By Mohamed Massaquoi
A group of Sierra Leonean organizations in Benelux countries, including the Netherlands, Greece, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, among others, recently presented an international award to the Director of the Open Government Initiative (OGI), Madam Khadija Sesay, for what they referred to as her “diligent service to the government and people of Sierra Leone”.
Members of the Sierra Leone Central Union (SLCU) believe that civil society and the media have an important role to play in the development of the country, and that the OGI has for the past years brought together Sierra Leoneans from different sectors of the society – devoid of their political backgrounds – for development purposes.
He added that the award was to motivate Madam Sesay and to open up more government activities and policies for the development of the country.
SLCU is an umbrella organization of 14 registered Sierra Leonean organizations in the Netherlands. They support the integration of Sierra Leoneans in that country within the framework of the Dutch government policy and stimulate their active participation towards the development of Sierra Leone through open discussions, website, workshops, conferences and newsletters.
The union’s president, Abu Bakarr Conteh, who presented the award to the OGI boss, described Madam Sesay as the driving force in bringing the government closer to the people, and also in providing an opportunity for Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora to be abreast with development back home.
He noted that through the OGI, hundreds of thousands of Sierra Leoneans both within and outside of Sierra Leone have the opportunity to ask questions directly to the President, MPs, and High Court judges on governance issues.
In her response, Madam Sesay thanked the SLCU members for considering her for such an important award, noting that Sierra Leone needed people who will sacrifice not only for their selfish benefits but for the good of the country.
She pointed at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) programme, which she said has brought a lot of commendations to the government and people of Sierra Leone, adding that the award has spurred her to continue to engage government and its partners in order to embark on more activities that will help strengthen democracy, good governance and accountability in the country.
“I want to thank President Ernest Bai Koroma for the support he has been giving to the OGI process over the years. Indeed this is a big challenge for all of us to come together and work as one people in the interest of all,” noted the OGI director. “I will continue on my part to bring government to the people and the people to the government.”