• September 15, 2023

NGOs Deliberate On Their Current State Of Affairs

NGOs Deliberate On Their Current State Of Affairs
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By Frances M. Koroma                                                                                                        

At an emergency membership meeting held on Friday, 8th September, 2023 at the St Anthony Hall on Syke Street in Freetown, NGOs gathered to chart a way forward in their affairs, as they want their voices heard by the current Board of Directors and other key stakeholders.

For over a year now, the secretariat of the Sierra Leone Association of NGOs (SLANGO) has been administered by an acting National Coordinator, and the new Board of the SLANGO, which was elected in December 2022, has not reached a decision to hire or appoint a new Coordinator. These are among several reasons why members of the association called for an emergency membership meeting.

According to Jacklyn Hamilton, a member of the National NGOs Steering Committee of SLANGO, ‘The purpose of the SLANGO membership meeting was to deliberate more about our current state of affairs in the association. We came together to be able to draw the attention of the Board on the current status and the way forward on the affairs of SLANGO.’

SLANGO has had its shortcomings in recent times. Since the appointment of the new Board that came in effect in December 2022, the affairs of the association have stagnated. One of the problems members currently experience is the collapse of the monthly NGO meetings. The last one was held in January this year.

‘They are failing to realise that SLANGO belongs to all of us as paid up members,’ one member commented bitterly.

‘We were at the meeting to closely look at the prominent issue that has to do with the National Coordinator of SLANGO; how this decision by the Board has created mixed feelings among the NGO family in this country,’ another member stressed.

A major problem of SLANGO, according to the members of the association at the emergency meeting, is the non-consultative and non-engagement nature of the Board to the membership of SLANGO. Some members claim that the Chairman of the Board is negligent; he doesn’t acknowledge emails that members send to him or the Board even when Steering Committee Chairpersons are copied in the same correspondences.

They say this is against Article 36 sub-Article f of the SLANGO Constitution under the heading Functions of the Board: It says “The board shall perform the function, receive and review reports and data submitted by established Committees and make recommendations to the General membership.”

The members of the association have claimed that current Chairman of the Board, Mr Christian Martyn Kamara, does not seem to listen to their plights and according to SLANGO members, this means their voices don’t matter.  And that is unacceptable.

According to Mr Ibrahim K. Kamara, the Chairman of the National NGOs Steering Committee, ‘Members want to be heard. They said at the meeting that their concern is about the recruitment process.’

The other major problem according to the members is that the Board wants to impose their own candidate by the name of Alice Nenneh James on them as the National Coordinator. The grassroots members that make up the chunk of SLANGO membership say they want the current acting National Coordinator, Mr Edward John Yokie.

Mr Yokie is respected, admired and well-loved by the grassroots members that form the proportionate number of the association. Despite him being in an acting capacity, they argue that he has been long in SLANGO and has therefore accumulated several years of practical experience and has first-hand knowledge about their affairs and the challenges they face in their operations.

‘Mr Yokie has been a go-getter for all of us at SLANGO,’ commented one member. ‘He’s our choice. He has served for two years in the capacity as Acting National Coordinator. The best thing the Board can do is to review his performance on the job. We want the Board to do a job appraisal for him, and appoint him. We will be happy.’

According to one member, ‘SLANGO membership has gotten the intelligence that the National Coordinator recruitment process has a political undertone, by which a key civil servant at the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development does remote control the Board Chairman and his Deputy.’

He went on to say: ‘That is totally not fair. This is NGOs’ affairs and we should be left alone – all by ourselves to handle our own business.’

Members at the emergency meeting concluded by adopting a Resolution which clearly states that, “The membership of SLANGO does not accept or recognise Alice James as their National Coordinator, and if the Board does not resist their decision and listen to the SLANGO membership, we the members will be left with no other option but move the motion of vote of no confidence against the current Board Members.’

In recent developments, members of the association have written a position letter to Kenyeh Ballay, the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, but are yet to hear from her.

Similarly, on 6th September, members of SLANGO submitted an official complaint letter against the Board to Mr Ballay.

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