''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 9 No 1

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Wednesday November 16, 2011

At last the opposition in Sierra Leone beginning to find its voice taking the mask off the magician in another circus in London. OGI meeting abroad? No way, OGI is for within the borders of Sierra Leone and not for ruling party jamboree trips and rallies. The OGI envisaged by the UNDP is a far cry from what now obtains under the watch of the smoke and mirrors President.

The main opposition party in Sierra Leone, the Sierra Leone Peoples Party has joined the 3rd largest party, the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change, PMDC to raise concern over the recent London meeting addressed by President Ernest Bai Koroma - a meeting which, if the OGI, the Open Governance Initiative, is to be believed, was to present the people to the President. Both parties issued a Press Statement headlined - APC Politicises Open Government Initiative Meeting in London Just Like They Are Politicising The Police, Army and Even Paddle adding

"We are settled in our view that the occasion of the President's public meeting was used to mobilise an APC oriented political rally for President Koroma's 2012 political aspirations. We believe that this was wrong and inimical to the tenets espoused by the OGI which includes but is not limited to openness, transparency, accountability, inclusion and national cohesion. In any event, it was in bad taste and indeed an act of shameful conduct for our President to succumb to such gimmick. We note also the omission of the programme's sponsor namely, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Furthermore, given that the APC has sought to use donor money to further its political campaign for 2012 General Elections, we the SLPP and PMDC hereby call for an immediate investigation into how the modalities of the OGI event was set in train, in order to get full disclosure of how it was organised and how the funds were utilised for the event on 5 November. We hereby invite the Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission to forthwith investigate the matter with a view of exploring the possibility of whether the Director of OGI abused her office."

We, the Sierra Herald, had in the past questioned the rather secretive and far less open operations of the OGI's Director, one Khadija Sesay who often takes the role of fore-runner whenever the President is on his overseas jamboree lavishing scarce resources on such trips. OGI, the Open Government Initiative was meant to be a non-political body that should be transparent and able to provide answers to any questions raised about governance in Sierra Leone, but try raising any question and invariably, it is a solid wall of silence that greets you further raising suspicions that the OGI Director could have something to hide. In a statement on the organisation's website - we have this -

"The concept of Open Government Initiative (OGI) was proposed by His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma at Bumbuna Presidential Retreat in January 2008."

A non-starter as this is clearly not the case. To put it mildly and rather bluntly - it is a lie. This was an initiative of the UNDP - a body keen on making sure that good and open governance was just that - no politicking, no excuses to be a part of the President's jamboree and a body, the OGI that is, that should be free from political puppetry.

Sadly, this is not the case and the OGI as we had noted in the past, is now a part and parcel of the Ernest Bai Koroma and APC bandwagon.

This attribution is clearly not the case as the concept was first advocated for and initiated by the UNDP Office in Freetown which carried out the first project on the subject because it was of the considered view that a body like the Open Governance Initiative should - "enhance accountability and transparency of the three key state institutions – parliament, executive, and judiciary - by opening up debate in these institutions and fostering a dialogue with the general public using a mix of electronic and traditional media. OGI aims to bring elected and appointed officials to account for actions taken on the public’s behalf and to enable the Government feel the pulse of the people and better understand development needs and priorities."

Not so the OGI run by Khadija Sesay and housed in one of the many "offices" at State House. Even though her website states that "Partners For Information Free-Flow", this ould not be further from the truth as the operations of this body is shrouded in secrecy, the activities of Khadija Sesay best known to the President and the audit of the books of this organisation still a secret. The Sierra Herald welcomes the request of the two main opposition parties that the Director of this noble and good governance project be investigated more so when we have not observed her visiting and spending the country's resources when opposition leaders visit countries outside Sierra Leone.

We still hold the view that the Director of OGI should be more concerned about bringing the people, Sierra Leoneans living within the borders of Sierra Leone to the various arms of governance - the Executive (President and Ministers) the Judiciary (Judiciary and Law Enforcement Agencies) and the Legislature (Parliament - the law-making body).

"Following a successful closure of the pilot phase of the project, efforts are now under way to institutionalize the initiative as a full national initiative and mainstream OGI as public information and dialogue initiative within the 3 branches of the government. After the DGTTF funding was depleted, the Government has continued with OGI activities, such as the “OGI Hour – Have Your Say in Governance”, the interactive radio/TV question, answer, discussion program using its own resources, while resource mobilization efforts are also under way to continue to support the initiative. Concurrently, effort to mainstream the project idea into our traditional support to parliament, judiciary and the executive is currently being explored." - UNDP report

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