(Press Release)The Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) has commissioned Nigeria’s first Public Procurement Research Centre (PPRC) at the Federal University of Science and Technology, Owerri, Imo State, pursuant to an advanced stage in the implementation of the public procurement reform in Nigeria.
The centre which is a culmination of a collaborative work between the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the University is meant not just to be a certificate awarding institute but also a hub for the expansion of procurement knowledge amongst practitioners.
Director-General, Engr. Emeka Ezeh, said at the event that the PPRC is meant to eventually compare with such procurement research institutions like the Washington based International Law Institute (ILI) and the UK based Crown Agents (CA), in the dispensation of procurement knowledge.
According to him, the commissioning “marks the beginning of a new chapter in the public procurement reform in Nigeria. What began as a joke in the auditorium of the National Universities Commission (NUC) in early 2011, in one of the many presentations to stakeholders on the imperative of introducing ‘due process’ in Nigeria’s universities has, amongst other things, culminated in the project we are commissioning today”.
He revealed that the procurement reform has been very rewarding having prevented about N350billion from being spent as contract sums since 2007. “It means that government debt profile has been reduced by this amount. It also implies that more monies have been provided for infrastructures like schools, health centres, roads and other utilities”
The director-general went on: “The procurement reform has provided level playing ground for all strata of bidders. Aggrieved parties are freer to complain, and some decisions have gone in their favour when found right. Over 350 complaints have been received since 2007. While some are still being treated, about ten are at various stages in courts. The BPP has since 2007 also
He commended the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HCSOF), for whom the BPP is training procurement officers, adding that the National Assembly members have also been on the same page with the executive in ensuring good governance; transparency and the need to ensure government always gets value for money in the procurement reform.
For the World Bank (WB) and the United National Development Programme (UNDP), the International Law Institute (ILI) in Washington, he saluted their support, like the professional associations and the Civil Society Organisations (CSO) have done.
And importantly, he went on: “The Public Procurement Act, 2007 vests the BPP with training responsibilities, as enshrined in section 5 (J, K and S). The Act empowers the Bureau to undertake procurement research and survey, to organize training and development programmes for procurement professionals, and coordinate relevant training programmes to build institutional capacity.
“This role envisages the provision of an intellectual platform for the exchange of ideas and training of professionals across the country. This centre is a pioneer centre for the expansion of procurement knowledge in the country. By this time next year, we should be commissioning two more; one in a University in the South-Western part of the country and another in another University in the Northern part”.
According to the technocrat, the Bureau has since continued to enjoy the support of past and present Presidents. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo gave it an unalloyed support, while the late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, was also very supportive.
“Even greater support has come from the current President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR. We thank them all for these. This is one reform that the executive arm of government has given the BPP full support. Without their cooperation, the BPP would not have achieved what we have achieved today. We also thank the National Assembly for being a good partner, for not hindering our work and for playing by the rules”.
He disclosed that the Bureau has developed a procurement system in tandem with International best practices. Processes that should be followed in making complaints have been well laid out in this system, while criminal tendencies are also easily identifiable. Some of the decisions arising from this process are being tried in the courts and those decisions are going to be subject-matters of research for this centre.
At the commissioning ceremony were stakeholders including the Vice-Chancellor of FUTO, Prof. Professor Chigozie Cyril Asiabaka; the UNDP country representative, Ms. Ade Mamoete, NTA acting Director-General, Mallam Musa Maiyaki; Prof. Kunle Ade-Wahab and a host of others.