Kogi sets new record, launches App on open governance

Kogi State Government on Tuesday officially unveiled the Kogi Open Governance and Accountability System (KOGAS) and the Kogi Digital Album.

KOGAS is a Digital System platform specifically designed to strengthen interactions and relationships between the government and the citizens.

Governor Yahaya Bello at the unveiling ceremony at Government House, Lokoja said with the new development, the citizens have more guaranteed access to their leaders.

Bello who was represented at the occasion by the Deputy Governor, Edward Onoja added that  there is a standing directive for all queries to be attended to in less than 24hours.

“To the good people of Kogi State, we are here to remove the last filters and ensure that what you see is what you get. Of course, those who have been following events in the media know that one of the hallmarks of my New Direction Administration is the transparent conduct of government businesses.

“We have been appraised and ranked and rated by several national and international organizations as one of the most transparent, if not the most transparent State Governments in the Federation. We are back to back leaders in meeting the indices of transparent governance set and evaluated by the World Bank’s State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme. In fact, we are the only state which has ever scored 100% in the annual evaluation process. The Kogi Open Governance and Accountability System (KOGAS) is therefore another layer of my Administration’s commitment to open governance and accountability.

“A responsible Government must be as open and transparent as possible to the citizens. This is only possible when functionaries at all levels are tasked with heightened responsiveness to citizens in the conduct of all official business. As I see it, all of us in this Administration must be open to endless scrutiny by those we serve. In fact, we must require it as a key performance indicator in our service compact.

“Opacity and cult-like secrecy is how skeletons get into cupboards in the governance process. I have expressly warned my cabinet members and all other employees of the Kogi State Government to avoid it like the plague.

“When we migrated to the Treasury Single Account (TSA) some heads of MDAs failed to implement with the alacrity and transparency implicit in my directives and they were shown the way out of the system. Till today, every appearance of non-transparency is haram and anathema in this Government. You are a public servant not the high priestess of a secret society or the capo of a cult. Shadowiness in official business is liable to get you sacked, prosecuted or both.

“What we intend to achieve with KOGAS is to enlist the public more intimately in the policing of government and her accoutrements. In essence, we are giving our people the tools they need to play the active role of watchdogs of our officials, ministries, departments and agencies.

“The Kogi State Ministry of Information and Communications will deploy KOGAS for round-the-clock live interactions and feedback to and from the public per the standard operating procedures. The ministry will put every part of Government on the platform. It may help those who may want to resist this change to know that KOGAS will also be monitored in real time from my office through my Chief of Staff via bi-weekly compliance analysis and status reports put together by our Research and Development Unit known as the New Direction Blueprint Team.

“Kogi Open Governance and Accountability System is therefore a digital synergy between the leaders and the led for the purposes of good governance. We will be stationing a rotation of cabinet members and other high-ranking government officials on the KOGAS platform for real time interaction between the Government and the citizens. They will take suggestions and complaints and ensure that appropriate action is taken. Where my personal attention is needed, or that of any specific official, they will escalate immediately. Typically, by my directive, all matters must be answered within 24 hours, or at least initiated where the request calls for a more complex approach.

“Beyond the accountability aspects of KOGAS, it will also create a platform for citizens’ engagement and mobilisation, both for governance excellence and for community service.

Options will be available from time to time for citizens to form themselves into volunteer groups to render public services to themselves and in this way bridge noticeable gaps in community engagement. This is one of our initiatives at ensuring that we build a population of responsible citizens who are patriotic about Nigeria and passionate about the development of our dear State.

“Apart from the Kogi Open Governance and Accountability System, the Kogi State Digital Album and the Confluence Business Directory are also being unveiled today. The Digital Album will be a repository of images with pictures of government activities, programs and projects to tell our stories. The Directory will be a yellow pages for finding businesses operating in Kogi State and enhancing their reach.”

He commended the Ministry of Information and Communications for delivering the digital tools that will enhance governance in the state.

The Commissioner for Information and Communications, Hon. Kingsley Fanwo while giving his speech during the unveiling said the system was made available by Governor Bello’s interest to make the people active participant in governance. He added that the Governor believes that power belongs to the people.

Fanwo further stressed that with KOGAS, citizens can ask questions from various government Ministries, Agencies and Departments on all issues as regards the growth of the State.

The Consultant, Mr. Wole Aguda while giving an overview of the KOGAS platform and the Kogi Digital Album said it is one that gives room to participatory governance by all and gives the opportunity to have reel of history for government officials and plans for the future. It also gives room for the people to access the documentation of government history, documentation of customs and traditions of different tribes and ethnic groups within the State.

The Consultant who expressed how proud he is to be a Kogite, added that the Government of Alhaji Yahaya Bello has shown that it is indeed the government of the people.

Ayodele John Alonge PhD, CLN, FIIM while delivering his lecture on the zoom network, described the platform as a kind of Wikipedia where you can go to access all kind of information. He added that one doesn’t have to be in Kogi State before he/she can know what is happening there.

Prince Ade Omole, a United Kingdom (UK) Defense Ministry NSV-Certified Senior Consultant with over 30 years experience in the International IT Project Management Industry, while giving his remarks, appreciated Governor Yahaya Bello, describing him as a role model.

Prince Omole said with the KOGAS platform, the people have access to what the government is doing.

He added that KOGAS is a tool that helps Public Administration to be easier and it will help to ensure internal administration is done effectively and that service delivery will be improved  in planning and decision-making.

He said since the government and its officials can’t be everywhere at the same time, the KOGAS tool will allow the people communicate with them directly.

The President, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Olumide Akpata while speaking on the topic; “The Right to Ask,” quoted the Freedom of Information Act, adding that it gives everyone the  ‘Right to ask.’

He added that government wants her citizens to ask questions in order to ensure their well-being, stressing that KOGAS platform will add to the efforts of his administration on Transparency and Accountability.

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