I am profoundly delighted to be here and to have the honour of speaking at this retreat organized under the auspices of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
2. To begin with, permit me to acknowledge the leadership of the BPP for keeping faith with
the tradition of organizing the Annual Procurement Retreat for Federal Permanent Secretaries, Accountant-General of the Federation and Auditor-General of the Federation which overtime has gained the status of a foremost Master Class for the aforementioned accounting officers. More so, I consider the newly appointed Permanent Secretaries very fortunate in view of our very interactive induction programme held yesterday, coming back-to-back with the BPP Procurement Retreat for the first time.
3. According to the financial regulations, the term “ACCOUNTING OFFICER” means the Permanent Secretary of a Ministry or Head of an Extra-Ministerial office is in full control of, and is responsible for all human, material and financial resources which are critical inputs in the management of the organization. Hence, by implication, you shall be liable for any breach or contravention, even if caused by anyone acting on your behalf. Consequently, such liability arising from accountability failure may not cease even after leaving office, as an accounting officer could still be called upon at any time to account for his/her tenure.
4. To buttress this point, a quotation credited to a publication of the Commonwealth Secretariat, London titled Managing Change: The Evolving Role of Top Public Servants says:
“WHILE GOVERNMENTS AND MINISTERS COME AND GO, THE PERMANENT SECRETARY REMAINS THE CUSTODIAN OF PERMANENT PROBLEMS” (end of quote).
As amusing as this may sound, it is only to simplify our understanding or appreciation of the intricacies of the office and to further underscore the enormous responsibilities Permanent Secretaries shoulder in the realm of public administration and financial management.
5. This is why the aptness of the theme of this year’s retreat, “Procurement Implementation in the New Budget Cycle” cannot be overstated as it will enhance better interpretation of our roles as they pertain to proper budgetary and accounting systems for improved internal control, accountability and transparency. With the restoration of the January to December budget cycle, the country’s economy is set to experience a big boost in the area of effective budget implementation. Accordingly, it is expected that Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Extra-Ministerial offices will be proactive and employ all necessary mechanisms towards ensuring seamless implementation of the budgets of their respective Ministries and by implication sustaining the trajectory of the Administration’s Next Level Agenda.
6. In addition, the re-introduced 12-month fiscal calendar budget, besides encouraging the tracking of budget implementation, will also enable the private sector and the country’s development partners to easily align their plans programmes and projects with the country’s new budget cycle among other benefits. This of course will go a long way in employing the full participation of all stakeholders in the provision of critical amenities and infrastructure for Nigerians.
7. Furthermore, it is of great essence for you to be fully abreast and involved in the procurement processes of agencies under your Ministries. In this regard, you must insist that Chief Executives of agencies under your purview follow due processes and adhere to the provisions of the public procurement act before embarking on the implementation of any project. Therefore, it is strongly advised that your Ministries and agencies constantly liaise with the BPP to ensure strict compliance with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act.
8. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, while there is so much to be said to help us appreciate the essence of this forum, I trust that the arsenal of resource persons who have honoured our invitation, will do justice to their presentations so that everyone leaves here more enlightened and equipped to meet the demands of their offices more efficiently. However, I believe for every one of us, particularly our new Permanent Secretaries, the following wise saying will be of immense
benefit in guiding our daily administrative judgements, and it says:
“EVERY BAD PRECEDENT ORIGINATED AS A JUSTIFIABLE MEASURE” (End of Quote).
Trust me they will test you, they will come with their suggestions, ideas and persuasive overtures, giving you “justifiable” reasons alien to extant rules, financial regulations and relevant legislation to do the contrary. However, always remember that when the chips are down you will be left alone to do what you were initially appointed to do- which is “Account”.
9. Thus, I implore every one of us to participate fully by sharing salient experiences and thoughts, as well as seeking clarifications where necessary in addition to any other useful contribution towards the success of this Retreat.
10. At this juncture, I reiterate the commitment of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to the continued collaboration with the Bureau of Public Procurement to sustain this retreat as well as any other laudable initiative that will enhance professionalism and competence of our personnel in public procurement.
11. Our sincere thanks also go to the Government and Good people of Kano State for all arrangements put in place to host this meeting and all other activities lined up for this visit.
12. I welcome everyone once again just as I look forward to fruitful out comes from this retreat.
13. Thank you and God bless.