Procurement laws and procedures in the award of government contracts as contained in the provisions of the act that established the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), are very clear and penalties are spelt out against defaulters.
Since the inception of the present administration and the current leadership at the Head of Civil Service, strategic procurement reforms have been introduced to eliminate breaches in the award of federal government contracts.
Last year’s retreat was held in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, while the 2019 series took place in Lagos, about a week ago, and the focus was to get the drivers of civil service procurement procedures to buy into openness, transparency and accountability in the process.
It is common knowledge that infractions against due diligence has been responsible for the corrupt practices in governance, therefore deliberate policies and programmes of government introduced by the public sector reforms were to transparently address practices that have always resulted to the loss of government revenue.
Following alleged lapses in the award of government contracts by the previous administration, the current government resolved to pursue a more transparent process in procurement and the award of contracts, to eliminate corrupt practices in the public sector.
At the 2019 retreat in Lagos, the Head of Civil Service, Winifred Oyo-Ita had restated the concerted efforts of the present administration to bring to public scrutiny all forms of improprieties that are capable of derailing the ongoing public sector reforms.
She said the implementation of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, was also a call to probity, accountability, competition, value for money and quality in the expenditure of public funds.
According to her, public funds are tailored towards the realisation of key objectives of government, such as provision of utilities and infrastructure for the people. On his part, the Director General, Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Mamman Ahmadu, charged permanent secretaries and other stakeholders in the procurement process to ensure transparency and accountability in carrying out their responsibilities.
The BPP boss said the timing of the exercise was apt, adding that the consistency of the forum would improve public procurement process, and lead to better budget implementation in the country.
He said the programme was an opportunity to bring all participants on same page in the implementation of the procurement reform programme, adding that subsequent retreats would be for the chief executive officers (CEOs) of parastatals and the directorate cadre in the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
To ensure the success of the procurement reform, the BPP is, in line with global best practices, embarking on new sustainable public procurement initiatives.
“For instance, the National Open Contracting Portal (NOCOPO), the global award winning initiative which further emphasize the need for transparency, competition and level playing field among contractors, consultants and service providers, has placed Nigeria among the best public procurement regulators in the world,” he said.
The BPP boss added that while the national upgrade, a version two of the Contractors, Consultants and Service Providers (CCSP) was ongoing, the price-checker platform which harmonizes prices of items was also in progress.
He said that while the national upgrade, a version two of the Contractors, Consultants and Service Providers (CCSP) were ongoing, being the fundamentals in procurement in line with public sector reforms, government is committed to ensuring delivery.
He disclosed that BPP currently runs Research Centres at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, and the University of Lagos, among others to boost capacity for key stakeholders in the public procurement practice. He urged the federal government to institutionalise the National
Conference on Public Procurement (NACOPP), so as to provide a regular forum for advancing procurement reform nationwide. Ahmadu, disclosed that with support from the BPP and international development agencies, 25 states have so far established their procurement regulatory agencies to enable the agency continually meet emerging challenges.
He said the BPP remained committed to working with permanent secretaries to ensure that success was continually achieved in Nigeria’s procurement system. “This places them at the heart of the procurement process. They take responsibility for ensuring the compliance of MDAs with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007,” he said.
Ahmadu commended the impressive attendance of the different representatives adding that the participants have demonstrated that the betterment of Nigeria through the procurement reform was paramount. He noted that public procurement promotes good governance.
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