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Civil Society and Donors/Partners Pledge support to GC Programs

There have been numerous comments as to the actual works of the Governance Commission though much has been done by the Commission to engage the public in its work activities. The Commission recently held an Open House event inviting its major and prospective partners, civil society including the media, relevant government ministries, agencies, and commissions, the legislature, to its 2 day four sessions Open House event.

Day one featured donors, foreign missions, and heads of international organizations during the first session while the second session was graced by the Private sector including Central Bank Governor Milton Weeks, and members of the Business Community. Day 2 was graced by the heads of Ministries, Agencies and Commissions as well as the Legislature at the first session. The afternoon session was attended by civil society and the media.

Invitees expressed interests and support to the of Governance Commission (GC) event noting the quality achievements by the Commission over time, and recommending the need for increased public awareness.

In his Welcome remarks, Dr. Amos Sawyer, Chairman of the GC Board of Commissioners noted that the Commission was using the Open House event to acquaint invitees with the Commission’s work. According to Dr. Sawyer,

“The fundamental of governance is a partnership between the government, the private sector and civil society, as well as the international community. I hope that we can begin to correct our work with this initiative – incase we’ve left out any partner”.

He said partners/donors have been very generous and that GC appreciates every ounce of resource - whether in cash, or technical support to the Commission.

Dr. Sawyer also made a special appeal (having in mind Liberia’s numerous constraints) for donors and partners’ continued generosity. He said due to the growing work of the Commission, government provides incremental support to GC which is now placed at about 40% of GC’s needs (covering staff salaries and some operational needs). With the pending national elections and numerous national programs and expenditure, there is a high possibility that government will not be in a position to contribute more than it is doing now for GC in the next 2 years.

Most of GC’s work is intangible though extremely important for Liberia’s transformation. An example is GC role in the triple transition.  Liberia faces a triple transition with respect to:

  1. Self-security (in the wake of UNMIL drawdown) and maintaining the peace;
  2. Transition as it relates to the end of the first Agenda for Transformation (AfT), its effects on good governance, and the need to start the process for a new AfT for the next five year development agenda/plan; and
  3. Transition with respect to the national elections - the holding of the 2017 national elections – an Open seat election wherein the incumbent (president) will not be participating, and Liberia lacking experience in such a situation. The last of such elections happened in 1944 (when President Edwin Barclay turned over the mantle of power to President William V. S. Tubman).

Governance Commission is under mandate to help manage the holding of free and fair democratic elections and that the next government gets off to a decent start; design and recommend policy measures and implementation of strategies necessary to establish an inclusive, participatory, just, accountable system of government; Promote good governance by advising, designing and formulating appropriate policies and institutional arrangements and frameworks required for achieving good governance and adherence to the rule of law; and Promoting integrity at all levels of society and within every public and private institution.

The Commission has already started the design of such frameworks with the holding of dialogues with political actors, The National Elections Commission, civil society and all other stakeholders (women, youths, lawyers, media, and business community/private sector) to ensure of an inclusive and participatory transitional process - a new and delicate transition and so much including our economy depends on its success.

ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia His Excellency Babatunde Ajisomo commended GC for the Open House event describing the program as welcoming and laudable adding that “we appreciate the work that you are doing, and on all governance issues – you’ve been setting excellent pace”.

Ambassador Ojisomo assured GC of ECOWAS support, and on the issue of the 2017 elections - promised to work closely with the Liberia. Liberia is said to be the only ECOWAS member country heading for elections in 2017. ECOWAS has planned to provide massive support for Liberia’s electoral process. The ECOWAS Ambassador therefore advised that GC, NEC and relevant stakeholders to work closely together to maximize this regional support.

The head of the African Development Bank Liberia Office is Madam Margaret Kilo. Mrs. Kilo commended GC for initiating a gender desk noting that issues surrounding women form the majority of Liberia’s population and their contribution to the economy and social transformation cannot be ignored. She therefore noted that the gender desk will ensure that women issues are prioritized in all of GC programs.

Mrs. Kilo also noted her appreciation for all policy issues of GC but pointed out that the Commission needs to increase public awareness of its programs. She therefore an increase in communications if issues discussed even at the Open House so that the public can then have a greater appreciation of the Commission’s work.

The Governance Commission has a very robust communications strategy for all its programs but lack the necessary support to inform the public in a structured and continuous manner to ensure the desired impact.

Mrs. Kilo noted that the ADB works with institutions that provide both tangibles and intangibles and emphasized that the intangibles do not speak for themselves but need a voice. This can be done through radio – initiating a radio program. She said Liberians can benefit more through radio programs.

A number of other partners also supported the need for GC to have a radio program to enhance its public awareness. Mr. Ledgerhood Rennie, Director General of the Liberia Broadcasting System also made similar recommendation at the Open House Event. Mr. Rennie said the state radio ELBC is GC’s best bet in that it covers the farthest communities in Liberia. Community radios across Liberia also link up with ELBC to help educate and inform the public on issues of national concerns including the Agenda for Transformation.

The Governance Commission is therefore thinking about initiating a radio program to disseminate its achievements, on-going programs and other planned activities on elections and transition process for the benefit of the entire country.



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