-In Moving & Driving Liberia Forward
The Head of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Secretariat in Liberia wants concerted efforts from everyone in moving and driving Liberia in the right direction.
Ralph Jimmeh, Jr. of OGP & Min. Daniel Gayedyu, Jr of MICAT
Open Government Partnership brings together government reformers and civil society leaders to create action plans that make governments more inclusive, responsive and accountable. In the spirit of multi-stakeholder collaboration, OGP is overseen by a Steering Committee including representatives of governments and civil society organizations.
Speaking to this paper at the end of a retreat of the OGP in Monrovia, Ralph Jimmeh reminded the government and partners that the OGP is significant to the governance of the country and as such; there is a need to raise the level of awareness that everyone will know it importance in ensuring transparency and accountability.
This year’s retreat was basically to discuss how those involved can deepen the role of Civil society organizations in the OGP and as well advance the government’s performance with the OGP. It was geared at cementing the collaboration between government and CSOs, a relationship that has had some poor connection according to Mr. Jimmeh.
“The relationship has not been good; sometimes government thinks CSOs against them and sometime CSOs think government hampering their work. So, we are working to build a collaborative relationship that government and CSOs will see each other as partners in the implementation of government’s policies and agenda. We are also considering how the government can be sincere to the fulfillment of her own commitments because in the National Action Plan (NAP) that has been developed, each ministry and agency has these things in their core mandates, functions and they need to be committed to that,” Mr. Jimmeh said in an exclusive interview.
As part of the OGP, there are 45 civil society organizations partnering with the government in ensuring accountability, advocacy and transparency in government. Mr. Jimmeh added “the partnership is a little bit open, but not very open because it is confined to people who are dealing in the area of accountability, transparency and advocacy on citizens’ rights and we are talking somewhere in the neighborhood of at least 45 civil society organizations.”
The current National Action Plan (NAP) that started in 2017 will expire in July 2019 with four of the ten commitments achieved, but the Head of the OGP Secretariat disclosed that they have had some challenges.
He said one of the greatest challenges they faced during the period under review was the transition in governance, saying “some of the ministries and agencies heads were changed and the new ministers and directors needed to understand what it was and how they can be able to work along.”
Mr. Jimmeh named the four commitments achieved as the passage of the Land Rights Act (LRA) by the Liberia Land Authority (LLA), a feedback mechanism initiated by the Liberia National Police (LNP) on criminal activities as well as police misdemeanors, Open Budget by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), an automated voting system (AVS) at the National Legislature that tracks attendance of the legislators, their votes and it enables which bills representatives or senators voted for or against, but said there is a need for political will and a new process at the National Bureau of Concession (NBC) among others.
For his part, the chairman of the Steering Committee and Deputy Information Minister for Administration, Daniel Gayedyu said they are now assessing activities under the current National Action Plan that has been in existence for almost three years to replace it with a new National Action Plan which will be the fourth national action plan.
“The assessment is to determine why some of the commitments weren’t delivered and how can we make improvement and what are some of the ways we can avoid the recurrence of maybe mistakes, slow delivery, the creation of none-feasible commitments, and how we can make the NAP more inclusive to expand to other relevant CSOs and government institutions and how to include other issues regarding health, education, environment in the NAP,” Minister Gayedyu said.
Minister Gayedyu said they also want to include some education and health components in order to follow the money, where is it going.
However, the Deputy MICAT boss lamented that awareness is very low regarding the OGP and it is time for concerted efforts to let the people know that OGP exist and it is a partnership between government and citizens to promote transparency and openness in government, saying “everyone must get involve to discuss and promote.”