National Assembly Accuses BPP of Corruption, Agency for Probe

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  •   House insists gas flaring must end by 2020
  •   Urges FG to pay compensation, rebuild LGAs destroyed by   B’ Haram in Yobe

 

Damilola Oyedele and James Emejo in Abuja

The National Assembly has accused the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) of engaging in underhand dealings in the issuance of certificates of “No Objection” for contracts awarded by procurement entities and failing to conduct the mandatory post-procurement audit of procurement entities.

While the Senate has mandated its Committee on Public Procurement to investigate allegations that officials of the BPP are corruptly enriching themselves and abusing the agency’s powers to issue the certificates for their own personal gains, the House of Representatives has mandated its Committees on Public Procurement and Anti-Corruption to investigate an allegation that the BPP has failed to exercise its powers on public procurement processes and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.

 The Senate resolution was sequel to a motion sponsored yesterday by Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) who noted that the BPP has also failed to submit its report to the National Assembly bi-annually.

Melaye said the powers of the BPP are aimed at ensuring that the requirements of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) are complied with, and that government gets value for contracts awarded within relevant threshold, while unfortunately, procurement is responsible for 70 percent of corruption crimes.

“It was observed that such gross abuses and violation of Public Procurement Act, 2007 have been exacerbated by the recent increase in arbitrary nomination of procuring entities of winners for tendering processes, and where the procurement entity declines, the processes are interjected and frustrated in bad faith for conflicting reasons.”

“Monumental corruption is going on in the BPP. That is where we have the contracts that are supposed to be awarded at N20 million, but awarded at N200 million. It is then approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC). This certificate of no objection is not more than the investigation that is supposed to be conducted internally by BPP,”  he added.

The lawmaker added that if urgent steps are not taken to address proven infractions, the BPP would endanger the public procurement system in the country.

Contributing to the debate, Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central) lamented that the system has become so corrupt that even civil servants execute contracts for the government.

“If there is any word that has become a household word in Nigeria, it is either corruption or anti-corruption. We have seen civil servants become contractors. The Senate should bring out practical solutions to clean up the system. We are creating a society that is enchanted. It is impossible for the country to achieve any enviable height, if the country continues in this form of corruption,” he said.

The Deputy Leader of the Senate, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, agreed with Sani’s submission of civil servants as contractors.

He added that 70 per cent of recoveries made in the anti-corruption war led by the executive, are made from same executive arm of government.

“Over 70 per cent of what is said to have been recovered, were recovered from those in the executive arm of government. Whether we like it not, the civil servants are the contractors. For the two years of aggressive fight against corruption, what can we do to reduce corruption?” asked.

Presiding, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu directed the committee to submit its report in five weeks.

In the House of Representatives, Hon. Afe Olowookere sponsored a motion on the need to investigate the failure of BPP to exert its influence in procurement processes leading to alleged abuses.

Consequently, the House referenced a widespread breach of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 by the MDAs without any proven corrective measures taken or sanctions imposed by the procurement agency, a situation which it said renders BPP’s existence a waste on the finances of government.

The House also yesterday passed a resolution mandating the House Committees on Gas Resources and Petroleum Resources (Upstream and Downstream) to interface with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) on government’s policies and regulatory rules towards ensuring the actualisation of the 2020 exit timeline for gas flaring in the country.

The committee has eight weeks to report back to the House for further legislative action.

Also, at the plenary yesterday, the House further passed a motion urging the federal government to pay compensation to owners of properties destroyed by the Boko Haram insurgency and re-build the five local government areas destroyed by the sect in Yobe State.

Meanwhile, in a motion moved by Hon. Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbonayinma on the need to stop gas flaring which is harmful to both economy and the environment, the House noted that the country currently ranks among the largest gas flaring nations in the world and emits over $ 4 billion worth of gas annually.

It also regretted that going by the 2014  report of the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the federal government had in 2008 in its fiscal regime for the petroleum sector, set a penalty of $3.5 per 1000 SCF of gas flared by oil companies.

But “the companies have refused to comply with the directive,” the House stated.

Among other things, the lawmakers expressed concern that lack of political will on the part of the government to enforce the laws on gas flaring was capable of thwarting government’s projected exit date of 2020 to end gas flaring, given the proximity of the timeline.

They argued that there might be need for increased fines and penalties to achieve the exit date.

Doubts have also been cast by industry players that government officials are not taking aggressive steps required to actualise the 2020 exit date.

Also,  in a motion by Hon. Goni Bukar Lawan in need to appreciate the federal government on the defeat of Boko Haram terrorists and seek compensation and rebuilding of communities destroyed by the terrorists,  the House further passed a resolution urging President Buhari to pay a visit to Yobe State as this would go a long way in pacifying the people.

It further mandated the Committees on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness and Internally Displaced Persons, Refugees and Initiatives on the North East to embark on a tour of destroyed communities and government properties in Yobe State and report back in four weeks for further legislative action.