The Director General, Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Mamman Ahmadu, has charged Permanent Secretaries and other stakeholders in the procurement process to ensure transparency and accountability in carrying out their responsibilities.
Speaking at the 9th Annual Public Procurement Retreat for Federal Permanent Secretaries, held in Lagos at the weekend, the BPP boss said the timing of the exercise was apt, adding that the consistency of the forum would improve public procurement process, and lead to better budget implementation in the country.
He said the programme was an opportunity to bring all participants on same page in the implementation of the procurement reform programme, adding that subsequent retreats would be for the chief executive officers (CEOs) of parastatals and the directorate cadre in the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
“To ensure the success of the procurement reform, the BPP is, in line with global best practices, embarking on new sustainable public procurement initiatives.
“For instance, the National Open Contracting Portal (NOCOPO), the global award winning initiative which further emphasise the need for transparency, competition and level playing field among contractors, consultants and service providers, has placed Nigeria among the best public procurement regulators in the world,” he said.
The BPP boss added that while the national upgrade, a version two of the Contractors, Consultants and Service Providers (CCSP) was ongoing, the price-checker platform which harmonises prices of items was also in progress.
He disclosed that BPP currently runs Research Centres at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, and the University of Lagos, among others to boost capacity for key stakeholders in the public procurement practice.
He urged the federal government to institutionalise the National Conference on Public Procurement (NACOPP), so as to provide a regular forum for advancing the course of procurement reform nationwide.
Ahmadu, disclosed that with support from the BPP and international development agencies, 25 states have so far established their procurement regulatory agencies to enable the agency continually meet emerging challenges.
He said the BPP remained committed to working with Permanent Secretaries to ensure that success was continually achieved in the Nigeria procurement system.
He said the yearly retreat helps BPP to take stock of progress in the reform and, most importantly, discuss the actions needed for budget implementation in the area of Public Procurement.
He reiterated the key roles being played by Permanent Secretaries, who he sees as the Accounting Officers, in the implementation of the public procurement reform.
He added: “Federal Permanent Secretaries are recognised as the Accounting Officers in the Ministries under Section 20, Sub-Section 1 of the Public Procurement Act 2007 (PPA, 2007).
“This places them at the heart of the procurement process. They take responsibility for ensuring the compliance of MDAs with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007,” he said.
Ahmadu, commended the impressive attendance of the different representatives from the federal ministries and BPP’s counterparts from the states was highly commendable despite their very tight schedules.
He said the participants have demonstrated that the betterment of Nigeria through the procurement reform was paramount, adding that public procurement promotes good governance even as the public procurement reform process is receiving the attention it deserves.
He said the annual retreat for Federal Permanent Secretaries has made Nigeria to be amongst nations with high regards for transparency in handling procurement demands.
Also speaking, Head Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, said the retreat has continually helped the participants in executing annual budgets with ease and their public procurement knowledge.
She said the implementation of the implementation of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, was also a call to probity, accountability, competition, value for money and quality in the expenditure of public funds.
She said that public funds are tailored towards the realisation of key objectives of government, such as provision of utilities and infrastructure for the people.