President Bio initiates public dialogue with civil society groups

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 October 2020:

Last Friday, president Dr Julius Maada Bio inaugurated the Government Civil Society Organisations’ dialogue series and hope that the public engagement will help strengthen and consolidate the country’s democratic values.

“I am tasking my Government to infuse more candour and transparency in Government business through regular interactions with civil society as representatives of the interests of our citizens. I want to have a frank dialogue about what is working and what is not working.”

He observed that for too long, the conversation between government and civil society was embittered, shrouded in mistrust and a belief that civil society could only do its job by criticising the activities of government, creating the impression that those who didn’t criticise government were complicit.

“There is a serious need for a paradigm shift in this relationship. It is this shallow binary view that I hope this dialogue series will unravel. The truth is, the relationship is complex and dynamic and more importantly, can be a catalyst to promote good governance,” he said.

European Union, EU, Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Tom Vens, said that he is delighted to join the President at the start of a national dialogue series, hoping that the day’s event would translate into action.

He praised the commitment made by President Bio to enhance consultation and collaboration with civil society organisations in addressing the crisis engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic and other broader governance and development issues.

He observed that it took a good leadership to rethink and take affirmative action to reinvigorate the state-society social contract, even more so during such difficult times.

“To foster economic development and strengthening peace and democratic rule is not only your priority but has been the principal aim of the European Union from the very outset some 70 years ago. As a community of like-minded states, the EU promotes the pursuit of peace and democracy both internally and in all its external actions, political and diplomatic relations with the rest of the world,” he explained.

Speaking on behalf of all CSOs, John Caulker of Fambul Tok International, expressed gratitude for the opportunity given to them by President Bio to involve in the dialogue session, adding that they would not take such a unique opportunity for granted. He urged his colleagues to engage constructively in ensuring that they make meaningful contributions that would help in the development of the country.

“We want to assure your government that this is a new beginning. We want to make sure we engage constructively. The principle of our future engagement with the government after his dialogue will be with trust, honesty and frank conversation,” he noted.

Vice President Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh said that the dialogue is born-out of the belief of His Excellency that deepening the relationship between Government and civil society is critical to promoting good governance and establishing robust accountability systems.

“HE, following your meeting with CSO on May 20 this year, you tasked me with the responsibility to develop a framework to constructively and sustainably engage civil society. I was extremely excited to take on this challenge because as you all know, I have a very long history with civil society organizations in Sierra Leone.

He expressed optimism that the engagement would also provide a unique opportunity to address some of the challenges that civil society organisations have faced in getting the requisite support to contribute meaningfully to the national discourse.

“I, therefore, want to take this opportunity to appeal to our partners to continue to support Civil Society Organizations to play a key role in promoting good governance and accountability,” he said.

3 Comments

  1. There are people who like to keep dogs as pets and they love them to bits. There are those who hate dogs, and can’t stand the sight of them. But however you profess to hate them, you can never accuse them or throw an insult at them to say they have rotten and blackened teeth. So one can accuse President Bio of incompetence and lack of foresight on how to transform our country, both politically and economically, but the one thing you can never accuse him of, is lack of knowledge of the things that are holding back our country. He seems to be reminding us about the ills of Sierra leone every day like a broken recorder.

    Sometimes, I think some one needs to remind him, he is the president and the buck stops with him. So when the president talks of engaging with civil society, he is onto something, and knows without civil society participation in the political dispensation in Sierra Leone, development is doomed to fail. It seemed to me his ministers are playing catch-up with his ideas. For far too long, this president and his government have been standing over our heads, talking to civil society organisations and the general population at large, telling us what is good for us, instead of talking with or engaging with us to come up with the best ideas of how to achieve our country’s development goals.

    Remember the role of civil society organisations, are state comptroller that acts as intermediary between the citizens and the state. They appendage their signature as the third party in the contract between the citizens and the state. They are non political, not for profit and certainly not homogeneous. They are made of different groups, with different interests and driven by the same desire to achieve their desires. They sit and observe how a state is run and call out governments that suppress individuals citizens rights, or other state actors. They are the ultimate guarantors of the public space discussion, where we express our opinions without the fear of government overreaction, and the respect of free press and most importantly the rule of law. May God bless Sierra Leone.

  2. Gearing towards Bintumani lV? Sorry Mr President. We are bored with awkward dialogues and conferences that are undermined by the Bio SLPP kakistocracy, increasing the divisiveness in our country and does not make sense in anyway whatsoever at this time. It seems as if a thick dark cloud is building on the horizon for all dictators to pack their “PANCHISHES”; from Sierra Leone, to Nigeria, to China, to maybe North Korea, to Russia and ending in Sierra Leone and go to sleep. Sleeping is their best option. I’m not surprised by this, because Bintumani III was a mess, waste of government funds and a complete failure. It’s time for them to pack their bags and go home. Period. Have they started packing their suitcases? I hope they do. God bless the Republic of Sierra Leone and the US. TBC.

  3. This is a bold step by the Executive in respecting Civil Societies in mama Salone as we have seen the bullying/harassment/intimidation of BOTH THE LEGISLATIVE/EXECUTIVE BRANCHES INCLUDING THE CHIEF MINISTER AND the Speaker of the Sierra Leone Parliament in recent times in trying to silence CONSCIENTOUS CRITICS AND DULY ELECTED MEMBERS OF Parliament FOR EXPRESSING THEIR GOD GIVEN RIGHT OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.

    Indeed power in wrong hands is dangerous and Mr Prezo you have to tell us about THE siphoned resources during your NPRC era and how you skilfully invested it for your advantage and benefit to get the delegates to elect you as their SLPP PRESIDENTIAL FLAGBEARER BOTH IN 2012 and 2018.

Tell us about your views

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.