Nigeria: How Abuse of Procurement Laws 'Worsens Nigeria's Infrastructural Deficit'

23 September 2021

The Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) has said abuse of public procurement laws is largely responsible for the nation's infrastructural deficits.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PPDC, Nkem Ilo, said this during a roundtable in Abuja on Thursday.

The programme was about fiscal transparency and accountability mechanisms in Nigeria.

She said abuse of public procurement laws that lead to an infrastructural deficit is also harmful to socio-economic development of the country.

"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," she said.

Ilo represented by the PPDC's Chief Operating Officer (COO), Gift Maxwell, said 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).

She said the platform assigns a unique identifier for contracts and ensures that contracts can be tracked for project conception stage through to project delivery.

She said, "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 programmes 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 PPDC boss said the study assessed the current levels of transparency and accountability in governance processes in the states to identify key challenges inhibiting effective implementation of fiscal reforms and the Open Contracting Data Standards (OCDS), and design strategies for effective engagement, and sustainable implementation.

She said, "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."

The Director General, Kaduna State Public Procurement Authority (KSPPA), Sanusi Yero, said Governor Nasir El-Rufai does not interfere in procurement processes and that they have a policy on procurement which allow the best in projects execution.

Also, the manager, Open Contracting Partnership (OCP), Andidiong Oko, said the government is the biggest spender in the states and that people must be interested in government budget and the project they execute.

She said the state who received allocation from the Federal Government and generate revenue internally, need to be transparent and with citizens participating in procurement from the planning stage.

The representative of the Director General (DG) Ekiti State Bureau of Public Procurement, Alabi Sunday, said Ekiti under Governor Kayode Fayemi saved N20bn on contracting and that the government is doing well on physical transparency.

The Executive Director, Creative Minds Center for Youth and Community Development, Ugochi Freeman, said though citizens in Anambra State participate in procurement processes, the CSOs need to be encouraged to be part of the procurement process.

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