One of the most formidable Civil Society Organisations in the country, the Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) on the 3rd April 2019 rolled out a reflection or an assessment of President Julius Maada Bio’s one year in office which was yesterday 4th April 2019.
It took the form of reflecting on key governance trends, with a purpose to make governance better in Sierra Leone.
The Executive Director of CGG, Maecella Samba, first commended the launch of the free quality education programme, the alloca
tion of 21% of Government’s budget to education and the commitment to ensure that over 1.5 million school children benefit from this initiative.
“CGG however notes the concerns of inadequate text books to some schools and outstanding payment of school and examination fees as stipulated in the policy. CGG therefore calls on government to ensure the availability of requisite data to support the realisation of this programme,” she highlighted..
The CGG ED went on to state that they acknowledge Government’s scaling up of service delivery and poverty reduction investments in social protection and health services.
She again commended the bold steps in the fight against corruption mentioning the on-going Commission of Inquiry (COI) with an objective of examining the assets of senior Government officials who were in office from 2007 to 2018 in order to ascertain whether their standard of living were commensurate to their official emolument.
“We, however, implore Government to continue to make every effort to utilize the findings of the COI to institute governance and accountability reforms in public administration and service delivery,” she appealed.
Marcella, on behalf of CGG, noted the increased number of prosecutions of public officials and the recovery of corruptly acquired money to the tune of approximately twelve billion Leones (Le 12,000,000,000) as high markers of accountability in governance.
“We, however, call on the Government to go beyond the recovery of state funds and institute mandatory custodian and other punitive measures to end impunity,” she pointed out.
According her CGG reminds the government of its commitments to utilize recovered Government money to construct an ultra-modern diagnostic center as promised. She applauded the release of the Government Green paper for peace and social cohesion but called for de-politicisation of the process and for partisan sentiments to be avoided in peace engagements.
She said while they commend the President’s bold policy pronouncement to ensure safer communities for women and girls; executive directives to the judiciary on punitive measures against perpetuators without substantive parliamentary amendment of the law poses serious challenges and needs urgent review.
The ED revealed that they are calling for a more comprehensive approach that includes immediate review of the Sexual Offences Act, protection of victims of sexual violence and an amendment of the rules and processes relating to how victims give evidence and cross- examined in court.
According to her CGG is concerned about the over reliance on Executive Orders to make policy. “Sierra Leoneans can hardly quarrel with the problems these Executive Orders try to solve. What is worrisome is that Executive Orders do not build consensus, they diminish the power of the legislature, and are open to abuse,” she posited.
She said over the past year they noted several disagreements over parliamentary processes and those undermine parliamentary legitimacy and performance of its statutory function as the country’s supreme law making organ. “We call on Government to ensure the restoration of parliamentary due processes and sanity in parliamentary operations,” she added.
“We also call on the law enforcement agencies and the judiciary to scale up their independence from the political executive. CGG is worried that for the past one year, government has not reopened public discussions on the constitutional review process. We want to remind the government that constitutional review is an imperative recommendation emanating from the Lomé Peace Accord and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). We urge government to recommence discussions around the constitutional review process.to further strengthen the peace and to consolidate democracy in order to create an open and transparent society.
We note citizens’ concerns over the depreciation of the Leones, rising cost of basic goods and their implications on the quality of life of Sierra Leoneans. We call on government to take remedial steps to reverse this situation.
Finally, we are concerned about the inequitable distribution of state resources. We note a negative trend that seems to be concentrating resources in certain areas; while insidiously incapacitating local government across the country to actualize their own development plans. In a multi-party environment concentrating resources in specific areas invariably disadvantages opposition party strongholds, building synergy with local councils for better service delivery is therefore of essence. We call on government to ensure a fairer distribution of state resources,” she concluded.