The Might To Drive Procurement Reforms By Segun Imohiosen



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There is a difference between interests and commitment. When you are interested in doing something, you only do it when it is convenient. When you are committed to something, you accept no excuses, only result…John Mason.

 

Reform forms a crux in the heart of good governance. The great economies of the world take good governance as priority in their administrations. Absolutely, other developing nations that are keen on making a difference in the socio-political and economic lives of their citizenries also take risks to initiate a positive change through reforms. Good governance has taken centre stage in the policies of the great economies of the world over time. It is very continuous and

remains crucial to the overall success of these countries whose governments are responsive and accountable. It is religiously upheld in the different sectors of their economy and lives. This term has remained relevant in that it is translated in different ways with regards to the issue of concern in any of these governments depending on the matter at hand. But basically there are some

key fundamental factors that come to play in “good governance”, and these are ‘consensus

oriented, accountability, participatory, transparency, following the rule of law, effectiveness and efficiency, equitable and inclusive and finally responsiveness’.

Chris Christie, the New Jersey Governor recently in Washington D.C. harped on the importance of good governance and emphasized the need for leaders to take risks and still be themselves. It simply goes that with this process in place, irrespective of the challenges you may face as a leader, someday you will create a difference. When the reforms introduced challenge the existing system, there is bound to be resistance at different levels because of divergent interests but with commitment you will succeed, even though it takes time.

One can then infer that the ongoing procurement reform in Nigeria took its cue from “good governance” considering those factors inherent which have become the key concepts – the motto for the operation of BPP to drive the process as catalyst. This term which is increasingly used in development literature to mean transparency, integrity, accountability, openness and due process, and by extension ‘due diligence’, following strictly, to the letter, laid down procedures; as against bad governance which births corruption, and the root of so many other evils in our societies. By implication, it is suggestive that any government willing to operate within these factors is desirous of being in the league of the accountable economies. Congruously, the major donors of the world and the international financial institutions are attracted on daily basis to

make aid and loans available to different beneficiaries within and outside the government on the condition that reforms that ensure good governance is upheld.

The public procurement process has come a long way. In 2001 Olusegun Obasanjo, the former president established the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit (BMPIU) which was pioneered by Mr. Stephen Oronsanye, before it became more popular through Madam “Due Process” Oby Ezekwesili while Prof. Kunle Ade Wahab Special Adviser to Mr. President then took over the Unit before it transformed to become the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) by the public procurement Act 2007 of which Emeka Ezeh heads till date. It must be recalled that it was at the inception of the Unit that part of the waste that have bedeviled the country’s economy was pointed out through contracts frauds. A case in point was in April of 2006 when it was reported by BMPIU that N40 Billion was lost annually through frauds and malpractices arising from manipulation of contract procedures and that all manner of people rush into politics with an eye to occupy sensitive offices to dispense contracts. The high point of such move

only create a situation where strategic planning, evolvement of policies and strategies to advance the Nigerian society to modern development driven by knowledge, creativity, industry research, innovation, inventions, are often abandoned. Eventually it became crystal clear to all Nigerians, to the international observers and the rest of world how the economy of the country was being drained through a faulty public procurement process.

Public procurement process with an avowal stride to achieve the watchwords replete in good governance has come to be more popular among us in recent time because some dared within the system, resolved that no matter what it takes, they will contribute their quota in ensuring that the country has a procurement reform process that will bring a facelift to the country’s economy. The anticipated success may not be readily achievable but the platform would have been created

for others to build on. At least let there be a better way of doing things. The fact remains that when this benchmark is created as it is ongoing, whoever takes over will either take the existing status quo to the next level or maintain the tempo. But failure to achieve either of these simply means the person is dragging the nation’s procurement process backwards. Emeka Ezeh has a resolved that has brought him face to face with danger due to his believe in and commitment to what he is doing at the Bureau with his team that the reform must work.

In the language of Stephen Covey, “the great contributors in life are those who, though afraid of the knock at their door, still answer it”. Courage is the essence of passion, and is, as Harold B. Lee once said, “the quality of every virtue acting at his highest testing point”. The sum of N313 Billion (Three Hundred and Thirteen Billion Naira) has been saved by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) for the Federal Government since the implementation of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 began. The assiduity, zest, spirit and commitment coupled with risks on the part of the “Ezeh” of procurement in Nigeria in driving the reform is commendable. Especially, in a country where almost everybody in the system looks the other way while a few chose to damn the consequence, in spite of their being under different attacks but put conscience to work and work against stereotypes and doldrums, must by all standards be encouraged in order give more impetus. In the same vein, when the resources from all the states are not managed efficiently and prudently, Nigerian masses, particularly the rural dwellers will find it most difficult to feel the impact of government, as such, reform is key to the realization of our common dream to have a country where all the social amenities and the rest of the sectors are functional and operative.

When the infrastructure shifts, everything rumbles – Stan Davis. Status quo is changing owing to commitment to the reform at the Bureau. The World Bank recognized and endorsed BPP on the procurement reform. In a letter to the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from the World Bank  on the 22nd of September 2011 titled, “P088150–ERGP: Use of National Standard Bidding Documents On World Bank-Financed Projects”, the World Bank adopts BPP’s revised national standard bidding documents and request for proposal. The apex bank congratulated BPP for this milestone achievement and said assures the Bureau that the bank will continue to partner the Government to deepen the procurement reform agenda in Nigeria. This is no mean feat by all standards.

In the latest of the ongoing reform which is the registration, classification and categorization of federal contractors, consultants and other service providers by the Bureau, it is one area that it is expected that all those who fall within this category make the most so that at the long run it will be beneficial to all. And the country at the end of the day will be the better for it. “Rome was not built in a day” as they say but it started from somewhere just as the reform has started. Let all hands be on deck to ensure the success of the reform, we all will be the better for it.

My take is that the only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubt of today as observed in one of Mason’s literary works. That the world is a global village is an overwhelming reality that will continue to rock our world. Through the click of a button, whatever kind of information needed is at the tip of your finger. Apart from the fact that you may need to ordinarily have to appear at the BPP to submit certain documents, the Bureau has a functional and interactive website where any kind of information could be obtained on procurement for whoever is interested in doing government’s contract. This underlying veracity has further come to reinforce public procurement process. And by way of ensuring international best practices, reforms in this regard are sine qua non to success as other great economies of the world have had to do in order to commence a near or corrupt free and transparent public procurement system.

Segun

Imohiosen writes from Abuja.

[email protected]

 


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