Open Government Partnership, a national platform set to bring the government and citizens together in fostering development agenda of the country, has admitted to failure to make itself popular among Liberians by not been proactive in engaging stakeholders including the media so that citizens will know its functions and responsibilities.
Even though it has been in Liberia for more than seven years now, not much is known about its unique operations that are meant to bring inclusivity in governance so that citizens will take ownership of the government and help the leadership to achieve cardinal national action plans.
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) was introduced by US President Barack Obama in 2008 and Liberia was one of the first countries to join as a member, but Lawrence Yealue, an official of the Secretariat and head of Accountability Lab, said Liberia has not really been achieving the desire outcomes because the Secretariat itself and the government of the past did not open the program to be well known in the public space.
In a brief remark at the opening of an engagement forum with the media on August 11, 2020 at the iCampus on Carey Street, central Monrovia, Mr. Yealue said the OGP allows line ministries and agencies to develop a National Action Plan (NAP) detailing deliverables that each ministry or agency will deliver to the people, and it enables stakeholders including the civil society and the media to come together with the government to discuss the plan openly for the matter of accountability, transparency, and good governance.
The OGP, which Secretariat is hosted by the Ministry of Information, also “Allows openness of the government and governance system to the people and gives grounds to the civil society organizations to hold the government’s feet to the fire in delivering to the people in accordance with the action plan,” said Atty. Daniel Gayedyu, an official of the Ministry of Information and Focal Point of the OGP Secretariat.
Also explaining about the National Action Plan (NAP), G. Ralph Jimmeh, OGP’s head of Secretariat, said the plan is designed by the line ministries and agencies stating what they will do in the scope of their budgetary allotments, and one who fails to implement in a given time agreed upon is made to account.
“This ensures transparency, good governance, and accountability in the working of the government, and citizens will have full participation that will encourage them to take ownership of their country,” said Jimmeh.
Jimmeh explained that the first National Action Plan for Liberia was developed in 2013, the second in 2015 and the third in 2017, but these plans could not achieve the needed goals set up and the entire program was not opened to the public; something that made it difficult for the public to know causes of failure in achieving the goals.
“It is at this time of the fourth National Action Plan that the government and the Secretariat are acquainting the public with information about the OGP, and we see the media as an important stakeholder and we want you to engage us for updates on how the government is performing in delivering to the people,” Jimmeh said.
He also encouraged the media to not dwell entirely on the negatives of people in the society but flag out those who are also serving the public with sincerity, honesty and integrity. There were about ten media institutions, electronic and print, represented at this meeting.