Media Rights Agenda (MRA) in Lagos in collaboration with the Abuja-based Public and Private Development Center (PPDC) organized a workshop last month to train journalists on contract monitoring and the importance of proper reporting on procurement processes.
The intensive two-day programme was held at Amador Suites in Ajah, in the outskirts of Lagos on October 4 and 5, 2013.
The workshop was held under the auspices of the Nigerian Contract Monitoring Coalition, a division of the West African Contract Monitoring Coalition which is being regionally coordinated by the Ghana Anti-Corruption Commission (GACC) and funded under the World Bank Institutional Development Fund (WB-IDF).
The Nigerian coalition is implementing a project titled “Multi-stakeholder Engagement for Effective Public Procurement Process in Nigeria” under which it is currently monitoring procurement processes in the power sector and has specifically focused its monitoring exercise on selected power projects being executed in Lagos, Ibadan and Abuja.
The National Convenor of the Coalition is the PPDC, while other members of the coalition include the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Media Rights Agenda, the Centre for Organizational and Professional Ethics (COPE-AFRICA) and the Initiative for Environmental and Health Society (IEHS).
The objective of the workshop was to familiarize participants with available tools for monitoring and reporting on procurement activities as well as discuss suggestions for improvements in the procurement system and practice in Nigeria at the federal level.
The workshop set out to establish the crucial role the the media can play in ensuring effective public procurement activities and encouraged participants to collaborate in carrying out monitoring exercises and to get involved in the actual procurement process.
Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director, MRA in his welcome address, said: “Nigeria loses huge amounts of money through improper contracting processes. Besides saving money, monitoring exercises help to ensure that citizens get value for contracts awarded which were funded by public funds.”
He explained the role of the Nigerian Contract Monitoring Coalition and its active engagement in the procurement monitoring processes, emphasizing the need for more individuals, organisations and professional bodies to be involved.
Seember Ngayer, the Chief Executive Officer of the PPDC, also explained that “the coalition has streamlined monitoring procurement process to specific sectors which is done in phases as sectors differ.”
She cited two examples in which PPDC has engaged in procurement monitoring in the energy sector, using the Public Procurement Act to request information on procurement plan.
Another presenter at the workshop, Engr. Dayo Olugboye, of Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), said: “there is the need for professional bodies to be involved in advocacy especially in public procurement.” He shared NSE’s experience in monitoring procurement process in collaboration with PPDC and as an active member of the coalition.
Ojo stressed that all hands must be on deck to ensure an effective monitoring exercise in the energy sector and procurement processes in general.
Participants, who were mainly journalists from the energy sector, pointed out challenges they face in trying to monitor procurement processes, particularly in the energy sector and observed that there was a lack of clarity in the functions to be performed by some of the actors in the process.
Although the workshop was focused on the energy sector, monitoring procurement process in other sector was considered equally important and the coalition proposed continuous communication with journalists in ensuring these issues are always in public domain.