By Lewis S. Teh
The Secretariat of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) says if Liberia must get on par with her neighbors in the sub-region then government should prioritize Open Government Partnership across every sector.
“The Secretariat of the OGP calls on the three branches of government under President Weah to demonstrate transparency, accountability and responsiveness to citizens by ensuring full implementation of their respective commitments to the 4th OGP National Action Plan”, says G. Ralph Jimmeh, Head of Secretariat.
Addressing reporters on Monday, May 16, 2022, at the Secretariat Head Office within the Ministry of Information, Mr. Jimmeh said as Liberia is set to join the world in celebrating the Open Government Week, the OGP Secretariat acknowledges with profound gratitude support from government to make the celebration successful.
He says this year’s celebration seeks to recognize all doers, thinkers, creators and reformers who have successfully opened government.
Rev. Jimmeh explains that the fourth OGP National Action Plan or NAP launched on February 10, 2021, was rated by the Independent Review Mechanism as the most transformative national action plan that Liberia has created, and if implemented, would bring government closer to its citizens, improve service delivery, promote openness and transparency thereby, reducing public distrust in government activities.
“We also call on all public servants (officials) to see it fit to subscribe to the OGP principles and values in the execution of their mandates, as it will produce more doers, thinkers, creators, and reformers in the governance structure”, he adds.
He says the Secretariat believes that a full Cabinet endorsement of the NAP led by President George M. Weah would show strong evidence of the government’s willingness and seriousness to fully implement the OGP action plan, and cause officials responsible for implementation to become more passionate.
The Secretariat, according to Jimmeh, is, therefore, asking all ministries, agencies and commissions that have commitments within the current NAP to accelerate delivery of specific commitments, and that failure to do so could become counter-productive for Liberia for the fourth successiveness, something, he says would undermine inclusive growth.
He says in the same vein, the Secretariat is calling on the National Legislature to ensure passage of the Whistle-Blower bill and the Witness Protection bill which are two of the deliverables in the NAP. The passage of these two legal instruments, he adds, would strengthen the fight against corruption which has become a national epidemic, weakening national growth and development.
However, Jimmeh assures that the OGP Secretariat has no doubt that Liberia’s delivery on the OGP commitments would move the country to effectively achieving her national agenda, the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development and the OGP will advance the practice of democracy which will possibly attract more donor support form bi-lateral and multi-lateral partners in different sectors of the country.
The Secretariat also calls on government to increase efforts in the implementation of the current OGP/NAP, as the country is racing against time with implementation, noting that the Secretariat believes that Liberia’s failure to adequately implement the NAP would dim its efforts to open government, increase citizens’ participation, counter corruption, and accelerate sustainable growth and development.
On behalf of the Secretariat, he congratulates Civil Society as co-creator of the NAP, for forging a strong partnership with government to increase citizens’ participation and re-enforce the fight for openness, transparency, and accountability.
At the same time Jimmeh says in the next few days, the Secretariat will embark on a robust evaluation of progress made by every entity that has commitments to the National Action Plan, adding that the success of the NAP depends on the level of implementation by those entities hence, “We require the cooperation and attention of the leadership of these entities as we continue to engage them.
“The OGP Secretariat wants to use this occasion marking the celebration of the Open Government Week to call on national government to demonstrate greater political will in championing OGP in Liberia, identifying allies in Civil Society, and supporting democratic reforms within government.” Editing by Jonathan Browne