Senate accuses government agencies of corruption

Senate accuses government agencies of corruption

It was gathered that the Senate yesterday said Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government stink of corruption.

It also claimed that over 70 per cent of corruption in the country was perpetuated through inflation of contract sums by agencies.

The Senate singled out the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) for a thorough probe, alleging that the agency connived with heads of agencies and private contractors to inflate contracts, to the detriment of the Federal Government.

The Senate, therefore, mandated its committee on Public Procurement to investigate the allegation and report to it in five weeks.

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the day’s legislative business, vowed that the committee would get to the root of the matter raised.

He said: “Our committee will do justice to the issue. In our contributions, it is clear that we have not taken positions. So, our committee will do justice to the issue and dig deep to find out the truth about what has been said.”

The sponsor of the motion, Senator Dino Melaye, said: “Procurement is responsible for over 70 percent of corruption in this country. To get the fight against corruption right, we must also get our procurement very correct.

“There is an urgent need to investigate allegations of failure to perform or conduct mandatory post-procurement audit and corrupt issuance of certificate of no objection by the BPP.

“Monumental corruption is going on in the BPP. That is where we have the contracts that are supposed to be awarded at N20 million, but awarded at N200 million.

“It is then approved by the Federal Executive Council. This certificate of no objection is not more than the investigation that is supposed to be conducted internally by BPP.

“In line with section 5(Q) of the Public Procurement Act 2007, the BPP is mandated to perform procurement audit and submit such audit to the National Assembly bi-annually.

“The BPP repeatedly failed and neglected to perform this crucial and statutory duty, particularly, for conducts of post-procurement audit and submission of reports to the National Assembly bi-annually.

“Based on section 61(c) of the Procurement Act 2007, the Bureau of Public Procurement is authorised to issue certificates of no objection on contracts awarded by relevant procurement entities.

“BPP has consistently engaged in under-hand dealings, with respect to the grant of certificate of no objection, abusing these powers to make pecuniary gains.

“We are concerned that if urgent steps are not taken to investigate this allegation and address proven infractions, the BPP is likely to transform itself from the regulator to a ‘disruptor’ and will endanger the entire public procurement system.

“It is time for the Senate to take the bull by the horn and ameliorate, correct and ensure that the BPP does what is right so that social services will be available for the less privilege.”

Senator Shehu Sani urged his colleagues to clean up the system, claiming that civil servants now execute contracts for the government.

He said: “If there is any word that has become a household word in Nigeria, it is either corruption or anti-corruption. We have seen civil servants become contractors. The Senate should bring out practical solutions to clean up the system.

“We are creating a society that is enchanted. It is impossible for the country to achieve any enviable heights if the country continues in this form of corruption.”

Senator Matthew Urhoghide from Edo State insisted that those involved in the alleged corrupt practices be compelled to face the wrath of the law.

He said: “Agencies of government, like the BPP, are subverting the law. If we want to be serious, we should be serious with this motion. We should bring out resolutions that are workable. I wonder why nobody is bothered about Bill of Quantity when awards of contracts are considered.”

Deputy Leader of the Senate, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, alleged that despite the fact that the anti-corruption war was spearheaded by the executive, “over 70 per cent of what is said to have been recovered was from those in the executive arm of government.

“Whether we like it not, the civil servants are the contractors. For the two years of aggressive fight against corruption, what can we do to reduce corruption?”

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