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Immediate past director general of the Bureau for Public Procurement, BPP, Engr. Emeka Ezeh yesterday said not less than 19, 000 government projects were currently abandoned across the country.
Ezeh spoke at a public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Procurement over the amendment of the Public Procurement Act 2007 held at the National Assembly.
This, he explained in his presentation, was caused mainly as a result of non-payment for interim certificates for work done and fear cases due to community or way-lease issues, such as hostage-taking and kidnappings.
The former BPP boss also called for the consolidation of the three agencies that are involved in procurement and disposal of public assets, that is, the BPP, Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, ICRC, into one strong commission in line with global best practices to make for efficiency and discourage disconnect, confusion and lack of synergy among the three institutions.
He stated that apart from duplication of office buildings, personnel and overhead cost, there was tendency for each agency to want to assert its authority in the procurement process.
“It is my humble opinion that now that the nation’s resources are dwindling, the right thing to do is for the legislature to be courageous enough and merge all the three agencies involved in procurement and disposal of public assets into a strong commission. “I want to assure that the nation will be better for it if BPE, BPP and ICRC are consolidated in one big commission,” he said.
Ezeh also cautioned against the amendment of the Procurement Act to legislate timeline for the approval of the award of contract.
According to him, there is nowhere in the world this is practiced, stressing that “providing for timelines in the activities incidental to the implementations of the Act must be done is the most unthinkable thing to imagine and highly not recommended.”
The former director general also kicked against the proposal to change the president as chairman of the National Council on Public Procurement and make a minister take over the office, noting that doing so would leave the DG of the procurement bureau to the intimidation and manipulation of the minister, and that “Nigeria is a hierarchical society and putting the bureau under a council headed by a minister is a sure way to undermine the effectiveness of the legislation.”
Supporting the views of Ezeh, the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, NIQS, called for the synchronisation of project funding with project cycle in order to avoid project abandonment and ensure continuity of projects unto completion.
National president of the institute, Mrs. Mercy T. Iyortyer who presented the institute’s proposed amendments to the procurement act, explained that the proposed synchronisation could be achieved by means of medium term approach to project planning and budgeting.
She, however, proposed the amendment of the Act to include its members being major role players in the procurement management chain.
Also, the Nigeria Institute of Purchasing and Supply supported the
views, but the position was however modified by Dr. Abdullahi Aliyu, a retired permanent secretary who proposed instead that a former president to be nominated by the sitting president should chair the council while a retired Chief Justice of Nigeria, also to be nominated by the president, should function as the vice.
In his presentations, Aliyu disclosed that public procurement accounts for major components of most government expenditure, accounting for between 30 percent and 50 percent of such expenses, thus providing for the single largest market that may be prone to corruption.
In view of that, he stressed the need for legal frameworks that would control and reduce corruption through public procurement to be put in place at all tiers of government.

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