28th May, 2010
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong and the United Nations Organisationâ€™s Chief of Peacekeeping Procurement Unit, Sean Purcell, have warned Nigerian corporate and individual businessmen willing to transact business with the organisation to avoid taking â€œshort cutsâ€.
This warning was given at a one-day seminar organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enlighten the Nigerian businessmen on the modalities for winning contracts from the UN in Lagos.
Dr. Hong, who spoke through the Ministryâ€™s Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi also lamented that despite the countryâ€™s contributions to the peacekeeping efforts of the United Nations, not much has been achieved in terms of awarding contracts to the countryâ€™s citizens.
He, however, said that the reason for the lack of patronage of Nigerians was because most of them do not know the UN procedure for awarding contracts.
â€œAs a foreign policy initiative, the programme is expected to build the capacity of local entrepreneurs to become global players and to promote Nigeriaâ€™s economic drive and integration into the world economy by 2020.
â€œSince joining the United Nations in 1960, Nigeria has been and remains unequivocally committed to the goals, principles and objectives of the world-wide organisation.
â€œOver the years, Nigeria has consistently made substantial contributions towards the promotion and maintenance of international peace, security and friendship.
â€œAt the last count, Nigeria has over 6020 troops under UN in various theatres of conflicts.
â€œRegrettably, in spite of this robust military and heroic diplomatic engagements, Nigeria has not benefited materially from the lucrative UN procurement activities within the UN system, especially those linked to peacekeeping engagements, when compared with other participating countries namely, India, Pakistan, Japan, Sweden,â€ the minister said.
He said that the countries doing business with the organisation had ensured that their business communities participated actively in the procurement process.
Hong said that the seminar tagged â€œRegistering As A United Nations Supplierâ€ organised in conjunction with the United Nations secretariat Procurement Division and the Centre for Trade Practitioners LTD/GTE, was part of the Federal Governmentâ€™s effort to use the remaining months of its administration to focus on the use of foreign policy to achieve the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Vision 20: 2020 programme.
â€œBroadly speaking, the objective of this seminar is to sensitise federal, state, local governments, corporate orgaisations and business community in Nigeria on the procurement opportunities and procedure available within the UN system,â€ he said.
He advised Nigerians to see the ministryâ€™s involvement as a means to avail the country the opportunity to attract foreign resources that would benefit corporate and individual Nigerians.
Dr. Hong added: â€œThe UN Procurement Office offers opportunities in the areas of supplies to the UN offices and Peacekeeping Missions. The products include fuel, food service, engineering, logistics, air charter, clearing and forwarding services, uniforms, communication equipment, etc.â€
Speaking further, Mr. Purcell of the UN implored businessmen in the country to register on the UN website so as to enable them access the needs and how to apply for contracts in the organisation.
He added that the organisation is constantly in need of materials and goods for the welfare of its members as well as the effective running of the organisation.
He, however, warned against trying to financially induce members of the organisation or to give gratification to them for contracts awarded as this could lead to blacklisting the companies involved.
It is an attempt by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to put food on the table of the average Nigerian, because diplomacy is not just about wining and dining but also about bringing business to Nigeria. It is very delighting to seize the opportunity available in the UN procurement division.
It is also an opportunity for the countryâ€™s businessmen who want to take advantage of the diplomacy to participate.
Nigeria is one of the foremost peace keeping nations. By 1995, we had contributed about a quarter of a million troops to the UNâ€™s global effort to peace keeping operations, but Nigerians have not derived much compared to other countries that have not contributed much