The Africa Network for Environment & Economic Justice, ANEEJ, has concluded a 2-Day capacity programme, tagged ‘Workshop for CSOs and Journalists on Procurement Monitoring , Observation and Open Contracting, held in Benin City Edo State, with participants set to monitor all procurement processes in Edo State.
In a welcome address read on his behalf by his deputy Mr Leo Atakpu, ANEEJ executive director Rev David Ugolor told participants that one of the project’s objectives is to support CSOs/Media advocacy for implementation of Open Government Partnership, OGP, commitments in Edo state as part of efforts to improve oversight, transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.
‘We encourage all participants to take it upon themselves to keep a close watch on how government spends public funds and awards contracts, follow up with government expenditure through procurement observation and reporting. The bulk of government business is to undertake procurement of goods, services and works. Available literature suggest that about 80% of corruption within government is connected to public procurement’, Rev Ugolor said.
Continuing Rev Ugolor said that new thinking suggests that anti-corruption work should be approached from a preventive perspective because government spends huge resources to pursue corrupt officials and prosecute corruption cases. ANEEJ is currently implementing the Civil Society Advocacy to Support Anti-corruption and Rule of Law in Nigeria, CASARN, project which is part of the implementation of the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption, RoLAC, Programme.
Henry Idogun, MD/CEO of the Edo State Public Procurement Agency who declared the workshop open x-rayed the potentials of his agency. He said that the Edo procurement Agency has institutionalized procurement in Edo state by creating a professional officer’s cadre at both state and local government levels.
‘We have also gotten some professional bodies involved in our board to make it completely independent. It might interest you to know as well that Edo state is among some states in Nigeria that publishes procurement related contracts on our website monthly’, Mr Idogun said.
During the 2-day workshop, journalists and Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, were trained on public procurement monitoring, observation and reporting, the role of observers, procurement methods and bidding processes under the Edo state public procurement law 2012, a review of the Edo state public procurement laws, and infractions and offences related to public procurement.
It was revealed that a 13-year old law, the Public Procurement Act 2007 is the only anti-corruption law in Nigeria that does not have a governing board or council since its inception. That position is different from other laws like the EFCC Act (2004), the Code of Conduct Act (2003), the Money Laundering Act (1995), the Advance Fee Fraud and other related Offences Act (1995) and the Failed Bank (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractice in Banks Act (1994)
A facilitator, Mohammed Attah, national coordinator Procurement and Observation and Advocacy Initiative, PRADIN, said that he believes that in the training organized by ANEEJ, some level of authority in procurement would introduce learning on the job than mere classroom learning.
‘With this kind of training, journalists and Civil Society Organisations seeking to be monitors and observers in the procurement process now have the tools with which to check infractions in the procurement system. Recall that even though all state procurement laws are fashioned and in similarity with the PPA 2007, this ANEEJ Workshop basically positions trainees to be better informed to make the processes more open and accountable’, Mr Attah said.
The goal of the ANEEJ CASARN Project is to enhance governance in Nigeria by contributing to the fight against corruption, strengthen the rule of law and the protection of human rights by reinforcing prevention mechanisms and enhancing civil society and public engagement. It was funded by the European Union, with the British Council as implementer.