BY ONYEKA AJUMOBI ONOCHIE
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Alhaji Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, has said the Federal Government is committed to Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model as a viable option for the development of infrastructure in the country.
The Permanent Secretary stated this Tuesday, in Abuja, at the opening of a three-day capacity building workshop on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects for Public Servants in the Railway and Inland Dry Port sector.
Alhaji Dutse, who was represented by the Director, Technical Services Department in the Ministry, Mrs Fatimah Hayatu, said the Federal Government may not have all the finances required to fund all infrastructure deficit, thus Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is the credible alternative to traditional procurement.
He explained that the decision of the Federal Government to commit resources to skills and capacity development of public servants handling PPP projects was in a bid to enhance the officers’ ability to develop, negotiate, attain financial closure and manage the post-contract phase of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects.
The Federal Government had, in 2017, through the Federal Ministry of Finance, entered into a cost sharing grant agreement with the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF), a subsidiary of the African Development Bank, deliberately for the development of capacity and knowledge of public officers charged with the delivery of Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects.
The first work stream of the training was held in 2018 and it focused on all aspects of Public-Private Partnership (PPP), with participants drawn from various critical infrastructure Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). The 2019 capacity building exercise, co-sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, focused mainly on Public-Private Partnerships within the railway and inland dry ports sub-sector of the transportation sector.
A Deputy-Director in the Federal Ministry of Finance, Barrister Moremi Soyinka-Onijala explained that the capacity building, an initiative of the Honourable Minister of Finance, on realizing the need to equip the officers in discharging their duties in Public-Private Partnership (PPP); was in line with the Honourable Minister’s responsibility to manage the fiscal affairs of the country.
According to her, “the focus of the 2019 training on the railway and inland dry ports showed that the Federal Government was deeply concerned about the infrastructure deficit in the sector and was working to attract private investment to bring in required funds to develop and operate projects within the sub-sectors”. She expressed optimism that the workshop will increase efficiency and effectiveness in the procurement of PPP projects by reducing the reliance on foreign Transaction Advisors for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects.
In a presentation, Ikenna Emehelu, a partner with the US law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, pointed out that, “Federal Government doesn’t have enough money to build up Nigeria’s infrastructure; PPP model allows the Federal Government to share risk and responsibility of designing, building, financing, operating, and maintaining physical infrastructure projects with the private sector. But Federal Government cannot assure that it struck a good deal with the private sector, unless its staff is trained to negotiate with the private sector.”