Media ,CSOs Renew Commitment  Towards Promotimg Inclusion,Citizens ‘ Engagement In Public Procurement 

Stakeholders have renewed commitment towards  increasing awareness  on  inclusion and citizens’ engagement in the Public Procurement.
This was the trust of the workshop organized by the Public and Private Development Centre, (PPDC) for the Media and Civil Society Organizations in Ekiti State .
The two -day  workshop supported by MacArthur Foundation  held at Bon Hotel,Ado-Ekiti  with the  theme: “Improving Transparency and Accountability in Public Procurement”.was  the validation  of public procurement assessment .
The Chief Executive Officer of PPDC, Jubril Shittu disclosed that  that the objective of the workshop is to enhance public procurement transparency, efficiency and accountability in Ekiti State, by collaborating with stakeholders such as Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Media, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and Women.
Shittu, who was represented by Ife Olatunji explained  that intervention was  ensure that Ekiti residents have access to procurement data, through the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) portal, in order to track and monitor Government projects and ensure that there is accountability and improved service delivery.
Stakeholders were enjoined to regularly visit the Ekiti State  (ocdsportal ) inorder  to obtain relevant information regarding the public procurement while government was also charge to make the information available from the state to Local Government.
In her presentation ,a Procurement Consultant  Adeyanju Nosimot identified  political interference as a major factor mitigating against  transparency, efficiency and accountability in public procurement, adding that some of the bidders don’t go through the framework of GESI as a result of their connections with  government.
According to her  Contracts are often awarded to contractors based on favourism without following the due process of public procurement.
She  however said that increased citizens engagement could  promote efficiency in the processes ,hence the need for the media and CSOs to be actively involved.
She stated that contracts should only be awarded to contractors who fall under the framework of Gender equity and Social inclusion(GESI) by following due processes, regardless of their physical challenges or gender.
She said, “What PPDC do is ensuring accountability and transparency in procurement processes, you can not just skip the procurement processes thinking because you know the Government, you can get the contract, no!
“You must go through the process and must be capable and efficient to take up the job.
“The essence of the research is to see the percentage of people that are winning contracts. Are they under the framework of GESI? Are the interested PWDs competent to do the job? It’s not necessary that you are a woman, you must be competent.
“Here, following due process is the key factor in the Implementation of this GESI framework.
“People are not going through the process they are to go through, they rely on connections.
“If we don’t go through the processes, we won’t be able to identify the unique contractors.”
Adeyanju added that during their Research in the Ministries of Education and Health on GESI in public procurement, there is only one unique contract out of  six in the former and 7 out of 31 in the latter.
This, according to her won’t enable the public to hold the contractors accountable for any glitches in the projects, and their grievances will not be channeled to the appropriate quarters.
In her remarks , the Communication Officer of the Organisation,  Nnenna Eze said the purpose of the workshop was to strengthen the capacity of vulnerable citizens such as as PWDs, Women and other stakeholders to effectively engage the Government.
She stressed that the organisation discovered loopholes in Ekiti State when they carried out a research on public procurement in 2022, on government’s compliance to FOI act and Procurement Act.
This according to them, prompted the workshop in order to collaborate with relevant stakeholders and cover the loopholes and ensure effective procurement processes.
Speaking on the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) portal, she charged the government to be transparent by giving the public relevant information of Bidders and Contractors and upload up-to-date data of the projects on the portal.
In her words, “PPDC came to Ekiti State to engage with our stakeholders from the Government and the civil society organisations, the media and the vulnerable groups.
“Last year, we carried out a Report on the assessment of the Public Procurement processes in Ekiti State and how the government is complying to the FOI act and procurement act.
“We found out some loopholes and we came here today to ensure that we are able to collaborate and cover those loopholes to ensures effective procurement processes, and a fair and open contracting process for all.
“There is a need for the government to open up and give the public more relevant information on the open contracting Portal.
“The government most put more relevant and up-to-date information on the portal.
“We will work with the Government to ensure that Persons with Disabilities and other vulnerable citizens are included in the procurement processes.” She said
A representive of Ekiti State Ministry of Justice, Barrister Oluwatayo Fabusuyi, he said there is a law known as Ekiti Public Procurement law 2020 that penalise contract offenders.
Barrister Fabusuyi said section 57 and 58 of the Law give minimum of 1 year imprisonment and/or fine of over 1million to any contractor who is involved in breach of contract.
He added that there’s a set standard in the law that is required of every Contractors which is prone to punishment if violated.
The representive of the  Ekiti State Public Service, Bamidele Arowosola said there’was  the need for government to improve on equality and equity in the process of awarding contracts, adding that Vulnerable citizens should be encouraged to participate in contracting arrangements in the various MDAs.
The programme, which refreshed the knowledge of participants on Public Procurement also identified gaps and how to ensure the collaboration of stakeholders in promoting inclusion as well as citizens engagement  for a transparent effective and effective procurement processes.
Stakeholders were also enjoined to take in the interest in the various stages of the procurement  processes in order to be equipped with relevant information  and data .

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