By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—THE Senate has begun investigation into alleged sharp and corrupt practices in the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP.
Moved by what it described as alleged irregularities in the award of contracts by BPP, the Senate yesterday mandated its Committee on Public Procurement to carry out a holistic investigation into the government agency and gave it five weeks to submit its report.
The decision of the Senate was sequel to a motion by Senator Dino Melaye, APC, Kogi West, who said at plenary that there was monumental corruption going on at the BPP.
He alleged that contracts meant to be awarded for N20 million, were evetually given out for N200 million.
He said: “In line with section 5(Q) of the Public Procurement Act 2007, the BPP is mandated to perform procurement audit and submit such audit to the National Assembly bi-annually.”
Melaye, who noted that the BPP had repeatedly failed to perform this crucial and statutory duty, particularly conducts of post- procurement audit and submission of reports to the National Assembly bi-annually, said further: “This neglect of duty by the BPP has affected the National Assembly in its constitutional duty of conducting oversight, with respect to the application of public funds.
“Based on section 61(C) of the Procurement Act 2007, the Bureau of Public Procurement is authorised to issue Certificate of No Objection to contracts awarded by relevant procurement entities.
“The vesting of the above power on BPP is aimed at ensuring that the letters and spirit of the Public Procurement Act is complied with, to ensure government gets value for money. Contracts awarded are within relevant threshold and are backed by budgetary allocation.’’
Melaye stressed that the BPP had consistently engaged in under-hand dealings with respect to the grant of Certificate of No Objection while abusing the powers to make pecuniary gains. He, however, warned that if urgent steps were not taken to investigate the allegation and address proven infractions, the BPP was likely to transform itself from the regulator to a disruptor and endanger the entire public procurement system.
Seconding the motion, Senator Shehu Sani, APC, Kaduna Central, noted that corruption and anti-corruption have become household names in Nigeria, adding that the BPP was one of the institutions created to check the processes of award of contracts and transactions between governments and out of government.
He said: “But it is much unfortunate that in spite our efforts to address the problem of corruption in this country; it is becoming very clear that things have not changed. Corruption is perhaps being focused on members of the National Assembly and the executive.
“We have public office holders, particularly civil servants becoming contractors. We have to bring practical steps that will cleanse the BPP.”
According to him, the BPP has been unable to address the problems that have to do with procurement in Nigeria.
“It is very much impossible for Nigeria to attain any enviable height as an industralised nation once our system makes it possible for individuals to enrich themselves and impoverish the country,’’ he said.
He, however, called on the Federal Government not only to proclaim its commitment to fighting corruption but also to also see it practically.