I wish to seize this opportunity to congratulate Africa’s first female president, H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia for her preferment as Head of APRM, African peer Review Mechanism. This is an African-self monitoring system.
It entails a country voluntarily accepting to undertake an internal audit of its Political, Economic, Corporate and Social-Economic Governance system by ordinary citizens after which an external audit or verification is conducted by an independent panel from the African Union (AU). The report prepared together with a programme of action enables other Heads of State to peer review the affected country to encourage policies and practices that foster good governance and development.
It has some advantages according to NAPRM-GC, that it:
1. Fosters national dialogue, participation and empowerment of citizens in national development;
2. Promote transparency, openness, accountability and democracy;
3. Enhances African ownership of its development processes;
4. Open-up for identification, evaluation and dissemination of best practices in good governance;
5. Provides a base-line to monitor progress being made by a country;
6. Provides an objective basis for the use of peer pressure to adopt good policies and practices;
7. Fosters common and share values, standards, norms and tradition;
8. Enables countries to identify capacity gaps, weakness, deficiencies and provide solution to them.
I am very sure not most Liberians are informed of the processes, secondly, to even know what it is, some sees it as for the Executive branch only, No, it is also for the private sector, civil society and professional associations; even the other two branches of government – Legislative and the judiciaries. you may want to know why I took a hat off to our president, it is a voluntary process, you may decide and agree to be evaluated by peer or fellow presidents or not, besides, you have agreed to be evaluated by all these groups, this is a laudable decision. We are not saying all is well, but we are striving for the better.
There are specific objectives that are to be achieved by our participation in each process are:
- To share best practices in respect of good governance and Economic development;
- To encourage the adaptation of policies, standards and practices that lead to political stability, high economic growth, and sustainable development;
- To accelerate sub-regional and continental political and economic integration through sharing of experiences and common standards.
- To reinforce the exercise of continental peer dialogue and persuasion to make the process of governance effective, credible and acceptable to be in the interest and welfare of the citizenry. And to identify deficiencies and assess the needs for capacity building.
There are more objectives, but these are few, however, to achieve them is not a single person affair, to say only the president, if the ministers do not see themselves as being evaluated, will pose as a problem, or if those in the judiciary are not dispensing justice in a better manner, will also have an effect on good governance and social justice, there is already a saying that justices is won by the person with the biggest dollars. Similarly, the Legislature should see themselves as society defenders, the laws they make must reflect the aspiration of the people. They need to command the respect of the people of Liberia. Is that happening? So we all have been committed by the president to be evaluated.
Let’s get to civil society, what can you say, when you are on the air defending corrupt officials whole day, for little pocket change. When projects are given you, you remain in Monrovia and sent false report to your donors, how can government take you seriously? Some civil society organizations do not ever see right in government, but only wrongs, government, never do right, government build road is bad, bring water is bad, build more school is bad. They are like advisory to government, how can you suggest constructively? When you are perceived as an enemy to government?
When it comes to professional groups, some connive to cheat government, how can your professionalism be seen, when construction contracts that is 10.000 USD is raised to 50.000 USD. I saw that when we used to meet at planning ministry on projects, I was building six offices for the Ministry of Commerce with local materials for $17,000 USD each .This was Opposed by my colleagues who felt that I was understating the cost, thank God for Dorbor Jallah who was then Deputy Minister at Planning, who said let us watch and see Prof. Kortimai and today the buildings are standing in Yeala, Faya,Luogatuo, Yekepa, Donels Town and River cess. I am telling you all these to say our president has put us under the spot light, let us behave
The process of APRM has stages, the first is to gather information through national process, on political, economic, corporate governance and development environment of the country, based on documentation prepared by APR Secretariat, second is the country review visit which is a wide consultation with government officials, political parties, parliamentarian, Representation of civil society (including the median, academia, trade union, business and professional bodies). Stage three is the preparation of APR team report; it is based on findings of stage one and two. The report is measured against the applicable political, economic development commitment made in country’s program of action.
Stage four begins when the report is submitted to the APR forum through the secretariat and APR panel. And the final stage is the public release of the APRM Report, it is done thru key regional and continental structure such as the Pan African Commission on Human and people’s Rights, the Peace and Security Council and the envisage Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) of AU. I hope I am not too academic, but we are sharing knowledge therefore you need to know the four types of review:
The first county review is done in 18 months; the second is a periodic review that takes place every two to four years. However, a county can, for its own reasons request for a review that is not part of the periodic mandated review and finally early signs of impending political and economic crisis in member country would also be sufficient cause for institution review. I would go on and on explaining the various aspects, of course most Liberians do not really care what happen around them, this is why I thought to talk more so that you will know some of the steps, involve in the review.
Again thanks to the president and I hope we will all help to contribute to the process so that her evaluation can be second to none. It is not one person business. How you behave affects us all.
By Atty, Prof. Lavela B. Kortimai , Sr. BSc, GDPAM, LLB, NPSM