By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy
The Chairperson of the Governance Commission, Amos Sawyer, says in order to make space for citizens, they must be able to participate in decisions that control their lives and shape their future in neighborhood and community organizations as well as implement development agendas.
He urged Civil Society Organizations in the country to build broad-based and inclusive citizens’ control bringing together people who understand what the democracy of the country is so that they use that as their priority strategy for making space for citizens.
Presenting his intellectual expertise as it relates to good governance at the opening of a two-day CSO Annual Membership Assembly organized by New Africa Research and Development Agency (NARDA) yesterday in Monrovia, Dr. Sawyer said there are numerous strategies but all have a common element and added that democracy and development cannot be sustained without decentralization.
He said in Liberia, 70 percent of the population is about 35 years old therefore CSOs need to develop utilized structures for the inclusion of this group within decision making processes and also observed that women make up 50 percent of the entire population, noting that if these groups are not fully included in the participation of the country’s decision making, it will deprive the society of half of its human resource and productive potentials.
He stated further that in order for the CSOs to perform well it must take into account four qualities which include properly organized management, public spirited, empowered with knowledge and be able to form partnership with government.
He noted that partnership with government is the most important relationship to strengthen good governance admitting that what has existed between CSOs and government in the country has been ad hoc but assured that there are more opportunities for improvements for policy consultative relationships.
Dr. Sawyer encouraged CSOs to take the time to effectively implement transparent practices because the CSOs that do not demand accountability and transparency of themselves lack the moral standing to demand accountability and transparency of the others.
The assembly’s discussion on day-one focused on, “Making spaces for citizens in national governance with panel discussion on opening new spaces for sustained government and civil engagement” and also entertained a business session looking at the setting up of several committees.
Today’s activities under the topic, “Deepening spaces for community action in post-Ebola recovery” will listen to presentations from committees including a report from the Elections committee on nominations and later on be climaxed with elections and induction of elected members of the assembly.