The Senate has mandated its Committee on Public Procurement to investigate alleged irregularities in the award of contracts by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
The committee is to report back to the Senate in five weeks.
The decision followed a motion by the Chairman, Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Sen. Dino Melaye, at plenary.
According to Melaye, there is monumental corruption going on at the BPP where contracts that are supposed to be awarded at N20 million are awarded at N200 million.
“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,” he said.
Melaye said the BPP had repeatedly failed and neglected to perform “this crucial and statutory duty, particularly for conduct of post procurement audit and submission of reports to the National Assembly bi-annually.
“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.
“Government is expected to get value for its money, and contracts awarded are within relevant threshold and has it backed by budgetary allocation.”
The lawmaker said the BPP had consistently engaged in under-hand dealings with respect to the grant of Certificate of No Objection while abusing these powers to make pecuniary gains. He said 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.
This, according to him, will endanger the entire public procurement system. Melaye also said that most challenges be-devilling the country were as a result of corruption.
“We have not been able to confront corruption from its root through procurement processes.
“It is time for the Senate to take the bull by the horn and ensure that the BPP does what is right so that social services will be available for the less-privileged.
“The prerogative of government is to ensure that the security and welfare of the people are guaranteed.”
Seconding the motion, Sen. Shehu Sani (APC-Kaduna) said that corruption and anti-corruption had become household names in Nigeria.
Sani said that the BPP was one of the institutions created with the aim to check the processes of contracts award and transactions by governments.
“But, it is unfortunate that in spite of our efforts to address the problem of corruption in this country, it is becoming 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, we have become contractors. We have to bring practical steps that will cleanse the BPP,” he said.
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.” The lawmaker called on the Federal Government not to only proclaim its commitment to fighting corruption, but to also see it practically.
Similarly, Sen. Matthew Urhoghide (PDP-Edo) said that in spite of all attempts to check corruption, much had not been achieved.
According to him, to checkmate corruption, there is a need for lawmakers to come with laws that are practicable.
In his remarks, Deputy President of the Senate, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at plenary, said “as parliamentarians, we have the responsibility to make laws that will reduce corruption and ensure that these laws are implemented.