The Federal Government of Nigeria publicly committed to full implementation and adoption of the Open Contracting Data Standards (OCDS) at the 2016 London Anti-corruption Summit. Since then, the Industry Regulator- Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) has consistently worked with stakeholders to drive the process of its implementation by setting up a multi-stakeholder forum – the Procurement Monitoring Working Group (PMWG). Between 2016-2018, the BPP deployed the first Nigeria open contracting portal http://nocopo.bpp.gov.ng/. During the first phase, the BPP was meant to pilot within 8 agencies, and whilst efforts were being made in the deployment of the portal, not much data was being put out on it, thus limiting enthusiasm, trust and the right of citizens to benchmark government and their performance in providing public services.
Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria have been engaged in advocating for transparency and accountability in public procurement and also working with PBB to ensure full disclosure. The Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) has been taking lead on this through holding several media campaigns and tweet chats targeted at creating awareness on Nigeria’s open contracting commitment and gaps within the implementation and compliance by MDAs. Through their weekly radio programs, PPDC invited several open contracting enthusiasts to talk about open contracting and foreseen challenges. Several advocacy visits were done to key policymakers including the OGP secretariat. PPDC further supported the PMWG to develop an open contracting strategy document that captured what progress the Bureau has made, where the challenges and gaps are, what sort of efforts are needed, and by whom to advance Nigeria’s open contracting agenda. This was started off during an open contracting workshop with the Industry Regulator, CSOs and the media organized by PPDC in February 2019 to discuss gaps and challenges impeding the successful implementation of open contracting in Nigeria.
This strategy document tremendously helped stakeholders to understand what progress has been made and their role in attaining more progress. This approach will ensure non-state actors leverage their expertise and experience to support and track government programs using published data. Subsequently, PPDC continued periodic check-ins with the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), to ensure feedback from MDAs was addressed. For example, one key recommendation from one of the stake-holder open contracting roundtables was for the BPP to conduct regular open contracting training for MDAs to address challenges they face and ensure adequate skills are acquired.
The PBB was able to take up this recommendation and started a series of activities in September 2019 that included targeted training for MDAs on open contracting. The training aimed at improving several data and digital and technical gaps. This has greatly influenced the progress Nigeria has made on open contracting as the NOCOPO has more structured data and is OCDS compliant for CSOs to conduct contract monitoring and data analysis.
PPDC has thus analyzed the data published on NOCOPO in 2019 and 2020 that indicated that only there has been an improvement in disclosure with 450 projects published on NOCOPO in 2019 which increased in 2020 with 611 projects disclosed. However, OCDS compliance was still at 27% and most of the published projects were not specific on location details and contract amount and lacked data across the procurement chain as seen from the 2020 NOCOPO Contract Monitoring Data Analysis Report. The BPP has continued using several consistent advocacy means and has also commenced the development of the Private Sector segment of the NOCOPO portal and will commence user engagement of the organized private sector.