The Federal Government has been urged to establish Federal Procurement Council, in fulfilment of the section 1.1 of Procurement Act 2007.
National Coordinator Procurement Observation and Advocacy Initiative, Mr Mohammed Attah, who made the call at a two-day capacity building workshop for Civil Society Organisations organised by the Lagos State Civil Society Partnership(LASCOP) in Lagos said Federal Government in the year 2000, initiated the need for World Bank to conduct an assessment of the Nigeria procurement System which led to the establishment of the Procurement Act in 2007.
He noted that since then, nothing again has been said about the act, adding that since the Federal Government failed in its duty to implement the law, most state governments have toed the same line.
‘’I think we should start by asking, to what extent has the Federal Government implemented the law, before you domesticate it, because usually what we have at the states are resemblance of what we have at the federal level.
It was the Federal Government that initiated the need for World Bank to conduct an assessment of the Nigeria procurement System in the year 2000, which led to the establishment of the Procurement Act in 2007’’.
He added that surprisingly, since that time up till now, section 1.1 of the law has not been implemented which nullifies every activity under the procurement law which is that there should be a National Council of Procurement, which according to him has not been n place.
Against this backdrop, he said the president, ministers and everybody at the federal level were guilty of that offence observing that it is an impeachable offence.
He said since the enactment of the law, there has been several attempts to alter and amend the law by government but that his group has severally resisted it by counter and superior arguments.
According to him, his group has often told government that the World Bank recommendation which was implemented in the act cannot be altered except certain things follow because they were all legal issues.
Atta said one of his group’s recommendations to Federal Government was that government should remove the Finance Minister as chairman of the council and make the president chairman.
‘’We are asking the government questions like, how can they be a judge in their case. if you are a council chairman of the procurement, it would be difficult for the procurement body to be independent, the procurement body is supposed to be independent as a quasi judicial body that carry out implementation which only the high court of Nigeria can try. If there is any case or dispute against anybody there, it is only the high court that you can take it to. As a quasi judicial body, they have a right to make pronouncements which is binding’’, he argued.
Querying whether the minister of finance being chairman of the council would change anything Atta argued that what was not in place is the National Council of public procurement which made up across the sectors, civil society, provisional bodies and government.
He said all the procurement processes followed by government since 2007 till date was illegal declaring that what we have in operations are outright stealing of public funds.
According to him, to this effect, the Civil Society group has made uncountable efforts citing example of 2010, when he single handedly undertook a project on the second Abuja runway contract, which was awarded to Julius begger and other company worth 70billion.
Recalling his actions in the project, Attah said ‘’ I gave a technical review and I sent it to the government to inform them that it won’t work because the original review was 30billion. The government under President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua acknowledged it and that contract was cancelled.
Continuing he said, ‘’secondly, we have written series of letters to the federal government and I have them acknowledged, telling them why they need to inaugurate the council. The federal executive council are being accused of sitting on contracts being awarded every week, which is true because you have no other alternative to the issue and that is what we are facing currently’’.
Asked if his group has been carrying the law makers along Attah replied ’’ Yes, we are working with the National Assembly. The two third members of the national assembly have made pronunciations clearly, declaring the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, illegal and asking the executive to implement the laws according to section 1.1, which is by setting up public procurement council which has not been done.
So the national assembly have done their part and have followed up the law. Each time public hearing is held, they call us and we made our presentation,’’ he stated.
Culled from Daily Newswatch