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Cablegate: Nigeria: Seven U.S. Companies Bid for National Id

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 001532

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EINV NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: SEVEN U.S. COMPANIES BID FOR NATIONAL ID
CARD PROJECT

REF: CARRIG-WALKER EMAIL 6/25/01


1. (U) Summary. Seven U.S. companies, in two separate
consortia, made oral presentations for a USD 200 million
national identification card project on June 28. The actual
presentation of bid proposals appeared to be open and
transparent, with a total of four consortia competing for the
bid. However, is alleged that the French government may be
placing intense pressure on the GON to choose the French
consortium. End Summary.


2. On June 28, Ambassador Jeter and EconOffs attended the
oral presentations of seven U.S. companies (in two consortia)
in their bid for the national identification card project,
worth approximately USD 200 million. All four consortia
presented their proposals in front of a wide audience of GON
officials and interested diplomatic representatives. GON
officials included President Obasanjo, Vice President
Abubakar, the Minister, Deputy Minster, and Permanent
Secretary for Internal Affairs, Chief of the Independent

SIPDIS
National Electoral Commission, and Senate Chairman of the
Committee on National Identification Cards. Post was
encouraged by the open and transparent manner in which the
bidding process was conducted, and the lively questioning
that ensued following the presentations.


3. Per Ref email, DOC earlier had advised Ambassador Jeter
to represent Datacard and Polaroid, as the only U.S. concerns
for the project, at the June 28 presentation. To demonstrate
USG support for Datacard's bid, Ambassador Jeter prepared a
letter to Vice President Abubakar on behalf of the company.
However, the letter went undelivered because the Ambassador
discovered, after arriving at the presentation venue, that
there were in fact five other U.S. companies bidding for the
project as partners in the Mint/Crest consortium. These
companies are East Shore Technologies, NCS Pearson, Omicron,
Oracle, and IBM.


4. President Obasanjo commented, as an aside, that only three
of the four consortia are competitive: Crest/Mint, Chams
(Datacard and Polaroid), and a consortium of French
companies. The Government of France (GOF) appears to be very
active in promoting its companies in the tendering process.
During the course of the presentations, several of the U.S.
companies commented to Ambassador Jeter that the GOF was
putting significant pressure on the GON on behalf of the
French consortium. For example, one company representative
suggested that the French government had offered bilateral
debt cancellation in exchange for award of the contract.
Moreover, the French Foreign Minister arrived in Abuja that
same evening on a long scheduled visit, and upon arrival
would undoubtedly be in a position to pressure the GON to
accept the French bid.


5. Comment. Unfortunately, Post was not informed in advance
of five of the seven U.S. companies bidding for the national
ID project and, therefore, the Ambassador was unable to
provide a specific endorsement of any one or combination of
U.S. companies. As it turned out, Ambassador Jeter who sat
just left of President Obasanjo, felt compelled to stay for
all of the U.S. companies' presentations, a total of about
seven hours. In his statement, Ambassador Jeter said that
all of the U.S. companies represented were eminently
qualified for this project and expressed the hope that there
would be American participation. The companies present
seemed satisfied with the approach and expressed deep
gratitude for an Embassy presence.


6. Comment Continued: Post is encouraged by President
Obasanjo's efforts to make the bidding process open and
transparent for this high profile national project (one
dogged, unfortunately, with extensive allegations of waste
and corruption for years). The tendering process, at least
at this semi-public event, appears to have been on a level
playing field. A Statehouse official told the Ambassador on
June 29 that President Obasanjo and his team will take a few
weeks to assess their findings and impressions and will make
an announcement of their decision at such time. End Comment.
Jeter

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