By Rosemary Ogbonnaya
Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, said it has recommended termination of contracts and sanctions of erring contractors handling projects in institutions benefiting from its various interventions.
Executive Secretary of TETFund, Arc Sonny Echono, disclosed this in Abuja weekend, at the 2021 Annual General Meeting of the Procurement Professionals Association of Nigeria, PPAN, which also featured election into its executive positions.
Echono, who acknowledged that there were challenges of high cost of materials in the last one year, said the Fund has been coping with the situation as it has designed ways of responding to it.
The Executive Secretary said TETFund is working with regulatory authorities to get support towards ensuring that there were no abandoned projects in its beneficiary institutions.
“We would be working closely with the regulatory authorities to see how we can get support for this and ensure that we don’t have abandoned projects because ultimately, it is better to solve the problem today; the more you delay, the more the cost will increase and the greater the complications will be.
“So, we are working in a very nimble manner, we are working with the contractors, institutions. We are already meeting. The whole of last week we met with so many institutions that have such challenges and we continue for the rest of this week. We are finding solutions.
“And some of them where the fault is that of the contractor, we are not only recommending terminations, we are also recommending sanctions. But there are other areas where the fault is basically what you call force major, it’s external to everybody,” he said.
Speaking on tackling corruption in procurement, he described corruption as one of the manifestations or incentives for misprocurement, adding that a good procurement is the one that delivers on the objective especially of the procurement at the right time and at the right cost to the satisfaction of all.
“Procurement is the major source of pecuniary gain because more often than not the contract system has become so endemic and embedded in our system that people also see it as a main source of unearned income.
“So, what we need to do is to professionalise the sector and ensure that those who carry out those activities are trained to do so. We need to reinforce the system, our checks, the regulatory functions, the role of all our anti-corruption agencies should be more preventive.
“It is better to do it at the preventive end by putting measures in place to limit incidence from happening rather than thinking of arresting people and prosecuting them.
“Working with Bureau of Public Procurement,BPP, and other anti-corruption agencies, we are designing mechanisms to improve on those processes that will detect, disrupt and also prevent them,” he said.
Also speaking, the Chairman Board of Trustees of Public Procurement Association of Nigeria, Engr Emeka Eze, expressed happiness at the clarification that projects approved for TETFund’s beneficiary institutions have no entanglements.
Eze said the approach encourages the institutions to engage the services of contractors of their choice as provided under the Public Procurement Act, adding that by so doing, TETFund was encouraging good procurement practice in the institutions.
The Chairman, who was also a former Director General of the Bureau of Public Procurement, said in tackling corruption in public procurement, instead of criminalising administrative misbehaviours, the country should improve on administrative sanctions.
According to him, this means ensuring that the contractors involved are debarred and heads of agencies involved in procurement are removed or posted out or procurement functions entirely removed from them.
The procurement professional Association of Nigeria is the foremost professional association for the regulation and coordination of procurement activities in the country with members drawn from both the private and public sector.
The new executive members elected to head the association are Chairman, Prof James Akanmu, Vice Chairman- Mazi Emmanuel Onyeama, Secretary, Mr Olagoke Otutuloro, Financial Secretary, Shehu Dabo, Treasurer, Kyone Sale Ladi, Auditor, Yahaya Baba, Social Welfare, Akum Pascal.
Speaking shortly after his election, the chairman of the association, Akanmu, pledged on behalf of his executive, to enthrone integrity, transparency and honesty in the procurement profession.