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.