Contemporary issues in public procurement
In a letter dated 10 February, 2012, I confronted the then Federal Minister for Works with publications in the newspapers which stated that the Federal Government had decided to reimburse some State Governments that had rehabilitated Federal Government Roads. I protested the non-insistence that such refunds must follow the provisions of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) 2007. The Hon Minister replied and informed me that Government had commenced a verification exercise in respect of claims for refund by the states in the 36 states of the Federation.
The Minister further advised me that the outcome would conform with the Federal Government guidelines on reimbursement and that I would be informed of the outcome. We requested details of the guidelines from the Hon. Minister who failed to reply till he left office. Subsequently in the Guardian newspaper publication of 10 April 2013, the then Hon Minister of Works was reported to have announced to the National Working Committee of the then ruling party that “some states could not be paid for the work they did on some Federal Roads because they failed to comply with the Public Procurement Act”. Only twenty billion Naira was paid out of three hundred and fifty billion Naira earmarked for reimbursement. It is noteworthy that the Hon. Minister failed to communicate the outcome of the verification but, it is heartwarming that the Federal Government by my observation grudgingly complied with the provisions of PPA 2007.
It has become necessary once again to discuss the proposed refund of money purportedly spent by the states on Federal Government Roads as proposed by the President. Federal Roads are not in doubt as works done on them are verifiable but the cost effectiveness of the contracts awarded for the roads must be subjected to the scrutiny of PPA 2007. Section 15(1) of PPA 2007 provides that PPA 2007 shall apply to all procurement of goods, works and services carried out by the Federal Government of Nigeria and all procurement entities.
It is obvious that most states feel that the procurement entities referred to in PPA 2007 are Federal Government entities. It is important to consider the definition of procurement entities as thankfully provided for in section 60 of PPA. The section defines procurement entities to mean “any public body engaged in procurement and includes a Ministry, Extra-ministerial office, Government Agency, Parastatal and Corporation”.
Section 60 to my mind lays the argument by State Governments to rest. It says any public body and that includes local governments, State Governments, Federal Government, Judiciary, State Assemblies and the National Assembly. On the strength of the above provisions it is my submission that all Public Procurements undertaken in Nigeria from 4 June 2007, when PPA 2007 was signed into Law which did not follow provisions of the Act are unlawful and criminal going by Section 58(5) of PPA 2007.
Chief Ebube Etudo is a Lagos based Lawyer and Estate Surveyor and Valuer
The President should as a matter of urgency establish the National Council on Public Procurement which has the statutory function of formulating policies on Public Procurement and direct the Bureau of Public Procurement to audit all claims made by the States by reviewing “the procurement and award of contract procedures of every entity to which” PPA 2007 applies as provided in Section 5(0) of PPA 2007 with a view to ensuring that only those procurements that have complied with PPA 2007 are approved for reimbursement.
I advise Public bodies that have not yet embraced PPA 2007 to do so without delay because it is not only useful in respect of dealings with the Federal Government but it is a useful cost cutting tool in order to eliminate waste and corruption in the procurement process and make more funds available for developmental projects.
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