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Nigeria’s Public Procurement Act 2007

REMARKS BY MOHAMMED BOUGEI ATTAH, CHAIR OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE FOR THE REVIEW OF THE PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE PUBLIC PROCUREMENT ACT 2007 – A POST NATIOANL SEMINAR ON PROCUREMENT
 
Tuesday October 06, 2009 – Abuja, Nigeria
 
Protocol / Welcome
 
As you may be aware, the Public Procurement Act (PPA) was signed into law on June 4, 2007 by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

The Act provides for the establishment of the National Council on Public Procurement (NCPP) and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) as regulatory authorities responsible for the monitoring and oversight of public procurement, harmonizing existing government policies and practices.
 
The objectives of the PPA as captured in Section 4 are for the harmonization of existing government policies and practices on public procurement, and ensuring probity, accountability and transparency in procurement process; the attainment of competitiveness, professionalism in public sector procurement system by ensuring the application of fair competitive, transparent, value for money, standard practices for procurement and disposal of public assets and services, and all which is believed that when it is judiciously practiced, it will reduce corruption in Nigeria.

And this was in response to the 2005 World Bank call for member states to adopt transparent measures in public sector budgeting and expenditures. Experts have identified procurement as the area most prone to corruption in all sectors of the economy.

Corruption in procurement research has shown, accounts for over 70% of government’s total budget and therefore affects the efficiency of public
spending and the opportunities to improve quality of life.
 
On July 29, 2008, about year after assenting to the Bill, the President sent in a new Bill to the National Assembly for the amendments of the PPA. Promptly, observers of the process described the action as lacking in transparency, hinging their argument on the fact that the existing Act is yet to be tested.
 
However on Thursday September 11, 2008 and Thursday January 15, 2009 respectively, the Senate and House of Representatives in Whole received and considered the Bill for amendment processes as sought by the Executive.

The latest of the amendment as passed by the Senate in Plenary after a protracted debate was Thursday July 9, 2009. As at today, the Legislators have amended the provisions of the Act and awaiting harmonization by the two Committees before it is sent for assent by the President.
 
While the amendments were ongoing, series of memoranda and petitions were sent to the National Assembly with expert opinions and recommendations for the suspension of the amendments on the ground that the proposed amendments lacks popular acceptance and will encourage corruption.

 Despite the overwhelming concerns raised by civil society organizations, CSOs including NGOs, professional bodies, associations and individuals, the Legislators went ahead with their business, amended the Act and failed to conduct a Public Hearing on the Bill, a policy issue that affects the lives of every Nigerian. We therefore see this action by the Legislators as a violation of the amendments process as set by law.
 
In response to the above, and as a means to set forth the issue before the Nigeria citizens to review some of the unpopular provisions being introduced into the Act, a 10-member Committee arising from the resolutions of the August 20-21 National Seminar on Procurement was set up to review the contents of the amendments passed by both the Senate and House of Representatives, and make further recommendations to the Legislators before the planned harmonization of the Committees and subsequent assent by the President.


The report of the Committee before you today are in two volumes, and have been sent to key stakeholders such as the President and Commander-in- Chief, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Senate and House Committees Chairs for Finance, Procurement, Establishment, Education, Commerce as well as the Chief Economic Adviser to the President, the Director General of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), the Ministers for Justice, Education and Commerce.

Others include the Clerk of the National Assembly, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Special Adviser to President on Relations with Civil Society and Secretary, the registrar of Supreme Court and Secretary of the Judicial Service Commission.
 
Volume One which is the Main Report deals with reviews twelve (12) questions and answers, as well as observations and  recommendations in respect of the proposed amendments sought and those passed by the two Legislative Chambers and some grey areas in the PPA 2007 that require urgent reviews but not yet attended to by both the Executive and the Legislature.

Volume two contains Annexes 1-5 which is part of the working documents used by the Committee to arrive at some conclusions and recommendations in the Main Report which deal with records of activities in procurement processes in accordance with provisions of the Constitution, the PPA and other relevant laws, as it affects the Executive, Legislative and Judicial arms of government, and also contain summary of procurement methods and thresholds as presently approved for all procuring entities by BPP and indicating the missing gaps and challenges in existence when compared with the principal Act.
 
The Report itself is the culminating work of the representatives of CSOs, private organizations, media, legal practitioners and professionals/ experts in the field of procurement.

It is designed to serve as a humble contribution to the government’s ongoing reform process and rule of law. It is the expectation of the members that that the Report will be subjected to further reviews and analyses by all stakeholders and/or Nigerians, as a basis for strengthening the country’s procurement space.
 
We wish to also use this opportunity to recommend the following and call on all the entities concerned to ensure adequate compliance with the provisions of the PPA and rule of law:
 
1.                  That the President should without further delay, constitute and inaugurate the membership of the National Council on Public Procurement (NCPP) and ensure that all nominations to the Council are representatives of their various bodies and not political appointees;
 
2.                  That the President should appoint a Special Adviser on Public Procurement to ensure adequate and excellent advises on all procurement matters;
 
3.                  That the Senate President should establish a Committee on Public Procurement and remove the responsibility from the Finance and Establishment Committees that are not directly involved with procurement matters;
 
4.                  That such government agencies like the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Agency (ICRA) should comply with the March 2008 Federal Government directives to establish procurement departments in their respective organization;
 
5.                  And that the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) should henceforth obtain ‘Certificate of No Objection’ from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) in compliance with the PP Act and              BPE Act, before any disposal of government assets as this has caused series of complications in the past.
 
It is also our hope and expectation that the Report will serve as a response to series of debates, comments and sensitizations by all stakeholders in all attempts to get the process right. We strongly believe that preventing and controlling corruption in procurement is a determining factor in policy efficiency of the present administration.
 
Thank you.
 
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