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Ezekwesili canvasses stiffer penalties against corrupt officers

05 June 2013, 10:06

Abuja - Former Minister of Education Oby Ezekwesili in Abuja on Tuesday canvassed stiffer sanctions against corruption in all its ramifications.

Ezekwesili made call at an interactive session organised for the Committee on Procurement and other stakeholders on the procurement process.

According to her, corruption has become endemic in the country and will remain so if offenders are treated with kid gloves.

She urged the National Assembly to monitor the implementation of the Procurement Act with the collaboration of credible Nigerians.

"Citizens engagement is key to checking corruption,’’ she said.

Ezekwesili noted that corrupt Nigerians had more access to public funds rather than being sanctioned, saying corruption was thriving because culprits were not punished.

She criticised the plan to make the president to chair the National Council of Procurement as  it reduced weight of  the Office of the President.

'It is not the most effective and most efficient thing to do in the arena of public policy," she said.

Ezekwesili said procurement process was a highly technical activity requiring a competent professional to discharge the responsibility attached  to the office.

"There is absolutely no reason why the head of public procurement must be a politician. He must be a professional who will go through competitive recruitment process to clinch the job.

"He must be a person with character, competency and capacity that will change everything," she said.  

In his presentation, the Director-General of the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP),  Emeka Ezeh, said in the past procurement process was restricted to the ministry of works.

According to him, the process also lacked regulations in the past.

He noted that the  process had improved  following the passage of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, and stressed the need for  further improvement.

In his remarks, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, said that the Procurement Act had not been implemented fully after its enactment.

Represented by the Minority Leader, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila (ACN-Lagos), Tambuwal noted that the Act was put in place to curtail the excesses apparent in contract execution by government agencies.

He said that Nigeria as a country had the highest record of countries with abandoned projects in the world.

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