Nasarawa State governor, Abdullahi Sule, took the bull by the horns in April last year when he signed into law a bill establishing the ‘Nasarawa State Bureau of Public Procurement’. The bill establishing the agency was an ‘Executive Bill’ sent to the state House of Assembly (NSHA) by the governor towards the end of 2019. As usual, the bill passed through first, second and third readings and was subsequently passed into law and sent to the governor for assent.
Governor Sule, while speaking at a brief signing ceremony at the Government House in Lafia last year, described the event as historic for the people of the state. “The bureau will be the regulatory authority responsible for the monitoring and oversight of public procurement, harmonising existing government policies and practices,” he said.
The governor observed that the state would join the league of elite states in the country known for their transparency and accountability. He assured the people of the state that only persons of proven integrity, competent, experienced and capable would make the team, irrespective of political or ethnic-religious considerations. “For me and this administration, if this is one of the legacies that we are leaving behind, we are indeed leaving behind a legacy,” Sule added.
Before the governor signed the document into law, the Nasarawa State House of Assembly passed the bill at a plenary after Daniel Ogazi, deputy majority leader moved a motion for the bill to scale third reading. Speaker of the state assembly, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe-Abdullahi, during plenary said the bill, if assented to by the governor, would ensure transparency and accountability in the purchase of goods and services by the state government.
According to him, the bill will also ensure equitable distribution of resources amongst the ministries, departments and agencies in the state. He commended the lawmakers for the passage and directed the Clerk of the House to produce clean copies of the bill for the governor’s assent.
Some of the objectives of the Bureau include:
(a) The harmonisation of existing government policies and practices on public procurement and ensuring probity, accountability and transparency in the procurement process;
(b) The establishment of pricing standards and benchmarks; ensuring the application of fair, competitive, transparent, value-for-money standards and practices for the procurement and disposal of public assets; and services; and;
(c) The attainment of transparency, competitiveness, cost effectiveness and professionalism in the public sector procurement system.
The law establishing the Bureau also stipulates that there shall be established the State Council on Public Procurement (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Council’).
According to the law, the Council shall consist of the Commissioner responsible for Finance and Economic Development as Chairman, the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, the Director-General of the Bureau; the Secretary to the State Government, the Head of Service and the Special Adviser to the Governor on economic matters.
The Council also consists of three persons from the private sector, including a registered Quantity Surveyor and a member of the Nigerian Institute of Purchasing and Supply Management with experience in pre-requirement practices, at least one of whom shall be a woman. There shall also be two members from the public who shall be appointed by the governor.
All said and done, the governor in his wisdom decided to appoint an economist and a seasoned administrator, Dr Dominic Bako, as Director-general (DG), Bureau for Public Procurement. Bako is former Special Adviser to the governor on Budget, Finance and Economic Planning. The DG of Bureau for Public Procurement also served as Permanent Secretary, Head of Civil Service and Commissioner for Finance in the administration of the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura.
The governor said that with the appointment of a Director-general, the bureau was set to begin operation in fulfillment of his administration’s commitment to the public and development partners. Governor Sule said that Bako was appointed on merit, based on his track records in public service.
To make the law effective and efficient the state government, through the agency, organised a two-week workshop on procurement and management of supplies for political and public office holders in the state, with the theme, “Public Procurement as a panacea for good governance in Nasarawa State.”
Governor Abdullahi Sule, while declaring the workshop opened, tasked political and public office holders in the state on the need to inculcate the spirit of the procurement law passed in the state, in the conduct of government businesses. According to him, political and public office holders need to be transparent and accountable because corruption no longer pays. He said a corrupt government officials are forced to hide their ill-gotten wealth perpetually.
The governor added that the workshop is intended to instill in the minds of political and public office holders virtues of due process and trustworthiness in accordance with the principles and procedures established in the public procurement rules. “This is to ensure that proper mechanisms are put in place in the award of contracts to qualified contractors and in delivering services,” he stated.
Governor Sule who described the theme of the workshop as apt, timely and well-conceived, said it was coming at a time when his administration is committed to prudent management of resources towards bringing development to the people.
The governor disclosed that steps had been taken to ensure that contracts are awarded and executed on a timely basis, with proper costing, in provision of goods, services and execution of works.
Earlier in his keynote address, Director-general of the Nasarawa State Bureau for Public Procurement, Dr Dominic Adagazu Bako, traced the widespread of poverty in developing countries like Nigeria to the absence of good governance.
Bako said good governance can be measured by four distinct attributes namely, accountability, effectiveness, rule of law and low levels of corruption, stressing that the APC’s administration in the state, must be seen to be accountable, transparent, as well as deliberately promoting a culture of due diligence and respect for the rule of law.
“It must make sure that public funds meant to serve the greater majority of our people, is not diverted into private pockets or looted and sent into foreign banks overseas,” the DG stated.