The Lagos State Government has been commended for its efforts and commitment to the implementation of due process in public procurement.
The commendation was made by a team of World Bank officials comprising Engr. Adebayo Adeniyi, a Senior Procurement Specialist with the World Bank, Abuja office and Mr. Hunt La Cascia, also a Senior Procurement Specialist at the World Bank Washington office, during a two-day visit to the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency (PPA) to assess the level of compliance with international best practices by the agency in the public procurement process.
While describing Lagos State as being “far ahead of other States in Nigeria” in public procurement practice, the World Bank team stated that Lagos State is qualified for a grant of $2 million under the Disbursement Linked Indicator of State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS), noting that “the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency is doing a good job”.
Adeniyi urged the State Government to utilize the grant to tackle the challenges being experienced by the agency.
He also enjoined the State Government to step up efforts aimed at enhancing the implementation of e-procurement solution in the State, while stressing the need for the agency to organise relevant training programmes for key stakeholders to enable them understand how the e-procurement process works.
The World Bank Senior Procurement Specialist also enjoined the agency to streamline its business processes and make the e-procurement process more user-friendly after watching a demonstration of the work-flow of the e-procurement process at the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure where the team had visited to assess the operation of the e-procurement solution modules deployed to the Ministry by the Procurement Agency as one of the three pilot MDAs for the implementation of the e-procurement process.
He said he was excited when he saw the first bid published electronically by the Ministry.
In his own remarks, the Washington-based World Bank Senior Procurement Specialist, La Cascia, commended the synergy existing between the Procurement Agency and Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the State Government which he said was making the procurement process work, urging that this should be sustained.
He also expressed delight that the agency had improved its operations and processes significantly from what they were when he first visited the State a few months ago and what they are currently.
The World Bank Procurement Specialist, however, advised the agency to make the procurement plans of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the State Government public since the utilization of public fund is involved.
Also speaking during a meeting with the World Bank officials at the Conference Room in his Ministry, the Commissioner for Finance in the State, who is also the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency, Dr. Rabiu Onaolapo Olowo, emphasized the importance of procurement process which he described as central to governance.
The Commissioner also expressed the commitment of the State Government to doing the right thing, adding that due process in procurement process was key to achieving this objective.
Olowo commended the World Bank for its support aimed at enhancing the operations of the Agency.
He also urged procurement officers in the three pilot ministries where four new Modules of e-procurement solution were recently deployed by the Agency – Ministries of Education, Health and Works and Infrastructure- to share their experiences and challenges so that the challenges could be looked into.
While receiving the World Bank officials who visited her office to observe the work-flow of the e-procurement process, the Special Adviser to the State Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Aramide Adeyoye, expressed delight at the deployment of the e-procurement solution modules to the operation of the Ministry.
Adeyoye stated that her Ministry was in full support of the implementation of the policy, stressing that the procurement process must never be circumvented for any reason.
Earlier, the General Manager of the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency ( PPA ), Mr. Fatai Idowu Onafowote, had briefed the World Bank officials on the activities of the agency while welcoming them to the State.
He stated that the e-registration module was deployed by the agency in April while four additional e-procurement solution modules were deployed on September 1, 2019, to three pilot ministries in the State.
Onafowote further explained that the agency was working with some consultants for the deployment of the modules, adding that the consultants were also assisting the agency to build the capacity of staff of the agency to be able to manage the new technology.
The General Manager also pointed out that since the commencement of the e-procurement process, the agency had been receiving procurement requests from the three pilot ministries and treating such requests digitally, noting that “life is made easier when you automate your operations”.
He gave assurance that the agency was ready to continue to work with other MDAs in the State to further improve the procurement process, enhance accountability, transparency and due process in public procurement processes in the State.