The Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD) has told the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) that it will neither invite nor involve the concerned contractors and consultants in its evaluation of government projects. ENetSuD also told COREN that, as long as it has a substantial number of COREN-certified Engineers in its technical team (who supervise technical activities for quality assurance), it is not compulsory for all its technical team to be COREN-registered as some are being mentored and are in the process of becoming certified by COREN.
These were part of ENetSuD’s positions in an invited meeting that took place with officials of COREN Technical Committee in Kwara State where ENetSuD briefed the Committee about its activities on project monitoring and evaluation since 2018.
In the meeting, COREN admitted and appreciated the competence being displayed by ENetSuD in carrying out its project evaluation and audit activities, which are helping the State and the nation at large. COREN, therefore, proposed a relationship that will translate into a better output, having admitted that ENetSuD’s activities are in the public interest.
COREN advised ENetSuD to carry contractors and consultants along (without compromising standards) in its project tracking, evaluation, and audit activities so as to enable them to provide necessary explanations on grey areas noticed by ENetSuD during the activities as a form of fair hearing.
The council also noted that not all ENetSuD’s technical team evaluating Engineering projects are COREN-registered, while some that are COREN-registered have not renewed their 2021 annual payment for the license. ENetSuD was, therefore, advised to ensure full registration and up-to-date payment of its Engineers in compliance with relevant law.
Responding to COREN’s suggestion to always involve contractors during audit activities, the ENetSuD team explained why it is not ideal (and thus, not doable) to involve contractors and consultants in the exercise of its independent audit exercise on government projects executed by them. ENetSuD explained that auditing projects in the presence of their contractors can lead to corruption, conspiracy, conflict of interest, and undue influence against the public interest.
ENetSuD also cautioned that such a practice may expose its technical team to avoidable security threats and blackmail from the project executors.
ENetSuD added that its works are to report the observed problems in project execution to the executing agency, the State Governor, and anti-corruption agencies, as the case may be, for necessary actions.
ENetSuD concluded this point by stating that it is dealing with the supervising Ministry and not the contractor.
ENetSuD emphasized that it is a neutral and independent Civil Society Organization that is not witch-hunting anybody but only interested in ensuring that public funds spent on projects by the government work for the citizens whose taxes and collective patrimony are used to fund the projects.
ENetSuD briefed COREN that it has all categories of Technical professionals in various fields of Engineering, including Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Agriculture, among others.
ENetSuD also promised to encourage Engineers who are yet to renew their 2021 license to do so, even though that is their prerogative consideration.
COREN noted that ENetSuD’s activities are in consonance with its statutory mandate and wanted a lasting partnership with ENetSuD, including (but not limited to) offering some seminars for ENetSuD’s technical team in a form of capacity building, providing a guiding template on project evaluation and reporting, among others. COREN, therefore, charged ENetSuD on a mutually beneficial collaboration in the areas of monitoring and evaluation of Engineering projects to achieve quality jobs and put contractors on their toes.
Representatives of the State Technical Committee of COREN that met with ENetSuD include Engr. B.A. Lawal (Chairman of the State Committee), Engr. Olumoh Sharafadeen, Engr. Abdussallam O. Sirajudeen, Tech. Opadokun Kehinde, Engr. Agboola K. Yahyah, Engr. Okhueleigbe Andrew, Engr. Rahmat T. Abdulquadir, F. O. Ojo, and Engr. Joseph Bamigboye (Assistant Director of Civil Engineering Department, State Ministry of Works).
ENetSuD delegates that met with COREN include Comrade Lanre Osho (Team Leader), Engr. (Dr.) Abdulkadir Taofeeq Solagberu, Engr. Ibrahim Hassan Kobe, Engr. Yusuf Kabir Oluku, Engr. Lawal Olabanji, and Engr. Bolarinwa Olusegun Raphael.
By Saeed Tijjani,