July 26, 2011

Corruption: No more sacred cows, Jonathan vows

By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJA — President Goodluck Jonathan has warned that there would be no “sacred cows” in the crusade to rid the nation’s procurement process of all forms of corruption.

Jonathan, who was speaking during the opening ceremony of the fourth National Procurement Forum to mark the 10th anniversary of the Public Procurement Reform in Nigeria, also said his administration would do everything necessary to reduce infractions in the Due Process system in the country.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, has said it saved about N216.7 billion from the 2010 budget through strict implementation of due diligence before the award of contracts for public projects.

Also speaking at the forum, former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, called for sanctions including imprisonment for violators of the public procurement system to serve as a deterrent.

Jonathan who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, said his administration would render every assistance required by the BPP to sustain and improve on the achievements it has so far recorded.

He said: “As we work towards the transformation of this country, I strongly advise all public officers whether elected or appointed to study the public procurement Act and understand and apply its provisions in the conducts of government business.”

According to Jonathan, “there will be no sacred cows for any infractions especially by those responsible for budget implementation at the federal level. And of course, ignorance of the law will never be accepted as an excuse.”

He said the Federal Government had “received reports of collusion between civil servants and contractors, and cases of contractors abandoning projects after receiving advance payments”

The president said he was particularly pleased that the recent passage of the Freedom and Information Act had provided the media and the general public with a tool to work for good governance, adding that it was no longer possible for public officials to hide behind officialdom as all their actions would henceforth be in the open.

He said the Procurement Act should be taken seriously by ensuring that defaulters earned appropriate sanctions.
President Jonathan has meanwhile, urged the Bureau to remain fair, firm and resolute and subdue any form of inducement and intimidation in its bid to ensure an open, competitive, and cost-efficient procurement system without compromising faster budget implementation.

Jonathan’s reinstatement of support to the bureau follows a statement by Director-General, BPP, Mr. Emeka Ezeh that certain powers were bent on frustrating the due deligence efforts.

Ezeh said the bureau, through the help of civil organisations, has waxed from strength to strength notwithstanding the current opposition.

According to him, the bureau has won two out of the 11 suit-cases against it while five agencies have been recommended for investigations and eventual prosecution if found wanting.

After receiving a plaque from Ezeh for the initiation of the public procurement reform in the country, the former president dedicated the award to all those who have worked to ensure a viral procurement system in the country