COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE ONE DAY ROUNDTABLE ENGAGEMENT ON OPEN CONTRACTING IN KADUNA STATE FACILITATED BY COALITION OF ASSOCIATIONS FOR LEADERSHIP, PEACE, EMPOWERMENT & DEVELOPMENT (CALPED) IN COLLABORATION WITH INTIATIVE FOR COLLECTIVE VOICE, ACCOUNTABILITY AND PROGRESS (ICoVAP) HELD APRIL 25, 2019
On April 25, 2019, Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development (CALPED) in collaboration with Initiative for Collective Voice, Accountability and Progress (ICoVAP) organized a one a one day roundtable engagement to discuss on the Open Contracting and procurement process in Kaduna State. The session brought together citizens, Kaduna Public Procurement Authority and relevant development partners with keen interests in quality public service delivery in Kaduna state.
One of the interactive presentations was delivered by Architect Suleiman Muhammad of Kaduna State Public Procurement Authority (KADPPA) laid out elaborately the Open Contracting Data Standards. While Lawrence Obeweh spoke on the factors limiting citizens participation in the procurement process.
As a result of the strategic deliberations and interactions, a number of observations and far-reaching resolutions emerged.
Kaduna State Government had passed a Public Procurement Law in 2016 which has birthed Kaduna State Public Procurement Authority saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that procurement process at both state and local government or whether by public sector or as donations to the state government adheres to the Law.
To further standardize the procurement and service delivery process, MacArthur Foundation has collaborated with KADPPA to come up with a monitoring template. Interestingly, this programme had gone beyond Kaduna State to apply to all other States of the Federation. For any State that is able to populate the template yearly from 2018 to 2021 would be given the sum of One Billion naira yearly by the World Bank after the State has been suretied by the Presidency. Another condition under which the fund would be awarded is that the activities have to be published online so that the World Bank could also access the information. Further condition for releasing the fund is that a certain percentage be allocated to the agency in order to optimize its performance irrespective of the administration in power.
• As it is now, the Kaduna State government has cleared up to 24 data files that have to do with every public procurement in the state to be open and easily accessible to the citizenry. The Open Contracting Data Standards have since been approved by government which will help citizen follow through to ensure that indeed budget outcomes are of quality in standard and timeliness.
Currently consultants are at work to ensure that all the pieces of information considered necessary to make the contracting process open is hosted online for ease of access to citizens.
• Procurement in Kaduna State especially those sponsored by the State must pass a needs assessment requirement and as such MDAs and LGAs are required to carry out this exercise to provide convincing justification for every procurement.
• The citizens refuse to do their part, government cannot do everything needed to ensure that the procurement process is in compliance with the law. The information now at the disposal of citizens is to ensure that standards and timeliness are maintained in the procurement process in Kaduna State. Citizens need to engage and make sure that OCDS works for Kaduna State and the citizenry.
• While the platform is still being populated, KADPPA encourages every individual, group, organization to request for information on any project of choice to ensure that service is indeed delivered and neither the state nor citizenry is underserved.
Pointing out the challenges surrounding procurement and its processes, it was noted that there is the unfortunate situation of projects being abandoned at various stages of initiation even though the bulk of budgeted expenditure centres on procurement.
• Note, Nigeria and other African countries suffer from over-invoicing of procurement. For instance, Kaduna State has spent over Two Trillion Naira on procurement since 1999, yet citizens can hardly point out remarkable projects worth that amount.
The Procurement process is often shrouded in secrecy, leaving citizens with very little or no knowledge about the goings-on. In addition, there is the problem of collusion between government officials and contractors to either compromise the project at the design stage or during the execution stage.
The exclusion of citizens from the implementation process was decried; information provided need to be broken down in usable formats for citizen’s to grasp easily.
Data for each step of the process should be published, summary records for an overall contracting process should be created, there should be a common open data publication patterns, a growing community of users and range of open source tools must be ensured.
The public procurement process needs to be strengthened at Local Government level as they are the closest in providing service delivery to the citizens
Government bureaucracy is still a challenge as other MDAs aside KADPPA are evasive to being open. The template was elitist in nature in that it is being hosted on the internet where only a minority of Kaduna State’s citizenry have access to the internet.
• It was observed that the template lacked a column that should have shown the level of involvement of citizens by showing the source of the project ideas and how the needs assessment was conducted.
The internet, remains the best medium through which to disseminate the necessary information for KADPPA. The Authority can hardly take action by itself until complaints reach them. Moreover, there are various means through which citizens can report cases to KADPPA.
Participants concluded that there is a trust deficit between the citizens and the government prevalent in the society. This trust deficit manifests everyday in that public procurement are conducted below standards and utilities get damaged yet citizens do not feel compelled to take action.
KADPPA was applauded for efficiency in office management and response to citizen’s engagement. The quick response time of the Authority through e-emails, phone lines is by far the most remarkable. The assurances that the Authority is set to be accountable, transparent and efficient is not in doubt.
• There is need to simplify the law, and the OCDS templates. Certain sections of the law which concerns citizens can be simplified in languages and pictorials in ways that the citizenry can understand and engage accordingly.
• Citizen’s groups, civil society, the media should embark on massive sensitization to galvanize citizen’s participation in the procurement process and governance.
• Stakeholders must commit to bridging the gap between the government and the citizens and also between sources of information and the target audience.
• CSOs will make efforts to simplify the template and make it more understandable to the people at the grassroots.
• CSOs will engage traditional rulers of communities to sensitize them the more on the OCDS and roles they need to play to help citizens in tracking projects.
• Billboards should be raised in rural communities making the guidelines more comprehensible to the target audience.
Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development (CALPED)
Initiative for Collective Voices, Accountability and Progress (ICoVAP)