The House of Representatives has called on the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, set up the National Council on Public Procurement (NCPP) to actively coordinate the activities of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and give full effect to the Act.
The House said that 13 years after the Public Procurement Act was passed and signed into law, the NCPP has not been constituted in contravention to section 1 of the Public Procurement Act.
It therefore called on the federal government to immediately dissolve the existing composition of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) because it was not properly constituted.
The resolution of the House followed the adoption of a motion moved by Hon. Unyime Idem at the plenary on Thursday.
Moving the motion, Idem said the National Assembly passed into law Public Procurement Act 2004 CAP P44 Laws with commencement in 2007 and several amendments thereafter, and the latest amendment being promulgated by President Muhammadu Buhari on May 22, 2019 to take effect on May 24, 2019 with accompanying amendments.
The lawmaker said that Section 1 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 provided for the establishment of the NCPP to supervise the activities of the BPP and carry out other functions such as to consider, approve and amend the monetary and prior review thresholds for the application of the provisions of this Act by procuring entities.
Idem said other functions are: consider and approve policies on public procurement, approve the appointment of the directors of the bureau, receive and consider, for approval, the audited accounts of the BPP, approve changes in the procurement process to adapt to improvements in modern technology and give such other directives and perform such other functions as may be necessary to achieve the objectives of this Act.
The lawmaker pointed out that Section 1 (2) provides for the constitution of the NCPP, which shall consist of the Minister of Finance as Chairman, the Attorncy-General and Minister of Justice of the Federation, the Secretary the Government of the Federation, the Head of Service of the Federation and the Economic Adviser to the President.
Idem stressed that the essence of the National Council on Public Procurement was to ensure that the BPP carries out its functions based on transparency, competition, integrity and ensuring bets value for money.
He added that other essence of the National Council on Public Procurement was to help check fraudulent practices in the award of public contracts through inflation of contract costs, poor project prioritization, poor budgeting process, and other manipulations of procurement and contract award processes.
Idem stated: “Worried that 13 years after the Public Procurement Act was passed and signed into law, the National Council on Public Procurement has not been constituted thus contravening section 1 of the Public Procurement Act.
“Disturbed that the constitutional functions of the National Council on Public Procurement have been taken over by the Federal Executive Council.
“Saddened that the absence of the National Council on Public Procurement has weakened public engagement and involvement in the procurement process being the focal point of corruption in the public service. It has also eroded and relegated to the background its core function of regulating the activities of the Bureau of Public Procurement responsible for monitoring and over-sighting public procurement and harmonization of existing government policies and practices.”
The lawmaker expressed worry that the BPP as is presently constituted is illegal and was done in flagrant disobedience to the provisions of the Public Procurement Act. Specifically, Section 2 (c) of the enabling Act states that the National Council on Public Procurement shall have the powers to appoint Directors of the Bureau for Public Procurement. Also, section 5 (3) states that the Bureau shall formulate the general policies and guidelines relating to public sector procurement for the approval of the council. The absence of a substantive council has made these very important functions to be at the behest of the Federal Executive Council.
The House therefore mandated the House Committee on Public Procurement to liaise with the federal government to ensure compliance and report to the House within two weeks.