Sunday Esene Osoba
Procurement Specialist, Solutions and Innovations in Public Procurement, The World Bank
In August 2016, Nigeria took a step to modernize its public procurement system by disseminating the federal e-Procurement Readiness Self-Assessment Report at a stakeholders' workshop attended by around 600 participants.
"It was time to examine the efficacy of old developmental paradigms and where they are inadequate in providing sustainable solutions. We should discard them and explore more viable options" said the Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) to the President, Dr. Oluyemi Dipeolu. He added, "While there may be debates about our economic choices, there is an apparent need to deploy technological tools needed to drive our efforts."
"The introduction of e-procurement came at an auspicious period in the life of the nation when the need for improved fiscal discipline is acute. If the country is to achieve transparency and efficiency, e-Procurement is an inevitable option, "said the Honorable Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun. "These virtues are needed in our procurement system, both to improve the environment for doing business and to minimize wastage - e-Procurement offers appropriate solutions to the issues of transparency and accountability in public expenditure," she added.
A principal focus of the current government is the reduction of corruption in government business. In 2014, Nigeria was ranked 136 out of 174 nations on the Transparency International Corruption Index, and third in West Africa after Guinea and Guinea Bissau. In the Ease of Doing Business survey in 2016, Nigeria was ranked 169 out of 189 economies.
Nigeria seeks to derive higher values in the use of public resources. Public procurement expenditure as a percentage of GDP is estimated to be in the range of 10% to 25%. "Nigeria could save as much as $270 million representing 5% of recurrent and 3% of capital costs in the 2016 budget in the six entities scheduled for pilot implementation of e-GP", said Mr. Ahmed Abdu, Acting Director General of Nigeria's Bureau of Public Procurement. These huge resources can be available to deliver more services to the citizens.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation's (SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal, in his keynote address said, "Government considers that technology is critical to its determination to sanitize the business environment, by limiting human interface that predisposes transactions to corruption. It also saves time and makes for better coordination of development inputs and outputs." He added that in spite of the progress made in public procurement reforms in Nigeria since 2007, "deep-seated problems remain that erode effectiveness and obstruct development." Both federal and state Representatives reinforced the fact that e-procurement will increase transparency, effectiveness and efficiency in Nigeria.
Human interference has been acknowledged as a major source of rent seeking in public procurement (Azmi, K. and Rahman, A, 2015). "It is my firm belief that e-Procurement will undoubtedly become the essential pillar of the current anti-corruption war for many reasons, especially because it will reduce human interference in the procurement process to the bare minimum," observed Muhammad Al-Ghazali, a participant at the workshop.
The legislature is excited about the executive's decision to implement e-Procurement system in Nigeria as it will represent a peal on corruption in the country. They were happy that reliable data on government spend derivable directly from an e-Procurement system will facilitate the scrutiny of budget estimates and strengthen the legislature's oversight functions.
In a meeting with the Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Joshua Dariye, the Chairman of the House Committee on Due Process, Hon. Oluwole Oke, was gratified that the government has taken this important decision. Hon. Oke also made the remark that Nigeria had the opportunity to forge a better path using e-procurement.
The World Bank Country Director, Rachid Benmessaoud, was optimistic that e-Procurement will aid knowledge sharing and public policy formulation. Meanwhile, V. S. Krishnakumar, Practice Manager, Solutions and Innovations in Procurement (GovGP) informed the legislators that the e-Procurement project feeds into the Memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by Nigeria's President, Muhammadu Buhari, for the Open Government Partnership. Nigeria is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.
"E-Procurement will greatly enhance data analytics on budget cost efficiency", added Roland Lomme, Senior Governance Specialist of the Bank's Governance Global Practice.
 Azmi K and Rahman A, "e-Procurement: A Tool to Mitigate Public Procurement Fraud in Malaysia?" The Electronic Journal of e-Government Volume 13 Issue 2 2015
Every week, the Solutions and Innovations in Procurement (SIP) group shares impact stories and lessons learned from various collaborative governance projects with emphasis on procurement experiences across the WBG. It also reflects experiences and insights from the new Procurement Framework (PF). For more information, visit the Procurement Hub or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org