Changing the narrative in the award of Public Contracts

Changing the narrative in the award of Public Contracts – a submission by Ngwa Damaris Ngum

I am Ngwa Damaris Ngum; a woman who hails from the North West Region of Cameroon. I am a Public Contracts Regulatory Assistant, founder and coordinator of HAPPY WORLD (a non-profit organization with one of its objective to promote good governance). I grew up with high moral standards instilled in me by my parents and later my husband especially in aspects of injustice to fellow humans and animals.

The government of Cameroon as other countries relies heavily on Public Contracts for the development of the nation. Public contracts are projects (goods or services) which are funded by the government and some external donors. There is a direct relationship between Public Contracts and development because through the award of Public Contracts we have good roads, electricity & water supply, schools, hospitals & medical supplies, consultants, agricultural products etc .In addition, it creates job opportunities  and its suppose to improve on the livelihood of citizens as a whole.

Public Contracts award procedure has been termed for decades as one of most corrupt services in Cameroon. With all these complaints, the government of Cameroon has put in place a Public Contracts Code and variety of procedures and stakeholders to manage the award and execution of public contracts but transparency seems far-fetched from the public contracts system. It’s a shame with everything put in place the whole procurement process from the launching of the tender, to the award, execution, right up to the payment of the contract services. The recent trend is over costing of these projects by the concerned stakeholders so that they take that opportunity to embezzle funds from the state.

As a Public Contracts Regulator, I am charged with duty to ensure that the Public Contracts code is respected and respecting the Code means there is transparency and fairness in the award and execution of public Contracts within my portfolio of work. However in exercising my duty, I have rather been a target and a source for mockery because I work free from corruption. Normal has become abnormal.

The most recent and difficult case of corruption I experienced was a scenario where the various stakeholders unanimously agreed to fraudulently change the bids of enterprises to suit their unqualified enterprises. As the only person who denied their proposal for corruption, they ganged up against me while seriously threatening my life. I stood my grounds and exposed the truth about their corrupt practices and legal sanctions were levied on them. It wasn’t easy to be alone, speaking the truth.

However, as an economist and a person with high moral values, I understand the role of corruption in the development of the nation hence I try all I can to stop corruption in my sphere of influence. It could look insignificant but it is not because I might influence the construction of a road, school, hospital etc which would have been poorly done but because of my influence it will be properly done and will positively influence the lives of thousands of persons in my community.

Finally I don’t relent in the fight against corruption because I want to be an example for people to emulate. I want people to wipe out the notion that you must hold a post of responsibility to fight corruption. My actions have been a source of inspiration to my colleagues, women, family, friends and other stake holders who are passionate about the development of our nation. For a country to develop, it must be free from corruption.

Not a Herculean Task

Not a Herculean Taska submission by Oladoja, Adesola

The question of what my place is in the development of my nation is a cogent one that no sane citizen should shy away from. If you ask me, I will tell you that I have and still try to contribute my quota to the development of my nation. However, If the nation in question is Nigeria, permit me to change its geographical description and designation as a country, not nation. A nation is bound by homogeneity —a country, by her cultural diversity.

Development is a state of betterment in which people can live, feed and socialise in the community without harbouring the fear of sudden change in their realities. One can ask, what is the difference between growth and development. Growth is not individual in its form and deals largely with numbers while development can be measured solely on how a community as appreciated so far within a specified period of time.

The development of Nigeria as a country is neither a herculean task nor some mysterious question with answers buried deep and yet to be unearthed. The development of Nigeria is in the individual and their involvement. A country with a large number of teeming youth that had lost hope in the idea of the country is not inching towards development if truth will be told.

Now, to answer the question, ‘how can I participate in the development of my nation?’ First, I need to believe the nation is mine and I am not just another number when the call for polls come every four years or every election. This is the first step—that my identity as a part of the nation is not irrelevant and that I matter as an entity, will not be dehumanized or my voice silenced as a citizen, that my votes will matter and my opinion weighs when I walk into any room irrespective of my tribal affiliation and religious sentiments.

