Experts at the just-concluded African Engineering Conference, organised by the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, have blamed the failure of public-private partnership on weak laws.

It also featured the society’s Annual General Meeting and the UNESCO African Engineering Week.

The events were held at the Tropicana Conference Centre with the Federation of African Engineering Organisation (FAEO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisations (UNESCO).

Over 600 delegates from across the world attended.

Its theme was “Adequate, reliable and sustainable energy in Africa.”

Many papers were presented

In his presentation entitled: “Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit: Beyond the limitation of finance in public-private partnership and project procurement options,” Senator Iyiola Omisore said the global perspective of PPP is that it remains the best approach to infrastructural growth.

He noted that although the PPP model had been deployed to execute a few public projects, its value has been mostly felt in Lagos State, where the authorities have partnered the private sector on design, finance and management of public utilities.

Outside the state, he said, infrastructure procurement by states is still tied to the old model of contract awards to private firms to execute a project designed and financed by the government. For this reason, the country has fared poorly.

“The critical point to be made here is that, though there seems to be shortage of investable funds in the international market, but Nigeria’s crisis seems compounded by the integrity profile of our legal framework for an ideal PPP model,” he said.

Omisore said without going into the details of the shortfalls in the legal framework, “suffice to say, however, that the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) Act of 2005, the Public Procurement Act 2007 regulations issued by ICRC governing the PPP process and various state laws as described in each state’s PPP policies, fall short of necessary regulatory framework for proper implementation of PPP projects, most importantly with respect to dispute resolution during the tenor of the contract and drew attention to the absence of political will to see through the policies of previous administration.

He said because concessionaires are aware of a negative tendency by a new administration not to honour to the letter, the tenets of an arrangement by a departed administration, they are often inclined to speed up the inauguration of projects, irrespective of its stage of completion, before the expiration of tenure of the awarding administration. And except there is a determination that a PPP succeed, there are vested interests in a country to ensure that the governments initiative to promote PPP as a policy fail.