Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have met on the Pre-launch of the Government’s Citizens Portal- a one stop shop for the public to tap on, for relevant and trustworthy information that have to do with governance and accountability.
The pre-launch dialogue session is a continuation of the ministry’s effort in ensuring that relevant stakeholders are well informed about the Citizens Portal.
It is worth noting that on previous engagement on the Citizens Portal, MPPA had discussions with the mainstream media through its body- Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) and also with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
Minister of Political and Public Affairs, Ambassador Mohamed Foday Yumkella underscored the relevance of the Citizens Portal in present day Sierra Leone, and went on to state that the Citizens Portal would help in information dissemination between the Government and its Citizen (in the form of complaints, suggestions and comments) as the public would be able to discussed freely in the governance process.
Ambassador Yumkella assured all that the Citizens Portal would be a complete interactive session that is expected to address issues of misinformation, amongst other ills in society.
Historically, he mentioned that the concept of governance has been mismanaged over the years and the civil war stands out as one of the factors of such mismanagement.
Permanent Secretary MPPA, Mohamed A. Jalloh reiterated that the mandate of the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs falls under Cluster 4 of the Medium Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) – which speaks on governance and accountability for results.
He mentioned that the Ministry as part of its obligations – is to interface with the public on governance issues through town halls meetings, focus group discussions, and now, using the Citizens Portal- to meet with the public.
Director Ministry of Political and Public Affairs, James Bonghor Sesay, said that MPPA was established in 1996 with name, Ministry of Political and Presidential Affairs – to channel complaints, appeals and representations for the Office of the President.
As time elapsed, the Ministry was renamed, Ministry of Political and Parliamentary Affairs, with mandate – to serve as a liaison between the Executive and Parliament and to also monitor progress in Parliament.
He went on to state that in 2010, the Ministry was renamed – Ministry of Political and Public Affairs, bent on maintaining contact with the general public, traditional leaders, civil society organisations and other pressure groups.
He emphasised that with the Citizens Portal, it would serve as a channel of communication thereby, widening the space between government and the people by identifying issues of national concern and monitor public opinion on political and other related matters.
On the design of the Citizens Portal, Mohamed Wusha-Conteh who is the Senior ICT Officer – MPPA explained that the Portal is designed for the citizen to raise their voices online and the MDA’S and offices concerned will be bound to respond in specific timeline to address their complaints and this will seamlessly integrate the system to provide important information to citizen through a secure data connection.
Mr. Wusha revealed that to participate on the discussion forum of the citizen portal one need to register, as this is will reduce the risk of misuse and maintain data integrity for statistical purpose.
He disclosed that citizens need to register with their emails, dates of birth etc., and once one they are registered they can participate freely by sending comment or complaint on the platform and noted that the complaint section is restricted in order to protect the identity of whistle blowers.
He called for a tight collaboration with MDAs in ensuring, issues such as complaints directed to the Portal – are swiftly addressed in order to win public confidence.
The program was climaxed with questions, contributions and suggestions from the various Ministry, Department and Agencies.