An Overview Of The Nigerian Public Procurement Act

By Ikenga Chronicles August 31, 2018

An Overview Of The Nigerian Public Procurement Act

–Paschal Nwosu Esq

‘There is the need for the establishment of a legal framework for Public Procurement” said the World Bank to the officials of the Federal Government who are always in need of more loans to facilitate one white elephant project after another whose funds always seem to find its way to private pockets because of lack of due process or policy defaults.

The enactment of The Procurement Act 2007 is a weighty development based on the recommendation of the World Bank which advised for better transparency in the proceedings of public procurement. As a general rule, it is the requirement of law and the strictures of procurement standards and policies to ensure compliance with the procurement directives in contracts in the supply of goods and services. Thus in the emerging economies of Asia and Brazil and particularly the latter, all acts performed by public entities must be in compliance with the principles set out by the Brazilian federal Constitution to with: legality, impersonality, morality, publicity and efficiency in other to ensure and regulate a healthy integral policies of national economic policies.

In the same vein, all contracts entered into by government entities in Nigeria are expected o show compliance to the directives of the public procurement Act 2007.

The Revolution Is Already Here

There are growing global responsiveness to socio economic transparency in old and emerging economies like Britain and China where Contracts entered into by public administrative units are by rule and requirements of law regulated by the public procurement laws. In Nigeria, attempts to facilitate due process in the proceedings by public procurement has met stiff resistance from a corrupt and rogue political Class and Civil Servants which sees politics and governance as the springboard for self aggrandizement and sudden wealth. The Investigative and implementation processes have been deliberately stultified and made unworkable. This has been attributed to our Political history with its Interventionist Military dictatorships that has facilitated the institutionalization of corruption.

There is no doubt that the need for a procurement Policy in Nigeria is deeply influenced by our political development which is rich in Six military Coups and two abortive coups which were fuelled by ethnic, religious sentiments, election rigging, Census rigging ,corruption, regionalism and personal aggrandizements of officers. It is necessary to point out here, that all Military interventions are by their nature aberrations of democratic values and condemnable. They created the necessary dysfunctionalisation of society and advanced a new political anomie of greed, corruption, inefficiency and economic atrophy that undermined public procurement ethics and due process.

Thus In spite of claimed reforms by the government of Murtala mohammed, General Mohamadu Buhari, General Olusegun Obasanjo, we are left with a gaping void of visionless leadership, and degeneration of Political etiquette in the administration of Nigeria with widespread Human Rights abuses, looting and plunder of the National Resources by the interventionist Militia who listened to complaints against them with cocked riffles.

 From Buhari To Adeosun: The Ethical Question

The Public Procurement Act was passed into law under the Late President Umaru Musa Yaradua by the National Assembly by virtue of which the Act established the National Council on public Procurement and the Bureau of Public Procurement which are the regulatory authorities responsible for the Monitoring and oversight of public procurement, harmonization of existing Policies and practices by regulating, setting standards, directives and developing the necessary legal framework and professional capacity. The establishment of the professional capacity led to the earlier enactment of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and supply management of Nigeria{CIPSMN} by President Olusegun Obasanjo as a policy Formulation and implementation arm also charged with the enforcement of professional ethics ,as a regulatory professional body.

However having satisfied the basic framework for the administration of public procurement in theory, the government of President Musa yaradua failed, refused, neglected and or omitted to constitute the National Council on Public procurement{NCPP} for the understandable reason that such a Council would ensure fiscal accountability and undermine the thievery of the Political Class. Corruption only thrives in spheres of inefficiency. In the same vein, by failing to create the NCPP, the federal government ensured that the legal framework remained mere intents and sterile litanies. Why has the federal government failed to constitute the NCPP in spite of repeated appeals to do so?

The importance of the NCPP will become obvious if we review the literature of the entity.

2019 Elections: Without A Public Agenda

The PPA 2007 created the NCPP which by the enactment of the Act consists of the Minster of finance as chairman, the Attorney general and minster of Justice, The Secretary to the Government and head of service of the federation, Six Part time members of the Chartered institute of purchasing and supply management of Nigeria, the Nigeria Bar association, the Nigeria association of Chamber of commerce and industry, Nigeria society of Engineers, media and civil Society. The importance of the NCPP cannot be overemphasized as it remains the only body recognized by the constitution to initiate, consider and approve policies on public procurement which checks corruption and contract overinflating. Without the Constitution of the NCPP, it will be very difficult for due process to prevail and fiscal prudence in the exercise of the proceedings of public procurement.

Recently, in Imo State 2013, the State Assembly was embroiled in a case of Due process Imbroglio with the EFCC claiming that a Loan facility with an Unnamed bank was acquired without due process, totaling N47B.This a tip of the Iceberg as the Government, Ministries, departments and the State has never shown any remarkable appreciation of due process in the award of contracts, securing of loans and the procurement of goods and services. For instance we woke up to the announcement of the government award of Contract to build the Centenary Towers for about N10B to a Korean firm that should be the last to know about Contracts awarded in Imo state. There were no publicity for bids and evaluations of competitive bids and yet today we are indebted to a contract which could have cost less perhaps ; entered into for the purpose of attracting tourists to view solitary towers in a State strafed by unemployment and this is the case with almost all constructions undertaken by the State government.

 Gov. Ajimobi, Yinka Ayefele And The Rest Of Us

Elsewhere in the South east, The Abia Sate Housing Investment Corporation by whatever name it is called borrowed N1B without due process and or consent of the Government and duped its Citizens of deposits for housing and lands it could not deliver. The federal Subsidy Scam is a good Example of the failure of our procurement policies which Cost the Country Billions of naira in intricate and generalized stealing by the government Officials. The National Assembly has become a virtual police service with various Committees set up to investigate one scam or the other all proceeding from a failed system of procurement proceedings and or due process. Yet in spite of all the committees set up to investigate these scams , like the one Chaired by Mr. integrity, non has been pious enough to secure a conviction in the courts. These acts of brazen thievery and corruption have stripped the Nation naked in shame.

Governments use due process and or public procurement implementation mechanisms to address varied issues of budget implementation, service delivery, Socio economic indices and challenges of governance. It addresses and builds ethical capacity infrastructures and confers legitimacy on Governments as strict adherence to ethical governance and procurement principles are transparent values that cannot be toyed with. The due process Certification Monitoring Mechanism is a legal framework concerned with procedure which in Nigeria are endorsed as attainable but never attained as a deliberate policy of governments.

It maximizes the benefits of a procurement system and ensures fiscal accountability. Thus between 2007-2009 the components of the budgets were not fully implemented and the monies were returned at the end of the years. This may be due to the influence of Ngozi Iweala who brought some level of civility and political morality to the table from the World Bank and as a serving Minister.

 Health Delivery And Patient Safety

In conclusion, the federal government is enjoined to constitute the NCPP to ensure policy balance and accountability and enabling mechanism for fiscal prudence which can aid the various Anti graft agencies.

Whilst approving and applauding the varied achievements of the Imo sate government under Rochas Okorocha and its developmental projects hopefully sustainable, it is noteworthy that its lack of adherence to due process and prioritization has cast a large cloud of doubt. A government that does not adhere to rules does not govern but dictates governance leading to fiscal anarchy. But one Ikenna Iwuoha, a media assistant to the Imo state House of Assembly, has said in a recent press statement that Imo state is a stickler for due process. Hopefully he understands that good projects are not enough to excuse political and fiscal etiquettes.

That due process is not the name of a disease but its cure to arbitrariness.