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LACC says NIF is on the Brink of Collapse - Blames Members

The National Integrity Forum (NIF) of Liberia is at the verge of total collapse if nothing is immediately done to resuscitate that integrity institution. The Chairman of LACC - the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission Cllr. James Verdier observed that the NIF is expressing strangulation and imminent death due to lack of financial support from member institutions.

Speaking at the World Bank sponsored annual retreat of the NIF at Corina Hotel in Sinkor on Wednesday June 7, 2016, Cllr. Verdier hoped that the retreat would discuss means to resuscitate the Forum and enhance collaboration among member institutions. He urged members to recommit themselves to the goal and objectives of the NIF using their individual strengths to impact society through the Forum. “There is need for professionals to come together and cooperate to make the forum relevant in the society”The LACC boss (Cllr. James Verdier) also chairs the NIF’s Steering Committee.   He emphasized that members of the Forum themselves are undermining the integrity of the NIF in that they rarely attend meetings to discuss pertinent issues intended to strengthen the Forum but rather send their technicians to deputize them at steering committee meetings, adding “it is better for the institutional heads or their principal deputies to attend and not someone from the lower rank.”

NIF members include the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Governance Commission (GC), LACC, Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), the Ministry Information, Culture, and Tourism (MICAT), Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC), Law Reform Commission (LRC), Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives (LEITI), Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC), Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), Corporate Responsibility Forum (CRF), the Ministry of Labor (MOL), Ministry of Finance for Development Planning (MFDP), Civil Service Agency (CSA), Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY), and the General Auditing Commission (GAC).

As its vision, the National Integrity Forum is dedicated to providing a platform for collaboration amongst institutions for the promotion of integrity, and its goal is “to increase the participation of citizens, non-citizens and institutions to holistically fight corruption” in this country. The forum is expected to serve as a “referee for all integrity institutions” and sets the pace on how such issues are handled and publicly discussed.

The key objective of the integrity annual retreat was to strengthen collaboration between and amongst integrity institutions. The sustainability of the forum was also another important issue discussed.  The LACC has been the major financier of the NIF. The retreat featured two major presentations on the topics:

  1. The Sustainability of the National Integrity Forum: A National Platform for Change;
  2. Building Strategic Alliances and Synergies for Collective Action: Issues and Challenges.

The LACC boss also addressed the presidential establishment of the Task Force headed by Cllr. Fonati Kofa. Chairman Verdier explained that the Task Force set up by President Sirleaf is not meant to usurp the functions of the LACC but that the LACC and Ministry of Justice are working together with the task Force to achieving a common result. He noted that LACC still retains its statutory mandate in the ongoing Global Witness Report against some senior government officials.

Remarks by Donor organizations

UNDP representative Mohamed Boakai noted the UNDP would like to see more robust fight against corruption from integrity institutions, suggesting that the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) be part of the forum, and ensure integrity, transparency and accountability in the collection of taxes across the country.

EU Political Counselor, Emmart Sundbad, also noted that the EU would like to see corruption eradicated in Liberia, pointing out that at least ten percent (10%) of funds donated to Liberia are consumed by the wrong people “and that is corruption”. He therefore recommended that openness, transparency and accountability can help end acts of corruption in Liberia.

Presentations

GC Commissioner Ruth Jappah was the NIF retreat’s first presenter. She spoke on the topic “The Sustainability of the National Integrity Forum: A National Platform for Change”. Commissioner Ruth Jappah highlighted the need to strengthen the NIF, have a clear organizational identity, identify opportunities for sustainability (which is one of the pillars of the forum), develop strategic plan along with a financial plan to include a long- range fund-raising plan. She emphasized that the need for steering committee members to engage more often and recommit to the aspirations of the National Integrity Forum.

Commissioner Jappah emphasized the need for NIF to begin discussions that would lead to a four to five-year road map that identifies realistic and achievable goals in keeping with its mission. She noted that for an organization to be relevant it must have a strategic plan that speaks to the mission, vision, goals and niche of the organization.

“We did not have money from our respective institutions to do this. What we had was a vision for fighting corruption, values grounded in working together, and a strong leadership that kept us together from start to finish”.

James Dorbor Jallah, Executive Director of the Public Procurement & Concessions Commission (PPCC) spoke on the topic: Building Strategic Alliances and Synergies for Collective Action: Issues and Challenges. The presentation focused on building alliances and synergies among member institutions of NIF: strategic plan for NIF as the way forward.

NIF’s strengths derive from its member institutions and therefore the need for collaborations and networking. Such collaborations yield the following: Shared goals/activities, expertise and resources; cost reduction; reduced competition; power shift (change in political bargaining power); increased positive public perception; and image enhancement and trustworthiness.

However, challenges of the NIF include tufts protection, political and limited resources,   rivalries (Jealousy, Competitiveness, Conflict), and personal dislikes as NIF’s challenges.

Mr. Jallah described the National Integrity Forum as being “a platform to achieving our collective goals: efficiency, transparency and accountability”. He called on NIF members to collaborate with each other to engender the following outcomes:

  1. Cost and risk reduction in the management of public assets,
  2. Ensure that performance and service delivery in the transparency sector of Governance is improved, and that
  3. Good governance becomes institutionalized across government.

The core values of the NIF include Human Rights and Dignity; Accountability and Transparency; Partnership and Collaboration; Excellent Performance; and Ethical Behavior.

 

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