Notwithstanding last Wednesday's deadline set by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) for the submission of bid document for Power Holding Company of Nigeria's generating companies (GENCOs) and the distribution companies (DISCOs), some of the bidding firms who spoke to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY said the bids for the sale of these companies were submitted in July but many of the Nigerian companies participating in the process were a few minutes late and could not submit their bids.
The appeal of these firms to both the presidency and BPE comes against the background of the expressed position of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) which affirmed it has decided to stick to the deadline.
The NCP position was revealed by the director-general of BPE, Ms. Bolanle Onagoruwa, after a meeting with Vice-President Namadi Sambo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, last Monday.
According to Onagoruwa, the NCP met last Monday to reiterate that the Wednesday 5.00 pm deadline for the bid for the power distribution companies "is sacrosanct".
Also, the spokesman of BPE, Mr. Chukwuma Nwokoh, told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY yesterday that the deadline would not be extended as all the interested companies were given enough time to submit their bids. "There will be no extension of time," the spokesman maintained.
Three of the firms who spoke to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY over the weekend on condition of anonymity asked why they were disallowed from submitting their bids, given that they came just within 10 minutes of the set deadline.
They further cited transportation hiccups into Abuja and difficult traffic conditions. According to them, it would have been better if the BPE had a decentralised structure for the collation of the bids at different centres, a favoured format concerning comparable deals in foreign countries.
They further stated that the BPE should have taken a cue from the Crude Oil Tender done this year.
Another reputable firm whose bid missed the cut-off time by a few minutes told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that if the federal government must allow credible Nigerian companies to participate and not shut them out on the illogical excuse of being 10 minutes behind schedule.
In stressing their positions further, they stated that the BPE had severally altered the deadline previously because of the conditions for the bid, which they kept changing. They also stated that the bidders have kept faith with the BPE through all these despite the related difficulties.
LEADERSHIP SUNDAY reliably gathered that the bids would not be opened until August 14, 2012. The affected bidders who are aware of this scenario wondered why the BPE would not consider extension of the deadline by a week at least.
From LEADERSHIP SUNDAY findings, only a few companies met the cut-off time out of 24 companies bidding for the DISCOs as at July 31, 2012, deadline.
This situation automatically shuts out most of the companies from the bid process. According to the affected bidders, of the 111 pre-qualified bids for the 11 DISCOs in 11 cities across the country, only 54 were submitted, representing only 49 per cent.
According to them, of the 76 pre-qualified bidsfor the six GENCOs, only 25 firms met the deadline, which represents a low 32 per cent, arguing that the bids for both the DISCOs and the GENCOs stood at 42 per cent, which fell short of the global standards which stipulate that such process must hover between 50 and 60 per cent.
Providing more grounds to back up their appeal, the affected bidders stated that "the total population of EOI's harvested for both the successor generating and distribution companies amounted to 190, of which only 79 bidders submitting bids. This translates to a submission rate of 41.5%".