- Defaulters risk five-year jail term
President Goodluck Jonathan has approved the debarment of contractors, consultants and service providers who violate the public procurement laws.
Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, announced the president’s approval yesterday in Abuja at the 2014 annual Contractors/Consultants and Service Providers Forum, organised by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
The debarment procedure entails the prohibition of a person or company which had been convicted of criminal acts in connection with an application from taking part in future business proposals. Adoke, represented at the occasion by a Director in the Office of the Solicitor-General of the Federation, Mrs. Olosola Moore, also said all contractors and public procurement officers not registered on the database of the procurement agency would henceforth be forbidden from participating in the public contracting system and might be jailed for five years.
According to the minister, four federal ministries, departments and agencies of government (MDAs) are currently on the pilot implementation of the centralised database for public procurement.
He said:”The essence of the provisions of the (public procurement) law highlighted is to stress the need for relevant stakeholders to get registered under the e-platform in order to guarantee the continued participation of their companies in federal procurement’s business.”
He assured the BPP of the backing of the justice ministry in its efforts to bring sanity and transparency into the public contracting process.
In his speech, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Ayim Pius Ayim, said the federal government would no longer condone the increasing incidence of controversial transactions which had become a national embarrassment.
He added that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is currently investigating alleged infractions against the Public Procurement Act, including false claims by contractors.
He said:”Recently, we have been witnesses to controversial transactions by government agencies with contractors that did not follow due processes. Government cannot accept a situation where public procurements become a source of frequent embarrassment. They do not help the nation’s image; neither do they inspire the confidence of the citizenry in government.”
Anyim, represented by Permanent Secretary, Economic Matters, Office of the SGF, Alhaji Abubakar Magaji, said there was no excuse for non-compliance with the procurement, laws particularly at a time when resources had become a challenge following the dwindling revenue from oil.
He said government would even go further to debar any contractor banned by the international community.
He explained that the federal government would not hesitate to invoke all the sanctions under the provisions of the Public Procurement Act against any public officer, contractor or consultant who contravenes any provisions of the law.
“It might interest you to know that the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and EFCC are currently investigating cases of infractions which include but not limited to collusion among bidders, use of fake documents, false claims by contractors and suppliers and manipulation of the procurement process. I therefore urge you to prevail on all your staff involved in the public procurement process to conduct themselves with the highest sense of responsibility, accountability, ethics and integrity,” the SGF added.
However, Director General of BPP, Mr. Emeka Eze, said the essence of the centralised database was to “avoid human beings from taking decisions” adding that there was need for all actors to be on the same page as the 2014 budget is being finalised.
He said proactive steps were being taken to educate all stakeholders with a view to getting private sector contractors to be on the same page with politicians.