The Federal Government has threatened to invoke all the Procurement Acts against any public officer who contravenes the law.
Making the threat yesterday in Lagos at the 2nd Batch Procurement Conversion Training organised by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Gida Mustapha, reminded public officers that already Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are currently investigating cases of infractions, which include but not limited to collusion among bidders, use of fake documents, false claims by contractors and suppliers and manipulation of the procurement process.
“Any public officer found to have colluded with unscrupulous contractors, consultants or service providers to defraud or short-change the Federal Government shall be dealt with in accordance with the law. I, therefore, urge all public officers involved in the public procurement process to conduct themselves with the highest sense of responsibility,” he said. Mustapha, who was represented by BPP Director, Lagos Liaison Office, Dr. Sade Caiafasa, warned that government can no longer accept a situation where public procurements become a source of frequent embarrassment to the nation.
“They do not help the nation’s image, neither do they inspire the confidence of the citizenry in government. Therefore, no government agency loses anything by complying with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act but shortcuts are fraught with potent dangers to the economy and our national psyche,” he insisted, explaining that the training will gear procurement officers towards full compliance with Public Procurement Act 2007, especially in those agencies located outside Abuja where the BPP regular oversight may be difficult to implement.
“I need to stress that, even though a lot of progress has been made in the ongoing procurement reforms, a lot of work still needs to be done. At different levels of government, there is still resistance to reform and government has continued to receive reports of malpractices in the procurement processes of government agencies who have chosen not to follow due process in conducting their procurement.
In his remarks, the Director General of BPP, Mamman Ahmadu, stated that Nigeria’s status as a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) makes it more important that all hands must be on deck to see to it that Nigeria escapes from the throes of corruption, which is often perpetuated on the heels of public procurement activities.
“Globally, public procurement is recognised as a tool for good governance considering the immense benefits derivable from a sound procurement system and its role in the prevention of corruption. The BPP’s prior review of contracts awarded by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) has saved the nation huge sums. Nevertheless, more than these savings, the procurement system has become sanitised, earning the nation a more positive image.
“In line with Nigeria’s country statement made by Mr. President at the 2016 London Anti-Corruption Summit and the country’s commitment on open government partnership, the bureau has just developed an Open Contracting Portal named NOCOPO, which won a global government innovation award in the area of Open Contracting in 2017.
“In other words, this signifies an era of increased transparency and the drive of this government to ensure better accountability in the area of public expenditure management.
“Therefore, this training is part of the programme of the bureau to build the institutional capacity of MDAs of the Federal Government to implement procurement reforms,” he said.
The training, which is expected to hold for the next two weeks, has resource persons drawn from both the bureau and other agencies of government, and is aimed at bringing procurement personnel in the MDAs to the same page with their counterparts in other parts of the world.