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Deeds, Not Words

What many have not anticipated in the President’s State of the Nation Address on Monday, January 27, 2014 featured prominently to a standing ovation from members of the 53rd Legislature. Owing to her strong ties with either national and international Non-Governmental Organizations or NGOs, Liberians did not expect the “radical position” announced by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s on NGO operations or activities in Liberia.

Probably as the result of their conduct or under-performance across Liberia owing to the unending complaints that may be causing some embarrassments for the Government of Liberia, President Sirleaf and her administration were constrained to institute a number of measures to make NGO operations/activities more accountable and transparent to the socioeconomic development of those they serve in the country.

According to the Liberian Chief Executive, national and international NGOs will now be required to submit reports of their annual activities, as well as register with the relevant government agencies annually, and also disclose details of the funds pledged by donors for project implementation in the country with the assurance that funds secured for capacity-building is utilized, in collaboration with the relevant ministries or agencies of the Liberian Government. It is also required that all funds released to these organizations by donors be transferred from such donors to them through an account in a commercial bank in Liberia.

Interestingly, the measures mandate that all vehicles owned by NGOs be registered in the names of the organizations and clearly marked with their names and logos or face impoundment; all assets owned by international non-governmental organizations purchased or acquired with donor funds will be the property of the Liberian people who are the direct beneficiaries.

“We must guarantee a strong inter-sectoral framework and information-sharing mechanisms between the institutions of government and non-governmental organizations to ensure that we achieve this partnership. In an instance where an organization decides to close down its operations, the organization shall surrender such assets to the sector Ministries or Agencies of Government in which such NGO operated,” noted the President to the pleasure of thousands of Liberians under her voice during her State of the Nation Address on Monday.

In as much some may suggest that the President may not have said what they had anticipated, at least the issue of NGO operations/activities as raised in her address was one in the interest of the nation.

Moreover, while all of us, including the very NGOs, continue to challenge the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration to ensure accountability and transparency in the use of public resources, we, too, must be examples –not requiring the best out of the government, while we, ourselves, may be far worse than our perception about the it. All that we actually worry about is whether the administration’s position on NGO operations/activities in the country would actually be the reality.

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Madam President must again be reminded that while we appreciate her pronouncement, it must be DEEDS, NOT WORDS this time. This is the only way the people of Liberia-the direct targets of NGO operations/activities-will take her administration seriously.

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