Engr. Sanusi A. Yero (FNSE) is the fifth Director General of the Kaduna Public Procurement Authority (KADPPA). In less than two years of being appointed to the position, KADPPA has witnessed administrative, operational, infrastructural, and socio-economic reforms that have improved its performance.

In this interview, Engr. Yero speaks on the achievements of the Authority and how it ensures transparency in its procurement processes.

Given the vital role that public procurement plays in government, how has KADPPA contributed to the growth and development of Kaduna State?

Looking at the massive investment in the infrastructural development of Kaduna State, the role that KADPPA played was ensuring that the contracts that were awarded to achieve the massive infrastructural development were done through open competitive bidding, ensuring that there is value for money, and that quality is maintained. KADPPA ensures that all projects are awarded to the right contractor at the right cost, and by following the right process.

The establishment of the e-procurement unit in KADPPA is one of your achievements as DG; what inspired the idea?

In 2015, when H.E Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai became the Governor, he observed the need to review the state’s procurement law and key into the global practice of e-procurement. In 2016, a new law was passed and by 2018, KADPPA guideline was produced. I pioneered and championed the e-procurement unit when I resumed office in June 2021.

The manual processes of procurement were inefficient and subjected to manipulation and corruption. Prior to e-procurement, all procurements were done manually. What it means is that Adverts were placed on national newspapers. Because it is manual, the deadline date could be altered.

When the advert expires, the Bid Opening comes next. This means that you take each envelope, open it, show the bidders, and read out the prices. It is manual and subject to manipulation.

For the Evaluation process, people would sit at a round table and evaluate. The Resident Due Process follows, which is also manual.

These procurement processes are now automated on the portal. Adverts are placed on the portal; so if you don’t place it at the right date, the portal will show because it is electronic. You cannot find any manipulation there.

For the bid opening, a bidder can see the bid happening on the portal at the comfort of his office. Nobody can deprive you of the opportunity of participating when your bid is being read out. If it was manually, you would have to catch a flight to be present at the bid opening. The evaluation are criteria that are set on the portal. They will take all the information and evaluate automatically. So, you don’t need human interference, which reduces corruption.

What has KADPPA achieved with the procurement unit?

We have achieved value for money. It means that if there is human interference, contracts would not be awarded to the right winner and at the right cost. The procurement portal has reduced human interference, thereby achieving value for money.

Also, shortly after we began e-procurement in Kaduna, the World Bank came with a project called States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability (SFTAS). The project was designed to support Kaduna and other Nigerian states to implement a Fiscal Sustainability Plan.

One of the requirements of SFTAS was that all procurements must be done electronically to eliminate corruption and achieve value for money. Luckily for Kaduna, we already had our procurement portal, which helped us to meet a Disbursement Linked Indicator that qualified the state for drawing all funding accruable to it.

In what ways does KADPPA ensure the compliance of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to procurement guidelines and regulations?

We do that through constant training and retraining. Procurement is a new industry in the world. It’s something that started in the 20th century; so it is new and there is a knowledge gap that must be filled through training. We started with five MDAs and then moved to 10. We are now at 19, and gradually increasing the numbers of MDAs we train to boost their performance.

The procurement industry is said to be riddled with corruption; how does KADPPA ensure transparency in its procurement processes?

Information is vital and a strength. We ensure that whatever information we have is publicised and the publication is done electronically. That is the most important thing to cut corruption because once people are deprived of information, contracts would be awarded to favourites, family, and friends but now the information is there, and everyone can see it. It’s only for them to respond.

Another area is the price. We have a Price Intelligence Unit in the office that vets the Bill of Quantities of whatever an MDA is proposing to do.

In December 2022, more than N40 billion was saved. Had it been there was no KADPPA, the money would have been in the contract. The contract would have been awarded with a surplus of N40 billion but because of the diligent job of our staff at KADPPA, the surplus was spotted and removed.

Sometimes, we vet upwards. It’s not all the time that we take it down, especially now that we have local governments as part of our mandates. Local governments feel that their projects should be substandard, but we say, “No, your projects are also the state government’s.” It must be at a standard rate. We now have a standard rate for the state. Not that the local governments will do their own at a lower rate than the state government.

How do you combat corruption in KADPPA?

One of the things I introduced to curb corruption in KADPPA is file tracking. Every mail we receive is documented and we ensure that the file is treated and sent out at the right time. Where there is a delay, I question the staff members involved to know the challenges they may be facing.

When I realised that I will not always be around, I introduced Morning Briefing, which allows staff members to bring all files on their table and discuss with the heads of department. Now, files don’t stay unnecessarily long in the office.

I also enforced a non-entry policy for contractors and consultants who used to loiter around the office, thereby making it rowdy. Then I set up cameras to monitor the inflow of traffic to eliminate every form of corruption.

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