Lagos — THE Federal Executive Council yesterday approved the creation of Procurement Departments in all Ministries, Departments and Agencies in order to harmonize procurement activities in line with the Public Procurement Act of 2007.
The council which was presided over by Vice president Goodluck Jonathan also approved the granting of Nigerian citizenship to One Hundred and Nineteen applicants who satisfied the criteria for the granting of Nigerian Citizenship. Minister of Information and Communications, John Odey who addressed state House correspondents after yesterday's meeting said all ministries and agencies of government have been directed to begin the implementation of the new department with effect from the 2008 financial year.
According to the minister, the office of the head of Civil Service of the Federation in conjunction with the Bureau of Public Procurement has already produced an organogram as well as the competences required by officers to man the department.
Under the new arrangement, the Procurement Department will take over the functions of the tenders Board Secretariat which is presently vested in the Planning, Research and Statistics Department while the Supplies Division of the Human Resources Department in government agencies will cease to exist. Odey gave the functions of the Procurement department as follows:
Ensuring due process in the procurement of goods and services as well as the award of contracts in government agencies; maintenance of registers of suppliers /contractors for government agencies and departments and the maintenance of a periodically updated price database as may be provided by the Bureau of Public procurement.
The Procurement Department is to also ensure strict adherence to all extant regulations and procedures on procurement and procedures on procurement and liaise with the BPP on matters relating to contract awards.
Speaking on how the Department would function, the Director General of the Bureau of public Procurement, Emeka Eze said measures have been put in place to ensure strict monitoring of Procurement Officers in order to guard against abuse of their duties.
According to him, the aim behind creating the department is to build capacity with in the public service to ensure that there is efficient and transparent discharge of duties. He said some people have been trained specifically to man the departments while another set of officers would also be trained by the BPP in conjunction with other agencies of government, pointing out that only those who have the requisite qualification man the department.
The BPP boss said in order to ensure that the officers do not abuse their responsibilities, stringent measures have been put in place to deter them from corrupt tendencies. "They are still under the BPP searchlight. Luckily the law has provided very stringent penalty. Before now, people hide under the protection of Civil Service Law.
But the law provides that each process should be monitored by two credible people: a professional association that would be relevant to the procurement in question and secondly, a Non-Governmental Organization that is involved in anti-corruption. They will make independent reports of any thing they have observed to EFCC, ICPC and the Code of Conduct Bureau" he said.
Speaking on the granting of citizenship, Mr Odey said the approval was given after thorough investigations of the concerned persons by relevant security agencies. Citing chapter 11 sections 26 and 27 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which provides for the grant of Nigerian citizenship by naturalisation and registration, Odey said "Council in its meeting today, considered and approved the recommendations for the grant of Nigerian citizenship by naturalisation to 70 applicants.
It also approved the grant of Nigeria citizenship by registration to 49 applicants married to Nigerians who met all the constitutional requirements." He disclosed that certificates of naturalisation will be issued to the successful applicants adding that "the successful candidates will have to meet certain conditions within 12 months of receipt of their notification."
The conditions spelt out by the country are, swear to an oath of allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, make declaration as to residence, renounce the citizenship or nationality of any country of which he/she is not a citizen by birth or decent and pay the current prescribed fee of N150, 000.00 for citizenship by naturalisation and N20,000.00 for citizenship by registration.