Tinubu, make contract awards more transparent

Tinubu, make contract awards more transparent

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Tinubu, make contract awards more transparent

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Tinubu, make contract awards more transparent. THE Minister of Works, David Umahi, recently announced that a contract for the development of the Lagos-Calabar Highway had been awarded to a local firm. The project will connect the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, the Fourth Mainland Bridge, the Lekki Deep Sea Port Road, and different sites in the North through Ogoja-Ikom. While it has the potential to stimulate business and travel, critics are concerned that it may have skipped due process and required involvement from all parties.

Umahi must provide clarification and reassurance to Nigerians that this is not another great hope that would fail due to controversy.

According to the minister, the project will have an original design length of 650 to 700 kilometers and will include rail lines running through the middle of the main carriageways.

Nigeria falls short of the World Bank’s international benchmark of 70% infrastructure investment, with infrastructure accounting for only 30% of GDP. Such large-scale infrastructural initiatives are thus desperately needed.

But transparency is equally important. In the past, opacity, cronyism, and corruption in contract awards have led to the collapse of many important national infrastructure projects. Contracts must pass through the laid down processes to ensure accountability, fair competition, efficiency, and public trust. Umahi and President Bola Tinubu should reassure Nigerians that this one passed that test.

Beyond revealing it as a Public-Private-Partnership deal, Umahi failed to disclose when the contract was awarded, the number of bidders and other relevant details.

The Public Procurement Act 2007 and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission Act endorse competitive public bidding as the procurement procedure of choice. The ICRCA stipulates further that the concession contract will be granted to the bidder who satisfies the pre-qualification criteria and submits the most technically and economically comprehensive bid. It however waives the requirement of competitive bidding if after advertisement, only one contractor submits a bid, or if only one contractor meets the pre-qualification requirements.

Transparency is a crucial element of good governance; it fosters accountability, competition, and ultimately better value for taxpayers’ money. Transparency International says it “enables processes and decisions to be monitored and reviewed, and ensures that decision-makers can be held accountable.”

Pervasive corruption acts as a brake on Nigeria’s development. Opacity in contract awards facilitates graft. Merit suffers.

The Tinubu administration should comply with the laid down procedures in contract awards and give all interested contractors a level playing field.

In the United Kingdom, contract awards follow a set of rules and regulations to ensure transparency, fairness, and competition. All stages in the process are open to public and parliamentary scrutiny.

United States’ public agencies are also required to identify their procurement needs, and plan the acquisition. From market research, bidding and independent reviews, the entire process is openly available for public, Congressional, and media scrutiny.

The input and concerns of local communities where the projects will pass through are also taken into consideration everywhere. In established democracies, projects have been stalled or diverted following protests and court cases by impacted communities excluded in the procurement process.

Every effort should be made to address Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit; however, projects and contract awards must adhere to global best practices, include all stakeholders, and be carried out in a transparent manner.

This pattern should be rigorously followed by the Tinubu administration. It should start by providing full details of the Lagos–Calabar Highway contract

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