Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) has revealed that abuse of public procurement laws is behind Nigeria’s Infrastructural deficit.
PPDC, a citizen sector organisation that promotes citizen participation in governance stated this during a roundtable on fiscal transparency and accountability mechanisms in Nigeria with a study of Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Ekiti and Kaduna States, said abuse of public procurement laws leads to infrastructural deficit.
“However, a disruption in this process through fraudulent or corrupt practices, mismanagement of funds, inefficient application of or non-compliance with the public procurement laws would therefore lead to an infrastructural deficit, epileptic or non-availability of public services,” the chief executive officer (CEO) of PPDC, Nkem Ilo said during the presentation of the report at Transcorp Hilton Abuja.
Represented by the PPDC chief operating officer (COO), Gift Maxwell, he said that in 2016 they successfully advocated for and piloted the Open Contracting Data Standards (OCDS) in Nigeria through their OCDS compliant platform called Budeshi (www.budeshi.ng) that assigns a unique identifier for contracts and ensures that contracts can be tracked for project conception stage through to project delivery.
“In the last five years, we have gone ahead to support seven states across Nigeria, including Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Ekiti, and Kaduna States in developing and deploying their open contracting portals.
“This is to ensure transparency and accountability in public procurement processes in Nigeria, increase citizen participation in governance, improve service delivery and ultimately ensure value for money.
“Public procurement is the most significant way through which the government provides basic social and welfare services necessary to accomplish its missions in a timely, prudent, and efficient manner and in many ways, constitutes the lifeblood of most government programs and services.”
“In the same vein, public procurement is executed with taxpayer’s money, therefore governments are expected to carry it out efficiently and effectively, with high standards of conduct in order to ensure high quality of service delivery and safeguard the public interest,
and citizens at all times should have unrestricted access to public information particularly public finance expenditure information.
“As part of our continuous efforts to improve public procurement practices in Nigeria, between August and September 2021, PPDC, with support from the MacArthur Foundation carried out research and scoping study on fiscal transparency and accountability mechanisms in four states (Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Ekiti, and Kaduna).
“The study assessed the current levels of transparency and accountability in governance processes in the states to identify key challenges inhibiting the effective implementation of fiscal reforms and the Open Contracting Data Standards (OCDS), and design strategies for effective engagement, and sustainable implementation.
“Findings from the research have provided a unique opportunity as well as identified areas of support for the states in improving their public procurement processes, in the same vein meeting the indicators required for the World Bank’s State Fiscal Transparency and Accountability-(SFTAS) project, their Open Government Partnership (OGP) Commitments, and other fiscal accountability milestones it aims to achieve.
“However, to achieve this, we must not only have good intentions; we must also act intentionally. I would like to close by challenging everyone in this room to act intentionally by being the change we want to see in Nigeria. Let’s Open it to Fix it,” she said.
Speaking on the report, the director general, Kaduna State Public Procurement Authority, Engineer Sanusi Yero said the state governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai does not interfere in procurement processes, adding that they have a policy on procurement which allows the best in project execution.
The manager, Open Contracting Partnership (OCP), Andidiong Oko, said the government is the biggest spender in the states. He added that people must pay attention to the government budget and the project they execute.
She said the state, which receives allocation from the Federal Government and generates revenue internally, needs to be transparent adding that the citizens must participate in procurement from the planning stage.
Also, executive director, Creative Minds Center for Youth and Community Development Ugochi Freeman said even though citizens in Anambra state participate in procurement processes, added that the CSOs need to be encouraged to be part of the procurement process.
The representative of the director general (DG) Ekiti State Bureau of Public Procurement, Alabi Sunday, said Ekiti under Governor Kayode Fayemi saved N20 billion on contracting, adding that the government is doing well on physical transparency.