BY FELIX KASSIM
The Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) and the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) have called on the Federal Government to stop public institutions from hiding information on contracts awarded by government.
The two Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), which made the call at a joint press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, said government must not shy away from the full implementation of its Open Contracting obligation by ensuring that procurements’ information are proactively disclosed by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
PPDC’s Chief Operating Officer, Mrs Gift Maxwell, who said the two NGOs have been implementing a project on “strengthening disclosure and citizen participation to improve value for money in public contracting,” with the support of Hewlett Foundation, expressed concern over the impunity being exhibited by government officials to prevent members of the public from accessing contracts information.
While restating the commitment of PPDC and MRA to leave no stone unturned to realise the goal of institutionalising Open Contracting in Nigeria, Mrs Maxwell expressed sadness that many public institutions continued to disregard the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) circular that make it mandatory for procurement information to be uploaded on the Nigerian Open Contracting Portal (NOCOPO).
On his part, MRA’s Freedom of Information (FOI) Programme Manager, Mr Ridwan Sulaimon, said despite the development of the Nigerian Open Contracting Portal, by the Bureau of Public Procurement, which is expected to feed the public with procurement information, the platform continued to be starved of contracting data by several public institutions.
“PPDC and MRA continue to train stakeholders including civil society organisations, journalists and citizens; they also feature on various radio and television programmes to sensitise a wider scope of stakeholders to engage NOCOPO. However, the platform must also have information for people to engage.
“This is a wake-up call on the Federal Government to ensure that public institutions feed their information proactively and on time into the platform. Circulars should be followed with appropriate sanctions to give it the deserved effect whenever disobeyed,” Sulaimon said.
The LABOUR reports that Nigeria joined 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).