The Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC) Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheeed has stated that the essence of government’s efforts at empowering procurement officers was to strengthen their understanding of procurement, environmental and social standards and their usefulness as policy tools in r e source utilisation.
Professor Rasheed made the remarks while addressing participants at a one-day’ Sustainable Capacity Development in Procurement and Environmental and Social Safeguard Workshop’, recently organised b y NUC in collaboration with World Bank (WB) for Procurement officers of Africa Centres of Excellence (ACEs) Project in Nigeria,
The Executive Secretary, who was represented by the Director, Research, Innovation and Information Technology, Dr. Suleiman Ramon-Yusuf, said that the aim of the workshop was to standardise procurement and also create more job opportunities for the teeming youths.
He disclosed that procurement would soon be offered as a course in Nigerian universities considering its place in ensuring safety and efficiency in resource utilisation in both public and private sector. He also noted that procurement was currently one of the major innovative means by which sustainable development was being promoted.
The NUC scribe stated that higher education had over the years been seen as catalyst for transformation and solution to problems confronting humanity, stressing that it had continued to be an instrument of influencing change towards sustainable development.
He emphasised that the strategic role of procurement in promoting sustainability makes academic and professional programmes which educate and train students in procurement courses very vital to procurement sustainability agenda.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Commission’s ACE Project Coordinator, Dr Joshua Atah said that the objective of the workshop was to achieve value for money, efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public and private sector resources.
He reiterated that the workshop was convened to proffer means of reducing graduates’ unemployment in Nigeria by empowering procurement personnel with the necessary skills that would lead to improved service delivery in government.
Dr Atah explained that the pilot phase of the training would involve federal universities based on merit selection from the six geo-political zones of the country, adding that it would be one centre per zone and modeled after the existing Africa Centres of Excellence (ACEs).
On the criteria for selection of the universities, the ACE Project Coordinator highlighted that the programme would be based on track record and demonstration of ability to host the programme; deployment of Learning Management System (LMS), Distance Learning, Technology assisted Learning, stressing that the availability of campus-wide broad band infrastructure , especially the Nigerian Research and Education Network (NgREN), would be an added advantage.
In a presentation entitled ‘Institutionalising Procurement, Environmental and Social Standard in Nigeria’, World Bank Lead Procurement Specialist, Chief Bayo Awosemusi, explained that the federal and state governments have been implementing procurement reforms since year 2000, adding that for Nigeria to enhance its governance schemes and service delivery, it must reduce the cost of governance and corruption.
According to him, the need to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery necessitated the building of capacities of procurement officers as professionals, who were planning to establishing procurement Centres of Excellence.
He noted that since its adoption by federal and state governments, notable accomplishments had been recorded including the enactment of procurement laws, establishment of regulatory agencies, development and deployment of procurement tools and the creation of respective procurement cadre, among others.
On progress recorded in implementation of the procurement process, he said that there had been improvement in the number of competing bids for procurement opportunities arising from noticeable increase in private sector confidence in public procurement, though not reaching the aspired levels as well as improved value for money in public spending.