Ezekwesili opposes move to make Jonathan chairman of procurement council

By The Citizen

A former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, on Tuesday opposed a proposed amendment to the Public Procurement Act to make President Goodluck Jonathan the Chairman of the National Council on Procurement.

Ezekwesili, one of the key figures that served in the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007, was the pioneer Director-General, Bureau of Public Procurement, otherwise known as Due Process Office.

The former minister spoke at a two-day interactive session held in Abuja by the House of Representatives Committee on Public Procurement chaired by Ms. Jumoke Okoya-Thomas.

According to Ezekwesili, it is against global best practice for the President to preside over the council on procurement or preoccupy himself with awarding contracts.

She advised Jonathan to reject such a bill if he was made the chairman of the council, adding that contract matters were not his responsibility.

She said, 'I learnt that there is a move for an amendment of the legislation (Public Procurement Act) in order to give the chairmanship of the council to the President. Why will anybody do that? He should not allow anybody to do that to him.

'The man who is carrying the elephant and cannot be using his feet to look for a cricket. To make the President the chairman of the National Council on Procurement is totally not the most effective and most efficient thing to do in the arena of public policy.

'If you understand what I am saying, understand it; if you don't understand it, oho.'

Citing instances from other countries, particularly the United States, the former minister told the session that it was not the tradition for the President or ministers to bother themselves with the award of contracts.

She suggested that Nigeria should endorse the global practice by keeping the President and ministers as far away from the award of contracts as possible.

Ezekwesili spoke further, 'President Obama does not call cabinet meetings to discuss contracts. The Prime Minister of Singapore does not call cabinet meetings to discuss contracts.