The National Council for Civic Education and Development (NaCCED) has started a nationwide consultation on the development of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Action Plan in various districts, chiefdoms and regional headquarter towns across Sierra Leone.
The OGP process was launched in 2011 to provide an international platform for domestic reformers committed to making governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens. Since then, OGP has increased from 8 countries to 79 participating countries. In all of these countries, government and civil society are working together to develop and implement ambitious open government reforms.
It could be recalled that immediately after he took over the mantle of governance last year, President Julius Maada Bio made commitment to ensure an open, transparent and accountable government and thus making the OGP process an inclusive and participatory platform for citizens to freely express their views.
The OGP provides an opportunity for Sierra Leone to mount its efforts towards open governance initiatives and strengthen governance structures through collaborative efforts between CSOs and government. Indeed, the opportunity for promoting good governance through building strong linkages between CSOs and government prompted Sierra Leone to sign into the OGP in September 2013 just before passing the Right to Access to Information Act in October 2013.
The 3rd National Action Plan looked at the grand challenges. Inputs from citizens during radio programs and consultative town hall meetings in which individuals were asked to prioritize which grand challenges to tackle.
While addressing participants from all sectors of society in the regional headquarter towns of Kenema, Bo, Makeni and Port Loko, the Chairman of NaCCED, Kalilu Totangi said OGP aspires to support both government and civil society reformers by elevating open government to the highest levels of political discourse, providing 'cover' for difficult reforms, and creating a supportive community of like-minded reformers from countries around the world.
"OGP 's vision is to see more governments become sustainable more transparent, more accountable and more responsive to their citizens, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of governance, as well as the quality of services that citizens receive. This will require a shift in norms and culture to ensure genuine dialogue and collaboration between governments and civil society. The guiding principles for the development and implementation of NAP 3 will strengthen, transparency, accountability, civic engagement, innovation, technology, these are all priorities in the New Direction of which the government of president Bio stands for. NAP 3 commitments are access to Justice, education, tax exemptions, right to access information, gender and records and archives management," he said.
He added that NaCCED is also in the process of preparing its very first strategic plan since its inception as a government program designed to create civic awareness and consciousness as well as to help people learn how to become active, informed, and responsible citizens.
Similar meeting was also held in the northern district headquarter town of Makeni where representatives from Kambia, Koinaduge, Falaba and Bombali districts converged to discuss the OGP NAP 111.