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‘Breach of Public Procurement Act, shortest route for governor to go to jail’

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Ikechukwu Nweje

Team Leader of the World Bank and European Union (EU)-assisted State and Local Government Reform (SLOGOR) project in Nigeria, Mr. Ikechukwu Nweje, has said that the breach of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) is one of the fastest ways a state governor could go to jail.

Nweje, who spoke yesterday at the official opening of a four-day SLOGOR yearly retreat organised by the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning in collaboration with the World Bank and the EU at Nike Lake Hotel Resort, Enugu, said a governor, who contravenes the PPA while in office, could be taken up by an individual after he must have left office, adding that if it is proved that such governor actually breached the Act, this is “the shortest route to prison.”

He said there was need to ensure proper transparency, and accountability in the way public funds are used in the day-to-day running of government at all levels.

Besides, Nweje, who told the participants that if any EU resources are not judiciously utilised, the project for releasing such resources would be cancelled, enjoined participants to use the forum to “say the truth” about the way funds are being used to run the country.

He lamented that most states in the country currently relied on obsolete laws and were making no effort to update them, having copied such laws from Finance Control and Management Act (1958) and Audit Act (1956), which were “grossly inadequate for contemporary times.”

He said: “We expect the public procurement officers to go beyond the confines of their offices to make laws covering the reforms to ensure sustainability. You need to engage the governors to understand these things; if it is guaranteed in laws, it becomes institutionalised… It’s obvious why a state should have the organic public finance laws; without it, you will be operating in the dark; the essence of public finance system is not about any individual but about institutions.”

However, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Mr. Olajide S. Odewole, represented by a Director, Finance and Account in the ministry, Mr. Adetokunbo Adebanjo, said there could be no meaningful and sustainable development without a well-thought out project like the PFM Reform aimed to change the status quo and make government people-centric and accountable.

Odewole said: “The reform is in sync with the various fiscal reforms being implemented by the Federal Government, namely the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS). This is the more reason why the Federal Government is working closely with the participating states and the World Bank to ensure that the objectives of the project are achieved.”

According to him, the retreat organised for the six participating states of the SLOGOR project was the second in the series since the commencement of the project.

He said the theme of the retreat was quite apt and topical given the fact that the project implementation timeline and completion date is drawing close, adding that the choice of the theme was to enable all stakeholders to critically assess the project and take stock of the implementation of its different components, particularly the Public Financial Management Reforms.

He added that the success of the implementation of the component would enhance the achievement of the project development objective, “which is to improve transparency, accountability and quality in public financial management in the participating states.”


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