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Liberia NEC chair says biometrics contract bids under review after Ekemp’s second rejection

Liberia NEC chair says biometrics contract bids under review after Ekemp’s second rejection

Controversy surrounding the selection of a contractor to provide materials for Liberia’s biometric voter registration exercise continues to brew. The chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC) Davidetta Browne Lansanah now says no definitive choice has yet been arrived at as the NEC bid evaluation panel is still at work.

The NEC boss was speaking during a press conference to address developments around the process which has already witnessed all sorts of twists and turns, reports Front Page Africa.

Recently, the Public Procurements and Concessions Commission (PPCC) rejected the NEC’s choice of selecting Chinese company Ekemp again as contractor for the biometric kits, saying the company falls short of requirements spelled out in the standard bid document.

Speaking during the recent presser, Lansanah said although the NEC evaluation panel is still reviewing the bids after the PPCC call, Ekemp however remains a company of choice, justifying that it was among the bids that made it to the final stage of the evaluation process.

During the media outing, the NEC chair also claimed that from the income statement audits carried out, only Ekemp and Laxton (another bidder) have executed projects worth the amount (US$12 million) required for the Liberia project. She insisted that the choice of Ekemp was taken through a unanimous vote of the NEC bid evaluation panel.

Daily Observer in its own report on the press conference quotes Lansanah as saying that HID Global, another bidding company, and its venture partner, did not submit complete financial statements to the NEC bid evaluation committee, which made the determination of their pre-financing capacity for the project impossible.

NEC chairperson statements questioned

Meanwhile, some of the declarations made by Lansanah during her recent press conference have been challenged by some members of the NEC bid evaluation panel who spoke to Daily Observer on basis of anonymity.

A source on the bid evaluation panel says the NEC chairperson did not tell the truth when she said HID Global failed to submit its financial statement for the period specified in the standard bid document, according to the outlet.

On the contrary, HID submitted statements for the 2019, 2020 and 2021 financial years, with revenue figures above all other bidding companies, the publication reveals. Going by Daily Observer sources, HID Global financial strength is valuated at around $6.2 billion. Ekemp is said to be worth around $12 million.

Another alleged inaccuracy attributed to Lansanah is her claim that HID Global failed to produce a biometric voter card on the sport during the first and second demonstrations.

Daily Observer’s source says this is not true, explaining that HID Global was indeed the only bidder that was able to print the voter’s card on the sport with a hologram, an important security feature required by the standard bid document.

In the meantime, the outlet alludes to a leaked report of a senate committee which recommends among other things that the NEC conduct a redo of the bidding exercise, including making a new tender advertisement.

Amid the controversy, Front Page Africa has in an editorial warned that urgent action has to be taken to stop the NEC chairperson who is clearly pushing the country into a precipice through her actions. She is accused of favoring the Ekemp bid.

The editorial recalls some of the troubles Liberia has been plunged to in the past due to election-related matters, and argues that the biometric voter registration contract which seeks to fix some of the electoral irregularities such as vote trucking should be managed with utmost responsibility and transparency.

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