Stakeholders in the procurement sector have urged the Kaduna State Government to strengthen partnership with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the media to effectively track public procurement requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The stakeholders comprising CSOs and the media made the call in a communiqué issued in Kaduna on Wednesday at the end of an Open Government Partnership (OGP) dialogue via Google Meet.
The dialogue was entitled: “COVID-19: Redefining Open and Public Procurement’’.
The communique was signed by Mr Danjuma Abbas of Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development (CALPED) and Zaliha Lawal of Connected Development (CODE).
Other signatories were Mr Ehis Agbon of Invicta Fm and Mr Sulaiman Yusuf of Soba Youth Awareness Movement.
The stakeholders commended the Kaduna State Government for its rapid and decisive response toward containing the spread of COVID-19 and its negative impact on the economy.
They noted that the pandemic provided the government with a rare opportunity to build and strengthen citizens’ trust through proactive disclosure of information on public procurement.
They, however, raised concerns over the near absence of transparency, accountability and robust citizens’ engagement in the procurement and distribution of the N500 million relief materials to low-income earners in the state.
According to them, there is currently little or no participation of CSOs in the public procurement process of requirements for COVID-19 response.
“We are, therefore, calling on the government to provide a clear framework that allows civil society to engage the government toward improving transparency and accountability in public procurement related to COVID-19.
“We also want the government to increase citizens’ awareness of the e-procurement, Open Contracting Data Standard and Eyes and Ears portals of the government toward improving the quality of participation in procurement and contract activities.
“Kaduna State Public Procurement Authority should also strengthen partnership with CSOs toward improving availability and access to procurement information on COVID-19 by citizens.
“The Office of the Auditor-General of the state should equally come up with a mechanism to ensure adequate accountability in the post-COVID-19 period, following the adjustments to the state’s Public Financial Management System,’’ the group said.
They also stressed the need to engage the state assembly for a joint oversight in ensuring efficient allocation of resources to priority sectors, quality service delivery, value for money and accountability in the response to COVID-19.