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Civil servants frustrating procurement practice, says CIPSMN boss

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Aliyu


Mohammed Aliyu is the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply Management of Nigeria (CIPSMN). In this interview with ROTIMI BALOGUN and GLORIA NWAFOR, he talks about how civil servants are frustrating procurement practice, how the public procurement law is not well domesticated due to absence of regulating council and how non-professionals are taking over their jobs.

How had COVID-19 affected your sector and activities?
With the impact of COVID-19 and insecurity in the country, there may be scarcity of food in the near future. It is the high level of insecurity in the country that is affecting everybody and not even COVID-19. Insecurity has affected us greatly. This is the only institute that leads while others follow. Reason is because no human being can survive without an efficient flow of materials and supplies. Based on World Bank study, the profession controls 80 to 90 per cent total budget of any nation. No organisation can function without an effective and efficient flow of materials. Government should allow those who have the requisite knowledge to pilot the affairs of the country. Another issue affecting us is lack of training of procurement officers, who take care of the materials. Our expectation is let professionals take control as the ethics entails.

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What are the issues militating against growth of procurement practice?
It is so enormous. In a situation, where you don’t have knowledge on a subject area and you are making policy in that area, it is not going to work. That is why they are now assuming that procurement is meant for everyone, which doesn’t work that way. If not now that some of the universities are trying to offer procurement course in Nigeria, no university had offered the course before. Those who try to study the course always travel abroad. Another issue is sector specialist, which tells you that procurement has no profession. Then, if it has no profession, why is it on its own? This is the most costly area that is meant to stand on its own, because it takes care of materials and supplies. That is why the issue of contracts have been a big problem. Everyone wants to be involved and at the end, the resources of the country would be mismanaged. Works would not be constructed based on quality, as substandard materials would be supplied. In such situation, value is not derived. The profession is very vital but it is not well recognised in Nigeria as compared to other countries.

What is the institute doing to ensure effective recognition of the profession in Nigeria?
We are pushing hard but the civil servants are frustrating the whole efforts. They feel that is where they make money and you are trying to block it. The institute has done a lot because before now, there was no CIPSMN. The public procurement law till today is not well domesticated because there are two bodies; Council on National Procurement and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP). The council is to regulate the BPP but BPP is on ground while the council is not on ground. The law establishing public procurement states that anybody needed to head the bureau must be on competitive election, but it is not here. That is why we have an Engineer heading that place today and we are calling it procurement. The institute will continue to create awareness and also ginger those who are to form the council.

For good corporate governance and to attain the next level agenda of the Federal Government, how is the institute aligning strategic public procurement and supply chain management practice?
If government wants things to be done orderly, procurement issues should be addressed properly and professionals should be allowed to handle the functions, so that taxpayers can derive value for their money. The issue of professional and technical ability, which can solve most of our problems, should be put into consideration.

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Given the vital role it plays, how relevant is procurement and supply chain management in the economy?
Procurement and supply chain management is a natural gift that ought to be leading while others follow. Procurement is everything you can think of in the world. No procurement, no organisation. This is because so many industries that have shutdown was due to lack of materials and supplies. Procurement is the life of any nation. No item in the store, no production.

What are the requirements and stages to become a member of the institute?
For graduates it is divided into Part One, Two and Three, while we have Certificate One and Two for those with WASSCE qualification. We have graduate conversion programmes for those who want to be converted to professionals. We also have mandatory proficiency programmes held twice yearly to update our members on what has transpired or what is now the current trend in the field.

Are you affiliated to any of the universities?
Yes. We have affiliations with Kaduna State University, Kaduna; Ladoke Akintola University in Oyo State. We started with Ahmadu Bello university at certificate level, where we tried to push up to degree level until it was stopped due to change in management. Before COVID-19, the NUC and World Bank proposed procurement courses in the universities based on geographical zone. But money issue made them not to go further.

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In this article:
CIPSMNMohammed Aliyu
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