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GC ends four-day retreat in Gompa, Nimba County

reflects and plans for the Future

The Governance Commission (GC) recently concluded a four-day retreat aimed at assessing the implementation of its first two years’ programs and planning new deliverables under the new five-year Strategic Plan (2021-2026).

Held under the theme ‘Promoting Good Governance Through Capacity Building,’ attended by staff and key stakeholders, it marked a significant milestone in the Commission’s commitment to positioning itself strategically to address emerging challenges and navigate the transitioning landscape of political power as the country looks forward to inaugurating a new elected government on January 22, 2024.

The retreat, held from December 17-21, delved into comprehensive discussions surrounding the commission’s accomplishments and its challenges encountered during the initial phase of the Strategic Plan, particularly in 2023. It also addressed the Commission’s (GC) future in 2024, Work Plan, and other unfinished programs.

One of the key focal points of the retreat was the examination of the Commission’s progress in critical program areas such as decentralization, public sector modernization, Liberia’s integrity system, GoL/Civil Society Organizations partnership under Civic Engagement, the National identity program, and finally conducting studies towards the publication of the Annual Governance Report (AGR) under the national monitoring and evaluation framework.

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The retreat focused on the Commission’s five Mandate Areas, making presentations covering activities, achievements, challenges, and lessons learned from the past two years, and identifying strategies necessary to address future plans and possible challenges of emerging activities/projects.

The Executive Director, Mr. Matthia Korpu, in his opening statement, emphasized the importance of the retreat and how it will effectively enhance the work of the GC. He lauded the chairman of the commission, Atty. Garrison Yealue, for ensuring that the retreat was conducted as planned. The ED also called on the staff of the GC to be very composed and learn from the interactions during the retreat.

Program coordinator, Mr. McNeil Wilson, did the overview and lessons learned from the Program perspective for the previous year (2023). According to Mr. McNeil, the heavy reliance on donor funding and the absence of funds to fully monitor and evaluate government projects around the country are major challenges to the Commission. He hoped that the National government will increase funding to GC to help the Commission put mechanisms in place to ensure projects (and related activities) are fully covered.

The program coordinator provided a synopsis of Pillar 4 achievements under the PAPD and its collaborating institutions’ workings. He also drilled staff on the gains made in programs and projects related activities from the commission for the period 2023. The program coordinator mentioned numbers of activities in the Commission’s direct achievements, including:

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  • Developed & launched its 2022 – 2026 Strategic Plan (SP). The SP provides strategic direction to the GC over the five-year period.
  • Completion of extensive stakeholder engagements with the Legislature in 2022 & 2023 for the passage of the Bill to establish the Ministry of Local Government (MLG) which is yet to happen.
  • Developed a Local Content Policy & subsequently drafted a Local Content Bill which has been submitted to the Legislature;
  • In collaboration with stakeholders, developed and distributed a Standard Operating Procedure Manual for County Service Centers (CSCs);
  • Conducted regional policy dialogues on the Revenue Sharing law.
  • Civil Society Capacity Building
  • Provided capacity building support to the National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL), the GC coordinated the conduct of an election for the current leadership of the NCSCL.
  • Revived the National Integrity Forum (NIF) dormant for some time
  • Completed a National M&E Policy Framework which aims at synchronizing all M&E activities across government.

Mr. Wilson reported on rebranding the Commission under Chairman Yealue. He said immediately after the appointment of Chairman Yealue, efforts aimed at re-branding the institution to enable it to respond to contemporary national policy issues were initiated. Some of these efforts included:

  • Review of the Act establishing the Commission;
  • Conduct of staff skills assessment, identification, and filling of gaps;
  • Review and revising the Organogram of the Commission;
  • Relocated the Commission’s office complex from 9th street Payne Avenue to 16th street, Sinkor.

The synopsis also covers Lost Opportunity; he said that the 2023 general and Presidential electoral period was designated as the CORE area of focus for the GC in 2023. But on the contrary, GC did not do as planned, thereby reducing visibility for the institution. According to his report, some things went wrong: these included

Three of the four Strategic Objectives fell into cracks prior to the conduct of the elections. This was due in part to a lack of the minimal required resources;

The fourth objective (the National Transitional Plan – NTP) has also fallen into cracks and lost to the Executive Mansion;

Had the GC prioritized the implementation of these four objectives, it would have increased its visibility and launched it into prominence again.

Finally, he concluded with Highlights of challenges. According to him: The GC, for most of the past four to five years, was known in the public glare as an institution characterized by controversies, particularly due to the absence of fully constituted leadership; much did not come from the Commission in terms of results relating to the implementation of its Mandate and functions.

He pointed out that the appointment of Chairman Yealue brought high-level stability to the institution as a result of the internal reform measures he carried out.

The week-long staff retreat was facilitated by one of its former commissioners Dr. Yarzuo Weh-Dorliea. Dr. Dorliea, whose tenure expired in 2018 at the end of President Johnson’s regime, observed that the Commission’s work will highly influence the context of the incoming government programs, and the period that follows, and should, therefore, plan for “before, during and after” taking into consideration the following issues – Political platforms and rallies for reforms and development, Civic education on key national issues, Voter expectation management, the need for increased advocacy and visibility, Robust communications engagements with the national government, the holding of a national Referendum, continue advocacy for the implementation of the Code of Conduct and the issue of the office of Ombudsman, elevating these troublesome issues at continuing engagements with the new government can help accelerate implementations and dispose of hinges in the way of national development.

The latter days of the retreat covered presentations from Administration including the Grants and Finance, Communication, operation, human resource, and Gender Units highlighting, among other things, sourcing for funding to address emerging issues/projects and rolling out programs from the new communication plan to increase visibility on the commission’s work, addressing capacity gaps by funding training programs, and promoting Gender responsive planning.

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