with us that you are major factors in fighting the war to rid our society of plunderers of our collective patrimony.

It is therefore your duty to pick up the present gauntlet and help get to the very bottom of the present matter with a view to making it a deterrent to others who might be interested in perpetuating the pervasive corruption tendencies that have made our country a laughing stock in the eyes of the civilized world.

 We shall be ready to give further information and other necessary cooperation that you may require from us in the course of your investigation while we wait earnestly to receive your prompt and favourable response to this petition, Madam.

 Please accept our kindest regards


Debo Adeniran-Chairman Coordinator

Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders-(08037194969)

Shina Loremikan-

Campaign Against Impunity



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