Laments huge financial resources on procurement activities
By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA–THE federal government, hinted Friday, that it intends to achieve its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan,ERGP, through the promotion of Made-In-Nigeria products and services.
Government also said the plan would be achieved through prudent public procurement,which it explained, ” takes account of local content and labour-intensive production processes.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who said these at the official launch of Sustainable Procurement Environmental and Social Standards Enhancement, SPESSE Project,in Abuja,also regretted that procurement activities were resulting in “financial waste, given what he called “huge amounts of financial resources that go into it.
Osinbajo,whose speech at the event was read by his representative and Minister State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba,said:”The National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the Federal Government, with its objectives of restoring growth, investing in people and building a globally competitive
economy strategically, captures the essence of the SPESSE project.”
“The particular objective of investing in people has job creation and youth empowerment as one of the ways to invest.
“This, the government intends to achieve through the promotion of “Made-In-
Nigeria” products and services, as well as prudent public procurement which takes account of local content and labor-intensive production processes,”he said.
According to him,”With the SDG and ERGP in view, we must get procurement, environmental and social safeguards right in Nigeria if we are to achieve the objectives of the two growth plans and make progress in reducing the high cost of governance in the public sector, as well as be strengthened by entrenching transparency and accountability at all levels of government, while issues relating to construction, rehabilitation
and extension of existing buildings.
“Acquisition/development of lands, purchase of laboratory equipment, disposal of reagents and samples taken from sick people and animals, amongst others must conform with world
standards,” he said.
He said,”To achieve these, there is an absolute need to build adequate technical capacity required for efficient and effective procurement, environmental and social safeguard
“I believe that with the investment in the SPESSE project, the practice of
procurement, environmental and social standards in Nigeria would be institutionalised and standardised.
“The Federal Government considers these sectors critical areas which we must get right for economic development, and I am very pleased that the National Universities Commission is
playing the very important role of institutionalising the study of procurement, environmental
and social standards in the Nigerian University System,” he added.
He spoke further:”On the other hand, environmental and social safeguards have assumed strategic positions in project implementation owing to the fact that issues relating to public health must be
addressed before projects are implemented.
“These include water and sanitation, relationship between persons, organisations and the society: reduction of human contribution to global warming, gender equality; and the protection of the natural environment and resources, amongst other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.”
On his part,the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission,NUC ,Prof. Abubakar Rasheed,expressed relief that the long-held project, which he recalled, was conceived way back in 2018,had been achieved.
“This has been a long time in the making. We have come a long way from our initial meeting in this very hall, in December 2018, when we assembled critical stakeholders to hold very fruitful discussions in preparation for the establishment of robust procurement, environmental and social safeguards systems in Nigeria. Since then, several meetings, consultations, and processes have taken place, culminating in the approval of the Project by the National Assembly, in July 2021 and, subsequently, disbursement effectiveness,” he noted.
According to him,”With today’s launch, we are finally on the path to developing the much-needed critical mass of professionals in the fields of Procurement, Environmental Standards and Social Standards.”
He explained that,” The SPESSE Project is Nigeria’s first attempt at institutionalising sustainable capacity building in the fields of Procurement, Environmental, and Social Standards, by offering professionalisation and academic programmes in a custom-made, fit-for-purpose and sustainable manner, through the Centres of Excellence.”
“This project is a capacity building one that assures results across the entire Nigerian economy. With the production of professionals that this Project promises, there will, no doubt, be increased productivity in governance, enhancements in the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery and greater value for money in public expenditure,” he further explained.
He spoke further: “The journey has not been an easy one, but I am glad to say that we finally made it. This Project was originally designed to be a four-year project, to commence in 2020 and run till 2024. However, due to several delays, not least of which was the COVID-19 pandemic, we have lost about a year and a half.
” We may be a little behind schedule, but if the commitment and determination I have witnessed from the Centres in the past year is anything to go by, I do not doubt that the goals of this Project will be met within the available time. While the Bank has not categorically stated that there will be no Project extension, we urge the Centres to focus on working hard, and as though there will be no extension, to achieve as much as possible in the time we have. This way, by mid-term review, we will have tangible results to show.
“Cognisant of how vital the commitment of the University Managers is to the success of this Project, we recently brought Vice-Chancellors of participating universities and Centre Leaders together to discuss implementation arrangements for SPESSE, before funds are disbursed. Fruitful deliberations were held, and I am glad to say that we have the support of the Vice-Chancellors of all participating universities.
“As part of efforts to ensure that the Project teams acquire requisite skills for efficiency and effectiveness, critical staff of the Centres and Implementing Agencies have, in the past few days, undergone requisite training on the World Bank’s procedures for Financial Management, Procurement, Environmental and Social Framework, Monitoring and Evaluation and Communications. This is in addition to the Training of Trainers workshops organised for faculty of the Centres.”