The House of Representatives has passed into second reading a Bill for an Act to amend the Public Procurement Act 2004 to ensure that 20 percent of all contracts in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are reserved for disadvantaged groups within the society.
According to the proponent of the legislative framework, the bill seeks to “amend the Principal Act to ensure that 20 percent of Federal Government public procurement (capital and recurrent) of the nation’s annual budget is awarded to the economically disadvantaged groups” including: “indigenous companies owned wholly by Nigerian youths between the age of 18 and 35 and who are domiciled/resident in Nigeria.”
Others include: “indigenous companies wholly owned by physically challenged Nigerians or with physically challenged Nigerians as its majority shareholders as well as indigenous companies owned by female citizens of Nigeria who are not more than 40 years and who have been domiciled in Nigeria continuously for a period of 5 years before bid for the contract/public procurement.”
In his lead debate, Sunday Karimi (PD-Kogi) explained that the bill seeks to reduce unemployment and ensure that youths and other disadvantaged Nigerians are given consideration in procurement of goods and services all MDAs.
He observed that bill would enable graduates and professionals from various fields to pull their resources together and establish business establishments that can approach the MDAs for contract.
He added that youths are making progress in other nations including Africa adding that Kenya and Ghana had set aside 30% of all contract and procurement activities in MDAs for their youths.
In his remarks, Femi Gbajabiamila, Majority Leader who expressed optimism that the proposed legislation will protect Nigerian youths when passed into law, adding that it will not in any way infringe on the rights of other citizens.
On his part, Tahir Monguno (APC-Borno) posited that the proposed law will support the growth of small and medium scale enterprises (SMES) across the country, in line with Local Content Act.
In the same vein, Abulrazak Namdas (APC-Adamawa) argued that the proposed amendment to the Public Procurement Act will provide ample opportunities for teeming Nigerian youths to explore opportunities by way of either employment or contracts in all the MDAs.
He added that such legislation would encourage the youths and make them to be more stable financially.
While ruling, Speaker Yakubu Dogara referred the bill to the Committee on Public Procurement for further legislative action.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja