Where is Nigeria’s Public Procurement Council?

Martins Oloja

Martins Oloja

The rampaging enemy called recession has touched off so many questions about the colour of change we were promised in 2015. Besides, commentators are still wondering about the location of the blueprint the ruling party has been using in governing the country. Just as some have concluded that the ruling class cannot give us what they don’t have, others are saying that the new change mantra: “change begins with me” will be the magic wand, after all. But as we wait for the resumption of the ‘beautiful ones’ called the legislators in Abuja to come up with their perspective on the recession, there is s sense in which we can say that the president needs the help of all well-meaning citizens at this time. No doubt, the General needs assistance even if he has to be told to remove the “Buhari Wall” he had erected before the maverick in American politics; Donald Trump suggested that model around the Mexican borders in the U.S.

Some concerned wise men in political circles are persuaded that the “Buhari Wall” needs to be pulled down for help to reach him, lest some principalities and powers who have always shielded leaders from reality will hijack such offers. Groundswell of serious opinions has dismissed the “change mantra” as pedestrian and meretricious, especially at this time when there are too many hungry and angry people. The Wall will remain solid as the Rock of Gibraltar as long as the ‘kitchen cabinet’ lacks the diversity that has always defined selection of the president’s men. So, for President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) to enjoy the power of plurality, he has to dismantle the Wall as quickly as possible so that help from so many believers in him can reach him. There are strong indications from even the cabinet that so many members may have been finding it pretty difficult to pass through the labyrinth called Aso Villa – to see the President. I have covered the presidency in Abuja for more than 26 years and so I have some smattering of knowledge of how the state house works.

The quality of the president’s men is key to how far the president can go in public relations and all that stuff. The only person that ‘the insiders’ called ‘the president’s men’ may find difficult to prevent from seeing the president is the wife of the president. They can prevent the best of the president’s friends (and confidants) from seeing him for four years. The very influential operatives can devise some ingenuity to prevent thee First Lady too at a critical time, if they want to. After all, they still arrange the president to undertake some nocturnal ‘trips to Jerusalem’ despite the vigilance of some suspicious wives.

Let’s leave the Wall talk and come to specific issues that can assist the president at this time. I think in all sincerity that since there is no likelihood that we will see any other items on the presidential agenda beyond “fighting corruption” and “insecurity in the North East and Niger Delta”, we should help suggest to him how to finish strong on the anti-corruption agenda and security of the nation. I have no strong idea about return of militancy to the Niger Delta other than some elders’ voice of wisdom that it is better to ‘jaw-jaw’ than to “war-war’ at this time. This is to say that some hardliners that are urging the president to crush the militants in the economic zone, Niger Delta should not be considered.

But as for fighting corruption, I feel despite all odds, the president should be encouraged to fight it frontally. However, he should listen to those suggesting that the anti-corruption agency should be strengthened so that it does not end up the way Ridadu’s era did with the exit of the strong man. There is need to build the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as an institution that will be stronger and far removed from the personality of the Chairman. This was the main thrust of a recent suggestion by the new President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abubakar Mahmoud that the leadership of the EFCC reacted sharply to. If truth must be spoken to power, the agency should be higher than the boss that is just a bird of passage there. The Commission needs the NBA’s good members to succeed too. So, there is a need to agree on how to build the anti-graft agency to serve the nation better. In any case, I have not read anywhere in the journals that some people somewhere do not want the president to fight corruption. People only disagree about the strategy and perceived lop-sidedness. But that should not take the steam out of the war on corruption. The war must be sustained and fought ruthlessly.

But then it is time for the president to overhaul the federal bureaucracy to prevent corruption. And here is the thing, even if the president continues ruthlessly alone as a fundamental objective without involving the civil service of the federation, even by 2019, the result will be that yes, he fought some corrupt people without really fighting corruption. And so the war would have been lost.

That was what a Tax Partner at PwC, Nigeria, Taiwo Oyedele said at the April 2016 Platform (in Abuja) of The Covenant Christian Centre. The record youngest partner at PwC Nigeria who was speaking to the issue of untapped revenue sources in Nigeria noted that Nigeria’s revenue from oil was too low to stimulate growth & development. It was in that context that he noted that despite the low revenue base, corruption was becoming a monster that had markedly diminished the country. He, however, said it was sad that from the look of things in the country, “we are not fighting corruption, we are only fighting some corrupt people”.

According to the technocrat, “if you want to fight corruption, you have to put some political and economic institutions in place.” This was what triggered my comment entitled, “Fighting corruption vs fighting corrupt people” on May 7, 2016 on this page.

Therefore, the president should step forward and use an existing law to begin institutionalization of the anti-graft war at the highest level. This will be through an Act of the National Assembly that former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Umaru Musa Yar’adua put in place. It is the Public Procurement Act, 2007. In a bid to institutionalize the war on official corruption, the then President Obasanjo had set the tone with three Bills: Public Procurement Bill, Fiscal Responsibility Bill & Freedom of Information Bill. These bills were part of the government public sector reform agenda of the administration. The Fiscal Responsibility & Public Procurement Bills were harmonized for Obasanjo’s assent before May 29, expiry date of his administration.

But curiously, he could not sign them. The National Assembly then was serious and they curiously preserved the two Bills for President Yar’Adua who signed them into law on June 4, 2007 and July 30, 2007 respectively. The Freedom of Information Bill, which was also ready in Obasanjo’s time was not signed into law until May 28, 2011 by the then President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

It is, however, instructive to note that neither President Yar’Adua nor Jonathan was ready to implement the most important provision in the Public Procurement Act throughout their tenures. The most important provision in the law is establishment of “National Council on Procurement” to be chaired by the Minister of Finance.

Membership of the Council, which ends the Federal Executive Council’s handling of public procurement or contracts award include:
Minister of Finance as Chairman;
The Attorney-General of the federation & Minister of Justice;
Secretary to the Government of the Federation;
Head of Civil Service of the Federation;
The Economic Adviser to the President;
Six part-time members to represent:
Nigerian Institute of Purchasing and Supply Management;
Nigerian Bar Association;
Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines & Agriculture;
Nigeria Society of Engineers;
Civil Society;
The Media and
The Director-General of the Bureau who shall be the Secretary of the Council.

According to the Procurement Act, the Chairman and other members of the Council shall be appointed by the President.

The Act provides for the establishment of the National Council on Public Procurement (NCPP) and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) as regulatory authorities responsible for the monitoring and oversight of public procurement, harmonizing existing government policies and practices.

The objectives of the PPA as captured in Section 4 are for the harmonization of existing government policies and practices on public procurement, and ensuring probity, accountability and transparency in procurement process.

It is believed that if the Council is properly constituted, it will reduce corruption in the public sector. This was in response to the 2005 World Bank’s call for member states to adopt transparent measures in public sector budgeting and expenditures. Experts have identified procurement as the area most prone to corruption in all sectors of the economy.

Corruption in procurement, as research has shown, accounts for over 70% of government’s total budget and therefore affects the efficiency of public
spending and the opportunities to improve quality of life.

It must be recognized that the same government has since 2008 sent an amendment Bill to the National Assembly, specifically to make the Federal Executive Council or the President the approving authorities of contracts awards. This amendment, which passed through the third reading in the Senate in June this year, seeks to preserve the corruptible status quo.

That is why the President should excite the public soon by inaugurating the National Council on Procurement according to the 2007 Act. This will form the basis for change beginning with the federal government. The composition of the Council is remarkable and that will instill confidence in public procurement process. Besides, the Federal Executive Council will be more creative in looking for relevance beyond contracts awards any time they meet. That will be a change that will be relevant at this time!

Inside Stuff Grammar School
Using “Although” with “But”.
It has been observed that some writers and speakers do not know that when you use “although” in your sentence, you should not use “but” to complete it. Examples:
1.Although the minister hinted us about imminent danger in the deal, but he did not give details about how to avert it. The word “but” is not required as long as you precede the sentence with “although”.

***There was some devil in the detail of last week’s article here where “successor” appeared as “predecessor”. The successor to Godswill Akpabio in Akwa Ibom state is Emmanuel Udom, (not the predecessor) as was printed.



1 Comment
  • isa tukur

    It is long overdue.No one can precisely say why the two former presidents(Yar’adua and Jonathan) could not inaugurate the NCPP.In February 2011, the house of reps threatened the then president.But, the threat fleeced and the national assembly were just ‘siddon look’ till the end of his era.I assume the national assembly and the then president lacked the political will and effrontery to straightened and formalise the needful.For the late president, much cannot be said because he shortlived.
    The current administration has to be up and doing.Hon. Abike Dabiri, a staunch supporter of PMB and APC told the world that it is one of PMB’s mission to inaugurate the NCPP.Now, one year , four months, no emissary of such is seen and e-procurement is posed to commence next month in six piloted MDA’s.
    NCPP has to come on stream please!

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