– Special Project Committee chair claims
Following reports that the leadership of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has awarded an alleged bogus US$300,000 contract for its headquarters project to Civil Design Incorporated, the chairperson of the union’s Special Project Committee (SPC) yesterday denied the allegation.
Zoom Dosso told journalists yesterday at his S.K.D. Boulevard office that the allegation is “baseless, unfounded, but was published with the intention of discouraging the government from funding the construction project.”
The government in its 2017/18 National Budget allotted US$300K for the PUL’s headquarters project against the US$650K the union leadership had requested.
The FrontPage Africa newspaper, in its September 21 edition under the headline: “Press Union of Liberia ‘Enters Illegitimate’ Contract for Construction of Headquarters,” quoted the union’s secretary general, Daniel Nyankonah, terming the contract as “illegal and in violation of the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) laws.”
“The contract is not legitimate so I refused to sign it; that is why, in fact, the PUL pulled out of the Deepening Democracy Coalition (DDC), because I am the PUL representative at the DDC. They thought by pulling out would put me under pressure to sign the document,” Nyankonah was further quoted as saying.
He was also quoted as saying that it was his refusal to sign the contract that led to the PUL pulling out of the DDC.
DDC is the institution that hosted the first Presidential Debate ahead of the October 10 presidential and legislative elections; and Nyankonah, as the union’s chief scribe, serves as its representative at the DDC.
Explaining the contract’s status, Dosso said he and the union’s vice president, Octavin Williams, have met with an executive of the PPCC where they successfully discussed matters relating to single-sourcing the contract.
A single-source contract provides business owners with an alternative, as it allows a business owner to choose a specific company to bypass the competition, or the bidding process.
During the meeting, Dosso said the PPCC staff, whose name he did not mention, advised the PUL to take advantage of the single-source contract.
“Before meeting the PPCC, we met with Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay, who advised us to go to the PPCC for technical advice; and that’s what we did,” Dosso said.
At the PPCC, he said they understood that before single sourcing a contract, one must have first identified the company(s) that will be capable of implementing the project.
Dosso continued: “Our team met with the leadership of the union including Nyankonah, and we all agreed with the three companies that we had identified to be submitted to the PPCC for examination, which we have not done up to present. So, why would Mr. Nyankonah claim that we have sealed a contract with Civil Design Incorporated?”
Dosso clarified that the US$300K is still in the possession of the government and has not been deposited into the PUL account, adding: “We have not sealed any agreement with any company, so why will someone accuse us of signing a bogus contract? This is very much irresponsible and intended to undermine the progress of the leadership of the union.”
He said the project was not advertised, “because we want to give the physical cash to any company or companies that would undertake the project.
“We agreed not to give money to anyone, because if that individual escapes without completing the project, where do you think we are going to get such a person? Or if they were to keep dragging the contract, will people not blame us for misapplying the money?” Dosso rhetorically asked.
He added: “These are some of the reasons we have not advertised the project in the newspapers.”
Commenting on the 20 percent kickback they reportedly asked from the contractors before awarding the contract to them, Dosso described that allegation as a “game played” among members of the union’s leadership.
“How do you get 20 percent on a contract when you don’t have the money in your hands?” Dosso wondered.
“Nyankonah attended all of our meetings and he knows that there has not been any discussion about us getting a 20 percent kickback. The allegation is far from the truth, and it is just to send a signal about the disunity among the PUL leadership,” Dosso said.