Being the prefatory address delivered by Mr Seye Oyeleye M.A, LL.B (LOND), Director-General DAWN Commission at the 2nd Edition of the Southwest Secretaries to the State Governments Forum on Wednesday 14th September 2022 at the Mitros Residences, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Advancing GovTech Reforms in Public Administration
I am once again enthused to be in the presence of the Southwest Secretaries to the State Government. Your role in the design, implementation and monitoring of policy cannot be overemphasized. Through your offices, you have steered your States to the path of greater prosperity.
Your presence at this 2nd Edition of this Forum highlights your strong commitment to the regional integration, cooperation and development agenda. I am profoundly grateful to His Excellency, Governor Prince Dapo Abiodun and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Tokunbo Talabi, for their immense support in ensuring this second edition comes to fruition.
This edition is timely because of the evolving nature of the world, orchestrated by technology. There is no doubt that embracing technology will tremendously improve the quality of service delivered to the people and in fact the quality of life. The theme, “Govtech Reforms in Public Administration”, is built on the need for consolidating the digitalization efforts of the federal government.
In line with the Keynote Address delivered by the Secretary General of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, at the last edition, the Federal Government recently launched the Presidential Delivery Tracker (PDT). The Tracker application is a co-creation platform designed to track, review and periodically report the activities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, performances of Ministers and Permanent Secretaries, among others. It aims to promote transparency and expand access to reporting on presidential priority policies, programmes and projects. This edition, on “Govtech Reforms in Public Administration” offers an opportunity to tap into such initiative as an example of digital transformation in governance processes. In the same vein, the e-governance master plan recently launched by the federal government lends credence to the relevance of today’s theme. I know Dr Dasuki Ibrahim Arabi’s presentation will delve deeply into the context and implementation process.
It pleases me that in recent years, our State governments have taken steps to introduce technology in their governance processes. This was the focus at the Southwest Heads of Service Strategic meeting held in Akure in May. At the meeting the Heads of Service took turns to share the efforts of their respective states to improve service delivery processes through digitalization.
For instance, the digitalization of extant circular in Ondo state as reported by the state’s Department of Public Service Reforms and Development is improving communication and information management in the state’s Public Service.
Similarly, at the last edition of this SSG’s forum, the Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, spoke about the state’s digitization efforts in the education sector. There is a digital dashboard in the Governor’s office that presents real-time data supplied by the EKOEXCEL smart devices used by teachers in the State. The EKOEXCEL is a similar innovation to the Performance Management System (PMS) Dashboard situated in the Office of the Secretary to the State Government (OSGF). In Osun State, the web-based feedback mechanism is a good example of technology-based civic engagement.
Today’s session truly serves as a platform for learning and adaptation of digitalization efforts such as these to address varying degrees of governance-related challenges.
GovTech is a shortened term for Government Technology. It is a new approach to public sector modernization (GovPilot, n.d.). It is considered a whole-of-government approach to public sector modernization and promotes simple, efficient and transparent government with the citizen at the center of reform (World Bank, 2020). GovTech is an extension of e-government.
GovTech was developed as a way of addressing some of the loopholes inherent in e-government. In the latter, government principles are user-centric but initiated and driven by the government. Communications and service delivery are also one-way. Processes might have been ICT-enabled, but their designs were often analog.
According to the World Bank (2020), GovTech emphasizes universal accessibility.
This ensures services and solutions are accessible to the widest range of beneficiaries. Its citizen-centric approach guarantees that the design of solutions considers device and internet access limitations, digital literacy, cultural norms, and other issues that might affect access (World Bank, 2020).
Gov Tech is a whole-of-government approach which also promotes systems thinking and the development of integrated approaches to policymaking and service delivery for accessible, transparent and efficient government (World Bank, 2020).
This new approach to digital transformation in service delivery encompasses deepening citizen-government.
However, as with e-Government, there are certain enablers of digital transformation in the public sector. These include digital skills in the public sector, sound legal and regulatory regime, strong enabling and safeguarding institutions and an environment that promotes innovation in the Public Sector.
Indeed, a positive approach to digital transformation in the public sector will impact the design, implementation and evaluation of public policy. Prof. Tunji Olaopa’s presentation on The Nigerian State, Public Policy Implementation and the Challenge of Development is one to look forward to in this regard.
It is my hope that at the end of this meeting, we all will have developed a greater understanding of the principles of GovTech and evaluated different strategies that can be adopted or replicated in our individual States. Crucially, this Session should provide a platform for our States to learn from one another on the digital transformation interventions to improve governance processes and ultimately service delivery in the Region.
At this point, I will like to once again express my profound gratitude to the Host State, Governor Prince Dapo Abiodun and the Ogun Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Tokunbo Talabi for the warmth and hospitality we have received so far. I also appreciate all the SSGs for taking the time out of their evidently busy schedule to be with us for this critical conversation. DAWN Commission is proud that this forum is blossoming and that the 2nd Edition is holding today. We will continue to count on your support in ensuring this Forum’s sustainability.
I will also like to extend my appreciation to our resource persons today for honoring our invitation, Dr. Dasuki Ibrahim Arabi, Director General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) and Prof. Tunji Olaopa, Professor at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies. I am confident their contributions will enrich our deliberations today.
Finally, and most importantly, the Commission looks forward to working with the States to crystalize the outcome of today’s deliberations into a practical framework for digitalization of public Service which will accelerate improved service delivery in the Southwest States.
Thank you for listening.