IBAKA DEEP SEAPORT: THE QUESTIONABLE CONSULTANCY OF FELAK CONCEPT LIMITED
Our attention has been drawn to a malicious publication credited to one Mr. Asuquo Aswana on the above subject matter.
In the publication, the said Mr. Asuquo Anwana, who also describes himself as a New York-based former two time National President of Oron Development Union Inc,(Hereinafter referred to as “Writer”) accused FELAK Concepts Ltd (Hereinafter referred to as “Our Company”) of applying “double standards” in its role as Transaction Advisor/Consultants to the proposed Ibom Deep Sea Port and Free Trade Zone Project (Hereinafter referred to as “The Project”)
The Crux of the writer’s publication is that Our company should be called out and maligned for what he termed the “wrongful relocation of Ibaka deep Sea Port from Okposo to Ibeno”. He also proceeded to cast aspersions and question the integrity of Our Company as a Consultant in the said project.
Ordinarily, it is not in our character to dignify such frivolous and lame publications with a response. However, we are compelled by an overwhelming sense of social responsibility to the Nigerian people, especially Akwa Ibom State who are the ultimate beneficiaries of the project, to respond accordingly and set the records straight for posterity sake .
We are constrained to use this medium to join issues with the writer seriatim and show conclusively, with all decency and proof, that the publication is totally false, malicious, vicious and libelous
The Ibom Deep Sea Port and Free Trade Zone Project was initiated by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Akwa Ibom State Government as a full scale Greenfield Commercial Deep Sea Port Development in line with the proposed Ibom Industrial City (IIC).
It is imperative to note that all Port Projects/establishments in Nigeria are on the Exclusive Legislative List by virtue of Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 constitution. In other words, the Port project invariably falls within the Federal Government Preserve and not the State Government. However in the case of the Ibom Deep Sea Port, the State Government undertook the responsibility of paying the Transaction Advisor/Consultants in order to fast track the entire process based on the advice and understanding with the Federal Ministry of Transport.
The State Government through a selective bid tendering process engaged Felak Concept Limited and her Technical Partners, MTBS of Netherlands with clear schedule and terms of reference towards the realization of the development of the Ibom Deep Sea Port.
The Federal Ministry of Transport was duly notified of our appointment and they swiftly inaugurated the already constituted Ministerial Project Development and Steering Committee (MPDSC) and the Project Delivery Team to midwife/drive the process, as well as direct the TA/Consultants in their deliverables in line with the ICRC guidelines.
Consequently, the team commenced work and ensured the Initial Due Diligence Report for the Ibom Deep Sea Port and Free Trade Zone was ready by January 2013. The Goal and Objective of this report was to carefully assess the project, verify its feasibility/viability and design a structural approach for the subsequent phases of the OBC/PPF and FBC/PPI. In other words, the IDD was a preliminary report covering the location analysis of the pre-selected locations, development options for the Port and Free Trade Zone, implementation plan, and preliminary business case among others.
In the said publication, the writer accused our Company of double standards over the relocation of Ibom Deep Sea Port from Okposo to Ibeno. He went on to brandish various Technical reports as proof in support of his false claims. Nothing else could be more mischievous and malicious.
We are at a loss as to why the writer, who parades himself as someone who is knowledgeable in the field, would deliberately set out to misrepresent facts, peddle half truths and obfuscate issues just to create the mischievous impression that our Company pandered to political influence to have Ibeno as the final location for the Project.
The fact remains that our Company observed due diligence and subjected the selection process to high level transparency as evidenced in all the technical reports submitted. We did not influence or manipulate the relocation of the ports from Okposo to Ibeno as alleged.
The Preliminary selection of Okposo as against the other 5 locations was based on initial/ preceding studies for the IDD that was going to be subjected to further studies and research of all characteristics and parameters leading or required to arrive at and make a fully founded location selection in the Final OBC/PPF document. The writer should have observed that while the IDD was still bearing “Ibaka Deep Sea Port and Free Trade Zone”, the OBC /PPF had the inscription of “Ibom Deep Sea Port and Free Trade Zone” to depict an all-inclusive project for the entire State.
The Final OBC document was ready by late 2014, having scaled through the MPDSC approval, obtained the ICRC Certificate of No Objection, as well as the Presidential Approval and ratification by The Federal Executive Council.
With the Approval of the OBC/PPF, the Federal Ministry of Transport recommended to the Akwa Ibom State Government that Felak Concept Limited/MTBs proceed with implementation of the 3rd phase of FBC/PPI to ensure continuity and delivery of the project within record time via a letter dated 18th February, 2015 with Ref. No. T. 0160/S.145/T/191. While we awaited the implementation of the recommendations of the Federal Ministry of Transport by the Akwa Ibom State Government for the commencement of the 3rd phase of FBC/PPI, by Felak Concept Limited/MTBs, we wrote to the Akwa Ibom State Government dated 3rd October, 2015 on the need to convene an immediate town hall meeting involving the TAs, Surveyors, MPDSC members, the Governor, His Exco and all stakeholders within the state on the resolution of salient communal issues; such as the clarification and basis of the change of name from Ibaka to Ibom DSP, change of location due to a new engineering alignment and other critical factors and analysis.
Rather than convene the town hall meeting to address the above concerns, our Company was confronted with a Request for Proposal tender for Prospective Transaction Advisors/ Consultants by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) engaged by the Akwa Ibom State Technical Committee for the realization of Ibom Deep Sea Port.
The Akwa Ibom State Government till date did not find it necessary to communicate or convey any form of disengagement letter to our Company – Felak Concept Limited/MTBs having successfully delivered on the IDD.
Rather than drag our Company name to the mud, the writer should have channeled his grievances to the State Government for failing to convene a Town Hall meeting to address all the salient points raised, including the wrongful termination of our appointment as Technical Advisor/Consultants prior to commencement of the FBC/PPI document towards the development of the Port Project.
Questionable Integrity of Our Company
The writer betrayed his sinister motive and showed a thin veiled animosity for our company in paragraphs 15-16 of the publication. He wrote: “…By this action, Felak Concept Limited has made its credibility as a reputable Consultant in Nigeria questionable. It is this type of action by some unconscionable Consultants who would recommend anything their political pay masters tell them to recommend…”.
Evidently, this is a vicious attempt to drag our company into the murky waters of local politics. He chose his words carefully to clothe us in the unfitting garb of a hired political jobber who is out to please their pay masters. But he won’t succeed.
It is on record that our Company is a reputable firm with a wholesome track record in the industry for several decades. Our sterling profile in service delivery and integrity is well known across the globe. We have shown demonstrable competence and technical capacity to handle jobs of similar nature in the past hence the decision of Akwa Ibom State Government to engage our services after a rigorous Technical/Financial Pre qualification bidding and selection process.
The writer’s allegations of political manipulation are false, baseless, illogical and flies in the face of the cogent and verifiable reasons clearly adduced in the Final Technical Reports for every decision taken.
We are a consultancy firm committed to executing projects for the public good in line with global standards. As a company, we brought our wealth of experience to bear in the Ibom Deep Sea assignment and delivered until the contract was wrongfully terminated. Mr. Aswana’s publication is totally misleading, libelous and damaging to our brand reputation. His action is defamatory hence we demand that he should take reasonable steps to apologise, failing which we shall consult our lawyers on the necessary steps for redress accordingly.