As part of its National Action Plan 2017-2019, Nigeria is currently implementing 14 commitments. Public and Private Development Center (PPDC) is the leading civil society organization championing Open Contracting work and monitoring the progress of Nigeria’s National Action Plan implementation. Ms Nkem Ilo is also chairperson of AFIC’s Open Contracting Working Group. AFIC Newsletter team caught up with Nkem Ilo, Chief Executive Officer-PPDC, to share PPDC’s Open Contracting story and journey.
Nigeria is seen as a champion of Open Contracting having signed up to the OGP. What has the journey been like?
The journey of Open Contracting in Nigeria has been very interesting and enlightening, and it has also provided us with learning opportunities. The need for Open Contracting in Nigeria and indeed Africa, cannot be overemphasized as reports have revealed that public procurement is the number corruption risk in the world, as it is prone to all manner of waste when not carried out transparently. In May 2016, after continuous and relentless advocacy by PPDC, President Muhammad Buhari, at the London Anti-Corruption Summit, committed the country to adopt open contracting to deepen the administration’s Anti-Corruption Reform.
After its adoption, Nigeria Open Contracting Portal (NOCOPO) was launched by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), which has been making efforts at ensuring that MDA’s in Nigeria comply with open contracting data standards at the national level and populating the portal.
PPDC having successfully advocated for the adoption of Open Contracting at the national level, we have now taken similar campaign/advocacy to the subnational level. Currently, we are supporting six states which have successfully adopted open contracting in their state. We are offering technical support to states by building an open contracting portal for them and training their state procurement officers from their various MDA’s at No Cost. Our main incentive is to ensure that they disclose procurement data so that citizens can access and use it.
Kaduna State, one of the six we have supported has a functional open contracting portal which is accessible to the public. The portal has allowed citizens see projects that have been awarded and this has enabled the indigenes, particularly the civil societies carry out project monitoring across the states to ensure proper implementation according to specification as provided by the contract details.
We are still offering technical support to the other states, who would soon launch their open contracting portals, at the same time we are still advocating and encouraging more states to take advantage of this opportunity and adopt open contracting as this would go a long way to curtail waste in procurement in the state and ensure value for money and efficient service delivery.
Do you see any progress being made in disclosure of public procurement information by procurement entities?
Definitely. There has been a tremendous growth in the level of disclosure of public procurement information in recent times. This I would attribute to the emergence of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act of 2011, which mandates procurement entities to disclose such information as there are public information. Using the FOIA, we write to various MDA’s requesting for their public finance expenditure and when the responses are received, they are analyzed and simplified using the Open Contracting Data Standards and uploaded on our open contracting platform ‘Budeshi” for public consumption.
PPDC has taken lead on monitoring the commitments of OGP National Action Plan, how would you describe your relationship with government during this process?
PPDC is not a lead in the monitoring of the commitments of the OGP NAP. There are government agencies and other stakeholders with the responsibility of monitoring and who are working to ensure that the commitments are met, information captured and published.
What more can be done to harness the participation of citizens in public procurement process?
Citizens participation is the most essential prerequisite for any democratic society to function optimally. ‘Ignorance, apathy and disempowerment are recurring drivers of impunity’, hence eliciting citizen participation is a promising way to assess public service quality, and monitor projects, ensure value for money and denounce corrupt practices. Therefore, citizens’ participation in public procurement process is very vital for any serious nation that wishes to grow. Citizens, particularly those in the local communities, need to be further educated and enlightened on their roles and how they can collectively bring about positive changes in their community.
Tell us more about the work on the Freedom of Information (FOI) analysis and your next plans having launched the first one.
On September 28, 2013, following the adoption of the FOIA, 2011 in Nigeria, PPDC launched and unveiled its first annual FOI compliance ranking which was aimed at measuring compliance of Ministries, Departments and Agencies to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). We started with 15 pilot public institutions. In 2014, it was increased to 66 public institutions. In 2015, the ranking was split into two, ranking for Public Institutions and Security Sector Institutions with 116 Public Institutions and 14 Security Sector institutions. In 2016, 131 public institutions and 12 security sector institutions were ranked, in 2017, 166 public institutions and 12 security sector institutions were ranked, and in 2018, 187 public institutions and 11 security sector institutions.
In April 2019, PPDC in its effort to improve the rankings by giving it more Visibility and Credibility reached out, and formed partnerships with (pilot) civil society’s working in the transparency and accountability space who also make use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to unveil and launch the first-ever national freedom of Information compliance and transparency rankings. The rankings are unveiled on September 28th to commemorate the ‘International Right to Know Day, which is now the “International Day for Universal Access to Information”.