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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

CSOs charge politicians to respect freedom of information Act

By Victor Akinkuolie, Ado-Ekiti

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A coalition of Civil Society organisations (CSOs), has lamented the mind-boggling corruption being perpetrated by Nigeria politicians despite the enactment of the Public Procurement Act 2007 and Freedom of Information Act Act 2011.

The coalition revealed that the policy have been ineffective and corruption-ridden, owing to lack of transparency and improper provision of data to the public on contracts being awarded by elected and appointed officials of governments.

Despite the defectiveness in its implementation, the coalition praised Edo, Plateau and Ekiti states for raising the bar of compliance, describing this as providing a ray of hope that Nigeria will get it right.

A consultant with an Abuja based NGO, Public Private Development Centre (PPDC), Mr. Onyekachi Chukwu, said this in Ado Ekiti, at a four-day 2022 Hackcorruption workshop  jointly organised by Accountability Lab , Open Contracting Partnership(OCP) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Speaking on ‘Improving Accountability in Public Procurement’, Chukwu, said the enactment of domesticated FoI Law and Public Procurement Law, had failed to stem the tide of corruption in contract awards and other procurements being undertaken in the public sector.

The PPDC Consultant added that contract awards and public procurements at every cadre of the public sector in Nigeria were being shrouded in secrecy and sparingly complied with , despite the promulgation of the Acts by the National Assembly and their domestications by the 36 states.

He said: “Public procurement is one of the most important aspect of governance. It is involved in everything government does and that was why each state has a Bureau of Public Procurement to vet whatever purchase government is making to check corruption.

“The bureau participate in contract awards, but the public has not been paying attention to the operations of this office. The citizens have failed to engage this office to ensure that accurate data on contracts are made public in line with Open Contracting Data Standard .

“The public is not well informed about the usefulness of access to data about contracts and procurement. A strict and compliant public procurement must pass through the stages of planning, tender, award, contract and implementation.”

Speaking about the significance of the procurement and FOI Acts, Chukwu said; “They are used to monitor projects and hold government to account. These laws have enabled reforms in public procurement such as the adoption of Open Contracting and e-procurement.

“They have enabled citizens enter into informed dialogue about decisions which affect their lives. They have empowered citizens including vulnerable and excluded people, to demand their rights and entitlements.

“It has enabled Journalists and the Press to do factual reporting, eliminating a culture of rumour and conspiracy; and encouraging investigative journalism that can help the public in holding our leaders accountable.”

The Project Officer, Accountability Lab Nigeria, Mr. Shinwua Mnenga, revealed that the anti corruption innovation project in public procurement, is being carried out by the coalition for openness, using Ekiti, Edo and Plateau States as pilots.

Mnenga added that the essence is to check corruption and impunity by leaders and allow the running of all -inclusive governance that will benefit all Nigerian citizens.

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