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CORRUPTION: ICIR, PPDC, others advocate stronger collaboration in public procurement process

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THE International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) and the Public-Private Development Centre (PPDC) on Wednesday called for stronger collaboration between the media, Federal Government agencies and civil society organisations to uncover corrupt practices that characterise public procurement processes in Nigeria.

Speaking in Abuja at the opening of a Public Dialogue on Open Contracting organised by the ICIR and PPDC, Dayo Aiyetan, Executive Director  of The ICIR  disclosed that the entire stretch of the public procurement process in the country is fraught with corruption.

Aiyetan stressed the importance for such strong partnership among the media, Civil Society Organisations and other stakeholders, noting that such would help to promote transparency, accountability in the entire procurement process while also exposing corruption.

He explained that The ICIR through its Open Contract Reporting project  funded by the MaCArthur Foundation has been able to build capacity of journalists across different newsrooms on how to investigate procurement related issues.

“Dealing with procurement issues and budget could be very technical and that is why we are building capacity of journalists to know what procurement is all about and the law to enable them learn how to monitor projects,” Aiyetan said.

He stressed the need for journalists and CSOs to be abreast of the procurement laws for effective monitoring of awarded contracts to its full implementation.

This, he noted would lead to greater development, transparency and accountability and good governance.

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While speaking at the event, Nkem Ilo, Chief Executive Officer of PPDC, emphasized the need to also sensitise the citizen to be abreast of procurement process in order for to ask those in government questions and stand up for their rights.

“The job of fighting corruption is not only the responsibility of the media in holding the government accountable. The citizens also have an onus to hold the government accountable,” she said.

Speaking during a panel discussion, Aliyu Aliyu, a Director of Regulation, Database and Information Communication Technology (ICT) revealed that the Bureau in compliance with a Federal Government’s directive had created a platform where all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are expected to upload their procurement information.

He however, lamented that civil servants saddled with that responsibility lacked the ICT capacity to carry out the assignment.

“We took over 800 of them to the National Open University (NOUN) for training,” he said stating that was the technical issues being faced by the bureau in addressing open contracting of constituency projects.

Aliyu hinted that the amended Public Procurement bill recently passed by the Senate would make open contracting difficult to operate because as he said, the amendments made to the bill did not take all the inputs of stakeholders into consideration despite a public hearing on the bill.

Stressing on the need for collaboration, Ene Nwankpa, National Coordinator of Right to Know Nigeria,  said that collaborating with other partners would help rank government institutions in terms of compliance with the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act.

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She added that it would enable relevant persons to identify awarded contracts and the timeline of execution to ascertain the level of compliance.

A senior investigative journalist at The ICIR, Yekeen Akinwale who was also on the panel, pointed out that the government has roles to play in ensuring constant monitoring and evaluation of awarded contracts.

He asked the government to establish Quality Control Units across MDAs to foster transparent, timely and efficient delivery of  projects.

Highlight of the event was the public presentation of a documentary produced by The ICIR on Open Contract Reporting.

 

 

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