THE Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, has saved a total of N95 billion in 2014 through cost reduction from contracts submitted by contractors for the various ministries, departments and agencies of the government. Emeka Ezeh, director-general, BPP, who confirmed the figure, said it was the difference between what the contractors and service providers had submitted to execute projects and what the bureau eventually approved.
He said the effective implementation of the Public Procurement Act had led to the reduction in corrupt practices in the procurement process. “Last year, the BPP saved the federal government about N95billion through cost reduction on contract sums. This is a part of the stories that a lot of Nigerians are not hearing about. But I can tell you that the government is doing a lot to prevent corruption. The president is deploying institutions that will stop as much as possible the platform through which corruption occurs, and that is through procurement.”
Ezeh called on the states to adopt procurement law as currently being done at the federal level, stating that this would help to ensure that contract bidding processes were according to international standards. He said 24 states had so far signed the Procurement Act into law, adding that more states were in the process of adopting the Act.
“The President inaugurated the National Council on Public Procurement in 2010 and has since urged all the states to incorporate the Federal Procurement Act. Bauchi was among the first states to adhere to this. Also, Kogi and others signed it into law. All in all, we have a total of 24 states that have signed the bill into law. However, a lot of the states remaining are under review like Kaduna State, which is close to signing the bill into law.”
The BPP boss expressed optimism that the level of corruption and money laundering through project execution would be reduced if all the states could adopt the Public Procurement Act.
NIMASA, Ship Owners at Daggers drawn
SHIP owners in the country have drawn the battle line with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, over the management of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund, CVFF. They want the management of the fund to be transferred from NIMASA to a maritime bank. The firms are also alleging that the CVFF has grown to billions of dollars without any of them benefiting from it.
Olisa Agbakoba, counsel to ship owners, said his clients were unhappy that NIMASA had not used the money to empower them to create jobs. He said that most contributors do not know the actual fund in NIMASA’s care, advising the agency to make the amount public since it was not the source of the fund, but just the collector.
A maritime bank, Agbakoba said, would be more appropriate to handle the CVFF, adding that NIMASA should not be the repository of the fund. “The only way the government can support the sector is funding, but since the first National Maritime Authority, NMA, Act was created up till NIMASA, all the money that have been allocated for the CVFF, not a dime has been released, showing that there is a problem,” he said.
Agbakoba wondered how many ship owners could say that the NMA or NIMASA supported them to buy a ship. “If we don’t have funding, we will have a weak sector; so our role is to continue to put it on the top of the agenda and that is the essence of this briefing,” he said, adding that NIMASA should tell Nigerians the actual size of the fund and why the money has not been disbursed all these years.
According to him, there was the need for practitioners to call on the parties jostling for power to declare their plans for the sector before they are voted into power. “The first thing to do is for the sector to push for a very senior minister; if we do this, he will be close to the president and it will help to shape the relevant policies. The other thing is to have a very effective maritime institution. NIMASA is too huge and doing many things; it is doing maritime safety and security, shipping development, Cabotage, seafarers and so on, and yet it is not doing it effectively. The only way it can be effective is to ask what they can do well, which is maritime safety and security, other jobs should be taken away from them,” Agbakoba said.
Also, Jonathan Nicol, president, Lagos State Shippers Association, urged NIMASA to disburse the fund and take steps to streamline and profile Nigerian ship owners.
— Mar. 23, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT