BY SEGUN ADEBAYO, ABUJA – President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan on Thursday said that the amendment to the Public Procurement Act 2007 by the National Assembly will guarantee successful implementation of the 2020 budget.
Lawan, who stated this in his remarks after the Senate exhaustively debated two critical Bills for an Act to amend the National Council on Public Procurement and Bureau of Public Procurement Act No. 14 of 2007, said that the inadequacies of the Public Procurement Act 2007 were largely responsible for the very low level of budget implementation recorded annually.
He assured that the National Assembly will expeditiously accelerate legislative work on the amendment of the Act so as to ensure it is passed and signed into law to compliment the 2020 budget.
According to him; “Twelve years down the line, we have seen the strengths and weaknesses of the Act. Certainly, the last twelve years have revealed the inadequacies and loopholes that are in the Act.
“When we pass the Appropriations Bill 2020 before the end of the year, and the implementation commences from January, if this Act remains as it is today with unnecessary cumbersome processes of bidding, the time we would have gained from passing the budget will be lost in processing the budget for implementation.
“Just like we gave expeditious treatment to some of the bill passed recently, this is also important and significant because it will add value to the implementation of the 2020 Appropriations bill and so many issues that were raised about the weaknesses in the Procurement Act.”
The two bills, which scaled second reading, are sponsored by Senators Shuaibu Isa (PDP, Taraba North) and Uche Ekwunife (PDP, Anambra Central), respectively.
Sponsor of the first bill Senator Shuaibu Lau, for amendment in the “Public Procurement Act, 2007,” which was signed into law on June 4, 2007, said is currently the root cause of most of the corruption in public procurement in Nigeria.
Lau said the proposed bill seeks to remedy these anomalies by amending 57 sub-sections and introducing 88 new sub-sections to the existing Act.
He said that a proposed additional amendment of Section 1 of the Act is being introduced to prescribe those eligible to be appointed by the President into the position of the Chairman of the National Council of Public Procurement.
In his contribution, Senator George Thompson Sekibo (PDP, Rivers East), said the Public Procurement Bill should be amended to make it compulsory for the Federal Government not to award contracts where funding is not readily available.
The Deputy Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger North), called on the upper chamber to accommodate the interest of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the procurement processes.
In his own contribution, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, the Deputy Minority Leader, while lending his voice to the debate on the bill, said the purpose behind the introduction of the Act in 2007 was primarily to address the issues associated with corruption in procurement processes.
Also contributing, Senator Olamilekan Adeola (APC, Lagos West), said as Nigeria continues its quest for revenue sourcing, the country must put in place measures to streamline the application of all revenues generated.
At the end of the debate, the Bill was referred the Public Procurement Act 2007 (Amendment) bill to the Senate Committee on Public Procurement for further legislative work.