Nigeria is losing about N1.3 billion annually due to the non-implementation of the Procurement Act, LEADERSHIP can report.
The development has led to a whopping N13 billion loss between 2010 when the anti-graft Act came into effect and now.
Government has continued to lose this huge amount from flawed procurement process in ministries, department and agencies (MDAs).
According to LEADERSHIP’s findings, it is estimated that about 49 per cent of the total revenue is lost to procurement which accounts for over 79 per cent of federal government’s total expenditure.
Confirming this development to LEADERSHIP, national coordinator, Procurement Observation and Advocacy Initiative, Mohammed Bougei Attah, disclosed that Nigeria is losing approximately N1.3 billion annually to poor procurement Act implementation since 2010.
Attah, a social worker and procurement professional, is currently Africa regional coordinator for the world association of non-governmental organisations.
With the signing of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) on June 4, 2007 by the then President Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, there was a sigh of relief among anti-corruption crusaders that government would begin to save money lost to lack of transparency in contract processing by government agencies.
Despite promises made during the campaigns for the 2015 presidential election, President Muhammadu Buhari also failed to inaugurate the National Council on Public Procurement (NCPP) as required by the Public Procurement Act 2007.
Instead, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) is currently usurping the most important function of the NCPP, which is contract approval.
The procurement expert explained that the crafters of the procurement law, like other laws of the land and elsewhere in the world, have reasons for inserting certain provisions to help check excesses.
He maintained that the law can only be effective if the provisions are implemented to the letter.
“Mark you, this is not working in Nigeria because of interest, and the primary focus of the PPA is to reduce corruption,” Attah said.
“The law, which is Public Procurement Act 2007, is toothless because the government is observing the provisions in disobedience. Imagine a law on anti-corruption drive without a council to regulate and check the excesses. Part 1, Section 1 of the law has not been implemented since 2007, which implies all procurement businesses of government are illegal.”
“The Public Procurement Act provides for the establishment of the NCPP and the BPP, as the regulatory authorities responsible for the monitoring and oversight of public procurement as well as harmonising existing government policies and practices,” Attah said.
According to him, the Act was put in place to allow for transparency and ensure public participation in government procurement.
Former President Yar’ Adua, who signed the bill into law, failed to inaugurate the NCPP until his death in office, and his successor, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, who stayed in office for six years, also failed to inaugurate the council.
Membership of the council, according to the Act, should comprise 12 members to be appointed by the president, six of the members are expected to be government officials while the other six are drawn from relevant professional organisations.
Those from the government side, considered permanent members, are to include the minister of finance, who serves as chairman, and the director general of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) as secretary.
Others are the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, the secretary to the government of the federation, the head of service, and the economic adviser to the president.
Those representing professional bodies are drawn from the Nigerian Bar Association, the Nigerian Institute of Purchasing and Supply Management, the Nigeria Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mines and Agriculture, the Nigeria Society of Engineers, and a representative of Civil Society Organisations and the media.
Attah faulted BPP’s recent claim Nigeria has saved over N1.2 billion since the enactment of the Act, saying there are no data to back up the claim.
“Only recently we read when the Bureau of Public Procurement claimed to have saved the country a whopping sum of N1.2 billion from contract reviews without corresponding data to show,” he said.
“Since 2007 when the law was signed, it is convenient today that Nigeria has moved from a rather opaque procurement to a more transparent level, even though there are still gaps. The country has recorded viable growth in business transactions and management of public resources.
“Of course there is still the challenge of understanding the concept of acquisition and disposal by most MDAs in Nigeria, which recently also affected the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),” he stressed.
But a legal luminary, Segun Ashaye, said that not all procurements by the present administration would be categorised as illegal.
Ashaye said the law confers on the president the powers to make procurement without recourse to the relevant Act especially in an emergency.
He said over the years, the Boko Haram insurgency has posed threat to national security and, in matters like this, the president is empowered to make a decision which vetoes every existing law.