By: Bernard Abass Kargbo – Public Education Officer, ACC.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on Tuesday, 29th August, 2023, hosted the Steering Committee Meeting of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) at the Commission's Integrity House Conference Room, Tower Hill, Freetown.
The engagement was to review the National Action Plan 4 (NAP - 4), discuss the upcoming Independent Review Mechanism (IRM), and set the tone for the drafting of NAP-5.
The current OGP activities are guided by NAP – 4, which seeks to address the difficulties of increasing citizens' participation in the extractives and beneficial companies that are engaged with the Government, ensure that everyone has equal access to justice by reforming the justice system or using dispute resolution procedures, make Parliament more transparent to the public, strengthen the bond between Parliament and civil society organizations, and make sure that the national election process is free, fair, and impartial.
In his welcome statement, the Deputy Commissioner of ACC Augustine Foday Ngobie assured his audience of the Commission’s commitment to the values of OGP, stating that “when Governments signed up to the OGP, they adopt the Open Government Declaration, which includes the commitment to have robust anti-corruption policies, mechanisms and practices, ensuring transparency in the management of public finances and government purchases, and strengthen the rule of law.”
The Deputy Commissioner said that the OGP, as a multilateral initiative, seeks to secure a concrete commitment from national and sub-national governments to promote “open government fight against corruption and harness new technology to strengthen governance.” He said that the ACC has incorporated what OGP wishes to achieve through citizens’ engagement and access to information, noting that “the ACC and OGP mutually support each other in the implementation of their various mandates.”
In his address, the Chairman of the National Council for Civic Education (NaCCED) Kalilu Tutangi, acknowledged the commitment of the ACC to the OGP, adding that “as you are aware, we are coming to the end of the implementation of our 4th National Action Plan, and we are beginning to plan for the 5th National Action Plan.”
Mr Tutangi highlighted the several challenges in the implementation of the NAP-4, including the lack of commitment of some Steering Committee members, especially those representing Government agencies, which, he said, has the propensity to derail the work of the OGP. He said “the idea behind the OGP is that Government and Civil Society reformers will seat together and look at areas within the governance framework that require a radical improvement, legislative adjustment or some financial input.” He urged them to take the 5th Generation of the Plan very seriously in a bid to better the lives of the people of Sierra Leone.
OGP Coordinator, Madam Hannah Hamida Jimmy, in her presentation, gave the timeline, activities, and responsible agency for the development of the NAP-5, which “will be highly consultative.” With regards the submission of reports, Madam Jimmy informed her audience that the country has until 1st September, 2023 to submit the reports or face Administrative sanctions. She also informed nominated participants of the upcoming OGP Global Summit, which will be held in Estonia, to send in materials that will be showcased on behalf of Sierra Leone.