From the blast of the whistle on January 27, 2016, Governor Yahaya Bello did not mince words and actions on the need for every Government Official in his administration to be committed to transparency and accountability.
Government Officials who fell short of his standard on transparency have not only been shown the way out, but also made to face the law and ensure the State doesn’t lose a dime to fraudulent activities.
The report in PREMIUM TIMES of March 26, 2021 which was titled: “INVESTIGATION: Kogi govt spent N90 million on a N300,000 software”, which falsely claimed that the Government of Kogi State spent 90 million naira to procure a software for CoviD-19 self-assessment, is not only misleading but a malicious attempt at painting the State as a corrupt one.
We initially wanted to ignore the lies in the report, knowing how much the State Government has been attacked for not subscribing to the commercial aspects of Covid-19. But on a second thought, we have decided to put Premium Times under the lens of truth, logic and common sense.
As a Government, we have no record that 90 million Naira was expended to procure the Covid-19 self-assessment software.
What we have is a budget line to spend 90.7 million Naira for the procurement of computer software for the health sector in the State which may include but not limited to the self-assessment app.
What was actually spent on the software referred to in the publication as well the upgrading of the Ministry of Health website was N890, 000.00 (eight hundred and thousand Naira only). How N890, 000.00 became 90 million Naira can only be a ludicrous pen magic by draconian pen arbiters hired to do a hatchet job.
We therefore challenge Premium Times to publish any proof of the State Government payment for the software to the tune of 90 million Naira. If that is too difficult for Premium Times, to provide, it should publish our record that showed any claim of such payment by the State Government.
Premium Times’ misleading and defamatory publication on the app is coming on the heels of the State Government’s pardon to a journalist who lied that an isolated center cost the state 7 billion Naira. He later apologized to the Governor that his report was false and not verified.
By the presumed standards of Premium Times, we expect them to quickly publish proofs of their allegations or tender an unreserved apology within the next seven days for misleading the public in a desperate ploy to defame the Kogi State Government.
Our Government will continue to hold the media accountable to the people as the 4th Estate of the Realm and purveyors of truth.
The Social-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, needs to get to the root of matters before determining whether there are issues to probe or not. SERAP must commit itself to mulching its integrity and not be seen as a pawn in the hands of desperate politicians who have seen Kogi as the green that must be turned red at all cost.
As a transparent administration, we are prepared to accommodate and work with groups that believe in our ideals of ensuring that Kogi’s resources only work for the Kogi populace and not a few who are on the corridors of power.
Our fiscal responsibility is mercurial and a radiant example for the nation; illuminating enough to clear the flames of reckless and irresponsible allegations that have no root in facts.
The Kogi State Government will remain focused on delivering democracy dividends to the people with a Governor that is irrevocably committed to Doing More.
Hon. Commissioner for Information and Communications
29th March, 2021.