A conglomeration of civil society organizations led by the New African Research and Development Agency (NARDA) has begun a two-day consultative dialogue to assess impacts government is making in informing citizens about major policies that affect them.
The meeting is also meant to share views on how Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) themselves are carrying on their work to impact the end users for whom they seek donor support.
During the opening session of the dialogue on June 11, 2015 at a local hotel in Monrovia, the keynote speaker, Dr. Amos C. Sawyer among other things reminded CSOs that for any organization to be successful in meeting its goals, it must have clear rules of membership to know who the members.
Dr. Sawyer added that any successful organization must have rules to indicate how positions are filled with clear cut mechanisms in place for accountability and transparency.
He, however, noted that many civil society organizations are fostering self interest above the interests of those for whom they claim to work, adding, “I consider many civil societies here to be business entities because they seek self interest which does not show the clear meaning of CSO but business.
He indicated that the proper role of a CSO is disseminating and generating knowledge based information.
Dr. Sawyer further stressed that a civil society organization that wants to be well recognized for good work in the interest of the people will seek to provide knowledge through training that will allow people to clearly understand what it stands for than just engaging in advocacy.
Combining CSOs, Government and private sector based on roles, Dr. Sawyer who is the Chairman of the Governance Commission said since Government is there to provide security and the framework, private sector there to create the business and civil society there to monitor and exactly tell how the ordinary people live their lives, they are better suited to work together for the common good of the country and its citizens.
In a cross section of views during comments and questions, representatives of various civil society groups brought out issues indicating shortfalls of CSOs in implementing their goals with respect to what they focus on in their work.
The dialogue under the theme, “Making spaces for citizens,” allowed the participants to in some views suggest that civil societies have the space but are not using it the proper way because of conflict of interest.
According to some views, many civil society organizations are not on time in their advocacies and other works because they have to rely on donors that cannot come in with funds soon.
Others on the other hand noted that conflicts arising in concession areas in the country are caused by failure of government to include locals in signing agreements.
Citing references to Golden Veroleum and other concessionaires, the participants said because they are not part of the policy and agreements, they react the way they do since policies and agreements reached with concession companies directly affect them (locals).
The chairperson of the National Civil Society Organizations of Liberia, Frances Greaves noted that there are fine policies written in Liberia, but implementers are not knowledgeable about them and so they abuse offices and dictate to people.
She said most government officials instead of seeing themselves as servant of the people exert force to show superiority and power in discharge of their duties.