Implement Public Procurement for South-South development
Laws on public Procurement are imperative for good governance, and are designed for the authorities to adequately provide value for money and maintenance of quality procurement standards. They are also geared towards encouraging accountability, competitiveness, and cost-effectiveness.
After that Bill (the Public Procurement bill) was signed into law by President Yar’ Adua on the 4th of June 2007, four South-South States have followed suite. The aim is to bridge the gap in substandard procurement, lack of accountability, contract inflation, kickbacks, and selective bidding, among others. There is need therefore for various governments at State and Local Government levels to domesticate the bill for transparent, accountable and efficient system of managing public resources.
Four States in the South–South such as Cross River, Rivers, Edo, Delta and Bayelsa, have adopted the Public Procurement Law. This is a positive signal from any government whose interest for the people is based on good governance through open and transparent utilization and adequate management of public funds.
Issues of good governance should be about infrastructural development in key areas like poverty alleviation, women reproductive health, skill acquisition, and to meet the present needs of Nigerians without compromising future generations. An efficient public procurement system is critical in addressing issues of increased agitation for accountability and transparency by the people
A Vanguard newspaper report of November 12, 2014, had it that the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) Mr. Emeka Muoma Ezeh, disclosed that the Federal Government losses $10billion (N1.7trillion) annually to fraudulent practices in the award of contracts and project reviews. There are sundry cases like this in the South-South.
A research on ‘‘Citizens Guide on how to hold Government accountable to the people’’ conducted by the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) with support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy, in pursuance of Strengthening Oil Revenue Management in the Niger Delta, on July, 2013 revealed certain characteristics of what could make a government unaccountable. According to the report, instances of characteristics abound where the government operates a non-disclosure policy, disregard of laws and due process in procurement, where people are unable to access government budget and comprehensive information of its activities, sharp practices in government expenditure, among others. In most of the States in the South-South where Public Procurement Law has been enacted, proper implementation has been a major hurdle to scale. S
Also, the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) allocated the sum of 4.19trillion as 13% Mineral Revenue Derivation to the Niger Delta States from May 1999 to July 2014. Out of which the six South-South States got N2.511 trillion or about 60% of the total.
All of these monies collected by these States in the South-South have not reflected positively in the economic situation of the region. Despite having lots of mineral and human resources, there has been an increase in the level of poverty in the South-South. There is secrecy and lack of citizen’s participation during project implementation; roads are in deplorable condition, there is lack of potable pipe-borne water, poor educational infrastructure, inefficient health care system in rural communities, among other factors which has crumbled the South-South economy.
In order to achieve sustainable growth and development in the South-South, the State Governments should embark on full implementation of the Procurement deliveries to the people. There should be openness, transparency, integrity and accountability. State Governments should adopt a people-driven institutional reform that redefines environmental effectiveness that is cost-effective and which has value for money. This will trigger increase in economic growth and empowerment, security of lives and property, and efficient procurement of basic infrastructure, that is sustainable and timely delivery of public utilities, to ameliorate the plight of mostly people in rural areas.
Charles Iyare is M&E officer with ANEEJ