The premises of the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria (ACAN), Keffi, Nasarawa State, the research and training arm of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Corruption (ICPC) came alive once again as over 150 procurement officers from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) across the Federation assembled for a two-day training workshop.
The event was the opening ceremony of an intensive training exercise intended to tackle the Achilles’ heel of contract awarding process of the public sector in Nigeria which is the procurement process.
In his welcome address at the ceremony, Provost of the Academy, Professor Sola Akinrinade, declared that the workshop with the theme, “Achieving Projects and Procurement Objectives with Integrity,” was aimed at training procurement officers against contract failure, noting that corruption, compromise and incompetence were all factors that negatively affect the quality of project delivery and desired output.
“When buildings collapse, it is evidence of failure somewhere along the line in the project delivery process,” he lamented.
Professor Akinrinade went further to say, “it has been stated time and again that Nigeria has one of the highest rates of implementing contracts if not the highest, anywhere in the world. And the reason is simple: so much is lost to unwholesome practices in the procurement process.”
According to him, “corruption in procurement matters is one major source of leakage in public sector with all too familiar consequences.”
The ACAN Provost explained that integrity in the procurement process was one aspect of the nation’s problem, pointing out that another critical aspect of it was the integrity of the project delivery process particularly for physical development projects.
He further observed that projects of low priority were given preference in implementation because inflated expenses were built into them, expressing that the project quality might not be compromised but some individuals would have been enriched in the process without adding value to the lives of the people whose interests were supposed to be served.
The Provost therefore emphasized that the training was designed to address the many questions of integrity, transparency and accountability in procurement matters of public sector agencies.
Professor Akinrinade then urged the participants to put into practice after leaving the academy all that they would learn to always ensure integrity in procurement process, saying, “It is not only critical to sustainable development of institutions of governance but the society at large.”
While calling on them to make the best use of the workshop, he noted that the training was imperative because lack of knowledge was often responsible for people committing elementary errors and infractions.
Participants at the workshop were taken through intensive courses on ways of achieving integrity in procurement and projects execution; the high point of which was the award of certificates at the end of the training.