By Emmanuel Elebeke
ABUJA—THE Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, yesterday said it has captured at least 50,000 contractors.
According to the BPP, the capturing is to eliminate ghost brief case contractors in the public procurement system.
Director General of the bureau, Mr. Mamman Ahmadu, who disclosed this at the commemoration of the 2017 International Anti-Corruption Day in Abuja, explained that the registration of all prospective contractors in all public public procurement processes had commenced as part of its data base, which is aimed at eliminating ghost contractors.
Ahmadu, who was represented on the occasion by the Director of Energy in the bureau, Engr. Babatunde Kuye, said with improved funding and implementation of ongoing open contracting and e-procurement systems, corruption in the entire public procurement circle would be almost eradicated.
He also identified paucity of fund as a major setback in the implementation of the Public Procurement Act 2007, assuring that the BPP would realize its mandate, if fully supported by government and all relevant agencies in line with the new Act.
He said: “Our position on anti-corruption war has always been clear. For us, the best way to fight corruption is to prevent corruption because it is cheaper and does not come with the emotion of people having to go through trial, prosecution and later prosecution.
“Since 2007, the Federal government established the Public procurement Act, which is an instrument in preventing corruption, at least in the Public procurement we have succeeded in preventing corruption.
“Public Procurement is an avenue where most the corruption in public organizations are perpetrated, as we have seen in all the trials of corruption going on and our position is to see.
If we can improve in everything that can prevent corruption, it will solve most of the problems that we have, essentially the responsibility falls primarily on BPP, preventing corruption, so that we do not spend money fighting corruption after they had already gotten away with the proceed of their corruption.
“We are also working on contracts data base in Nigeria, which will make all contractors visible. So, with this data base, the issue of ghost contractors or brief case contractors which we do not know would be unmasked.
“We have been assured that in the coming years, we will be getting more resources to incorporate these instruments in our desire to prevent corruption. It has already commenced, as we talk, we already have 50,000 contractors, who have started registration on this system.
‘’Once, it is fully finished and approved, if you are not in that data base, you may not be able to do any contract with government. And that data base is going to be an open data base available to anybody, anywhere in the world.
‘’What this means is that if you wins a contracts, you will be able to go that system to know if you have the capacity to win that kind of job. It is all about transparency and accountability.” On when the registration will close, he said,” It is not going to be closed, it is going to be open but what it means is that if you are not there, government is not going to patronize you.”
On whether it has legal backing, Ahmadu said: “It is already in the provision of t 2007 Act, which has come into effect since 10 years ago. It is in line with the provision of the law.”
“We are supposed to be independent but we need funding and for that, we can’t be independent of government.
‘’One of the advantages of these new anti -corruption instruments is that they will make the procurement process open. And also, no contractor will get government contract unless it has demonstrated that in the past it has done similar jobs, it has also fulfill all requirements in terms of payment of tax and due process.”
Speaking on challenges facing the bureau, he said government had been supporting the agency but lamented that the resources had not been enough to carry out its innovative plans.
On inflation of contract, the BPP boss said: “The Open Contracting System will take care of contract inflation because all contracts will be open to scrutiny and it will be easy for people to identify an inflated contracted.
“It is an aggregate of instruments and by the time we aggregate them together, we will see a lot of reduction in contract cost. Acquiring these steps have to take time. I don’t see any obstacle beyond funding, and by the end of next year, we are certain that with the necessary support, we will see these coming into be.”
“If we do Open Contracting and E-procurement system successfully, in the procurement circle, corruption will almost be eradicated and that is an assurance from BPP. Once we get it right, we will not be talking about corruption in a way that is significant in Nigeria.’’
In his keynote address, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said the ongoing anti-corruption war wouldn’t succeed except citizens were fully involved.
He said the administration has relied on strategic advice in applying its anti-corruption crusade, adding that available statistics showed that the present anti-corruption war ws making appreciable impact in the system.
He further stated that the administration had entered into series of agreements with the EU and Western nations to repatriate stolen funds and promised that the executive would cooperate with the legislature in tackling corruption in the system.
Earlier, Chairman of Inter Agency Task Team (IATT) and NSWG (NEITI), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said the commemoration of the International Anti-Corruption day was not a mere symbolism but a demonstration of government’s commitment to eradicate corruption in Nigeria.