Reps Want Defence Spending Subjected To Procurement Act

20 July 2016

The House of Representatives on Tuesday pushed its bid to amend the Public Procurement Act, 2007 to apply the law to defence spending.

The Speaker of the House, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, defended the proposed amendment at a public hearing on a bill to amend the Act.

The development coincided with a separate resolution by the House in plenary to probe the inability of the Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria to manufacture military equipment many years after it came into existence.

Under its current application, Section 15(2) of the PP Act exempts certain defence expenditure from complying with the provisions of the law except otherwise stated by the President.

It reads, “The provisions of this Act shall not apply to the procurement of special goods; works and services involving national defence or national security unless the President’s express approval has been first sought and obtained.”

Dogara was represented at the public hearing by the House Minority Whip, Mr. Yakubu Barde.

The committee, which is chaired by a member from Osun State, Mr. Oluwole Oke, debated the issue with other stakeholders, including the Bureau for Public Procurement, quantity surveyors and engineers.

Barde noted, “Most of the problems today in the ongoing investigation of defence procurement were caused by non-compliance with the Act.

“The President has ordered an investigation into defence spending in the past years.

“By extending the application of this Act to defence spending, some of these problems will be addressed.”

In place of the extant provision, the House sought to insert the following into the law, “Procurement involving national security or national defence shall be conducted in line with the provisions of this Act, but its supervision shall be handled by a Special Committee appointed by the Council and the Council shall be entitled to grant waiver or exemption from application of specific provisions of this Act.”

A new Section 15(2a) was also added, “The Council shall be entitled to issue special guidelines and regulations applicable to defence procurement.”

The stakeholders supported the bid to bring defence procurement in conformity with the Act.

For instance, the President, Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, Mrs. Mercy Torkwase-Iyortyer, suggested that in issuing the guidelines, the Council should “place more emphasis on local designs.”

However, the BPP disagreed with the House on its proposed amendment to Section 7 (1) of the Act to subject the approval of the appointment of its Director-General to the confirmation of the National Assembly.

In the extant provision, the President makes the appointment on the recommendation of the Council from a competitive pool.

But, the House sought to vest the power to confirm the appointment in the hands of the National Assembly after the President had picked the candidate from the competitive pool and recommended by the Council.

The BPP’s Legal Adviser, Mrs. Amaka Obinna, argued that admitting the amendment would be in breach of Section 171(27)(d) of the 1999 Constitution.

She stated that the constitution gave the President the sole power to appoint heads of extra-ministerial bodies of which the BPP was one.

She also advised against increasing the payment of mobilisation fees to contractors beyond 20 per cent.

“When you leave such huge funds in the hands of contractors in the name of mobilisation, they can flee with public money when they are unable to execute jobs.

“Any increase in the payment of mobilisation should not be more than 20 per cent,” she added.

In plenary, the House observed that the failure of DICON to live up to expectations was the reason Nigeria spent so much foreign exchange in the procurement of military equipment outside its shores in the ongoing counter-terrorism operations in the North-East.

The motion on the matter was moved by a member from Oyo State, Mr. Olajide Boladale.

According to him, the Federal Government could have easily invested the money spent in buying military equipment in creating employment were DICON able to deliver on its core mandate.

He said, “The Nigerian Air Force would have been forced to ground its entire fleet of Alpha jets due to lack of brake assembly, but for Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company, which helped to modify and overhaul the brake assembly of the MB-339 Aircraft for adoption on the Alpha Jets, which feat helped to save huge foreign exchange for the country and also helped the Air Force to sustain its bombardment against the insurgents.”

DICON, which is located in Kaduna, was established in 1964.


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