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They argue that updating the Public Procurement Act is long needed

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They argue that updating the Public Procurement Act is long needed

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The Network for the Actualization of Social Growth and Viable Development (NEFGAD) is a public procurement advocacy group that has praised the Federal Government for its plan to review the Public Procurement Act 2007 for possible amendments, but has also claimed that 70% of procurement proceedings are initiated and concluded in the bedrooms of privileged few in the country.

In a statement signed by its chief executive officer, Mr. Akingunola Omoniyi, and released to the media on Saturday in Abuja, the group praised President Bola Tinubu for showing “courage and tact” in taking on one of the most virulent adversaries of the country’s progress and development.

According to Akingunola, “the current Public Procurement Act, which was enacted about 15 years ago, is due to review in line with global best practices and changing operational dynamics in the public contracting sector.”

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He pointed out that the public procurement system in Nigeria has turned into a “anything goes” scenario in which anything can be bought or sold. He argued that the existing version of the Public Procurement Act gives the appearance of legitimacy to procurement practices that are clearly illegal.

More than 70% of procurement proceedings are started and finished in the bedrooms of privileged few, on whom the act placed so much supervisory and regulatory responsibilities, proving that the act as it stands has been so bastardized that restricted and selective tendency is now the norm rather than the exception. Seventy percent of the contract sum, instead of being used to address pressing national development issues, wound up beneath the same bed from where the procurement proceedings had begun, he added.

Akingunola emphasized that the Public Procurement Act does not impede progress as some self-interested groups would have people believe.

He pointed out that the Procurement Act only specifies a six-week window in which to advertise for bids in the newspaper. According to him, this makes sense since it encourages competition, which is necessary for achieving efficiency and cost-effectiveness. All other dates and processes, according to him, are at the discretion of procuring companies.

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The statement went on to emphasize that the fact that over 11,000 unfinished federal projects exist at all in a country with a regulated procurement system demonstrates that it is the corrupt few who are controlling the system for their own financial gain.

Among the many things that have harmed the country’s procurement system, he said, is that “successive governments are in the habit of enforcing the Procurement Act in breach of the non-constitution of the National Procurement Council and appointing the Director General for the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) through the back door of non-competitive selection.”

Some have proposed making President Tinubu the head of the National Procurement Council, but Akingunola warned that this would be a bad idea. He emphasized that presidents all over the world only sit to discuss policies and programmes, not with contractors to argue contracts, either at the weekly Federal Executive Council or as head of a National Procurement Council.

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