Liberia: Civil Society Council Inducts Headquarters to Mark 'New Beginning'

Sinkor — The National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL)--the largest conglomerate of advocates and activists in the country--has inducted its first ever headquarters its leadership says points to a new era in the institution's history.

"With this new platform, we assure Liberians that the civil society voice is ever strong and will reverberate for the good of all," National Chairperson Loretta Pope-Kai told a dedicatory ceremony for the facility recently. "We are ready to move into the future."

The building is situated in the Lutheran Church in Liberia's headquarters on 13th Street and will serve as a meeting, resource and networking center for the NCSCL's more than 2,000 members countrywide. It has spaces for regional officers, a good-size conference room, three bathrooms, and a corner for the council's secretariat, a pillar

"It is said a nation without a functional civil society is half dead, and a civil society without a functional coordination system is as good as nonexistent," said Loretta Pope-Kai a dedicatory occasion held recently. "Today's ceremony points to a new beginning for a vibrant civil society, prepared to provide the necessary coordination, promote networking and dialogue... for a functional civil society in Liberia."

The dedication of the facility is a breakaway from the controversy of NCSCL's elections in December last year. Mrs. Pope-Kai defeated Emma Younger Boldoe, who was the NCSCL's treasurer, in the polls but the defeated candidate contested the elections. The situation dragged on until March when an inquest by the Governance Commission and the Peace-building Office upheld the results and the Pope-Kai and other members of the new corps of officers of the council were inducted into office.

Mrs. Pope-Kai said she had stuck to her campaign promises of uniting and strengthening the comity of civil society organizations and grassroots groups.

"We have remained focused on reorganizing the entire council and ensuring that we remain the melting point where the more than 2,000 civil society member-organizations can network, coordinate and find a common voice for the good of Liberians," she told the dedicatory ceremony, praising Mercy Corps, the Swedish embassy, the European Union and the Governance Commission for their support to the new office building. "Even though constrained by COVID-19, we have been able to maintain active contacts with the national and local ... organizations across the country." She added her administration has forged a good relationship with the institution's regional officers, announcing the elections of others officers in May next year.

Mrs. Pope-Kai said the dedication of the office comes at a time of uncertainty in Liberia--the mysterious deaths in the country, Liberian dollar shortage, and the impending senatorial and representative by-elections--but urged NCSCL's members to stay professional. "We urged members of civil society to remain constantly engaged but never should we resort to violence to address our concerns," she said.

There were comments from the Swedish embassy, ECOWAS and Mercy Corps.

Charles Lawrence, representative of the Swedish embassy said the office was a "new opportunity" for the council to add value to the work of its members. Lawrence urged the body to take strength from its member and eschew negative competition among individual groups.

ECOWAS Ambassador Babatunde O. Ajisomo praised the efforts of civil society groupings in the country and admonished them to seek more knowledge in their areas of advocacy for truthful reports.

Mercy Corps' Country Director Dr. Kwasi Gyeabour said its support to NCSCL is in line with its value of supporting sustainable development as part of the SEAL project sponsored by European Union and the Irish Government. The project is US$4 million managed by Mercy Corps and KivinnaTill Kivinna. The council is alongside 16 groups implementing project.

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