NSITF collaborates with BPP to validate contracting process
Provisions of the Public Procurement Act 2007, guide the award of contracts by the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), with recourse to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), to ensure laid down rules and regulations guiding such processes are complied with.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive of NSITF, Adebayo Somefun, who disclosed this in Abuja, also dispelled speculations that the Fund is currently engaged in a massive secret recruitment exercise.
Somefun, who spoke through the General Manager Administration, Olusegun Basorun, said whenever the Fund recruits, it does not charge prospective applicants for job placements, while challenging anyone with credible evidence on such illegal charges to provide it.
He explained: “For any government agency to collect money from job applicant, such vacancies must be advertised, which must tell the public how much to pay whether such money is for scratch cards or something like that. It is a well-known fact that government had stopped payment for jobs by applicants. The National Assembly has frowned against such act.”
He added that since the Treasury Single Account (TSA) came into operation, all government funds are automatically moved into that account.
While dismissing the allegation that job racketeering is prevalent in the Fund, Somefun said: “Matters relating to recruitment form part of the schedule of the General Manager Administration, which include the authority to sign appointment letters as delegated. But before such letters are issued, certain things must happen. One of the things that must happen is the approval of the Federal Character Commission. The last time we recruited here was the first quarter of 2018, and since that time, no one has been recruited. It is a criminal act to recruit without due process. The NSITF is a responsible organisation. All its recruitment exercises are guided by the constitution of the nation, extant rules and regulations particularly the Federal Government Circular of 11th July 2017.
“This circular itemised all the steps and approvals that must be obtained before anyone is employed.”
On the allegation that the Managing Director and the immediate past Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, colluded to award contracts without recourse to the Board, the NSITF helmsman explained that the Federal Government through the Public Procurement Act, has specified how the issues of contracts should be handled in Nigeria.
He said: “Here at NSITF, the Parastatal Tenders Board awards contracts, as stipulated by the Public Procurement Act 2007. The process of awarding contract starts from the budget preparation from the agencies, and then goes to the National Assembly for defence. Once the National Assembly approves the budget, we now do a procurement plan that entails what we are going to do and when are we going to do it. After the Procurement Planning Committee has approved the plan, we now start executing it one after the other.”
The memorandum regarding the proposed contract is brought before the Parastatals Tenders Board if it is below N50million for goods and services, and N250million for works. All heads of departments are members of the board. The board looks at the memorandum, the initiating department would defend it, and if satisfied, it is passed. Then the procurement department will award the contract. Those that are given contracts are those who are successful in the expression of interest and bid process. Once the tenders’ board okays a contract, it goes.”
He also clarified that the supervisory Ministry is not involved in the contract award processes in the Fund.
He, however, provided circumstances that contracts can go to the Ministry of Labour thus: “If a contract for goods and services is more than N50million and below N100million, we take it to the Ministerial Tenders Board that does not include the Minister. The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry chairs the board, and all the Directors of the ministry are members. The Fund representative would go to the meeting to defend what it is proposing, if the Ministerial Tenders Board approves it, the contract is awarded.”
Somefun further explained that neither him as the Managing Director, nor the General Manager Administration signs a contract, saying the head of procurement is authorised to sign all contract letters in the Fund.
He explained: “The tenders’ board examines the profile of contractors whether it is appropriate or not, but once it deems the contractor had the capacity to execute the task, it awards the contract as long as such contract is within the appropriate threshold.”
He maintained that to the exclusion of any other body or persons, it is the appropriate tender’s board that has the power to award contracts, adding that since the present management came into office, the drive for due process has been redoubled.
He concluded: “This team went to the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP), and got an Assistant Director to guide the procurement processes so that award of contracts would be done in a professional manner. We are very close to the BPP to ensure that whatever we do is done legally.”
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