Vice-Chancellor, OAU, Prof. Idowu Omole
| credits: File copy
In sports, the standard is fair play but the ideal appears far from that in the award of the contract for the IAAF certified synthetic track at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, reports Pius Ayinor
During any interaction with the authorities of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, concerning the 24th Nigeria Universities Games, they are quick to plead that all should join hands together to make this year’s games the best ever in the history of the event. But the controversy surrounding the construction of the eight-lane IAAF standard Tartan track could take away a lot from that goal.
Work is already going on at the venue for the games following the award of the contract by the Local Organising Committee of the institution headed by Prof O.O. Bolaji. But the contract is raising a lot of dust.
On April 11, 2013, a select committee of the LOC held a meeting in the Office of the Dean, Faculty of Pharmacy at 10am. Those in attendance were Prof. Bolaji, Prof. Augustine Isichei (Chairman, Sports Council), a representative of the Director PPDU, Mr. O. Alao and the Acting Director of Sports, Dr. H.K. Olorunshola. They took a look at the bids made by four companies for the job. Dynamic Sporting Solutions Ltd tendered a bid of N135,133,618 with completion of the job set at 48 days. Pro Point submitted N128,520,000, going by the minutes of that meeting. Sports-Life Services Ltd bidded for N139,154,338 while Vast International Company Ltd submitted N190,201,110 but later corrected to N191,146,110 as reflected in the minutes.
Subsequently after the companies defended their quotations, the committee made its reports under four sub-headings. Under Competence (past performance), Sports-Life came tops with Vast in second position; Pro Point in third and Dynamic in fourth. Under Financial/Technical Capability/Equipment they finished in the same order and so it was with Completion Period. Under Financial Bid, Sports-Life again topped with Pro Point in second, Vast in third and Dynamic in fourth.
The Overall Ranking profile read, “The committee unanimously ranked the tendering companies as followings: 1st Sports-Life Service Ltd; 2nd Vast International; 3rd Pro Point and 4th Dynamic Sporting Solutions Limited. The meeting closed at 3.35pm.
The question that has remained unanswered is why Sports-Life that was clearly recommended by the committee was overlooked for the job while second-placed Vast was awarded the contract.
Our correspondent spoke with Prof. Bolaji in a bid to get an answer.
Bolaji said, “There’s hardly anything I can say about the award of the contract because I am no longer the Chairman of the LOC. I believe the Public Relations Officer of the school should be able to speak on that.”
Bolaji, who said he was proceeding on Sabbatical – the reason he gave for relinquishing the position – did not give the name or contact of the person he handed over to. He did not also tell The PUNCH on the telephone if the contract was awarded during his tenure or after he handed over but insisted we spoke with the PRO.
When we got in touch with Prof. Isichei, he said he was busy and promised to return our call but had yet to do so before this report.
The institution’s PRO, Abiodun Olarewaju, who initially referred the matter to the Vice Chancellor’s Office, later provided a response via an e-mail.
He wrote, “First, a meeting was held by the National Universities Game (NUGA) Local Organising Committee where four contractors namely; Sports Life Services Limited, Vast International Company Limited, Dynamic Sporting Solutions Limited and PRO Point were called and their submission analysed. At the end of the exercise, two main contenders emerged: Messrs Sports-Life Services Limited and Vast International Company Limited.
“During the interaction with each of the two contractors shortlisted, the following emerged: While Messrs Sports-Life Services Limited could not give any Warranty on the Tartan track nor show any financial commitment whatsoever, Messrs Vast International Company Limited gave the University between 7 to 8 years Warranty on the Tartan track and also agreed to move to site and then be mobilised later.”
Despite the PRO’s explanation, a person who had knowledge of the award, said on anonymity that after the committee completed its work, it “handed over the actual award to higher authorities.” It was the ‘higher authorities’ we learnt that took the final decision.
An official of Sports-Life Services told our correspondent that while the university told Sports-Life to wait for the institution’s decision on who gets the job, they discovered that work had actually begun on the site.
He said, “All they did was to use the company (Sports-Life Services) to make it look like a genuine interview; we are not fooled. We met every international standard practice demanded. We got barely 24hours notice to be at the Zenith Bank office in Ibadan for a meeting on May 8. By May 28th, the contract had been awarded even while they were told they would get back to them.”
Zenith Bank, who donated N70m to the project and whose offices were used for the final meetings, said they had nothing to do with the award of the contract.
Ufot Essien of the Zenith Bank Corporate Affairs department told The PUNCH, “What we did was purely donation; we had no business choosing the contractor. The school took that decision independently.”