Cost experts in the construction industry under the aegis of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Lagos Chapter, has expressed worry over the manner in which public servants go about award of contracts and said the way out to streamline high level of irregularities is for the Federal Government to heed the call to institute a Nation Council on Public Procurement (NCPP).
The call, which came last week from the professionals, however, was not new, as several stakeholders have been urging action on the establishment of the council, saying NCPP, was a sure way to nip corruption in the bud.
Speaking with journalist at the kick-off of its week- long event, immediate past Chairman, Mr. Olayemi Shonubi, said it was high time the Federal Government gave effect to the Procurement Law, which provides for establishment of NCPP.
Other activities of the institute include courtesy visit to Heart of Gold Hospice, Symposium for QS students’ held at the QS department of Yaba College of Technology; a day seminar, with a theme: “Essentials for a successful administration of construction projects”, having Pastor J.A. Bamdupe of PP, JABAK Consultants and Mr. Bolaji Johnson of CQS, Julius Berger Nig Plc as resource persons. An investiture with dinner was held at the SHERATON HOTELS, Ikeja, where Mrs. Adenike Ayanda takes over the leadership of the institute.
According to him, it is one thing to have a law, it is another thing to implement, adding, it was unfortunate that some people are yet to know the distinctiveness of their profession, hence the institute has taken it upon itself to embark on extensive enlightenment and engagement with the public.
Reviewing his tenure, Shonubi said: “We have been able to do more of training for our members, by which we have been able to give wider exposures to our members. During our tenure, with various developmental programmes, we have been able to attract more attention and awareness to the practice of quantity surveying in Nigeria in general, and Lagos State in particular.”
According to him, it was not enough making law, but lawmakers themselves needed sensitization. “We need to sensitize the people and those saddled with the responsibility of making laws so that they can understand and appreciate better our position and the value addition you are proposing. But mind you, it is one thing having the law; it is another thing implementing it.
He, however, expressed regret over failure by the Federal Government to implement the act as stipulated. “It is unfortunate that up till now, the council has not been created. So, from the way we do things here, sometimes, it is not just having the law but we must give effect to the law by making it work as intended.”
Asked if lack of the council is responsible for high cost of building project, Shonubi said not that alone, stating that some many factors are responsible. “There are so many factors responsible for high cost of building. One of them is land. A land that cost about N2m in Osun may cost N50m in Lagos. Also take a four bedroom flat in Keju, which goes for about N25m, while the same type of house with equal facilities in Ikoyi will cost about N300m.
He added: “The collapse of the mortgage system is another reason why cost of houses is rising. In the early 1980’s we had in place good mortgage system and for that reason developers and government could build mass housing for the people. In the developed clime, they often use pension, insurance to build long term development. It is unfortunate that the nation’s mortgage system actually collapsed when the military took over governance after Shagari’s government. Also, lack of adequate infrastructure is also a strong factor.”
Over three years ago, over 50 members of the Nigeria civil society who attended the formal public presentation of Procurement Observation and Advocacy Initiative (PRADIN) had called for the inauguration of the council.
Speaking at the event, the National Coordinator of PRADIN, Mr. Mohammed Bougei Attah said that procurement accounts for over 70% of government activities adding that the absence of the council was of serious concern which raised a doubt on government commitment to anti-corruption policy. Attah declared the commitment of PRADIN to partner with the government to enthrone a transparent and accountable procurement regime in the country. According to him “our organization will fully support the Federal Government initiatives for procurement reforms”
Also speaking at the launch of the group, the Chairman of the occasion, former Executive Director, Political and Civic Education at the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr. Lanre Adebayo said the event is a sign of momentous shift from the usual alluded believe of confrontation between government and civil society, to collaboration between the two organs as a means to fighting corruption. He therefore commended PRADIN and the partners, particularly the professional bodies and NGOs for their steadfast in pursuing the ideals of civil society agenda.
In his goodwill message, the Director General of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Mr. Emeka Ezeh commended the group and their efforts in curbing corruption through transparent procurement system in the Nigeria. He said that CSOs in Nigeria has not fully taken advantage of the opportunities and powers within the enabling laws to effectively, especially citing Section 19 (b) of the PPA that gives CSOs the ultimate powers to observe all the processes without hindrance. He therefore urged PRADIN as a legal association of non-state actors to be more vigilant as well as take the fight against corruption beyond the federal level to the states.
The Public Procurement Act 2007, stipulates that there must be a National Council on Procurement and the Bureau of Public Procurement as the regulatory authorities responsible for the monitoring and oversight of public procurement, harmonizing the existing government policies and practices by regulating, setting standards and developing the legal framework and professional capacity for public procurement in Nigeria, and for related matters.
The council, according to the act shall consist of the Minister of Finance as Chairman, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of the Federation, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Head of Service of the Federation, the Economic Adviser to the President, six part-time members to represent Nigeria Institute of Purchasing and Supply Management, Nigeria Bar Association, Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Nigeria Society of Engineers, Civil Society, the Media; and the Director-General of the Bureau, who shall be the Secretary of the Council.