By Effiong Eyo, Snr
The attention of Oro Nation has been drawn to the publication of Felak Concept Limited in various National Dailies, attempting to refute the allegation by Oro Nation that the 2nd location assessment report issued by Felak Concept and used as the basis for the planned relocation of Ibaka Deep Sea Port is questionable. We acknowledge the need for Felak Concept Limited to do all it can to defend and protect its image as a consultant. But in doing so, we would not allow the Nigerian public to continue to be misinformed and misled concerning the planned relocation of the Deep Sea Port from the preferred location near Ibaka in Oro Nation. That is why we consider it necessary to constantly get the Nigerian public properly enlightened on the very illogical and unacceptable 2nd location assessment report by Felak Concept, which is used as the basis for the planned relocation of the Deep Sea Port.
It is commendable that Felak Concept Limited has admitted that it produced the Initial Due Diligence Report of January 2013 and has confirmed that the site tagged “Okposo” near Ibaka was chosen as the preferred location for the Deep Sea Port. This is a departure from the position of the Chairperson of IDSP Implementation Committee of Akwa Ibom State, Mfon Usoro Esq, who appears to pretend that the 1st location assessment which produced Okposo as a Preferred Site does not exist. It is true that in the 1st Location assessment, it was recommended that further research needed to be carried out to get the preferred site fully founded. The further research and studies that needed to be carried out were clearly listed in the Initial Due Diligence Report by Felak Concept. They include Bathymetric Studies, Geotechnical Studies, Wave and Current Studies, etc.
The question is, were these studies carried out and was the Okposo site previously selected as the most preferred location disqualified based on the results of these studies? The answer is capital NO. What Felak Concept did was to completely ignore the very detailed location assessment studies and report in its Due Diligence Report which produced Okposo as a Preferred Location and went ahead to invoke spurious new criteria for fresh location assessment with no reference to the 1st location assessment. Most of the criteria used for the 2nd location assessment makes no sense. For example, one of the spurious criteria is “Location should comply with requirements established in Technical program of requirement” Only Felak Concept can know what this means in a public document. The contentions of Oro Nation which are very clear and precise are as follows.
Firstly, Felak Concept cannot issue an Initial Documents on site selection for IDSP and make recommendations and then 13month later, issue another document on the same site selection without any reference to the Initial Document and make recommendations which completely contradicts its recommendations in the Initial Document. The 2nd location assessment could only have made sense if it were a revision of the 1st location assessment based on the results of recommended further studies with such results published.
Secondly, the criteria and procedure used in the 1st location assessment by Felak Concept were precise, logical and made a lot of sense. The assessment was based on quantitative evaluation of selected sites. Felak Concept has not provided any reason why these criteria and clear quantitative procedure were abandoned for an imprecise, non quantitative 2nd location assessment procedure. The 2nd location assessment employed very ambiguous criteria with procedure which is technically unsound. The wrong use of “+” and “-“ signs which has no quantitative values for such an important evaluation is unacceptable. The above consideration give the impression that the 2nd location assessment was only cooked up to support the desire of anti Oron politicians to relocate Ibaka Deep Sea Port out of Oro Nation.
Thirdly, in all the Nautical Studies and cost estimation done during Due Diligence Studies, the concept of a Dugout Port was never considered and the cost of digging out One Square Kilometre of land to create an artificial ocean was not estimated. Why was a Dugout chosen when it was not a consideration for selected site evaluation? Only Felak Concepts should have explained this criteria to members of the public who were and are still anxiously awaiting it.
Meanwhile, Felak Concept is trying to push the blame for the rejection of the relocation of Ibaka Deep Sea Port by Oro Nation to the Government of Akwa Ibom State. They are claiming that the Government of Akwa Ibom State refused to call a Town Hall meeting to enable them (Felak Concept) explain to all stakeholders, including the host community, the reasons for the relocation. We can’t understand how Felak was going to succeed in convincing Oro Nation with such explanations, most especially, as a community with experienced Engineers who have studied Felak’s Due Diligence Report of January 2013, Final Outline Business Case of April 2013 and another Final Outline Business Case of May 2014. Oro Nation has ever remained startled by the conspicuous contradictions in these documents. Question is, if the Due Diligence Report of January 2013 informed the Final Outline Business Case of April 2013, from which Due Diligence Report did Felak Concept arrive at the Final Outline Business Case of May 2014? Perhaps Felak Concept should begin their damage control from this prism.
The 7th paragraph of Felak’s official statement cited below has much to tell Nigerians on the loudly pronounced integrity and reputation of the company. The whole paragraph reads, “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.”
It is worrisome why Felak Concept is unwilling to admit that the first two reports were being funded by the federal government, while the last OBC which illogically changed the location, was paid for by the state government. Felak Concept may have forgotten that the client status in its Final Due Diligence Report was the Federal Ministry of Transportation. That of the Final Outline Business Case of April 2013 was marked as the “Steering Committee on Ibaka Deep Seaport”. All these were agents of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Curiously, it is only the ‘baseless’ OBC of May 2014 which relocated the Seaport that the Akwa Ibom State Government was marked as the client. It is an act of ignobility on the part of Felak Concept in its presumption that the Nigerian public could be lightly swayed to jump on their statement and believe that Nigerian Government was broke, thereby necessitating the funding of the study by the AKSG.
Similarly, it is not true that the Final Outline Business Case was tagged “Ibom Deep Seaport”, as Felak attempts to put it. The Final OBC of April 2013 done by Felak Concept, in line with the Initial Due Diligent Report of January 2013, was clearly tagged as “Ibaka Deep Seaport”. Only the OBC of May 2014 done as a report directly paid for by the Akwa Ibom State Government, carried the strange tag as “Ibom Deep Seaport”.
Painfully to Felak Concepts, the Akwa Ibom State government didn’t allow the company to do the FBC/PPI because they were ignobly dismissed. Even though Felak Concept is just making this public statement for the first time, it is consoling to infer that the Akwa Ibom State Government could not have trusted the Consultant beyond the stage of its manipulation that foisted the relocation of the Seaport. In the words of Ezekail Adamu, Spokesperson of Felak Concepts, their services to the state government was “wrongfully terminated.” What more could be of relief to a cheated people than this!
I further emphasize that nobody trusts a servant whom they use to perpetuate evil. A master who uses a particular servant to constantly undertake dubious activities will definitely lose trust and confidence in that servant. In other words, no morally depraved servant would gain absolute confidence from his master, no matter the degree of undignified engagements they may have both colluded to execute. Truth is, the master is sure that events of a higher price paid to that servant by a higher bidder would cause his betrayal in the long run. Indeed, the master would also be curious to conclude that his servant has the propensity towards ignoring standards and abusing ethical concerns of his professional practice, a situation that may lead to overall collapse of a worthy venture.
Apparently, Felak Concept has, for the first time, inevitably informed Oro people, and indeed Nigerians that their firm was secretly and most contemptuously disengaged in 2015 by the Government of Akwa Ibom State from the Deep Sea Port project. Without any stretch of pretence, this is a good news to Oro Nation and indeed, a welcome development. Felak’s activities as a reputable Consultancy firm attracted criticisms the moment the spurious OBC was cooked to relocate the Seaport. Felak Concept has the responsibility to inform the public how a study could be done by an expert but with a completely conflicting results, and yet, with absolute validity. The two reports, IDD and OBC of 2013 funded by the Federal Government can be said to be fair, and without prejudice, reliable. The same cannot be said of the OBC of 2014 funded by the Akwa Ibom State government.
In conclusion therefore, while Felak is now dressed in the ropes of a compromised Piper whose tune could be determined by the payment of a higher bidder, their attempt at self extrication has become a true confession which vindicates the enduring claim of the Oron people on the wrongful relocation of the Ibaka Deep Seaport.