Corrupt practices are more pervasive within the Executive arm of government, and measures to tackle the menace should thus be targeted at the executive, two senators have suggested.
In their contributions, following a motion by Senator Dino Melaye on alleged abuse of law in procurement process by the Bureau of Public Procurement, the two lawmakers, Matthew Urhoghide and Bala Na’Allah, pointed accusing finger at civil servants in the executive branch who, according to them, are responsible for contract frauds.
“We are aware that 70 per cent of the recoveries have come from the doorstep of the executive,” said Sen. Na’Allah, the Senate Deputy Leader. “So, the preventive measures should be targeted at that arm of government.”
He also said: “You look at the nature of the offence before you determine the control strategy. Happily enough, with what we have heard and seen today, you can convincingly say that the entire recoveries associated with this country today have depicted that over 70% of what have been alleged to have been recovered by the EFCC and ICPC were recovered from the executive arm of government.”
Sen. Na’Allah (APC-Kebbi) alleged that civil servants handle government projects through their companies or fronts, and canvassed a legal deterrence to stop the practice.
“What measures have been put in place to make it practically impossible for what has been recovered not to be stolen?” the lawmaker said.
Similarly, Sen. Urhoghide (PDP-Edo) said “civil servants are corrupt” and “they award contracts to themselves”.
Unfortunately, he lamented, the view held by the public is that “we participate in the procurement process”.
He said not only do civil servants compromise the system to award contracts to themselves, they also execute substandard projects.
But before the contributions, Sen. Melaye (APC-Kogi) accused the Bureau of Public Procurement of violating Section 5 of the Public Procurement Act 2007 by failing to submit its procurement audit report to the National Assembly.
The law provides that such report be submitted to the lawmakers bi-annually.
By that alleged failure, Sen. Melaye said, the lawmakers were being denied the right to perform their oversight duties as regards procurement exercise in the country.
He said procurement was responsible for “over 70 per cent of corruption in this country”; so, “to get the fight against corruption right, we must also get our procurement correctly.”
“The powers of BPE is aimed at ensuring that government get value for contracts awarded and within relevant threshold has it backed by allocation.
“The BPE has consistently engaged in under hand dealings with respect to the grant of certificate of no objections, abusing this power to make gains.
“If urgent steps are not taken to investigate these allegations and address proven infractions, the BPE is likely to transform itself from a regulator to disruptor and endanger the whole public procurement system,” said Sen. Melaye.
Senator Shehu Sani (APC-Kaduna) also contributed to the debate, condemning corrupt practices in procurement process.
In closing, the Senate unanimously resolved, through voice vote, to refer the matter to the committee on public procurement for investigation.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, ruled that the committee should report back to the Senate in five weeks.