by Christiana Gokyo, Jos
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Nigeria, is to collaborate with Accountability Lab Nigeria and Open Contracting Partnership (OCP) through the Ant-Corruption Innovation Project, which is aimed at building on existing progress to adopt the use of Procurement Data and Innovative Technologies to improve access to good quality procurement data that would be used for analysis and monitoring of risks or corruption red flags, support informed decision making, and civic engagement around improved service delivery.
The project is informed by clear evidence, which shows that open contracting can directly contribute to increased economic empowerment, as well as by bolstering the number and diversity of companies doing business with the government.
This was made known during a three days’ training by Accountability Lab, OCP and UNDP Nigeria in Jos the Plateau State recently. This in turn, will lead to improved integrity and trust in the procurement system.
Our correspondent gathered that, the report identified opportunities for improvement and actionable recommendations on how the state government can improve its Public Procurement Process in Plateau State.
The focus of the report is on the existing procurement systems and policies and how they can be strengthened.
Country Director in Nigeria, Mr. Friday Odeh, in an interview with the media, said why they have the project, particularly in Plateau State, is because it’s on 3 objectives for them – to improve citizens’ collective participation in state government programs and projects, which are being awarded.
According to him, “It’s to improve procurement data, because without Procurement Data being made available for citizens, citizens are not able to know or being engaged. This is to allow all to be beneficiaries of the service of government in this work.”
He explained that, beneficiaries of government service are to ensure their best interest and to ensure that they have value for money, adding, “If you look at what has happened in government space, everything rises and falls on government, and procurement is the basic. So, if you do a budget in the first instance, the government and the state governor will represent the budget at the tail end of it; they are just figured.”
Mr. Odeh further stated that, “This is where services are being delivered to citizens in the interests. So, for us to ensure that we are having a ‘government for the people by the people, with the people’ we need that collective engagement to see that procurement is where we start from and to engage.”
Also speaking, a participatory in the event, Oyeakachichukwu, said “It is quite important because we are at a time where citizens are actually in demand from their government. Citizens’ participation does not just begin and end during elections, it extends after that.
“It is important that citizens shared understanding the type of services the government is rendering to them – what it costs them,” saying that, “the monitoring has improved in framework to actually monitor this projects.”
But he observed that, “The majority of the abandoned projects in Nigeria, especially Health and Education sectors, are actually Constituency Projects, and the reason is because there is little or no information regarding the contract.
So, when citizens do not have information about the project, it makes it difficult for them to track those projects even when it’s not necessarily the government’s fault. It could be the contractor’s fault, but because citizens do not have information it makes it difficult for them to actually track those projects,” he noted.
He buttressed that, “The Media have lots of roles to actually get the citizens to participate. It is very important that citizens participate. Citizens are the beneficiaries of all government services, because they are the major stakeholders.
“So, the best way for citizens to participate is to open up Procurement Process and ensure that citizens have access to information regarding governments’ projects.”