If there is a second answer, it must follow the first closely. In recognising myself as a citizen whose portion and quota in the land is as relevant as any other, there will be a loyalty from me to the land which will enable me to serve in any capacity with all my strength and represent said nation with pride.

If there is a third answer, it will be that my share in the commonwealth is allotted me, my responsibility too. The nation takes my advice, works with it if it makes her thrive and do the due diligence of respecting me enough to attribute whatever creative way I have come up to solve problems, to me.

Finally, we must all be deliberate about changing the outlook of our nation as it has been sold to the rest of the world. Things such as fraudulent acts, online scams and ignoble things that had long plagued us, even though we have raised some of the finest minds must be greatly reduced and if possible, eradicated. We must begin to teach our children and adults alike that diligence and excellence is what stands a nation out, not illicit acts and selfish ventures. I have always believed in building slow and steady and on our way to development we must look inwards and find therein the virtues we had long lost or buried, virtues like honesty, humility, grit, determination and fairness—for these things are not just fancy words or make-believe. They can be what the individual will reflect and the shoulders on which our development will be mounted.



The fields are cracked, the rivers are drying, the temperature overpowering and the people are hopeless. Frustrated families sit outside their homes to take in a bit of fresh air but the scorching heat drives them back inside. Joblessness, vexatious and worrisome needs, low power supply and ravaging epidemics paint the true image of my beloved country, Nigeria.
I am a young girl who still has dreams of a utopian Nigeria. I dream of a society where systems work out duly. But seeing the opposite of what I still expect breaks my heart. How can I help my people? How can my country be developed and most importantly, how can I participate in the development of my nation?
The Nigerian National Banking Bureau of Statistics according to the 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) survey states that 63% of Nigerians are multidimensionally poor. Sadly, this is quite ironic in a country that is said to be the giant of Africa, blessed with diverse mineral resources and fertile vegetation.
Many households cannot afford three square meals a day, not to speak of a balanced diet. Many homes do not even have direct links with state water agencies. True, various non-governmental organisations have set up boreholes in strategic areas of some localities, but that is as far as it goes. Most of these boreholes are currently non-functional. Once they develope any fault, they are abandoned.
Environmental sanitation and hygiene is another great area of concern for me. The environment is such that dirt is thrown in any available public space. Household dirt is thrown on the street and when it rains, dirt gets transferred to many unwanted places. Open defecation is yet another social menace. Diseases like cholera easily get transferred as a result of this unhygienic habit.
It is said that children are the leaders of tomorrow. However, it is very disturbing for me as a child to see many children out of school due to poverty and those who are in school do not have access to good education. All these make children potential instruments in the hands of evil people. Sadly, this points to a shaky tomorrow for our nation. The government and our entire education system clearly are not giving their best.
Governmental and non-governmental agencies have been taking actions to improve the condition in Nigeria and I want to be part of this! My first step towards making a change in my environment will be signing up as a volunteer at Precious Fountain Foundation. Education is very important to ensure the growth of any nation and being a volunteer at PFF will help me to contribute to the educational needs of Nigeria and in extension reducing the poverty and joblessness level in years to come.
Next, I will work with eco-friendly groups as this will help me to efficiently engage in afforestation exercises. I will help to organise residents of various streets, create awareness about the dangers of poor living conditions and lead them in cleaning up which will pave the way for a clean and healthy Nigeria.
After I have gained experience, I will start up my own non-governmental organisation to enable me to contribute and fulfill my dreams of having a well-developed and sane society. I strongly believe that this will spark up the interest of many other young people who will then be motivated to be partakers of this worthy cause. I will organize campaigns to raise funds that will be used to propel the ideas I want to propagate. For example, paying the fees of out-of-school children, planting trees, and buying cleaning equipment. I will lend my voice to the citizens of Nigeria and speak about the things which the government should do for Nigerians. I will also organise prayer bands that will travail to bring forth a new Nigeria.
My nation is deep in the pit of underdevelopment but I am a strong believer that we can get to where we deserve to be, at the top of nations. My participation and that of others will produce a great nation, a developed Nigeria and an envious Giant of Africa!