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CSOs task FG on full implementation of Open Contracting

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Godsgift Onyedinefu

The Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) and Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has called on the Federal government to ensure the full implementation of Open Contracting to ensure that procurements records and information are proactively disclosed by public institutions in line with the Open Contracting data Standards.

The CSOs while addressing newsmen on Tuesday expressed concern at the level of impunity by public officials who continue to prevent members of the public from accessing procurement and contracting information.

Ms. Gift Maxwell, PPDC’s Programme Manager, recalled that the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) developed and deployed Nigeria’s Open Contracting Portal (NOCOPO) which is expected to feed procurement data from the pilot Ministries Department and Agencies (MDAs) showing records of contracts from planning to implementation stages.

She however regrets that many public institutions still fail to upload their procurement data on the platform, thereby blatantly disobeying with impunity, the July 2018 circular issued by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) mandating all public institutions to use the NOCOCPO and upload their procurement information and records on the platform.

She said despite Nigeria joining the Open Government Partnership (OGP) as the 70th member in 2016 and had the full implementation of open contracting as one of its commitments in its first National Action Plan (NAP), which lapsed in June this year, accessing basic contract information and records remained a challenge for members of the public, including civil society representatives and media practitioners.

Maxwell said PPDC and MRA have worked tirelessly to realise the goal of institutionalising Open Contracting in Nigeria.

MRA’s FOI programme Manager, Mr. Ridwan Sulaimon further said the federal government must as a matter of urgency ensure that the institutions proactively publish their procurement and contracting data on the platform to ensure that it justifies its essence.

He sais, “This is a wake-up call on the Federal Government to ensure that public institutions feed their information proactively and timeously into the platform. Circulars should be followed with appropriate sanctions to give it the deserved effect whenever disobeyed”

The CSOs commended the on-going efforts by the BPP to sensitise relevant stakeholders in the public institutions and urged it to steadfastly implement its commitment to train all the public institutions to be able to use the NOCOPO effectively.

PPDC and MRA therefore urged citizens, journalists and civil society organisations to join the efforts in holding the Federal Government to account on its commitment to fully implement Open Contracting in Nigeria in order to improve access to procurement records and information, strengthen citizen participation in government and ensure that government contracts deliver good value for taxpayers’ money.

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