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Investigation Reveals Alarming Lack of Transparency in Nigerian State Procurement Policies

Investigation Reveals Alarming Lack of Transparency in Nigerian State Procurement Policies

Onoja Johnson Baba

SecretReporters has unearthed a disconcerting lack of transparency and accountability in the public procurement policies of Nigerian states. Our investigation, which involved an in-depth analysis of the public procurement portals of all 36 Nigerian states, has revealed a disturbing trend: most states have failed to maintain updated open procurement policies, rendering their promises of transparency and accountability hollow.

Open Contracting Portals in Nigeria: A Broken Promise

Open Contracting Portals, designed to be bastions of transparency in government procurement processes and contract awarding, have largely fallen short of their intended purpose. These portals were established with the primary objective of promoting open contracting practices, enhancing accountability, and combating corruption within the Nigerian public procurement system. However, our investigation has exposed significant shortcomings.

In July 2023, the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) reported that Fatimah Idera, employed as a project tracker within the Ondo State region, working on behalf of UDEME, a social accountability platform in Nigeria, could not succeed in that her job role. During her initial month in this role, Fatimah was tasked with tracking five distinct projects. Unfortunately, when she attempted to access the Ondo State Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) portal, she encountered a significant obstacle. The portal did not contain any uploaded documents, thereby impeding the public’s capacity to hold the government accountable. Consequently, she was unable to access critical resources such as the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) and the e-procurement portal.

The report noted that instances like the unavailability of the OCDS and the e-procurement portal not only hindered Fatimah’s ability to fulfill her responsibilities as a project tracker but also deprived citizens of the opportunity to monitor the effective utilization of their tax funds.

Our findings indicate that a substantial number of states have not updated their procurement portals since 2022, effectively shutting down the avenue for transparency and accountability. For example, Abia last published contract details in 2021, while Borno did so in 2021 as well.

World Bank Grants and Broken Commitments

The investigation also revealed that Nigerian state governments had committed to publishing their expenditures to qualify for grants from the World Bank over a three-year period. This commitment was meant to incentivize transparency and accountability. However, it is evident that many states have fallen short of their obligations, putting the grant funds and the larger goal of transparency at risk.

Adamawa’s last contract publication was in April 2022, while Lagos has managed to keep their portal updated, with the most recent contract details published in 2023.

Access to Portals and Usability Issues

Our investigation also found that some states have completely inaccessible portals, effectively barring the public from scrutinizing government contracts. In addition, several states provide only partial information on their websites, making it impossible for citizens, civil society organizations, and businesses to get a comprehensive view of government contracts.

Akwa Ibom, for instance, did not have an official open contracting portal, while Bayelsa’s OCDS portal remained inaccessible. This lack of access and partial information undermines the very essence of open contracting.

States and year of contracts last published

Abia – 2021

Adamawa – 2022-04-29

Akwa Ibom – Akwa Ibom state did not have an official open contracting portal.

Anambra – 22-06-2023

Bauchi – 2020

Bayelsa – OCDS portal inaccessible

Benue – OCDS portal inaccessible

Borno – 2021

Cross River – 2022

Delta – 2021

Ebonyi – 2022

Edo – 2021

Ekiti – 2023

Enugu – 2022

Gombe – 2022

Imo – Portal inaccessible

Jigawa – 2020

Kaduna – 2022

Kano – 2020

Katsina – 2022

Kebbi – 2022

Kogi – 2022

Kwara – 2021

Lagos – 2023

Nasarawa – June 2022

Niger – 2023

Ogun – 2021

Ondo – 2021

Osun – 2021

Oyo – OCDS portal inaccessible

Plateau – 2023

Rivers – 2022

Sokoto – Portal inaccessible

Taraba – 2021

Yobe – 2021

Zamfara – 2021

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