The Nigerian government has urged state governments to conclude the process of replicating and enacting their own procurement laws.
The public procurement reform programme began at the federal government level more than 14 years ago, culminating in the passage of the Public Procurement Act in 2007, as part of Government’s efforts to streamline the processes and procedures in public expenditures in line with global practices.
However, only 24 state governments have so far passed their own laws setting up their own regulatory authorities. The remaining 12 states are been encouraged to provide the needed political support to enable them implement transparent procurement systems.
Speaking at the first National Conference on Public Procurement, organised by the Bureau for Public Procurement, BPP, President Goodluck Jonathan who was represented by the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, noted that a regulatory body cannot be effective except it is backed by law.
“I want to call on state governors to protect the regulatory authorities for them to be independent the way I have protected the Federal Bureau for Public Procurement,” he said.
The President also stressed that the implementation of the procurement reforms goes beyond passage of laws.
“A great deal of political will is needed for its full implementation. I therefore urge the remaining twelve (12) states to as matter of fact conclude the processes of enacting their own laws and also taking measures to implement them.” he said.
As an incentive for states to domesticate the laws, the President said one of the recorded successes, from 2009 to 2013 fiscal year is a total of N588 billion, saved from prior use by the BPP before the award of contract by the Federal Executive Council
The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in her remarks said current reforms in public procurement would assist government in conserving the nation’s economic resources for the provision of the much needed democracy dividends.
She noted that proper public procurement practice would also help the country reduce wastage in public expenditure.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala cited the efforts of other countries to reform their public procurement practice, adding that over $400billion is lost annually worldwide due to sharp practices in public procurement.
She commended states such as Kogi, Edo, Anambra and others that have enacted laws on public procurement and urged those yet to do so to embrace the move.
“We are still losing money in the system” she said. “Let me encourage the states to follow, I also urge the private sector to support current government efforts to sanitize the nation’s public procurement practices”
Emeka Ezeh, the Director General of the Bureau for Public Procurement, in his welcome speech noted that prior to the enactment of the current Public Procurement Act of 2007, a whooping N10 billion was being lost through various kinds of manipulations of public procurement by public servants in connivance with their private sector collaborators.
He disclosed that so far, over 180 companies have been referred to the anti- corruption agencies for prosecution for violating the Public Procurement Act.
He commended President Jonathan for not only sustaining but also deepening the current efforts to reform public procurement practices in Nigeria. He said the country needed to protect its resources if it must provide the people with the much needed developmental needs.
The chairman of the occasion, Ken Nnamani, a senator, advocated a trickling down of the procurement practices to the states. He said unless this was done, the fight against corruption could not be won.
“You will agree with me that corruption in Nigeria is that pipe that drains what pipe A is bringing in” he said.
He noted that the Procurement Act, when properly applied, would go a long way in sending the right signals to Nigeria’s economic partners.
“We have many laws, but what we do not have is the political will to implement them,” he said challenging state governors to take advantage of the Act to entrench appropriate practices across their states.
The guest speaker, Allan Burman, Jefferson Solution, USA, while giving an overview of the public procurement practice in the United States, declared that the best way to achieve the right value from public expenditure was by encouraging competition and consistency in executing procurement laws.