At Last, INEC Awards DDC Machine Contracts - Haier Declines to Sign Agreement Papers

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Abuja — The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has finally awarded contracts for the supply of 102,000 units of the direct digital data capture (DDC) machines needed for the January 2011 voter registration.

The delay in the award of the contracts had been responsible for the shift in the dates for the 2011 elections, necessitating the further alterations to the amended 1999 constitution.

The contract papers were signed yesterday, THISDAY learnt, between the commission and two of the three shortlisted companies.

Nigerian ICT firm Zinox Technology Limited got a total contract of $141,680,000 (N21.25 billion) to supply 80,000 units of laptop computers and other hardware appliances, which include printers, webcams, biometric scanners and back-up batteries, while Avante, an American company, was awarded a $37,013,900 (N5.36 billion) contract for the supply of 22,000 units.

The third company earlier shortlisted to supply the remaining 30,000, Haier Electrical Appliance Technology of China, declined to sign the contract yesterday owing to what sources described as "stringent penalties embedded in the contract terms".

INEC sources confirmed last night that the contract was signed yesterday between the INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, and representatives of the two firms.

"Jega signed on behalf of INEC in the full glare of his commissioners and other management staff of INEC," the source said.

THISDAY checks revealed that Haier officials appealed that they would have to revert to their head office in China to get confirmation to go ahead and enter the contract as it is without modifications.

Haier is said to have balked at going ahead with the contract signing when its representatives discovered that the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) had advised INEC that the firms selected for the contract must deliver the laptop computers and other appliances to the 36 state capitals as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which was not originally part of the terms and conditions of the contract.

Should Haier go ahead to sign the paper in the next few days, its contract for the procurement would be worth N34.325 billion ($50.47 million).

Other terms of the contract included the stipulation that the contractors are expected to commence delivery of the appliances exactly two weeks from the date of the opening of the letters of credit.

Sources at the commission said the letters of credit should be opened before the end of this week.

In all, Zinox and Avante, which both signed the agreements yesterday, have a total of 35 days to deliver the 102,000 units of the DDC machines into the country, and extra two weeks to deliver them to the 36 state capitals and the FCT.

The sources further confirmed that even though President Goodluck Jonathan had given his consent to the award of the DDC contract, it would still be sent to the Federal Executive Council (FEC)â-àfor final ratification.

Fears had been expressed in several quarters over the delay in the award of contracts for the supply of the DDC machines.